- What is your top priority for the district as a candidate for School Board and how should this priority be achieved?Right now, our top priority is finding a top quality Superintendent to continue the positive legacy of recovery we achieved under previous leaders, Rick Mills and, especially, Diana Greene. In order to attract the best candidates, we need to unite as a board and put past/current disagreements behind us. We should enlist the help of the Florida School Boards Association in the search for the best candidates. Manatee Schools is in year six of our amazing recovery from nearly being taken over by the state. We need a new Superintendent with a strong background in Florida education finance and law who can successfully navigate the treacherous terrain of education in the hands of the current Florida legislature.
- What is the biggest opportunity that, if embraced by the district, would lead to an improvement in student achievement?Moving high school start times back to 8:30am at the earliest. Years of research has shown that the adolescent brain goes through significant changes around 13 years old. This physical changes manifests in some of the habits we see in teenagers, including a change in sleep cycles. Years of peer-reviewed research has shown the academic, and health, benefits to teenage students by pushing their school start times back.
- What is the greatest strength you would bring to the School Board if elected?I’m a consensus builder with a calm, low-profile attitude in the Board room and school district functions. I’m willing to listen to varying viewpoints and willing to allow all viewpoints to be heard. I’ve been our board chair in the past, and despite some hot button issues, we never devolved into the infighting and bickering we’ve seen in 2018.
- How can we ensure our Pre-K through 12 school district programs and curriculum meet the needs of our business community in preparing students to successfully enter the workforce?There are two ways – one internal, one external. Internally, we need to focus on early education as the foundation for success for a k-12 student career. Due to the high-stakes testing regime imposed upon by the State, we tend to put our best teachers in 3rd grade and above (the tested grades). We should be putting our best teachers in K-2. Externally, we need to listen to the needs of the business community. What specific skills do you need in future employees? What specialized skills can we offer at MTC to help our local economy? Basically, what can we do better to prepare these students for careers – in addition to college?
- What role should local businesses play in supporting our schools to ensure students are graduating with the skills necessary for successful employment?By continuing the strong partnerships already in place between local businesses and their neighbored schools and by continuing successful programs of the Chamber that bring volunteers into our schools (Project Teach, Big Bank Theory, Literacy Day) to see for themselves the great stories happening every day within our walls.
- What are three questions that you would ask a candidate for district superintendent? What would you hope to learn about the candidate from the responses?With the absurd demands of the State’s testing requirements, would you be willing to reduce the amount of our own in-district benchmark testing? I hope the answer would be YES.
What communications/training would you suggest for building a customer-service orientated culture among school district teachers and staff?
What suggestions would you make to the Board for approval, and of the community for buy-in, to ensure that the school district is an A by 2020?