Sarasota HT questionnaire

Describe how and when the School Board should conduct its search for Diana Greene’s permanent replacement as superintendent.

In order to attract the best candidates, we need to unite as a board and put past/current disagreements behind us.   After the August elections, we will have a better idea of what the board will look like for the next two years.   At that point, we should enlist the help of the Florida School Boards Association and a large community focus group in the search for the best candidates.  By November, the new board will be seated and we can begin the process of vetting prospective 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.

Did you vote in the 2018 referendum for the 1-mill, local-option property tax in Manatee County? If so, how did you vote and why?

Yes.  I not only voted for it, but I was also one of the three Board votes that made it happen on March 20, 2018.   I voted YES because we, as a community, should value our teachers and public education.    With our neighboring counties having the same 1-mill in place, and using it to supplement teacher pay, it was necessary to remain competitive for teachers and staff in the midst of a statewide and national shortage.

Assess the school district’s efforts to recruit and retain high-quality teachers.  See above

Cite three priorities you would have as a board member.

(not including Supt search)    Continued financial stability, improving credit ratings and fund balance reserves.     Improving Board unity and the school district’s public image.    Ensuring oversight and proper use of 1 mill referendum funds for a 2022 re-approval.   

Describe your approach to judging whether the district should approve charter-school applications.

Very simple.   For-profit charter schools, that serve their shareholders before students, have no place in public education.

Do you support or oppose the use of public dollars and/or tax credits to fund tuition at private schools.   Oppose, adamantly.

Evaluate the school district’s budget and budgeting process.

As demonstrated by the past six years of recovery, rising reserves and improving audits (internal, external and the state of FL), I have complete confidence in our district’s budgeting and finance departments, including CFO Heather Jenkins and her team.

What, if anything, should the district do to assist pupils who score a 1, 2 or 3 on the third-grade English Language Arts FSA test?

The best thing we can do for struggling early learners is to deploy wrap-around services into their neighborhood schools.   Many students lack of academic achievement can be traced back to issues of their home/neighborhood – poverty, addiction, abuse, lack of health care, etc.   Our best intervention would be in the 0-5 years for child development, partnering in any way we can, with the agencies and non-profits that serve kids that age.

Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the district’s provision of music and art courses and opportunities to students?  I

’m mostly satisfied.  Manatee Schools have multiple outlets for artistic expression and exploration.   Unfortunately, due to the high-stakes testing regime inflicted upon us by the Florida legislature, arts education is the first thing to go in the pursuit of better school grades.  If it’s not a tested subject in the school grade formula, it isn’t important.   And that is a shame on the Florida legislature.

In your view, what should be the purview of the Citizens Financial Advisory Committee?

It should be what was promised to the voters.   A citizens committee to oversee the disbursement of 1 mill referendum funds.   However, since I made the motion in June to return the scope of the committee’s work to its original intention, the gadflies are buzzing about cover-ups.   There’s a very simple solution in the middle.   Specific budget/finance oversight requests brought to the school board by a majority vote of the CFAC, and approved by a majority vote of the School Board, will be honored.  The CFAC will have the power to delve into those requests.   I presented this idea at last week’s meeting of the CFAC.

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