1. What is the biggest issue facing JCPS? Is it a district trending in the right direction, wrong direction, or stagnant?
It is unacceptable that nearly half of JCPS students earn a diploma and yet are not college or career ready. This works as a direct barrier to our city's economic growth. An educated workforce attracts business, improves the local economy, increases wages and increases an area's quality of life. I would be a constant voice promoting the message that top notch public schools positively affect every citizen in the community. JCPS has made college and career readiness a major area of focus in its Vision 2015 strategic plan. Using predictive data to identify and assist students who have fallen off track is a great start. I also applaud JCPS's commitment to achieving the goals set forth in the 55,000 Degrees program. JCPS is moving in the right direction. As a board member, I would be laser focused on continued progress in these areas.
2. How are you best qualified to make decisions for district with more than 100,000 students?
An effective school board member needs to have the following:
First, school board members are involved in policy making and in today's world that is a very data driven job. It is critical that members are comfortable digesting and distilling mountains of material. These statistics, facts and figures must be translated into actionable ideas that can be used to move our school system forward. This type of analysis can help us incubate and replicate what is working and identify and discard what is not working. As a former auditor, CPA and Chief Financial Officer, this is the exact type of data driven decision making I did on a daily basis.
Second, school board members must recognize the valuable insight each board member brings and be willing to work collaboratively towards the district's vision of becoming the best urban school district in the nation. A school board comprised of mostly educators, or mostly attorneys or mostly accountants is not what we need. We must value different points of view which connect the dots in different ways. This type of collaborative effort can lead to powerful, innovative solutions. I have enjoyed doing this type of collaborative work on corporate boards and also on the board of directors and finance committees of The Healing Place and The Cabbage Patch Settlement House.
And last, you must be committed and able to dedicate a large amount of time to this job. I recently retired from the accounting profession and I just became an "empty nester." If I am elected as a school board member, this important work would be my priority and where I would devote my time and energy.
3. What is your position on state Auditor Adam Edelen's recent assertion that JCPS is a top-heavy district with too many highly-paid administrators? What, if anything, would you do to address this?
Auditor Adam Edelen's report had 45 findings and 219 recommendations. I have read the full report along with the JCPS response to each recommendation. There is a lot of work to be done to improve the current central office. I don't feel this work is being done with the level of urgency it requires. I would be focused on and monitoring the progress towards these recommendations at every board meeting.
4. What is your position on Edelen's assertion that the school board didn't properly understand the district's budget before voting on it? What, if anything, would you do to address this?
This is exactly why I am running for school board. We must have school board members who will work diligently to spend resources wisely. They must be committed to the budget reviewing process and obtain a high level of understanding in order to ask the hard questions. Board members must be able to digest and distill the mountains of materials that are involved in policy making. Dr. Hargens has said she is "relentless in expecting her staff to collect and analyze data to inform their decisions." Board members should be held to the same standard. As an accounting professional for over 25 years, I would be uniquely qualified for this task.
5. The school board recently voted to approve a budget that held property taxes flat. Do you support that decision, or would you have voted to decrease or increase property taxes? Depending on your decision, what would you propose to cut, or what would you propose to spend the addition money on?