1: What is the biggest issue facing JCPS? Is it a district trending in the right direction, wrong direction, or stagnant?
While the recent state accountability results for JCPS indicate that we are moving in the right direction and met all our state goals, it showed that we must focus on increasing the performance of students in our "gap" groups, which are not making the gains necessary to graduate prepared. This is our biggest challenge, and I believe expanding preschool and emphasizing early skills - especially reading - can make a big difference. Also, teachers are working together more than ever focusing on meeting all student needs, and this is paying off. Further teacher support and professional development is important, too.
2. How are you best qualified to make decisions for district with more than 100,000 students?
I am qualified to serve on the school board because I have demonstrated the passion, energy and commitment necessary to work to make every student successful. We have a clear strategic direction that I embrace fully -all children graduate prepared. We have charted a course that includes early childhood education, emphasizing essential reading skills, project-based learning that exposes students to careers, and providing diverse, healthy learning environments. I have worked to support community partnerships like Every1Reads and our Metro United Way committee on preschool. As a Board member, I will work to stay this course, and I remain open to improvements to meet the needs of all students. I have supported critical reviews of JCPS to ensure we are using resources effectively. We are seeing many successes as a result of hard work and dedication. I am 100 percent committed to serving the community on the school board. I have always stayed close to the community, listening to all citizens to make sure we are doing the best job we can for their children. I think my experience is a valuable asset to have on the board.
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?
Most of those Administrators are school-based, such as principals, assistant principals, and counselors at our 150+ schools. They are highly educated and have significant responsibilities. They are accountable for student learning and for student safety. We are in the process of conducting a comprehensive salary study, to ensure our salary structure is appropriate. It is important we pay people well, but that salaries reflect job responsibilities and are compared with similar positions locally and in other school districts.
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?
It is important to get expert input on how we are doing and what we can do better. Our financial audit showed no fraud, mismanagement or ethical issue. Further, for years, the Board and financial staff have implemented budgets that are balanced, meet all regulations, and fully fund schools. That record shows the Board is well informed and supported on financial matters. Board members are required to receive financial training and our staff is available at all time to answer questions. We have work sessions prior to voting on each budget (3 times per year) and can always increase those briefings as needed.
5. The school board recently voted to approve a budget that held property taxes flat. Why did you support that decision in lieu of voting to increase or decrease property taxes?
In recent years, I have opposed raising local taxes. Many working families live in my district, and an extra tax burden can make supporting their families difficult. To keep from further increasing our local tax burden each year, we have to advocate for adequate funding from state and federal levels. Also within our organization, we should always review programs and not fund those that are not getting results for kids. Managing resources on behalf of citizens is a year-round effort.