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    2020 School Board Candidates

    Lake Shore Public Schools

October 4, 2020

Daniel Colling

Pronouns:He/Him
School DistrictLake Shore Public Schools
City:St. Clair Shores

How long have you lived in your district?

26 years

Have you received any endorsements?

To-date: Macomb County Democratic Committee

Are you an incumbent?

Yes

Why do you want to be a school board member?

I want to continue my service to this community and our school district. I am an advocate for public education and I am committed to playing my role in providing the best possible educational experience for our students.

What does education justice mean to you? What does it mean specifically in the context of your school district?

Education justice to me means that every child has access to quality education regardless of zip code, household income, race, or any other factor. It means a progressive school funding model that leads to true equity. In the context of my district, it means valuing our teachers, maintaining an inclusive environment, and centering equity in everything that we do.

If you could completely reimagine the way schools look after this public health crisis, what would they look like?

I imagine community schools where children and caregivers have access to wrap-around supports that enhance the quality of education and life in general. Technology would be better integrated in a way that supplements and enhances educational offerings, using district staff to leverage these opportunities. Teachers are able to administer project based learning in a meaningful way and testing is done sparingly, but vastly different from the current standardized tests.

Describe how you think parents, students, and families should be involved in making decisions within your school district?

Our community should be at the center of everything we do. From our strategic planning to our Return to Learn plan, we involved parents, students, and the greater community to ensure we had their feedback and input. I am very proud of how our district prioritizes community collaboration.

Who (if any) are your top financial supporters for your campaign?

I am self-funded and have a reporting waiver as I do not intend to raise more than $1,000.

What are your top 3 educational priorities/goals within your school district?

1) COVID response – health and safety, maintain strong academic programming whether hybrid or virtual.
2) Project based learning – promoting innovation when it comes to the delivery of instruction. We’ve made a lot of great progress, but we can continue to implement new instructional models.
3) Equity – ensuring that all of our educational operations, from curriculum to discipline, are equitable in nature.

What are your top 3 educational priorities/goals at a state level?

1) Funding – the state ought to be funding education to the degree of the findings from the Michigan School Finance Research Collaborative, which showed schools in Michigan are severely underfunded.
2) Institute a progressive funding model – the state must make education funding more equitable. Our current state of school competition has widened the gap between school in low-income areas and elsewhere.
3) Testing – the state should move away from the current use of standardized tests in favor of research based methods for monitoring student progress.

What challenges do you anticipate this school year to COVID and what do you think your school district must do to keep students & staff safe?

This is the most challenging year any of us have had to face in education. We will do everything we can to keep our students and staff safe – we of course require masks and have an ample supply of PPE. There is a lot of concern about the educational offerings in a hybrid environment. We have to be really intentional and focused on providing excellent academic opportunities regardless of students being in person or not. We are blessed to have devices for all of our students and the experience to be able to adequately provide education during this time.

What should be your school district’s top spending priorities in their budget? Alternatively, what should not be prioritized your district’s budget?

Our first priority should be our staff. Investing in the people who spend each day working so hard for our students is a must. We have done a good job managing our budget that past few years to be able to do this. Frivolous spending is not a characteristic of our district.

What role do you think standardized tests should play in your school district?

As I’ve said above, I do not believe that standardized tests adequately assess student progress or the value of their education. I would be very interested to explore alternatives if we were given that opportunity.

If you could have an impact on your school district’s curriculum , what changes would you make? What, if anything, would you keep the same?

A rigorous, project based curriculum is what we aspire to. In many ways, we have made progress in this space and I am very excited about the future. The ideal curriculum promotes critical thinking, inspires curiosity, and allows children to grow as people and citizens. I would encourage us to continue to pivot from rote memorization in favor of hands-on projects that add depth to the material.

What responsibility do you believe your school district has in supporting students’ and staffs’ mental and emotional health/wellbeing?

We have a tremendous responsibility to promote social/emotional well-being. This is a priority for us, especially during COVID.

How do you think your school district should handle student discipline/and make schools a safe place for students and staff?

Student discipline should be restorative in nature. It must also be equitable. We look at discipline data regularly to make certain that punishment is not disproportionate. That, paired with social/emotional supports, makes our schools safer.

What are your top priorities around special education in your district?

We have a strong special education program and I have full faith in the staff who run it. My priority is to support them and continuously assess where we strengthen our program.

What is your perspective on working towards achieving equity within your school district?

I have made this a personal goal and project of mine to seek resources for our district to become more equitable. There are always areas where improvement can be made in diversity, equity, and inclusion. To that end, I am hoping we can develop an on-going process whereby we formally audit our processes/procedures through an equity lens. This is a strong passion of mine and I try to center it in everything that I do.

Any other information you want to include or share?

Thank you for the opportunity to submit these responses. I greatly appreciate your organization for making equity a priority in this questionnaire.

October 4, 2020

Amy M Thomas-August

Pronouns:She/Her
School DistrictLake Orion Community Schools
City:St. Clair Shores

How long have you lived in your district?

Lifelong Shorian

Have you received any endorsements?

No

Are you an incumbent?

No

Why do you want to be a school board member?

I believe every school board should have a teacher as a member to help make educational decisions.

What does education justice mean to you? What does it mean specifically in the context of your school district?

Education justice means every child has an opportunity to a quality education.

If you could completely reimagine the way schools look after this public health crisis, what would they look like?

The use of technology will continue after the pandemic. Ensuring students have this technological resource is essential. Students also need more emotional support provided from schools. Families would continue to be able to choose between in person or virtual learning, which would be provided by a certified teacher and not an eLearning company.

Describe how you think parents, students, and families should be involved in making decisions within your school district?

Since the school board serves the families in the community, it is essential to allow opportunities for the community to provide input when making decisions.

Who (if any) are your top financial supporters for your campaign?

None

What are your top 3 educational priorities/goals within your school district?

First, continuing to provide the safest learning environment for the students and staff. Second, ensuring students have the resources they need to learn. Finally, adopt a fiscally sound budget that supports the needs of the students.

What are your top 3 educational priorities/goals at a state level?

The top priority is for the state to provide adequate funding to schools, and providing those schools which need more support, the extra support they need for their students.

What challenges do you anticipate this school year to COVID and what do you think your school district must do to keep students & staff safe?

The main challenge schools have faced is providing the return to learning platform, face to face or virtual, that meets the needs and wants of the community.

What should be your school district’s top spending priorities in their budget? Alternatively, what should not be prioritized your district’s budget?

Like all decisions that a school board member must make, priorities in spending need to be based on what is best when providing a quality education for the students.

What role do you think standardized tests should play in your school district?

Standardized tests are over-used. A complete child is more than a test score on a standardized test.

If you could have an impact on your school district’s curriculum , what changes would you make? What, if anything, would you keep the same?

I believe Lake Shore has an exemplary curriculum that provides courses for the varying paths students may take beyond high school.

What responsibility do you believe your school district has in supporting students’ and staffs’ mental and emotional health/wellbeing?

Schools today need to provide more than just the educational needs of students and staff. To be effective, students need to have all their basic needs met, including emotional and mental support.

How do you think your school district should handle student discipline/and make schools a safe place for students and staff?

Schools need to be provide a safe learning environment for all involved.

What are your top priorities around special education in your district?

Special Education needs support by more staff members and resources than a typical student. Students who require special education deserve these supports to receive the quality of education they are entitled to.

What is your perspective on working towards achieving equity within your school district?

Not all students need the same resources to receive a quality education. The school district needs to support and provide opportunities and resources for students to learn based on their individual needs.

Any other information you want to include or share?

Feel free to learn more about me by visiting my webpage: https://athomas-august4lsps.weebly.com/

October 4, 2020

Michael Bakotich

Pronouns:He/Him
School DistrictLake Shore Public Schools
City:Saint Clair Shores

How long have you lived in your district?

5 years

Have you received any endorsements?

Not yet.

Are you an incumbent?

Yes

Why do you want to be a school board member?

I enjoy serving my community, and I know how critical a quality education is. Serving on the board allows me to serve my community while ensuring that the children in my district receive the best possible education.

What does education justice mean to you? What does it mean specifically in the context of your school district?

To me it means that all students have access to the same education, no matter their socioeconomic status, race, or gender identity. All children deserve a great education. For our district that means welcoming children of all backgrounds, and ensuring that every student has a safe environment to learn.

If you could completely reimagine the way schools look after this public health crisis, what would they look like?

They would offer the best of what schools were like before the pandemic, with some of the new practices we have had to adopt during the pandemic. It would mean a return to full in person learning, but with the ability to continue school virtually for those students that are home sick or unable to attend. I would also like to see our district offer tele-medicine visits at school, so a physician is able to see and potentially diagnose a student that is sick at school, or even at home. That may help us better prevent the spread of disease at school.

Describe how you think parents, students, and families should be involved in making decisions within your school district?

Our families have many great ways to be involved, and do a lot to support our district. One way to ensure parents voices are heard might be to hold regular town hall style meetings with parents. This could be done on a school by school basis, and would allow administrators to hear directly from parents and families face to face. Students could also be given an opportunity to give their input on important decisions about their school through student surveys.

Who (if any) are your top financial supporters for your campaign?

Myself

What are your top 3 educational priorities/goals within your school district?

What are your top 3 educational priorities/goals within your school district?
The first is to ensure that our students receive the instruction to continue to grow and develop during this vastly different school year. The second is to ensure our special education students are not left behind during this school year. The third is to ensure that our teachers have the support they need to meet our students’ needs.

What are your top 3 educational priorities/goals at a state level?

The main priority is to ensure that funding remains at an adequate level to continue providing the education that our districts students and families have come to expect. While our legislature did a great job ensuring that funding remained in place to meet our needs during the pandemic, we need to ensure that continues once the pandemic is over. Without adequate funding, other priorities won’t have much of an impact.

What challenges do you anticipate this school year to COVID and what do you think your school district must do to keep students & staff safe?

One of the biggest challenges we all have faced is the uncertainty this pandemic has brought. This has not happened in our lifetime, and we are all dealing with this for the first time. We need to work together more than ever before to meet the challenge that this pandemic has brought to our children’s education. Our staff, administrators, teachers, students, and parents are working harder than ever to ensure that education continues. We must remember that we are all in this together, and we are all working toward the same goal.

What should be your school district’s top spending priorities in their budget? Alternatively, what should not be prioritized your district’s budget?

Our district did a good job acting quickly to ensure that we had the supplies to open up again in the fall. We also need to ensure we have adequate staff and teachers to provide instruction and support to our online and hybrid students. Any projects or spending that does not make sense in our current online and hybrid school environment should be put on hold until after the pandemic is over.

What role do you think standardized tests should play in your school district?

Standardized tests do help us assess our overall school performance, and can help our legislature determine where funding is needed across the state. However, we do need to be careful not to rely too heavily on standardized testing to provide information on our students educational progress.

If you could have an impact on your school district’s curriculum , what changes would you make? What, if anything, would you keep the same?

I love some of the unique programming that our district offers; such as the home design and trades courses. I would like to see other new programs like this continue to be encouraged in our district. If I could add something to our curriculum I would like to see a course dedicated to the study

What responsibility do you believe your school district has in supporting students’ and staffs’ mental and emotional health/wellbeing?

Our own mental and emotional health is a very important. Our schools have a great opportunity to help shape our children’s mental and emotional development in a positive way. The positivity project, now in its second year, has been great at helping students be more aware of the impact of their actions. Our schools also have to opportunity to identify when students or staff may need help. I think there are also opportunities for school to have a greater role in helping those students who may need professional assistance.

How do you think your school district should handle student discipline/and make schools a safe place for students and staff?

I do not believe in zero tolerance. Discipline must be implemented with the aim of educating the student and reforming their behavior. Rules and the process for discipline should be transparent, and decisions must be made on a case by case basis. I would also be open to allowing students a role in shaping the rules or participating in the disciplinary process.

What are your top priorities around special education in your district?

My top priority right now is to ensure our special education students get the support and education they need during this pandemic.

What is your perspective on working towards achieving equity within your school district?

One step that we can take to work toward greater equity is to listen to those whose experiences are different from ours. It is hard to fully comprehend what student life is like today, and our students should have more opportunity to share their opinions and views with administration. We also need to be mindful to include those of minority groups in sharing their views, and in reaching decisions.

Any other information you want to include or share?

I want to thank your readers for taking the time to educate themselves on those who are running for office. I hope I have earned your vote. Even if I have not, I hope that you will make your voice heard on election day.