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    2020 School Board Candidates

    Sault Area Schools

October 7, 2020

Caitlin Galer

Pronouns:she/her
School District:Sault Area Schools
City:Sault Ste. Marie

How long have you lived in your district?

29 years

Have you received any endorsements?

No

Are you an incumbent?

No

Why do you want to be a school board member?

Both my husband and I are lifelong residents of Sault Ste. Marie and surrounding areas , I am enthusiastic about serving my community , specifically on our local school board. I take pride in my hometown , and I feel incredibly grateful that my husband and I are able to raise our family here. I am dedicated to working hard and putting in time well spent for our quality local education system. It is important to me to be highly involved in our children’s education and supporting those that work hard in our educational system.

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

That all children , regardless of situation have access to a quality public education. That the community come together to support students in education , health , and well being. That student outcomes are at the level of highest achievement for each individual and unique situation.

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

I think that our district has done a wonderful job responding to this crisis , so it is hard to reimagine what that might look like. Something I would like to see a continuation of the option of virtual learning if financially feasible. Also our district has worked hard to bring internet access to our families that are unable to obtain it for themselves , one of the big reasons being a rural location. I would like for all students to be able to access the internet when needed. This would take support from multiple agencies and from the state level.

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

Community involvement is key , there should always multiple levels of engagement from the board members and the district to the families. That the school be transparent with information regarding decisions and be diligent in spreading that information on multiple platforms. Likewise , parents need to come to the district with questions and information so that the school can come to the best decisions regarding their students. We need parents to attending board meetings and discussing issues when they arise.

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

N/A

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

1. Health safety during Covid-19
2. Student support
3. Funding

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

1. Rural access to broadband internet
2. Increase public preschool for all families
3. Increased support for carrier technical education

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 a multi faceted question and I think our school district has been doing a great job tackling Covid-19. Some of those challenges would be staff support , increased sanitation , physical distancing , quarantines , health screenings , masks , working with the local health department , and state guidelines. Student’s health and safety , along with staff are of the upmost importance. I think they are currently making good decisions to prioritize our schools staying open without compromising the health of our children.

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

The highest priorities should be resources to ensure quality educational supports , including staff , technology , facilities , and transportation.

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

Standardized testing does not always provide the best glimpse into our student’s overall knowledge or student outcomes. They add a lot of pressure/stress for teachers and students. Although , I do understand the importance of the state to be able to have a system to track learning and achievement.

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 would not push for a change in curriculum. I think our district is flexible with our students and their different needs.

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

Districts need to be proactive with staff and students’ wellbeing. Our educators play such a vast role in our students’ lives. Making sure we provide services they need to live well and be happy carries over into the happiness of our children.

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

It is important for all students to have a safe place to learn. Student discipline should be handled in a case by case situation. It is in the districts best interest to watch for early signs when a student may need intervention.

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

Special education is there to bridge the gap for students that need services to obtain their individual goals. As a special education parent myself I realize first hand what some of these families go through on a day to day basis. Prioritizing IEPs and 504 plans , where multiple services through the school come together to support each student’s need. Involving the parents and families in the plan for their student.

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

All students are important. Acknowledging not all students come to school with the same background and even some with vast disadvantages. Making sure each student’s education is handled with fairness and inclusion.

Any other information you want to include or share?

October 4, 2020

Ray DeWitt

Pronouns:He/Him
School DistrictSault Area Schools
City:Sault Sainte Marie

How long have you lived in your district?

2 years

Have you received any endorsements?

N/A

Are you an incumbent?

No

Why do you want to be a school board member?

I want to give back to a profession that has served me so well in my life.

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

Everyone, regardless of background, has an equal opportunity for a quality education. If a learner wants to learn and advance their knowledge, they should have the chance. Everyone from Sault Sainte Marie to Detroit to Newberry should have the same learning opportunities regardless of school size, social economic status or location everyone should be given an equal opportunity.

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

Students would be able to take a wider variety of classes in an effort to allow equal access to a quality education. This could happen with distance education and cooperative agreements between districts, especially smaller districts.

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

All stakeholders should be active in the school. The community should be able to contact the board members to express their opinions about the different topics that will affect the schools their children attend. The community should be able to attend and participate in the board meetings to express their support or opposition to policy decisions. Board members need to be willing to listen to the people and weigh all the opinions when making decisions.

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

N/A

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

Improve academic achievement, develop programs so all students can feel inclusive in the district and obtain adequate funding from the state.

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

Ensure quality education is available across Michigan so students who want to learn can, regardless of location or their background, increase funding for local school districts and attract the best teachers possible for our 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 district needs to keep vigilant about the preventative measures to minimize the risk of spreading COVID. Districts need to mandate masks on students and staff who are unable to keep six feet of separation, promoting hand washing and keep socially distanced when possible. Together we will get through this and we will be better once it is minimized.

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

Staff salaries and building maintenance should be the top priorities. Hiring is expensive, so having competitive salaries will stop staff from actively seeking other employment and early maintenance is less expensive then later maintenance. The district should be careful not to spend money to “jump on a bandwagon” because that is what other districts are doing. Thinking about how it benefits our district before spending money is important.

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

Standardized tests have a role in our educational system, but they have become the end-all for measuring learning. Every student is unique and what should be most important is that growth is seen in every student, not that every student is equal to every other student. A mindset where we are looking at student growth year to year should be considered, not just how the students do 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 would like to see our students grow and improve in their mathematical proficiency. Sault Sainte Marie is above the state’s average, but we should be striving to be near the top, mediocrity is not good enough. In sports we want to be the best, why not in academics? I would keep the smaller class sizes.

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

The district should not add to any emotional problems. If possible, the district should support staff’s desire to participate in exercise programs/clubs etc. If staff are happy and content with their jobs that will project onto their students, who in turn will be happier. Mood is contagious and if teachers and staff are happy this will help make students happy. Happy students are more engaged and interested in learning.

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 a zero tolerance policy. Every situation has to be evaluated on a case by case basis. However, all students have a right to learn and a student who is consistently causing classroom disruptions does not have the right to diminish others right to learn and should be removed. Teachers are there to teach, not discipline. There should be consequences to bad behavior.

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

As before, we need to strive to have growth in every student. Work to achieve the maximum growth in every student over the course of the school year. This is not any different then for students who are in special education. We should focus on growth for the students.

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

I believe I have answered this question in the other answers in the survey. One more time, every student has the right to learn. We need to form cooperative agreements so that all districts can offer high quality education regardless of location, small districts or large, every student in the state of Michigan should be given the same or at least similar opportunities to learn.

Any other information you want to include or share?

October 4, 2020

Michael Goetz

Pronouns:He/Him
School DistrictSault Area Schools
City:Sault Sainte Marie

How long have you lived in your district?

30 years

Have you received any endorsements?

No

Are you an incumbent?

No

Why do you want to be a school board member?

I want to be a school board in my district, because being a local Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians member, I feel our school can do better at protecting our indigenous youth. Our alternative school in the district is disproportionately heavy with Native students. They are the failed population and need our support.

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

Like I said previously, there is very little education justice for our native students. They have a much higher dropout rate then their peers. They are also typically behind in mathematics and literacy. We need to provide these students with the resources they need to be successful.

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

I would not change much. Students need routine and structure and change is hard especially on our elementary youth. I am a proponent of smaller class size however, which could lend to help containing a public health crisis.

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

The students, parents, and families should be able to vote on decisions and have a voice for items that directly affect them. Their vote on these matters should be as in high regards as the school board’s decisions.

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

Myself

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

More support for our native youth, transparency for the bard to our community, and finding a way to enhance our enrollment that has been declining over the last few years.

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

More funding, more resources and services for our minority students, and honoring school of choice.

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?

Proper PPE and social distancing will keep our students safe. As long as our district keeps fluidity throughout their plan, it will not have much affect on our students. Like I said previously, students struggle when there are changes in their day that are a surprise and weren’t anticipated.

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

Our budget should be able to give teachers a salary that is comparable with other schools in the area. What should not be prioritized is administrative raises and superintendent raises.

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

As long as a good base education plan is in place, students will meet their marks. We also need to put more emphasis on making school fun and exciting and original.

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?

Like I said, teach in a different way with more hands on and ingenuity. Some teachers remain stagnant and do not teach with originality.

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

Schools are suppose to be a safe place for students so schools should play a massive role in being supportive with the emotional and mental wellbeing of their students.

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

Discipline should be implemented as a team concept with the school, student, and their family. If the parents are not there as a support to the school, the behaviors will continue.

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

Our special education program in our district is very strong. Not many changes would be needed.

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

A schools district goal should always be closing the gap between your top students and your bottom students. Having programs for the ones struggling, the middle students, and your top performers.

Any other information you want to include or share?

I’m excited to represent a school district that I myself have been a part of as a student and to contribute to the betterment of my community.