October 7, 2020

Christopher Gura

Pronouns:he/him
School District:Chippewa Valley Schools
City:Macomb Township

How long have you lived in your district?

From 1972 to 1995; 2007-present

Have you received any endorsements?

Not at this time.

Are you an incumbent?

No

Why do you want to be a school board member?

I am running for a position on the Chippewa Valley School Board to support and help lead what I think is one of the best school districts in the state. As an alumnus of the district and district parent , Chippewa Valley Schools has provided my family and me with a fantastic education. I want to give back , and be a part of that experience for current and future generations , to ensure that families continue to have a quality education and positive public school experience. I believe that serving on the district’s board of education is one of the most important aspects of public service , as a public school district’s vision shapes our childrens’ abilities and success in life.

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

To me , education justice means that all kids have fair and equal access to educational opportunities and experiences no matter the student’s background , race , ethnicity , etc. In the context of Chippewa Valley Schools , which is a very large district covering two different municipalities , and compassing a relatively diverse community of differing backgrounds and affluence , it is ensuring that all of our students are treated fairly and have the same opportunities to achieve their personal and educational goals.

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

I would maintain the traditional school experience , but with the ability to quickly and seamlessly adjust to temporary virtual instruction in the event of another pandemic. If we are able to adjust and adapt quickly , we would be able to protect our students and staff while continuing classroom instruction with little or no interruption. This would allow the district to act early to minimize the effects of any future public health crises so our students can get back to the traditional classroom setting in a more expedient manner.

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

School board members are public servants that are elected by the district residents. As such , it is paramount that the members of the community have a voice and are involved in making decisions affecting the district. Parents and families specifically should be informed and engaged in conversations involving district decisions so as to enhance the support between the district , parents and teachers.

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

Individual contributions

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

High quality classroom instruction , safe schools and security , and budget/fiscal responsibility

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

Increasing public school funding , transparency , increasing access to vocational and CTE programs

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?

As with all districts , Chippewa Valley is facing the challenge of transitioning the students from virtual/remote instruction to a full-time , in-person , traditional classroom setting. Our district has to have a comprehensive plan to bring the kids back while maintaining all safety protocols , i.e. , masks , social distancing and sanitation regimen , to keep the students and staff safe. The district must also have a reasonable response plan to contain and mitigate the effect of COVID in the in the event of an outbreak.

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

In the coming years , our district will be faced with significant budget issues due to anticipated funding reductions due to the COVID pandemic. I will help guide the board in making reasonable , fiscally responsible budget decisions. In doing so , I would take all steps to prioritize spending to ensure that all necessary programming is maintained with a specific focus on technology , instruction and curriculum/staff development. I would work to maintain and preserve not only our athletic programs but also all fine arts programming so that our students are provided with well-rounded and enriched public school experience.

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

Standardize testing serves an important role in measuring our students’ grasp of state content standards. However , I do not believe that they should be as heavily weighted as the are currently. Many classes spend too much time and energy on test preparation (“teaching the test”) rather than focusing on other , more creative and valuable lessons that enrich the students knowledge and educational experience. Furthermore , focusing too much on standardize testing is detrimental to those students who are not good test-takers and have different learning abilities.

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?

As a board member , I would talk with our teachers and staff and work to ensure that they are provided with the necessary resources to maintain and enhance the quality curriculum offered to our students.

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

I believe that our school district personnel are essential in supporting the mental and emotional well-being of our students and staff. Because students and staff spend so much time in school (whether virtual or in person) , I believe our mental health support professionals are instrumental in identifying , analyzing and providing support for mental health issues. This is especially important in light of the mental health crisis that has resulted with many of our students and staff due to the COVID epidemic. It is important that the each school’s guidance counselors , social workers and administrators have the necessary resources to provide social and emotional support for the students and staff.

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

Students’ discipline should be handled on a case-by-case basis and fairly implemented in accordance with the circumstance of each instance. It is imperative that the district recognize and address issues that require disciplinary measures in swift and sensitive manner to ensure that the schools are as safe as possible for students and staff.

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

Given the COVID pandemic , the top priority for special needs students in the district should be to get the students back to in-person education. With the entire district having been virtual since March , special needs students have not received the education and attention needed to progress and thrive in accordance with each student’s IEP.

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

I believe that working to achieve a system of equity within our school district is important to ensure that resources are distributed in such a way so that needs of all students are served.

Any other information you want to include or share?

I have been an attorney specializing in business litigation for over 18 years. After spending my entire K-12 years in Chippewa Valley Schools , I attended Michigan State University (BA , 1994) and then earned my law degree in 2002 from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. As an attorney and litigator , I have experience making tough , strategic decisions , often times in the face of adversity. I will bring to the table the business acumen and problem-solving skills to help guide the district and resolve complex issues based on objective fact , data , and reason balanced with compassion and empathy. In addition to my professional experience , I have served as the President and trustee of the Chippewa Valley Educational Foundation , a non-profit organization that provides supplemental funding to our teachers and students through mini-grants and scholarships. I will draw upon my experience with the Foundation to continue to support our teachers and students.