October 9, 2020

Jill Dunham

Pronouns: she/her
School District: Plainwell Community Schools
City: Plainwell

How long have you lived in your district?

15 years

Have you received any endorsements?

no

Are you an incumbent?

Yes

Why do you want to be a school board member?

I am committed to insure that all students get a good education. Some students need more support to be successful and I am committed that all students get the support they need to succeed.

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

Education justice means equitably providing services and learning opportunities. Equitable is not equal.

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

We would have affordable internet service to each home , in the exact same way we have electricity and landline phone service. Completely reimagine is a thesis , so I will just say that the challenges of the public health crisis have revealed the inequity in our communities. We need to increase the minimum wage , so that the working poor can earn enough to support their families. We need affordable housing. And with increased funding , we could provide the critical social services to students who are struggling. Until a student’s basic needs (physical , social , emotional) are met , they will not be able to learn , grow and succeed.

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

Parents , students and community members input should be welcome and heard. Teachers and administrators concerns are also critical. We must Insure all voices are heard and share the basis for decisions in a transparent and compassionate manner.

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

Just my friends and parents in our district.

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

1 – Minimize learning loss during this pandemic. Our environment is not optimal. We must be creative and patient with a new way of learning.
2 – Improve counseling resources to meet the needs of our students.
3 – Expand career preparedness beyond college and increase work-study opportunities.

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

I don’t have any. This is outside my scope of influence.

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?

Safety must come first. We are tracking exposure and positive tests and proceeding with caution. I am confident that our hybrid learning plan , along with our full virtual learning program are providing the options students need to continue their learning. The situation is far from ideal , so we must all do our best and not add stress to the situation – teachers or students – by unrealistic expectations. Be kind and focus on what we CAN do.

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

Class room is the priority. Athletics is secondary , but still valuable.

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

Standardized tests should be a factor , but all students learn differently and have different talents and gifts. Our focus needs to be helping students envision a career or work-life and preparing them for the one that best fits them. A standardized test is a small part of this preparation.

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?

More focus on basic skills needed – like make and keep a budget!

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

Until a student’s basic needs (physical , social , emotional) are met , they will not be able to learn , grow and succeed. I support increasing funding for education to allow more resources to be provided in school. We need to educate the whole child and teach all the skills needed to be successful.

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

I think we do a good job with student discipline. I think we need more social emotional support for students. We do a good job with the funding we get , but we can do a better job with increased funding.

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

#1 Great staff , which we have. #2 Expand wrap around services

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

This is my #1 concern. In all decisions , I am not as concerned with how this work for most of the students – but rather how will this work for our disadvantaged students?

Any other information you want to include or share?

Thanks for the opportunity.