October 4, 2020
School DistrictClintondale Community Schools
How long have you lived in your district?
Have you received any endorsements?
AFSCME Council 25; Mark Titus (Former Clintondale Board Member), Michael Scott & Jason Davidson (Current Clintondale Board Members)
Are you an incumbent?
Why do you want to be a school board member?
My experience of having worked with children for over 13 years and the Early Childhood Development courses that I have completed have provided me with a foundation of compassion and understanding of what children need, not only for education, but with emotional support in a safe and supportive environment.
I understand the importance of a quality education and will be giving my all for the students to provide them with the best education possible in a safe & supportive environment so they can become successful adults. The focus must remain on the students – every decision has to be weighed not only financial and legal constraints, but on what is the impact on the students.
We need to restore professionalism, transparency, accountability, policy/legal compliance, and fiscal responsibility. I have witnessed too many violations of basic leadership and compliance on this board and it is damaging the district. To help bring about real change, clean up remaining issues, restore integrity, and ensure that the programs and policies being implemented are being done for the right reason without influence from those with personal agendas, the next Superintendent must be from outside of the district to provide a new, clear direction forward (currently the district has an interim superintendent).
What does education justice mean to you? What does it mean specifically in the context of your school district?
I view education justice as an opportunity to address the unequal access to quality and complete education in our public schools. As Clintondale has a high at-risk population, as well as a higher than average special education population, this issue is very present within our buildings. I am proud of our previous Superintendent that recognized this issue and built a new means to reaching those students with the Flipped High School.
If you could completely reimagine the way schools look after this public health crisis, what would they look like?
I envision an environment of an open space concept, spacious classrooms, and the ability to customize a curriculum for a student based upon their individual needs and abilities. We have the technology & tools to make this happen, but we need the team and leadership to get it done.
Describe how you think parents, students, and families should be involved in making decisions within your school district?
As an elected member of the board of education, I am here to serve and represent the community, to be their voice, and to weigh all available information, facts, concerns, and questions when making a decision at the board table. That being said, I want the public to be involved – this is their community.
Who (if any) are your top financial supporters for your campaign?
What are your top 3 educational priorities/goals within your school district?
The most pressing issue facing all schools right now is Covid-19 and how to safely operate schools while providing the best education possible to students remotely and in-person to ensure that we provide accountability for the curriculum, attendance, and academic gains.
Secondly, adequate funding remains an ongoing issue which has a direct impact on hiring quality staff, building maintenance & operations, safety, and curriculum programs. I would focus on the budget to evaluate purchase request prior to approval, and utilize the system acquired that provides an assessment of curriculum programs compared to the cost of the program.
Third priority is ethics reform as there has been issues lately and it is time to finally approve an ethics policy that has been delayed by some members of the board. At the same time, I would address the need to continuously review and update policies.
What are your top 3 educational priorities/goals at a state level?
1 – Equity and Equality in Funding
2 – Return of Career Prep Education
3 – Support for At-Risk 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?
Aside from the safety/health concerns for those within the building, which the Operations Department is handling exceptionally well with smaller class sizes, sanitizing classrooms and commons areas regularly, increasing the fresh air flow, and PPE, we face a challenge with those students that need additional support, but are attending school remotely. The district may need to hire additional support staff to work remotely one-on-one with those students in between classes.
What should be your school district’s top spending priorities in their budget? Alternatively, what should not be prioritized your district’s budget?
Curriculum delivery must remain a top priority, including staff costs. However, the district facilities must remain a top priority as well to keep them safe, up-to-date, and in good working order so that the district doesn’t need to take on additional debt.
What role do you think standardized tests should play in your school district?
Standardized tests need to serve as a measurement of growth and status, not as as punishment for students or staff.
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 bring back more career technical education opportunities for students. College is not the only pathway for students to take in order to have a successful career, and too much emphasis has been placed on sending students to college or being “college-ready”. This has shifted focus away from Career Tech Programs that provided students with a foundation for very rewarding and good-paying jobs such as electricians, plumbers, construction trades, automotive, and more. I would advocate for additional partnerships with other entities to expand the opportunity for students to participate in career prep programs, similar to what is offered through the Bricklayers Union.
What responsibility do you believe your school district has in supporting students’ and staffs’ mental and emotional health/wellbeing?
Counselors are a very valuable part of a school environment and with the issues of the world, students are feeling more pressure than every before and if we can’t help their emotional/mental wellbeing, they will struggle in education. Aside from counselors, the district has a relationship with CARE to provide additional support to students that are in the greatest need.
How do you think your school district should handle student discipline/and make schools a safe place for students and staff?
The district began using Restorative Justice a number of years ago, and this has been extremely valuable in reducing student suspensions/expulsions, reducing conflict, and reducing repeated issues. I want to increase the focus on mediation/mentor programs to increase our ability to address the core issue of student discipline issues, increase safety, and ultimately support the students by keeping them in the classroom.
What are your top priorities around special education in your district?
Recognizing that not all students learn the same, or have the same capacity to learn, it is critically important that we have a well-staffed special services department with highly qualified, certified and experience individuals that can evaluate students, provide resources, support, and individualized educational paths for those students that need it based upon their disability.
With a mix of in-person education and remote learning, the priority this year needs to shift to ensure that all students are receiving the services that they need, even if they are participating in remote learning.
What is your perspective on working towards achieving equity within your school district?
Every student should have the same opportunity to learn in a safe and supportive environment, and I will work towards with every decision I make as a board member.