October 4, 2020

Timothy Cole

Pronouns:He/Him
School DistrictFreeland Community School District
City:Freeland

How long have you lived in your district?

4 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 on the Freeland School Board because as a parent, educator, and counselor, I feel as though I would bring a special perspective to the school board. Often times, people are viewing an issue or concern from one lens; my experiences allow me to view concerns and opportunities from many of the various angles and positions that could be affected by the decisions made by the school board. I am committed to this district and want to be able to serve the families and students by working to strengthen the opportunities we provide.

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

Education justice means providing fair and equal opportunities and expectations for all students, regardless of their background. For Freeland, this means acknowledging the economic disparities and ensuring that every students receives the access to, and support for, educational opportunities in the district.

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

This public health crisis has highlighted the technological disparities amongst families as well as forcing the schools to evaluate what “school” actually looks like. After this crisis, I hope that we take the knowledge gained from these experiences to adapt our educational offerings to meet the needs of our families. This might mean keeping some aspects of “hybrid” learning and increasing the social-emotional supports that our students will continue to need after this crisis. I think it is important to step back and review all aspects of what school could look like and open dialogue with staff, families, and students to determine what elements work best for students, moving forward.

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

Parents, students, and families are the principle stakeholders in any district and should be an integral part of the decision-making process. By increasing visibility in the schools, offering open forums for families to discuss concerns in an informal setting, and establishing a student member on the school board, we can close the gap of communication between the board and families and help support student advocacy and understanding of the decision-making process.

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

I am self-funded.

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

1. Increase social-emotional supports for students K-12. This would include restoring the counseling position at the high school and strengthening the supports for students throughout the district.
2. Completing the transition of 6th grade to the middle school.
3. Fostering the relationship between local colleges, industries, and the school district in terms of strengthening co-op, career-tech, and dual enrollment opportunities.

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

1. Increasing and stabilizing per-pupil funding for districts.
2. Supporting social-emotional supports for students.
3. Reviewing assessment requirements for students to ensure that the resources and supports for teachers are provided.

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?

I think the major challenges regarding COVID revolve around keeping students and staff safe while in the building. Ensuring adequate custodial staffing and resources, maintaining appropriate class sizes to ensure social distancing, and making sure that students are able to receiving the supports they need to be successful while staying safe.

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

The districts top spending priorities should always revolve around providing the students and staff the resources and supports they need to grow and learn. Providing funding to hire additional counselors would help close the gap in supportive services for our student. Focusing on completing the transition of 6th grade to the middle school would open up space at the elementary school to ensure that students and staff have access to the spaces they need to learn. Providing staff with quality resources (which they have had input in selecting) should also be a priority in the district. In terms of what should not be prioritized, our athletic physical structures appear sound and should be able to be maintained without increase supports at this time.

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

Standardized testing is just one piece of information and should never be the only item used to determine the strengths and concerns of a student or teacher. Formative assessments and alternative methods of assessment are equally important and help to provide a more holistic view of a students growth.

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 work to explore the possibility of providing more differentiation and opportunities for our students. After consulting with staff, students, and families, I would be interested in exploring a restoration of accelerated math at the middle school level, securing honors courses at the high school, and strengthening our CTE (career technical education) opportunities.

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

This is a significant concern of mine. As a school and professional counselor, I see the need for strengthened mental and emotional supports in our community. Providing counselors and social workers at all levels would ensure that students have access to the supports that they need. In reference to staff, I believe that administration and the board should work with staff to identify areas of support that could be provided to ease the strains that staff deal with on a daily basis.

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

School administration, staff, and students should be involved in a dialogue to evaluate what is working and what could be improved, with respects to student discipline and safety. Exploring methods such as restorative justice practices and other PBIS (positive behavior interventions and supports) would be a great starting point in this conversation.

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

Ensuring that all students and staff receive the supports and resources necessary to enable special education students to excel in their IEP goals.

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

In order for equity to be achieved, all voices must be heard. Opening the communication between the school board, administration, staff, parents, students, and the community is key in being able to determine the goals this district has towards achieving equity for all students.

Any other information you want to include or share?

It has always been my philosophy that we are here to serve students. Schools are not a business in a traditional sense. We need to look at our students and staff not as commodities, but as people whom we have been entrusted to support. Respecting the experiences, perspectives, and desires of all stakeholders should be at the forefront of any decision made by the board of education.