As a candidate, I have thoroughly enjoyed hearing from so many of you across our district with relevant questions, thoughtful conversation and powerful feedback about all things ABSS! I have realized many of the questions/questionnaires – and my responses – provide great insight for our citizens as they decide which candidates can most effectively lead our school district. I trust the information is helpful and welcome the opportunity for more conversation about our schools!
10/01/2020: Citizen Questionnaire
What do you consider to be the top 3 issues for ABSS? What are your plans in how to approach them?
1. SAFELY OPENING OUR SCHOOLS & HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETIC PROGRAMS - We must work diligently to safely get our students back in the classrooms. Our students are struggling academically, mentally and socially. Our educators are working harder than ever to support our students with remote learning, many who are also juggling remote learning for their own children, family commitments and second jobs. Governor Cooper and NC DHHS has created a comprehensive plan, the Strong Schools Public Health Toolkit, to transition back into the classroom. It will likely not be easy or without challenges, yet it will be a first step in a positive direction. Alamance County reported a 5.7% positivity rate this week reflecting a downward trend. ABSS leadership is working closely with county leaders and our local health department to implement best practices for cleaning/hygiene, monitoring for symptoms, requirements for masks and social distancing, and protecting vulnerable populations. The initial plan includes K-8 for classroom instruction and our high school learners returning to the classrooms in January. At our September board meeting, our Athletic Director presented a recommendation to allow our high school athletes to return to the fields, our gymnasiums, and our courts. With guidance from NCHSAA, workout structures, scheduling, dead periods (for deep cleaning) and staggered return timelines. Another important note is 9 of the 11 surrounding counties have already allowed athletic programs to resume. As the parent of a high school athlete, I recognize the social and emotional benefits of our sports programs and support the return of athletics for our high schools. Our coaches are committed to careful diligence of protocols to ensure safe, supervised activity at all times. **Board discussion follows next week. I encourage our board members to grant permission to our athletic directors to resume our sports programs. Ultimately, the parent can then decide if the child can participate in athletics at this time.**
2. FUNDING - I am excited that we continue to increase teacher supplement pay - now ranked #10 and up from #27 just ten years ago. I am anxious to see the results of the $150M education bond for addressing deferred maintenance in our facilities and to construct a new high school. I am happy to report that COVID-19 funding has made it possible to employ a health nurse in every school. Unfortunately, for as long as I can remember, funding education has been a challenge for our county. We must recognize that education funding is an INVESTMENT, an investment in our children - our future leaders - and our community. As a community, we must articulate the importance of making education funding a priority with our county and state leaders.
3. EQUITY ACROSS OUR DISTRICT - It is so important to take a careful look at each of our schools and identify the inequities across our district. I am excited to see the work of the newly formed Equity and Diversity Committee. One of the goals is to recruit and retain educators aligned with the racial diversity of our students. I also believe that providing learning opportunities and training in social justice for our current educators would also be beneficial. It is important that our students in every school have access to learning environments that empower every child to thrive with multi-cultural support at every level.
What is your understanding of the role of an ABSS board member and what strengths would you bring to the role should you be elected? Effective school board members play an important role in providing leadership, oversight and guidance on the School Board with a sincere passion to be an advocate for our children. As a school board member, I will work to build collaboration with my board colleagues, our educators, our county leaders and our community. Working relationships that value mutual respect, accountability and full transparency will allow our Board to focus on student outcomes, best practices, effective and equitable policies, and fiscal responsibility. Most importantly, I want to engage our community in our work to ensure that our decision-making reflects the community's vision for public education. As a parent, a member of the local business community, and a lifelong citizen, I believe I bring a unique perspective to the role. I also believe that a school board member should be an ambassador of ABSS seeking opportunity to engage with our students, our educators, and our leaders across the district. If elected, I look forward to spending time getting to know our leaders, our educators, and our families in all 36 schools. The more I learn about our schools and our community, the more effective I can be in my work and service on the school board.
What are your thoughts on the response of ABSS to the COVID-19 crisis? I commend ABSS for their continued commitment to lead our educators, students, and parents as we navigate the tremendous challenges of COVID-19. As we work to identify best practices to transition our students back into the classroom, I encourage ABSS leaders to seek input from our educators, parents, community leaders and citizens. This insight, paired with guidance from the NC Department of Health and Human Services and the Public Health Toolkit created for NC schools, will prove invaluable as we continue board conversations about re-opening our schools with a strong focus on the health and safety of all. ABSS has received $11.6M to help with COVID-19 recovery measures: HB1043/HB1105 $4.9M, the Governors Emergency Education Relief (GEER) $843,953, the CARES Act $5.6M and Impact Alamance $200k. To date, $8.1M is still available. While funding sources dictate the allocation of the dollars spent, it is important that our Board works diligently with district leadership to spend wisely to safely open our schools and give parents more options for remote learning. Accountability and transparency are non-negotiable. Communication must also be deliberate and transparent as we move forward. Surveys are helpful yet only when administered prior to decision-making and only when respondents have an option to include comments, concerns and suggestions. We must make a conscious effort to ask, listen and learn from those "in the trenches" about how best to "manage the trenches".
I’ve attached a copy of the ABSS Strategic Plan Extended July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2021. Where are your priorities within the strategic plan? The strategic plan is a fabulous tool that allows a school district to create focus on priorities and improvement. It offers an excellent opportunity to engage the community for input, feedback and suggestions. When implemented, a strategic plan creates efficiency and accountability that often saves money! It is also a tool to track progress and measure success. While all five goals are important priorities, I would choose to focus initially on Goals 4 and 5, World-class Working Conditions, Competitive Compensation, and Support in the Classrooms. This past semester when our schools closed as the pandemic swept across our nation, my social media was flooded with accolades for our educators. While the praise and appreciation are certainly well deserved, it is also long overdue. It quickly became apparent of the many hats our educators wear every day in the classroom, the on-going commitment to the students regardless of circumstance, and the ability to adapt to make things happen. Educators are the backbone of our public schools and studies show they have the greatest influence on student outcomes. ABSS must make recruitment and retention a top priority. I love the Total Rewards model and push for competitive salaries and classroom support to close achievement gaps, enrich school climate and inspire a school culture that is inviting, empowering and inclusive.
Is there anything else you want voters to know? As a parent, I have been actively engaged in ABSS since 1998. Over those 22 years, I have worked with educators across our elementary, middle and high schools on both personal and professional levels. I have seen both the opportunity and the challenge of teacher recruitment and retention, aging facilities, school safety, struggling academic performance, the challenge of redistricting and the transition of six superintendents. As a local REALTOR®, I have been actively engaged in the business community since 2002. I see firsthand how the strength of our public education system impacts the local housing market which in turns impacts local economic development. A strong school system can drive tax revenues, property values, quality of life and community satisfaction. As a lifelong citizen of Alamance County, I am actively engaged in the community. Alamance County has always been my home. I was born here. I started my family here. I built my business here. I am NOT a politician. I am simply a passionate parent and small business owner who loves Alamance County. Strong schools create opportunity and build wealth for our community which benefits ALL 169,509 citizens in Alamance County, and especially the 22,294 students in ABSS. I ask for your vote on November 3rd and I ask for your engagement over the next four years to work with me to make good things happen in our schools!
Posted on 02 Oct 2020, 01:48 - Category: Q & A Insights