What are your priorities for the district in the coming year? Why and how did you select these issues?
My priorities for the District are increasing the graduation rate, improving literacy and eliminating all D schools. All of these improvements will help the District to become a solid A school District.
School board members are elected to represent not only the interests of the schools located in their district, but also the school system as a whole. In the past, this has at times led to conflict among board members. What is your philosophy on this issue? What would you do to keep cohesiveness and communication among school board members?
My philosophy is that the school board members represent the entire School District. I would remind members that, due to reapportionment, a school that’s doing poorly, may one day be in their district and a school doing well, may not. Therefore, it’s in the best interest of all members to work together for the good of the district.
What would you do to improve communication and strengthen your relationships between the schools, parents and community members, especially when a new program or policy is introduced?
I’ve found that communication is the key to good community, parent and school relationships. This was clearly seen with the roll out of the Bold Plan, the plan to renovate and rebuild our aging schools. The superintendent and Board Members were able, after community and parent feedback, to craft a plan that has broad community support. We must continue to engage the parents and our community in decisions that impact the education of students, by having additional meetings when needed.
In addition to voting for school board members, members of our community will also vote on a half-penny sales tax referendum to fund an extensive capital facilities plan in November. Do you support the referendum and capital plan, and how do you plan to engage with it as a school board candidate and member?
Yes, I strongly support both the capital plan and the referendum. I plan to encourage voters to support the sales referendum at various political forums and community meetings.
Over the last few years, the Legislature has had a big impact on local public education. What are your top issues at the state level, and how would you work with legislators in Tallahassee to represent the needs of our students?
Of course, much of the District's funding is predicated by what happens in Tallahassee. One of the needs, and it's a national problem, is attracting and retaining good teachers. I would certainly lobby for higher teacher pay, so that the State of Florida would become a leader in public education.
Duval County, like districts across the country, has a teacher recruitment and retention problem. How do you think our district can address this shortage?
The challenge of teacher recruitment and retention can best be addressed, as many districts in the State have done, by advocating for a millage increase. A millage increase would also assist the District in complying with State requirements of having armed personnel at all District schools.
As Duval County has made great progress in education, there are still students who are falling behind. How would you keep a focus on addressing inequities in student performance and supporting schools in low-income neighborhoods?
With all students enrolled in Duval Homeroom, our first priority is to determine the learning loss that many of our students have experienced with the virtual learning environment. The School District must develop strategies such as reading and math interventionists and coaches and Saturday school and ensure that each school has the resources needed to fund these strategies. Our business community, Kids Hope Alliance and our faith based community, all must become more engaged in assisting low income neighborhoods, with mini grants and mentorships. The combination of the above should have a positive impact on improving student performance in low income neighborhoods.