(KWQC) – Note: TV6 has reached out to local school board candidates with a list of questions to help voters make an informed decision in the November 2 municipal and school board elections.
We will post the responses at www.kwqc.com/learnunited/. TV6 does not support any candidate.
Why are you a candidate for the school board? If you are elected, what will be your priorities?
After reviewing the skills and experience I have to share with the Pleasant Valley School District, I realized the important opportunity to give back to the district that has blessed our family so much. I know I can contribute to its continued goal of becoming Iowa’s premier public education district, including all student and extracurricular activities.
What experiences or skills have prepared you for serving on the board of directors?
In Indiana, I worked alongside the principal and faculty of Redeemer Lutheran School, as well as having worked with administration, faculty, and students at Purdue University for a decade. Today, I am an IT professional with a background in security and privacy, two essential topics for any organization. I have managed multi-million dollar budgets. Finally, I have experience with the work management changes that are happening across the industry which make teams more productive, efficient and deliver results faster.
What do you think are the main issues facing your school district?
The Pleasant Valley School District is in a period of expansive growth. In order to keep pushing to become the state’s premier public school for all students, we need a vision and approaches that will create a competitive advantage that will help attract and retain the best teachers and administrators. Given my work in the industry and my experience with the District curriculum as a parent of Kindergarten to Grade 12 students, I have the breadth necessary to have a broad view of the Advice.
As a member of the board of directors, where would you seek to make budget cuts? What would you change in the current budget?
The significant growth of Pleasant Valley requires careful fiscal management. The challenge of welcoming new families, giving their students the best education available, without creating an environment that future residents and councils will struggle to maintain requires a council with various experiences in tax management, of which I can play a role. determining. I would like to see a simple template helping residents understand current and expected population growth displayed alongside the financial plan so that it is clear that the district is prepared for this opportunity. Adjustments to the current budget may be necessary to help students recover from the effects of the pandemic after identifying concrete and feasible options as an example.
What skills and experiences do you bring to the table that would help you make difficult financial and budget decisions, such as downsizing?
As stated earlier, I have managed multi-million dollar budgets. It requires understanding how to develop estimates, forecasts, and factor in actual data. Education is based on specific funding credits. I have worked with tightly defined budgets as a program manager in higher education and had to make difficult tradeoffs between productivity tools and staffing, for example. Considering the demand for PV schooling, determining whether to increase the capacity to educate more Iowans must take into account the need to find high quality educators, physical space, and the long-term impacts of a such decision. It seems unwise to increase capacity if the District is to change course within a few years.
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has signed into state law a ban on school mask warrants (which the courts have now suspended). Do you agree or disagree with the state ban, and why?
Some decisions are best left to the local level, and this is one of them. Working with local board of health advice, school districts have been dealing with epidemics of all kinds for years. Local variations in demographics, vaccination rates, and disease activity are some of the reasons I think these decisions are best made by local school boards.
How would you criticize your school district’s overall management of student and staff safety during the COVID pandemic?
Pleasant Valley provided our family with exceptional service at this amazing event. The District quickly provided resources and methods to continue learning virtually at the end of the 2019 school year. Then, they offered several variations of virtual and in-person learning in 2020, giving parents like us options to balance family safety and the learning style for each student. Once the Iowa legislature enacted the mask ban, this option allowed our at-risk family to take appropriate precautions. However, other families, with different work situations or younger children, may have struggled. This is worrying and, given the PV Board’s emphasis on academic excellence, it needs to be paid attention.
Due to various controversial issues, such as mask wearing, school board meetings have become more animated in recent months with protests and sometimes unruly behavior. Do you have any security issues or other concerns, and what changes, if any, would you recommend?
Without a doubt, the disturbing pattern across the United States of bullying and violent tactics carried out by adults by a certain segment of the population is evident. Potential volunteers have told me that they are not interested in certain activities for fear of being harmed. To me, this is a signal that democracy itself is at stake now. From a physical safety perspective at school board meetings, it is possible that additional help from county law enforcement may be required, but these circumstances are difficult to predict and many factors would certainly dictate. this need. Interestingly, the controversial board meetings were fueled by a few anti-mask supporters. Given the increased risk that they will transmit COVID-19 without a mask, those with a contrary view are reluctant to attend for fear that they and their households will be infected by the very people they are living with. oppose. Security-based options should be adopted to allow participation of all interested residents.
Iowa has a new law restricting what teachers can teach in schools, particularly around sexism and racism (issues sometimes lumped together under the catch-all term “critical race theory”). This law prohibits concepts including the idea that one race or one sex is superior to another. Do you agree or disagree with the new restrictions and why?
Iowa House File 802, Section 3.2 and 3.4.a. appear to be in direct conflict, so without legal interpretation it is difficult to say whether the legislation is enforceable. That said, micromanagement pedagogical approaches, in effect, indicate that local school boards, superintendents, school administration and teachers are unable to do their jobs effectively. It seems impossible to educate students in critical thinking and respectful intellectual debate without challenging viewpoints, including, but not limited to, divisive topics.
Schools in Iowa are experiencing gaps in achievement, especially among students of color and those from low-income families. What course of action would you suggest to help close the gap?
The vision of the Pleasant Valley School District is to “… provide the best school and after-school programs in the state.” Not in some things, but in all things. Not for some students, but for all students. The Council is enriched by members who carefully consider the special needs of those who are not part of the majority. My contributions are based on the experience of working with students with special needs and volunteering at Special Olympics. In addition, I work alongside multinational men and women on a daily basis and have extensive international travel experience. These experiences can help me understand and develop ideas for filling the educational gaps affecting the less fortunate, which is another issue requiring special attention. Helping them with resources like technology, tips and hands-on experiences are opportunities that I think we should explore. I also believe that we should further develop learning experiences with private industry to help these students identify their goals earlier so that they can focus their learning.
Under Iowa’s Open Enrollment Act, Davenport and certain other districts are no longer allowed to deny open enrollment requests. What do you think about this?
Open enrollment offers families in districts with fewer resources the opportunity to take advantage of the open spaces of school districts like Pleasant Valley, which offer many resources and opportunities. Given that the goal of education is to help all students succeed in life, it seems reasonable that families could move into neighborhoods most likely to help them achieve their goals. However, districts are able to balance capacity with these demands, so school boards always retain the ability to balance costs and educational opportunities for their community.
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