My ultimate goal is to provide our students with as many choices as possible. As such, over time, I want to increase the course offerings and pathways available to them – whether that be STEM or nursing or fine arts or something new. In order to do that, we need to get our financial house in order. Over the last ten years, our student enrollment and school-based staff increases have been consistent, but our admin costs have sky-rocketed. What does that say about our priorities?
The school budget is now more than $1.2 BILLION! We need someone on the School Board with strong knowledge in this area, and I am the ONLY financial professional running.
Think it doesn’t affect you? This year, 68₵ of every dollar of your tax money will go to the schools. And as a homeowner, the value of your property is intimately tied to our schools. After all, what is the first thing people typically look at before moving to a new area? The reputation of the local school system!
Whether you’re a retiree whose kids are grown and gone, a millennial without children, a private school parent, or a homeschool family, the quality and cost of our public schools affects you.
I don’t want to spend MORE; I want to spend BETTER.
Opportunities & Options
I believe we could do a better job of making sure all of our students have varied and appropriate educational opportunities.
Currently there is a major focus on the sciences and on technology (AOS, AET, TJ, chromebooks,etc). In our location, that is important, and we need to make sure we are providing rigorous, challenging, state-of-the-are opportunities for these students. I am in favor of continuing Loudoun’s relationship with TJHSST – without restrictions – at least until the Academies of Loudoun is on the same level.
However, we need to make sure our focus is not so narrow as to ignore (or actively deter) options for students who want to pursue other interests or career paths or who have other needs. Not every student will be a scientist or engineer. And not every student will go to college. So we MUST support ALL of our programs – liberal arts, fine arts, Monroe Advanced Technical Academy (MATA) – and communicate and celebrate options other than a traditional four-year university path (trade, military, etc).
As part of this expansion of opportunities, I would LOVE to see more public/private partnerships benefiting both our students and local businesses, perhaps in the form of scholarships, summer internships, and/or apprenticeships. This could even be project-based, similar to how the culinary arts students gain experience by catering school and community events for free/discounted cost.
We have GOT to be better about communicating important information, early and often. Be proactive vs. reactive. And we have GOT to make it easier for parents to find information they need.
LCPS is in the process of revamping their website (coming in stages FY 2019-20), and I am hopeful that this will address many of these issues. However, a website is only as good as its content. Data and statistics – presented in a user-friendly, understandable format – should be included. It is untenable to me that even School Board members cannot get information/data out of Staff. If we are to make informed decisions that balance a variety of interests, we MUST have all the facts!
We also need to set expectations throughout our system by standardizing such important policies as grading, re-takes, homework, and disciplinary actions.
While district candidates will naturally be more locally focused, it is important to have someone who can see the big picture.
We have very different issues in the east vs. the west. There are few one-size-fits-all solutions, so we need to be creative and flexible. I want to facilitate and encourage networking and collaboration among our schools to help our teachers see what has worked elsewhere. I also want to institute a way for our stakeholders to provide honest feedback without fear of retaliation. We also need to make improvements in arenas such as substitute teachers and relevant professional development.