Brickyard Coalition Inc.
INTERVIEW QUESTIONS FOR BOARD OF EDUCATION CANDIDATES 2014
|Street Address||9509 Primrose View Court|
Gaithersburg, MD 20882
|BOE Election District||1|
|Education||B.A., Psychology, Duke University 1986|
|Occupation||Director of Student Services and Community Engagement, Future Link Inc.|
1. If elected to the Board, what would be your top three priorities for the next four years?
- Achievement – The achievement gap is a persistent problem that must be addressed through continued focus, courageous conversations, and resources. It will take a community-wide effort to support our struggling schools while simultaneously improving instruction and opportunities for all students throughout our county. With the challenges of a new curriculum, new technology, and changing demographics, the Board of Education must take a strong, proactive leadership role in this effort.
- Accountability – I am committed to the continuous thread of accountability that starts with the Board of Education being attentive and responsive to the needs of all stakeholders in Montgomery County. It includes holding the Superintendent and, by extension, school leadership accountable for their management of our schools and the instruction that takes place in our classrooms.
- Leadership – Understanding that the role of the Board of Education is oversight, I firmly believe in a proactive, engaged Board which asks important questions and listens to all stakeholders to include staff, parents, and other county officials. Having a deep knowledge of MCPS as well as experience in leading and engaging community members, I look forward to strengthening the role of the Board.
2. Please list what you consider to be the top three failures of MCPS over the past four years and what you think should have been done to address these issues.
Concerns persist with regard to the achievement gap, final exam failure rates, and the implementation of curriculum 2.0. That said, many within MCPS are working hard to examine these issues and identify solutions. And while hindsight is 20/20, a proactive, engaged Board of Education should require timely, informed updates, ask questions to build thorough knowledge of each issue, and provide the necessary support to ensure implemented solutions are successful.
3. Would you be willing to support an issue or program even if the Superintendent did not? If so, please provide three examples over the past two years where you have disagreed with or voted against a request or recommendation to the Board of Education by Superintendent Starr. (Non-incumbents please list three areas where you would have disagreed with Superintendent Starr had you been a BOE member.)
During Superintendent Starr’s first year and in my role as MCCPTA President, I opposed his CIP recommendation that delayed school modernizations. We also disagree on proposed state legislation regarding the burden of proof in special education disputes. Dr. Starr and I have discussed our opposing views respectfully and in depth. I will continue to hold those positions as well as voice my opposition to future issues on which I’m sure Dr. Starr and I will disagree. The point is that we each have a role to play due to our differing perspectives and objectives. The resulting disagreement is important to voice in order to have a discussion that can generate a well-considered solution.
4. Would you support and vote for providing the Board of Education members with full time professional staff to assist in fulfilling their elected duty to provide oversight of MCPS? What specifically would your recommend?
The first year I participated in the MCPS Operating Budget workgroup, I supported the Board of Education expanding their staff to include a budget analyst. By the second year of my participation, I appreciated that the Superintendent and his subordinates are, in fact, “staff” to the Board of Education. The Board of Education already has a staff of 7. In my opinion, it would be a waste of valuable resources to fund another budget analyst dedicated to the Board of Education. Instead, Board of Education members need to hold the Superintendent accountable for providing the information and answers they require to perform their responsibilities.
5. The Potomac Elementary School is one of the oldest schools in the MCPS system but funding for a new school was once again delayed this past year. If elected to the BOE, will you commit to provide funding for a new Potomac Elementary School without any further delay?
As stated above, I will continue to advocate for keeping all school modernizations (now labeled revitalization/expansion) on schedule. The state of some of our older schools impacts instruction and the programmatic offerings and leads to inequity across the county.
6. Do you believe that public school land leased directly or indirectly to a private entity should conform to all Montgomery County zoning, master plan and other land use regulations that would apply to a private landowner?
7. Do you believe that any lease of school property should be made through competitive bidding and after public input regarding the best use of the property?
8. The two MCPS Bus Depots at Shady Grove must be relocated to another site and other MCPS Depots are over capacity. As we understand, there is a joint work group made up of MCPS and County staff led by the Department of General Services considering alternative locations for the Bus Depot. Would you favor or oppose the use of the Brickyard school site, located on a residential road with 3 traffic circles and 11 speed bumps, as a location for use by MCPS as a bus depot?
There will be many factors to consider when identifying the most appropriate site for use as a bus depot; however, I can’t fathom a site that would involve traffic circles and speed bumps as being appropriate.
9. Assuming the selection process was made by competitive bid, would you favor using of the Brickyard school site as an organic educational farm in furtherance of the No Child Left Inside policy and as suggested by Governor O’Malley?
Assuming the Board of Education released the site and a competitive bidding process was followed, its use as an organic educational farm seems sensible and advantageous. However, all stakeholders to include the surrounding community should be informed and involved in the decision-making process.
10. As a member of the Board, what would you do to improve the relationship between MCPS/BOE and the County Council?
Frankly, this has to be resolved and electing new Board members will assist in the effort. We need to build trust and respect among ALL the various agencies and elected officials in Montgomery County. It seems so basic, but sitting down over a cup of coffee can accomplish much with those who feel you don’t understand their position. I am committed to making that outreach and sharing how we all have a mutual goal of educating and supporting our citizens.
11. If you are elected to the Board, will you commit to insist the BOE apply for mandatory referral with the Maryland National Capitol Parks and Planning Commission for any change of use of a school property before the BOE authorizes such change of use by resolution, agreement or other methods, as required by the Regional District Act?
As it is mandatory under the Regional District Act, yes, I will. Even though the Planning Board’s decision is advisory only, the process and recommendation should be respectfully considered.
12. Please share with us an overview of your campaign (including your key endorsements, major donors, fundraising, and campaign plan) and why you will be a competitive candidate.
I entered this race after several months of reflection on my motivation, what I would truly contribute to the Board of Education, and if I was a viable candidate. My PTA leadership roles have earned many supporters throughout the county and I am tapping them for neighborhood coffees, fundraising, and social media support. A campaign against an incumbent presents some unique and sensitive challenges which I intend to navigate with integrity, focusing on the strengths I will bring to the Board of Education.
13. Why do you feel you are qualified to serve as a member of the Montgomery County Board of Education?
I am a concerned parent and taxpayer who has taken advantage of unique opportunities to gain a comprehensive understanding of our school system. My experiences have brought me to this point, fully qualified to serve our county on the Board of Education.
As a parent of two children with the youngest still attending MCPS, I have observed the curriculum at all grade levels of the county school system. As a county PTA leader working with families across the county, I understand the diverse needs of our students and the concerns of their parents. As a high school PTA president, I recently experienced a unique optic on the realities at ground level. As the past District Liaison for State Senator Karen Montgomery, I understand the legislative process and advocacy. As the Director of Student Support at Future Link, I currently see the results of variable instruction and am already working diligently to make that important difference for county youth. I have the energy, passion, and commitment to work hard every day for the next four years so that all our students benefit from a proactive, engaged Board of Education.