Why do you want to be on the board?
I am running for the FHSD school board because I am passionate about maintaining this amazing school district. I also believe that I bring a skill set that will benefit our district. As a Project Manager for a Fortune 500 company, I have over 25 years of experience managing multi- million-dollar budgets and collaborating with a lot of different stakeholders. I am ready to actively listen to the needs of our school district and then take decisive action to address them.
What is a current issue in our district that you would address if elected?
I am concerned about attrition in our teaching staff and the limits in our current budget around offering competitive wages. Given the loss of teachers we are seeing in the district, I would really like to see our teachers’ salaries increased. I know that this is challenging in our district, where our operational budget is largely based on local revenue and 85% of our operating funds are spent on salaries and benefits. There simply isn’t much room to grow in our current budget unless we can pass a tax levy.
How would you like our district to be viewed from an outside perspective?
I would like FHSD to remain as the best district in the area. Families often purchase homes in our district because we are ranked as #1 in Saint Charles County by many reliable sources. To
keep FHSD strong, we need to be a place that recognizes that all students have value and deserve empathy, respect, safety, and a rich learning environment.
What do you plan to do about continued funding issues in our district?
I believe that it is time for a tax levy to address the Operating Funds of our district. We have not had a levy passed in over 15 years and our district finances are showing the strain of that. With about 85% of our operating budget going to staff salaries and benefits, we simply do not have any “wiggle room” left to cut expenses without negatively impacting students through larger class sizes. As a member of the Board of Education, I would advocate to get a levy on the ballot. Ultimately, it is up to the community to decide if that will pass, but the BOE can get the process started.
How do you plan to keep top-quality teachers from leaving the district despite several pay freezes over the last 10 years or so?
I believe that this is the most pressing issue facing our district. I touched on our need for a tax levy and to pay living wages in answers to other questions. Beyond salaries, teachers need to feel respected and valued. As a member of the BOE, I think the best way to make sure this happens is to listen. I want to listen to what teachers need and then do my part in making the necessary changes to ensure that we keep FHSD as a great place to work.
Do you plan to do something about the accumulating issues with our school’s functionality, including the frequent flooding, leaking, and plumbing issues?
I hope that we can address some of these concerns through the prioritization of the remaining Prop S funding. We should focus on the safety and property needs in our district and address as many as we can. We also need to work with the administration to plan for the future of our schools. As new housing continues to be built in Saint Charles County, we should be looking ahead to the impact that will have on our district and put plans in place to address it before it becomes a safety concern.
How do you plan to increase the number of janitorial staff? Will you offer more benefits, pay, or keep the rates the same?
I believe that the district recently raised these rates, but I would be interested in a study of our rates for janitorial staff compared to other districts. Hiring of janitorial staff is an issue throughout the county and state, and we should work together to come up with creative solutions. A good place to start would be to ask our current staff what they need to be retained. The people doing the day-to-day work could help us identify how we can solve this issue.
A student brought a gun to FHC in early February, how can the district improve on safety that was lacking before?
I first want to say that the situation at FHC seems to have been handled very well. The student who notified the SRO did the right thing and the situation was handled without any hard to the public. Even when situations are handled well, we should (and I know we do) have briefings afterwards to explore anything that could have been done better. It is unfortunate, but in our world today gun violence seems to happen everywhere. The district needs to stay constantly vigilant of threats. I do appreciate the work that we’ve done to secure the entrances to our building – that was a great step forward in the safety of our students and staff. Finally, care for the mental health of our students is also important when it comes to safety. This is why SEL programs are important, as they allow us to identify students who might be struggling before they become a threat to the safety of themselves or others.
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