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Virginia Beach School Board Rose Hall - Special Election

Members of the School Board set policy for the school division. They manage the budget for the school system, including awarding contracts and setting salaries. The School Board hires a superintendent to manage the school system. The School Board is made up of eleven members. They serve four-year terms. Board member terms are staggered so that the entire board is never up for election at once.Seven School Board members must reside in a particular district, but are elected by a citywide vote. This is a special election to fill a vacated seat. The winner will serve the remainder of the initial four-year term.

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  • Robert K. Dean

  • Stephen A. Johnston

  • Candidate picture

    Joel A. McDonald, Jr.

  • Jessica L. Owens

Biographical Information

What would you do to improve educational equity in our school system? (1000 character limit)

What do you think will be effective in preventing school shootings? How would you implement those ideas? (1000 character limit)

What are your priorities for student achievement? (1000 character limit)

How will you support schools in educating all students (including those with disabilities) who are vocational, college, career, and technology ready? (1000 character limit)

How can the city attract and retain the best teachers? (1000 character limit)

What can the school board do to ensure families want to keep their children in the city’s public schools rather than relocate or enroll in private schools? (1000 character limit)

Explain your top priorities if elected. (1000 character limit)

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Campaign Phone (757) 310-1338
Biography I grew up in the Rose Hall district, I attended Plaza Elementary, Plaza Junior and graduated from the old Kellam High school. I have been married for 29 years, and have two children. One graduated from Landstown HS and is currently in the Fire Training Academy in Hampton, the other Graduated from Bayside Health Science Academy and is currently attending EVMC. I design the electrical, and safety systems for government buildings. I have received several design awards for my projects.
More resources need to be directed to the schools that serve disadvantaged neighborhoods.

We could implement smaller class sizes, more math and reading coaches. Local community programs can be utilized for mentoring programs to give guidance and role models.

After school programs can be better supported with the addition of activity busses.

Some schools supplement their learning experiences with help from the PTA, providing money for field trips and more equipment in the schools. Schools with less PTA support should be identified and more resources be given to those schools.

Separate the academies testing results, graduation rates and other performance markers from the local student population. The academies are used to artificially increase testing pass rates, graduation rated, attendance and lower dropout rates. Bussing in high preforming students for the academies is denying the local students a quality education.
Improve building physical security, there are many things that can be done to greatly improve building physical security that would not allow the shooter to enter the building and limit access to all areas of the building if a shooter gets in.

Train staff and volunteers at the school in preventive measures that need to be taken in the event of an incident, and maintain the training.

Identify the threats to the schools, an elementary school has had a different type of shooter than high schools and middle schools. Identifying these threats and training the staff and volunteers on how to deal with them before the situation gets out of control.

The best way to stop a shooter is to do it before the shooter is at a school campus. The Best way to do this is the “If you see something, say something” program works best. Many school shootings

My top priorities are small class sizes, more teacher assistance, more qualified teachers for disabled students and up to date, relevant training. Make sure every student has the proper resources so there are no barriers for student achievement. It makes no sense to give a student a chrome book and send them home to do on-line work when they do not have internet at their homes. We need to give every student the opportunity to complete their work at school when on-line resources are required.
Ensure all students have an opportunity to succeed. Each student learns differently and has different career/life goals. All students should be prepared for whatever field they want to go into. The school system should expand the programs that offer high demand skills and promote those programs. A student does not need to go to college to be successful in life. College bound students need to be prepared for the demands of college academics, and not be forced to take remedial college classes in English and Math to catch up with the other students.

More teaching assistants are needed to allow for the individual learning environment for disabled students.
Smaller class sizes.

Increase pay, this year the General Assembly approved a 5% pay increase, the VB School Board only gave the teachers a 3% pay increase. The School Board left money on the table that should have gone to the teachers.

Reduce the amount of influence the administration has in the class rooms and let the teachers teach.

Treat the teachers like the educational professionals they are.

Let the teachers have control of their class rooms by eliminating the failing PBIS discipline system and return to the previous discipline system where the Teachers are in control of the class room.

Drop the failing PBIS discipline system and restore order to the class rooms.

Ensure all students have an opportunity to succeed.

Maintain reporting student class rank to help our students get into colleges.

Revise the Elementary School grading system to one more easily understood.
School safety and security

Revising the budget so that more money is dedicated for education and less on the Administration and bureaucracy.

Restoring respect for teachers and Staff.

Addressing shortages in personal such as bus drivers, teachers’ assistants and special education teachers and aids.
Campaign Phone (757) 214-8940
Biography Joel is seeking re-election to the Virginia Beach School Board to continue the meaningful work of ensuring that every student has the opportunity to succeed in Virginia Beach, no matter what their background and no matter where they are going after graduation. It's a work he began over twelve years ago and a work that he is best prepared to continue when re-elected to the School Board on November 5th.
Twitter @joelmcdonald
While serving on the school board, equity has become the lens through which the work of the division has been viewed. We know that not every student entering our schools have had the same opportunities for development, and many enter our schools every day from challenges at home. While VBCPS has a long history and reputation for being a quality school division, we've also known that there was a lot of work to be done to help those students who need it the most. Our goal should be, and is, to provide every student opportunities to succeed, and to prepare them for what comes next after graduation, whether their next step is academic, employment, or military service or a combination thereof. I believe the focus on equity is a large part of our recent successes as a division, including 100% full accreditation for the third year, record SAT and ACT scores, increased enrollment in AP classes and higher AP scores, and record on-time graduation rates. I will continue to support these efforts.
A joint analysis by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Education of school shootings indicates that before most school shootings, student assailants demonstrated behavior that should have been flagged and reported. In Virginia, all school divisions are required to have threat assessment teams to aid in the assessment of behaviors and intervene with individuals to prevent violence in our schools. We were the first state in the nation to pass such a requirement. I do think we can do a better job of informing and educating our teachers, parents, and students on how to help identify warning signs and how to report them so they are properly assessed for potential intervention. I also think it's important for school divisions to have strong behavioral and mental health professional support when intervention is necessary. As a board member, I will continue to support these measures.
I've always believed that student achievement is more than what can be measured by any individual assessment. We're in an era now where everything in education is assessed, measured, and analyzed numerically to determine what may be working and what isn't, what students have mastered and who may need additional help. To a point, I think these efforts are good if they help us improve student learning. By almost every measure, from becoming 100% fully accredited as a school division for the third year, to record SAT scores, to record amounts of scholarships earned by students, VBCPS is a division where students are meeting and exceeding high academic expectations. Beyond that though, I want to see that our students are prepared for whatever may some after graduating from our high schools, and that means being well-rounded, resilient, and personally and socially responsible individuals as well as having been successful academically.
As a member of the board, I've been very supportive of the school division's strategic plan that includes a focus on preparing all students for multiple pathways, including higher education, employment, and military service. From high academic expectations and supports to help students meet or exceed those expectations, to being a model district for career and technical education where students earn tens of thousands of technical and career certifications every year, to continual improvement in the delivery of special education services with the inclusion of adaptive technology, VBCPS is a division where all students can successfully prepare for whatever may come next after graduation.
Recruitment and retention of the most qualified and talented teachers and education professionals should always be a priority for any school division, and it has been in VBCPS while I've been on the board. The very nature of school divisions is that we are people-powered, and teachers are our most important assets. We know that teacher salary and benefits are a significant, if not the most significant, driver in attracting and retaining the best teachers. While VBCPS has been competitive in providing raises to our teachers and other education professionals, we've not adequately kept up with the cost of living and increases in health care premiums and deductibles. Like most people in the city, state, and nation, real wages for our employees have been relatively stagnant over the last decade. Funding has been an issue, as we're still dealing with the impact of the Great Recession and lost funding. As funding is available, compensation needs to be a greater priority.
Generally, we hear of families moving to Virginia Beach in order to enroll their students in VBCPS, not the opposite. This has been a trend for many decades, as VBCPS has a record and reputation for being a high-quality school division. I've always felt it my responsibility as a school board member to build on that history. I think part of the reason VBCPS is well thought of is the diversity of programming the division offers, many of which were ahead of their time and required significant resources to accomplish. For example, VBCPS offers several magnet and academy programs providing significant choice for students and a. variety of programming within every comprehensive school curriculum.
As both the city and state revenues continue to recover post-recession, and hopefully will continue to do so, the school board needs to close the post-recession operating budget deficit while making employee compensation a priority for new revenues year-to-year. If we can do this, we will continue to attract and retain qualified and talented professionals, fund critical unmet needs, and make the much-needed investments into capital improvements that haven’t been possible since the recession.

As the division has invested significantly in instructional technology, I would like to spend time better understanding both the benefits and challenges as seen at all levels of the division now that students, parents, teachers, and administrators have had enough experience to provide meaningful feedback that will help shape both curriculum and the instructional technology budget moving forward.
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