All students, regardless of zip code, must receive a high quality education and rise academically; It's time to Listen, Learn, and Lead.
As an experienced social worker and educator, I have steadfastly advocated for families and children in a variety of roles. As a college student, I held an internship at The Child Advocacy Institute, a non-profit organization that seeks to improve child well-being by bringing together citizens, community leaders, policy makers, business representatives and others to ensure that all children are healthy, safe, well-educated and provided every opportunity for success. This role sparked my desire to dedicate my work to make a difference for children.
My approach and priorities in all of my roles, from social worker and community member to WCPSS Special Education Instructional Assistant, have been consistent: Each child deserves fair treatment, have his/her voice heard, & be presented the opportunities to reach full potential.
I have been a strong community advocate for the families & children of WCPSS. From helping to find the best solution for my neighborhood regarding reassignment to negotiating changing the bell schedules to helping identify that the placement of a proposed ICE Facility was not in the best interest of ICE or our community, my thoughtful and objective approach has been a big picture outlook and putting the best interest of children first. Most recently, I worked to expose the implementation of the controversial math curriculum, MVP. After filing many records requests, I have learned the truth about staff and board member communication.
The most important responsibility of a school board member is to consistently advocate for what is the best interest of the children in WCPSS. This requires a strong desire to remain educated on issues impacting our schools, families, students, and community. It is imperative to have a big picture approach and honestly evaluate how a decision could possibly impact our students and our ability to ensure students, regardless of zip code, race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status, receive a sound education and provide the support needed to help maximize their academic performance.
With the every-changing situation with COVID and the NCDHHS and CDC requirements and recommendations for safety measures, it is important to ensure we use funding to secure PPE, cleaning supplies, and other items needed to help maximize our school staff and students' safety. Further, we must continue to monitor our technology needs for staff and students during remote learning so all students have equal access to their educational program whether it is in person or online.
I would also advocate for fiscal transparency and accountability as we examine how the state funding is being spent to ensure we are focusing our spending on the aforementioned items and other essential budget items required to provide a sound education and supports needed to help all students reach their full potential.
Although surveys are sent to teachers, many teachers fear retribution for being honest when answering questions. I would work to change the environment of the WCPSS to one truly open to honest feedback without any consequences. This is true, not only for teachers--but all school staff and WCPSS families. I would seek to strengthen my relationship with school staff and have open dialogue with all staff.
I would promote professional development for all school staff by inviting them to the table to hear what their needs are and advocate for flexible professional development options. We must work to ensure that all school staff have equitable access to training so we are providing the best environment possible for our students and staff to succeed.
Neither important nor unimportant
Pre-Kindergarten is an important piece to help provide students the opportunity to strengthen their educational foundation so they are better prepared for kindergarten. We also need to use Pre-K to identify any strengths or concerns, which may require more specialized services. This is imperative because early intervention has huge implications for a student's success. Being proactive can help us provide students with a top notch educational experience and maximize their academic performance.
There are a multitude of factors when considering recruiting and retaining qualified teachers and all school staff. It is imperative that we treat school staff with respect, give them the support they need (such as appropriate professional development based on personalized needs), listen to feedback they have for what is working and what needs improvement, create an environment where staff feels safe to be honest without any ramifications, use funding effectively so all school staff can have a livable wage, and consider how our decisions will impact their roles in our schools.
I am passionate about growing public support for our public schools. We must grow broader commitment to support our great public schools.
I have had the pleasure of serving for about 17 years. In that time I have chaired most of the Board committees and currently chair the Facilities Committee. I was an architect in establishing Goal 2003 – that 95% of students in grades 3 and 8 would test proficient or better on NC math and language EOGs by 2003. That goal unified our teachers and administrators and resulted in significant academic gains for all students. I was a team member crafting Vision 2020 - that by 2020 WCPSS will annually graduate 95% of its students ready for productive citizenship as well as higher education or a career. This June, we broke the 90% mark for the first time ever. My institutional knowledge and experience as a small business owner give me great insight into identifying problems and finding solutions as our School Board works to make WCPSS the best in the state and nation.
A board member's responsibility is to engage the community in conversations that build support for our public schools. Listening and engaging people with divergent views is essential to being an effective board member. Next most important is advocating for necessary funding to provide an excellent educational opportunity for all students.
The state has been systematically transferring state expenses to county budgets. Every state reduction in funding or flexibility in how funding can be used in schools results in increased local property tax burden. More than 105 of our 115 school districts have to use local property tax money to fill necessary positions and provide salary supplements. Legislative actions have created a statewide increase in property taxes to make up the lack of state funding. There is an outstanding judgement against the state for $730 million due to our public schools from collected fines and forfeitures. The Leandro decision on inadequate school funding has yet to be addressed by the legislature. The school board must have an aggressive agenda to educate key legislators on the impact of their decisions...clearly demonstrating that "these are our needs and this is how to provide them". That activity takes place now, before the legislature returns to town.
The legislature has effectively eliminated any state funding for professional development. In the past we were able to use text book funds for PD; no longer. All costs for PD are paid for with local tax dollars. And the need for professional development is high, especially given the new reality of distance learning for all. Teacher satisfaction is broadly high. Significant factors to teacher satisfaction continue to be effective communication and leadership (not dictatorship) from the school administration, a healthy culture within the school including collaborative professional environments and time for teachers as individuals and as members of their professional leaning teams to learn and grow professionally. Teacher compensation and benefits will continue to be about 4th on the list in terms of importance. That being said, teachers should be paid as the professionals they are in a salary schedule competitive with the private sector.
Neither important nor unimportant
Four year old children are as different from each other as night is from day. We see great variance in readiness for schools based on socio-economic condition. Many of our young children are food-insecure and do not get the attentive adult supervision and nurturing they so desperately need to become good students. The p re-K programs attempt to level the playing field in terms of opportunity for our lower income community members.
Wake competes very well with neighboring districts but teacher compensation pales in comparison to many other states. Wake's quality of life and vitality of our schools is very attractive to practicing teachers. A bigger problem is attracting more talent into the teacher educational pipeline...especially teachers of color or other nationalities. The teacher colleges of North Caroline are not producing enough new teachers to meet the needs of our growing state. As a state we need more qualified professionals in the teacher corps.
The most important function of government is the successful education of its children, which is why I am running for Wake County School Board.
Professionally, I manage IT application development and the Geographic Information System (GIS) program for a state agency. My regular duties include supervising staff, making hiring decisions, managing budgets, writing federal grants and collaborating with other state agencies.
GIS is the software used by WCPSS student assignment. If elected, I have the ability to review reassignment plans and help prevent unnecessary disruptions like the last (Cary) middle school reassignment. To be clear, I absolutely support diversity in school.
More important than my professional experience is my ability to listen, learn and build consensus. For the past decade, I have represented a statewide elected official on a State Commission where I helped balance the needs of the private sector with three different levels of government. I was instrumental in developing a 25 million dollar statewide program that utilized the 911 surcharges to create data that benefits all partners. I’ve achieved success by listening to others and focusing on common objectives first.
Financial resources for education are finite but needs can seem endless. When allocating limited resources, a school board member must stay focused on what’s really important, the students. Two years ago the WCPSS’s board decided to spend 1.4 million dollars on a new math curriculum for just four grades. Do we really not know how to teach high school math yet? I am 100% confident in our current teachers’ abilities teach math without a poorly implemented curriculum.
Recently, I spoke with teachers at NCEA and they are rightfully concerned about upcoming state budget shortfalls. The uncertain times ahead are going to need new, steady leadership that will put common sense above personal gain.
Wake County’s population growth is unprecedented and schools can’t be built as quickly as new subdivisions. Additionally, it’s increasingly difficult to find land parcels large enough to build schools. It would be ideal to acquire land now, but that isn’t realistic.
Capital funds to build new schools come from the County and those requirements are taking a big toll on Wake County’s education budget. The County needs to reconsider increasing the $1,000 subdivision fee to help offset school construction.
Teacher satisfaction is measured just like any profession. You look at how many educators are leaving the profession for other careers. In 19/20 WCPSS turnover was around 10% but some of that is transfers within the system.
On the School Progress Report they survey teachers on support from administration. I have noticed that when that number falls below 70% there are likely issues with the administration. As a Board members this will be one of my triggers to become engaged.
Neither important nor unimportant
Pre-kindergarten intervention is very successful and a great way to give disadvantaged kids a head start. I think WCPSS does a good job identifying these students and getting them early intervention.
Wake County’s supplement is better than most of the neighboring counties (not Durham) so recruiting isn’t normally the problem. The cost of living in Wake County has clearly exceeded raises in teacher pay over the last decade. Retaining qualified teachers tends to be more of an issue, especially in charter schools where payroll is syphoned off to fund facility paybacks and corporate profits.
If elected, I will introduce the idea of paying bonuses based on the percent of economically disadvantaged students.