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Ralston Board of Education

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  • Heather R. Johnson

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    Patrick McPherson

  • Jodi Norton

  • Catherine N. Payne

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    Robin Richards

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    Merv Riepe

Biographical Information

How can schools use technology to foster better equity and educational outcomes?

What can be done to ensure the safety of students and teachers in our schools?

What role, if any, should charter schools have in the Nebraska educational system?

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Current Public Office, dates held No current public offices held.
Past Public Office, dates held Papio Natural Resources District, 1978-82; Nebraska State Board of Education, 2014-18
Education Bachelor's degree, Creighton University
Military experience U.S. Army Reserves
Volunteer experience Nebraska CHIP Board, Nebraska Game and Parks Youth Fishing Instructor Heartland React, Cloisters on the Platte, CHAD, American Diabetes Association, United Way, Omaha Charter Review Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals, Foster Child Review Board
The increase in 'free lunch' program numbers cries out for greater equity. The recent decision of OPS to purchase I-Pads for all and provide 'hotspot' connectivity not only deals with the pandemic but ensures equity for those who most need it. It prepares teachers and students for the future using Zoom-type programs and learning activities as well as potential teacher shortages. Using technology to provide books and additional learning material, particularly for K-3, provides great opportunity.
The 'open classroom' concept in several Ralston schools is outdated and puts multiple numbers of classes in potential danger from intruders. Students need to be in individual lockable classrooms. Buildings need to be upgraded so there is only one lockable, monitored entrance. Schools must have emergency procedures that are written and frequently reviewed and each school should have regular contact with law enforcement so that any emergencies can be handled quickly, capably and knowledgeably.
Nebraska offers school choice allowing children to find educational opportunities in other districts and provides for private and parochial schools and home schooling. These choices exist in the Ralston District.

The Nebraska Legislature has not authorized charter schools although they exist in more than 40 states. Results for them vary and most are in very large communities.

I favor school choice for all parents but the question is moot until parents and the Legislature act to permit them.
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Current Public Office, dates held Ralston Public School Board District 54 11/20-present. I filled a vacancy.
Education Ralston High Graduated 1999 University of Nebraska at Omaha Graduated 2015 Current Grad Student at Colorado State University
Military experience None
Volunteer experience Board Service: Omaha Children's Choir, Bellevue Choral Arts Society, Vesper Concert Series
When implementing Ralston's Return to Learning Plan, it became very clear that technology was the core of the conversation. Every day we are learning just how important access to technology is to the success of our students whether they are at home or in the classroom. By ensuring vital internet access to every child and a 1 to 1 technology plan through out our schools, we are giving every child equal opportunity to access the technology they need as they navigate this Covid era of education.
A well developed and widely communicated safety plan is fundamental to ensuring safety in schools and at school events for both our staff and students. Schools must have trained staff and administrators that help to monitor and deescalate tough situations and find the proper after care needed for each situation. The ability to intercede and redirect should be at the forefront of the schools policies in this area.
I do not think Charter schools should have a place in Nebraska. They should not have access to the same funds as public schools until they follow state and federal guidelines. The lack of oversight in this institutions leaves vulnerable student populations at risk of abuse and higher rates of expulsion. Their lack of inclusion policies and practices should keep them from accessing government funding.
Current Public Office, dates held None
Past Public Office, dates held Nebraska State Legislator. State Senator, LD12, Ralston and Millard, 2014-2018
Education Bachelor's degree, Business Finance, University of Nebraska at Omaha Master degree, Health Policy and Management, The University of Iowa
Military experience U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman
Volunteer experience Scoutmaster, Ralston Post, Boy Scouts of America. Board, Mid-America Council of Boy Scouts Sub-chair, United Way of the Midlands Board, Children's Square President's Advisory Board, Nebr. Wesleyan Univ. Board, CHAD Advisory Board, Omaha Symphony
Software and hardware training and support to students, parents, guardians, teachers and administrators. Identify best-practices in other school systems.

We must evaluate and assume risks, working to avoid false starts and the highest and best use of time and financial resources.

Technology is a high priority means to guarantee equal opportunity for each child.
Must have an engaged student body, faculty, support staff and administration to be observant of events, comments, social media, rumors and interactions among students. Must have and respond to mental health needs.

Buildings and parking lots need modern camera along with secure and limited entrances. Emergency drills essential.

Health protocols and PPE supplies must exist and ensured a clean environment based on scientific best-practices. Communication to stakeholders must be ongoing two-way
Education, health and judiciary must always place the welfare of the child first.

Because no two children are the same, we need an education plan for each child constructed in concert with parents or guardians.

Ralston is a small school system, hence, charter schools would distract from and public schools. I believe a place exists for home schooling and private/parochial schools.