Table 5 Summary-2016 BOE Candidate Forum
Name: Robert Miller
Question: You have been working within the hoco school system as an educator: what is the one issue you would like to change the most?
Answer: Hard to narrow down to just one; if I had to pick one, I have been seeing that there’s a big problem evolving over the last few years regarding communication with the public and the perception of honesty. Both with dealing with the board of ed and how they're dealing with the county executive. Be of the lack of honesty perception, there is a lack of budget; county council is hesitant to give what the county needs bc they doubt the need for it. On the other hand, the school system has raised class sizes and reduced materials while keeping systems of questionable worth; “fixed charges”=doubtful use of money; much is being moved into other areas; slush funds. Bc of the lack of trust due to this, many special ed parents aren’t getting a lot of answers. People are feeling like things are being hidden from them; transparency is needed, and would take care of a lot of other issues at hand. First must fix the perception of lack of honesty; honesty is crucial to trust and good communication.
Question: What actions would u take to make sure the honesty and transparency is built so that trust is created?
Answer: BOE has 7 members, many votes are going 5-2; 5 siding w/ superintendant while 2 are opposed. First thing needed to do=follow through on what we’re supposed to do; DIRECT the superintendent. We as board members have to direct the superintendent to answer the questions and be honest w/ the public; and if it’s not happening, we need to make sure it is happening. Also, we need to improve communication w/ the public; an evening meeting (town hall=like) where people can talk in small groups to talk about subjects of interest. We need to invite input from everybody, including teachers. It’s frustrating as a teacher that they can’t give input w/o threats of negative consequences against us. The explanation aspect is not occurring, so people are less likely to understand.
Question: High school students don’t have enough textbooks to use; what happened this year?
Answer: This year, what happened was that the materials of instruction money was cut in many cases, about 50%, that is very unfortunate and there are many other things that should have been cut instead. We need to get that money back into the budget. The county executive would welcome that; the BOE made some not very good choices. Ebooks instead of hardcopy textbooks; that would affect costs. They got more money than last year, but they asked for more money because teachers didn’t get a reasonable raise previously, and also there are new students=new money for that. Country audit put on; instead of the county being open, the response from the school board is becoming defensive. School board should be more welcoming rather than defensive, people would not speculate as much. Funding issues would improve.
Question: What would you cut funds on?
Answer: Elementary school model the concept of world language instruction; the spanish model is flawed, it is not very helpful, and when the students matriculate into middle school, if they are coming from an elementary school that has it and others that do not( bc the spanish program is only in like 8 schools), the skill level taught w/ differential instruction would not be beneficial and ineffective. It is poorly thought out. Start school later=more expensive bc bus runs; high schools could start later and have world language programs for kids who wish to go to optional after school enrichment programs. Other things include the Gallup’s strength surveys; the survey’s philosophy is not really helping kids; it’s a “what is strong, not what is wrong.” We should focus more on what is WRONG. Money is being spent on sole source contracts, not even including construction money, without and competitively bidding. We need to start competitively bidding though.
Question: What educational “fads” were not very helpful?
Answer: A lot of buildings built in 70’s had open classrooms; it was difficult for students to learn in those classrooms. Double periods was not a good idea; not optimal amount of time for students.
vii Question:Would you want our voice to be heard; will you try to represent US in the BOE?
Invite that kind of input through emails and phone calls
More involvement on the committees that are formed
Concerns not followed through; we need to set up a best practices and follow through
Name: Mavis Ellis
Question: More detailed description on the pressing issues that you would like to address if u were a BOE member
Answer: I would change the culture to one of respect for educators and parents. Questions that have been ask are not receiving answers; transparency is v. important. The state of Maryland has concerns about bidding (12 million $). The board has one employee; the superintendent of schools; we need a toolkit to ensure that she is meeting the needs of our schools. 20% approval rate given by parent to the superintendent.
Question: What would you do to change the problems mentioned above?
Answer: With the budget, there used to be a budget committee represented w/ community members; we need to have that again. The audits need to be figured out, figuring out what was illegal/legal. In terms of the payroll for our educators, there needs to be sharing of information. That information needs to be shared prior to the beginning of the school year.
Question: How will you evaluate teachers from the school system?
Answer: Under the testing and No Child Left Behind, testing would be a component to evaluate teachers. If parents can come together and share information to the principal, it will have more impact than only one parent having an issue with a teacher.
Question: Is there any systematic way that there can be a way to evaluate teachers?
Answer: In the public system, there is not much that we know of directly.
Question: What’s the criteria you use to evaluate education?
Answer: PDIS: in the schools; common language used throughout the building, so everyone is using the same language with the students (regarding behavior). Teachers have no training for programs; you also have to talk to the classroom teachers.
Question: How would you represent the Chinese community in the BOE?
Answer: Support a roundtable to address concerns. She is willing to listen to things and address them. She supports helping Lunar New Year holiday; as a group, we have to lobby to our governor as well because he makes the changes to the local school board calendar.
Question: no idea; it was so quiet and unrefined; something about kinda challenging kids?
Answer: We want to challenge the students and also the educators. Our educators need to maintain their high standards.
Name: Christina Delmost-Small
Question: What would u do as a policy priority if u were a boe member?
Answer: we don't know how much it costs to have a school program=a big problem. We have funding being cut in the classroom, so they don't have the tools so we can’t learn to the best of our ability. Became defensive about the budget. There is a disconnect between where they’re putting the money and where it is supposed to be going to.
Question: Is there a current way for parents to learn about the actual cost?
Answer: The budget book has a lot of pictures in it and how it lives up to Vivion 2018; not a lot of numbers. As a parent and taxpayer, you should know exactly how the money is being spent.
Question: How would you make sure that our input would be made?
Answer: People are making decisions without any information; I will make sure that I only make decisions after inclusion from the community and having the adequate amount of information needed in order to create and informed decision. I want to have a more open process where each board member will be responsible for different groups; we need a BOE member to represent the Chinese community. There needs to be a form of trust between the community and the board.
Question: Students are now being recommended into gt band and now auditioning; subjective vs. objective?
Answer: The audition was fair; what is going on right now is hard to understand. We have to think differently about this; the GT has to have auditions. It would be more helpful to identify students who have the talent but not the means; maybe partnering with other students or having mentors. Need to create partnerships. We need a better balance.
Question: Do you think that everyone should be in G/T?
Answer: Teacher input is needed. Parents also need to be a part of the discussion. We need to allow for flexibility on a school level.
Name: Vicky Cutroneo
Question: Explain how you got involved.
Answer: Significant health issues bc of mold issues=new legislation+new policies. After learning about this, she got more involved in other aspects as well. Collaboration w/ other groups. One person can make a difference; didn’t give up bc it was dealing w/ health.
Question: What’s your stance for change within the system?
Answer: Everything starts with the budget. I believe that it is how we’re spending the budget; it is a budget PRIORITY issue. We’re chipping away at the classroom.
Question: How do you plan to evaluate priorities?
Answer: We’re not getting the data; we are twisting the data (ex: SAT scores are being pulled up by the asian students) The superintendent is the one employee for the BOE. The BOE works for the community.
Question: Is there any way to make block periods more efficient?
Answer: I know that there are a lot of issues regarding breaks and losing instruction due to these block periods; in order to educate students we need to have the time; right now there are issues bc schools are all on the same schedule so that teachers can teach via online/video interactive classes.
Question: Regarding nutrition of lunches, how can we improve?
Answer: food is awful rn, we should have farm to cafeteria and make sure that our students are getting the nutritional needs to get through the school day.
Question: Common core; do you agree w/ it?
It is poorly implemented, I believe that teachers should be more flexible with it and teachers should teach based on their classes. We need student input, parent input, upper input.
Question: How to evaluate teachers?
Teachers need to be evaluated by everyone, not just the upper level people. If teachers are not good enough, they need to be taken out and given different roles.
Name: Kristen Coombs
Question: Do you think the budget is working?
Answer: I was disturbed w/ paraeducators being cut in favor of things like the Gallup's Surveys. We need to see how budget is impacting the classroom; this should be a priority. Sole-sourced=illegal in the state of Maryland. Payroll is one of the most concerning; 7 people were able to change it.
Question: Regarding teacher pay raises, what should be important in evaluating their salaries?
Answer: Administrators should have the ability to make this decision, but this should be managed in a professional way; having the principal moderate the classroom 24/7 is ineffective and makes the teachers feel pressured and “micromanaged.” A great way to make sure teachers are effective is determining they’re improvement. Parents should have a say, and so should the students, but we have to be careful of parents and students having an unjust reason of grinding down a staff member. Parental feedback survey would be helpful, one for students would be good as well.
Question: Once again referring to the GT Band Program
Answer: It is unfair; directors are able to choose competent performers, but many don’t have a chance.
Question: No question, but just a point mad
Answer: Educators don’t think that first graders do not need to transition to different classes are being SUPPRESSED; they’re being told that if they have nothing positive to say, they should say nothing at all. We need to make sure that the experienced people have their input within the school system.
Question: School start time?
Answer: We should push it back half an hour. I believe that the transportation issue isn’t as bad as they say it is; it’s more of a logistics problem.
Question: How will you fix the 5-2 BOE voting system?
Answer: those people like to feel powerful and feel the perks of the superintendent; the superintendent is a big influence. The superintendent is lacking respect as an elected official. The officials aren’t acting as role models; not respectable.
What does the CAC do?
They are an advisory committee that gets policy input. They have meetings and go through proposals.
-personnel issues are not public, such as harassment/discrimination complaints.
Name: Janet Siddiqui
Question: Can you explain the issues w/ the current BOE?
Answer: Communication issues. Regarding the mold issues, we have an indoor environmental quality changes. There are issues w/ the budget. The audit issues need to be fixed, going to 100% competitive budgets. There are ways and policy that we can fix things through the state law. We need to communicate really well. World language and other decisions need to be made based on many opinions.
Question: Can we see all the budget info?
Answer: We need to see the state expenditures; there are available through the state websites.
Question: Textbook issue again
Answer: This is not a money issue, but an issue with the Common Core; the Common Core standards=a state can either purchase their own curriculum or develop their own curriculum. However, now that we have created a new curriculum we don’t have enough textbooks...There is a process in place for it to be reviewed in the central office + involvement of the superintendent.
Question: Is there any way for students to get involved and talk to the BOE?
Answer: doesn’t directly refer to the question...confusing answer
Question: What do you think we can improve in our world language program?
Answer: I am a strong believer in improving upon this. Digital classrooms aren’t ideal but it’s a model that works based on limited resources and availability. Chinese + Hindi important; should start in elem school; scientists say this is a good time to start learning foreign languages.
What are we prioritizing in our budget right now?
32 million dollar cost=less progress
Teachers compensation being funded.