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Votes

Steve Hunt, School Board At-Large

Office sought:  Fairfax County School Board, At-large

Party Affiliation:  Republican-endorsed

Previous offices held; please include dates:

Incumbents: when elected to this position:

Occupation: Senior Systems Analyst

Current employment:

SAIC

4001 N. Fairfax Dr., Suite 175

Arlington, VA 22203

Previous employment:

U.S. Navy / Naval Flight Officer

Education: (please list schools attended, degrees and dates)

Duke University, BSE Civil Engineering . 1980

Community ties:

President Assist Crisis Pregnancy Center Board (2001-2003 / member 2000)

* Chastity Team Speaker (2001-2003)

Chairman Fairfax County School Health Advisory Committee (1998-2001 / Member

1997 & 2002-2003)

Member Fairfax County Schools Family Life Education Committee (2003)

Spokesperson Parents and Students Supporting Standards of Learning (PASS-SOL)

(2000 - 2002)

Vice Commander American Legion Post 1995 (First Vice 2001-2003 /Second Vice

2000-2001 / Third Vice 2003-2004 / Member - 1999)

* Boy Scout & Cub Scout Council Representative (2001-2002)

* Merit Badge sponsor

* Volunteer at Habitat for Humanity

Speaker for NOVA Citizen's Network (2000)

* Speaker on Civic responsibility

Active volunteer at Chantilly Bible Church (1996-2003)

* Past choir member

* Past youth group volunteer

* Welcome Committee

* Nursery Volunteer

Medical Delivery Task Force (2000-2002) (Fairfax County / Fairfax County

Public Schools Task Force)

Fairfax County School Back to School committee (2000) (students with life

threatening diseases)

Taft Junior High School (Washington D.C.) rehabilitation project volunteer

(1998)

D.C. Cares Volunteer removing debris from Branch Park in Northeast Washington

(1997)

ENDORSEMENTS:

Fairfax County Federation of Teachers

Fairfax County Republican Committee

1. What is your top public-service accomplishment?

My top public service accomplishment was serving the people of Fairfax County and the country as a naval flight officer standing between our nation and those who sought to harm us.

More locally it would be my efforts on the School Health Advisory Committee and the committee formed to look into the school's response to children with life-threatening diseases that resulted in the school system modifying and vastly improving the process to support the educational needs of those children who are facing periods of debilitating medical procedures.

2. Incumbents: Describe the top accomplishment of your last term. Why shouldn't voters blame you for current problems in your district?

3. What are the top five problems facing your constituents and what approaches will you use to solve them?

a. Children's poor reading & writing skills -

* Ensure the availability of curriculum that teach phonics explicitly

* Teacher training in phonics instruction

* Restore the emphasis on spelling, grammar and vocabulary

b. Children's poor math skills

* Ensure the availability of traditional math texts in every school

* Teacher training on traditional math approaches

c. Concern over the learning environment in the classroom

* Push for an increase in classroom teachers to reduce class size

* Incentive pay for classroom teachers to improve retention

* Work toward a balanced approach for the inclusion of learning and mentally challenged students.

* Provide mechanisms and leadership support for teachers to maintain decorum

in their classrooms.

d. Low confidence in the effective use of school funding

* Form an inspector general position the has the autonomy and authority to investigate any area of concern in the school systems to review the budget and program effectiveness.

* Establish the priorities where the classroom is the first place to receive funding priority and the last to have any reductions in funding.

* Visibility and no "spin" in budget discussions with the public.

e. Concern for the safety of their children in the school environment

* Increase the focus on minor infractions to reduce the escalation to more serious ones

* Promote an emphasis on respectful behavior and attitude toward other students in the classroom.

* Support an attitude of respect for teachers as authority figures.

* Provide mechanisms and leadership support for teachers to maintain decorum in their classrooms.

f. Describe one challenge (or more) in your district that is different than other parts of the county.

4. What qualities, qualifications and characteristics will you bring to this office?

* Qualities

* One of the most critical qualities that I bring is leadership that is prepared to make decisions that are founded on what is best for the students' education and well-being.

* I am capable of examining issues from the perspective of those involved, which provides me with a greater understanding of the dynamics of the issue.

* I am focused on getting the job done and doing what is right, not on who gets the credit.

* I have experience:

* In the classroom environment with teenagers

* Analyzing and staying within large budgets

* Developing processes that must accomplish an objective

* Analyzing and measuring success in processes

* Serving the community

* Characteristics

* Problem solver

* Listener

* Focused on utility and achieving defined objectives

5. How will voters best distinguish between you and your opponent(s)?

* We recognize the areas in need of improvement, we have a vision of schools that maximize students' success and have a plan to achieve the vision.

* We recognize that we have to accomplish the school system's mission with the available assets and cannot base our success on more funds from the State Government.  We must demonstrate why $10,000 per student is insufficient before asking the people of Fairfax County for more of their money.

* We have experience in leadership, decision making, fiduciary responsibilities.

6. What is the minority achievement gap? How have the schools been successfully addressing this gap? What more can they do?

* The minority achievement gap is the large average difference in test scores between those children that are in economically disadvantaged households and therefore are often totally dependent on the school for their education and those children whose families have the education or income to be able to supplement their children's education.

* In general most schools have not addressed this disparity successfully.  It has been an issue in Fairfax County for over 30 years.  Despite numerous "programs" it has remained relatively stagnant.  An exception has been the SOL program, which has resulted in a slight reduction in the minority achievement gap.

* Crestwood Elementary has applied phonics skills to their reading instruction and used traditional math curriculum along with high expectations for achievement for all students and has seen amazing results among a 70% minority population.  This success has been all but ignored by the administration.  It should become a model for all schools with challenging demographics.

7. What is your understanding of research studies into the effect of school size on student achievement? What are the implications for FCPS?

* While there is definitely some logistic economies of scale in large schools, there is a greater potential for a child to get "lost" and for academic issues to be overlooked.  The larger schools often result in smaller opportunities for students to have interactions with teachers and other staff.  There are more opportunities for individuals and groups to feel alienated.  There is often increased inappropriate student behavior.

* I believe that many of our high schools and some middle schools are too big.  As the number of schools slowly becomes sufficient for the student population, we should look

to a school model with smaller numbers of students. This would include school populations below the designed limits in some of the larger schools.  This will result in the requirement for new facilities to continue as the school age population ceases to increase.  Instead of closing schools, we should concentrate on making local neighborhood schools a priority.

8. What is your understanding of research studies on sleep patterns of teenagers and the implications for high school start times?

* As one who is up and commuting the same time as the high school students, I can relate to the difficulty of the early morning wake-up.  Meetings in mid afternoon are especially painful.  I know that research has shown that waking up later benefits high school students.  I am very open to discussing ways to delay the high school opening times.

9. If reducing class size is a priority, how would you re-allocate the budget to pay for this change?

* We need more classroom teachers. The budget must reflect more funding going toward the number of classroom teachers (those actually standing in a classroom, with their name on the door) and sufficient pay for those teachers. I favor bonus incentives for those who are classroom teachers, as well as incentive bonuses for those in difficult to fill positions.

10. Is there "waste" in the school budget? If so, where and how much? If you can't pinpoint precisely, in what specific area would you begin looking?

* The first thing we would do is establish an inspector general to determine exactly where the funding is being spent, to review the effectiveness of the spending and the programs for which it is being spent.  All spending should be measured as to the value added to the classroom.  I would look first at where the 59% non-school budgetary increases over the last 4 years have gone and at the curriculum specialists that are developing curriculum that could be acquired.

11. Has the cluster director system been successful? If so, give examples. If not, what alternatives should be explored?

* While the positions have not increased significantly, the funding for this administrative structure has.  Increased administrative structure tends to create justifications for its existence that results in more administrative tasking in the schools.  I would advocate for the school demand driving the extent of administration.  If the school is not in need of that service or program, it is an opportunity cost lost that could be used in the classroom.

12. What have been the advantages and disadvantages of SOLs?

* The advantages of the SOLs include:

* It has forced the school system to focus on all children's academic achievement.  This has seen non-SOL test scores increase.

* It revealed the schools that had significant challenges in providing an adequate education to their students.

* It has resulted in a slight reduction in the minority achievement gap that has been stagnant for years.

* It has enabled schools like Crestwood Elementary School to have the leverage to use concepts and curriculum that are outside the administration's paradigm to achieve great success with challenging demographics.

* It has placed a value on the high school diploma that was being undermined.

* It has put Virginia out in front in preparation for complying to the No Child Left Behind legislation.

* The disadvantages of the SOLs include:

* The administration implemented the test in an environment of fear that was inappropriately transferred down to the students.

* It is not a perfect system and has some areas that could be improved.

* It is being expanded into areas that were not intended to be a part of the program and will only complicate the system.  This demonstrates that the schools still do not understand the purpose of the system.

* It is being viewed as a goal instead of a minimum.

13. Explain how No Child Left Behind sets standards on categories of students and its implications for Fairfax County schools.

* NCLB has set benchmarks that have to be measured in numerous demographic groupings.  There are currently requirements for a large majority of students in those groups to be evaluated.  In order to be considered successful, there must be measurable improvement in specified areas.

* Fairfax County has already seen the implications of having just a few students miss the test.  With a very diverse population, there will be a burden on Fairfax County to comply with all aspects of the legislation.  The advantage that we have is that with the proximity to the Department of Education, we can establish a dialog to provide feedback on the areas of the program that are not feasible or practical in order to have those areas improved.

14. If you had an extra $1 million to spend on the school system any way you

would like, how would you spend it?

* I would spend it on teacher training for:

* Phonics skills teaching methods

* Traditional math teaching methods

* Student learning styles and how to connect with students in each learning style

15. What are the hallmarks of a well-run school? Include measurable characteristics.

* The primary hallmark is the academic achievement of the entire school population.  This is not an expectation that all students will achieve equally, but that the achievement is within an acceptable spread with the vast majority being above an acceptable level.  These are measurable by numerous methods.  There are numerous other characteristics that will contribute to this.  They include:

* An attitude of high expectations for all students

* Proper respect for students and teachers

* Appropriate responses to behavioral problems

* High retention rates among teachers

* Active involvement of parents in school activities

16. What are the hallmarks of? Include measurable characteristics.

* The hallmark of an excellent teacher is the academic success of their students.  This is the bottom line.

* Other characteristics that contribute to being an excellent teacher include:

* Understanding the different learning styles of their students and applies the appropriate teaching methods to meet their learning styles

* Maintaining control of the classroom and is respected by the students.

* Being considered hard but fair by the students

* Challenging all students to excel

* Being looked to by their peers for guidance and advice

17. If you were to create your own core curriculum, what subjects would you include? Place in priority order.

* The core curriculum are the basic academic areas of (in this priority):

* English

* To include reading, vocabulary, spelling and grammar.

* Math

* History

* Science

* A well rounded education should supplement this with:

* Physical education

* Music and arts

* Foreign languages

18. What are the advantages and disadvantages of public-private partnerships as they relate to Fairfax County schools?

* Advantages

* Access to school facilities earlier

* Lower cost of construction

* Use of school system assets to acquire facilities

* Does not require a bond referendum to pass

* Does not increase the county/school system debt

* Disadvantages

* Total costs may or may not be smaller depending on the bond interest versus the school repayment plan.

19. How would you increase involvement of the general public in the public schools?

* Demonstrate that the school system is actually listening and responding to the public input and not just placating them.

* Increase the visibility in the school system budget and programs.

* Have town hall-like forums to address issues of interest to the public.

* Address community groups that are not normally directly associated with the schools to open the conduit of communication.

20. How would you increase parental involvement in the public schools?

* Increase the input of the PTA and other parent groups on how the schools function.

* Utilize technological communication methods where possible.

* Ensure all records regarding their child are available to them.

21. What additional public safety steps would you recommend in addressing gangs and violent activities on or near school property? Has the rate of violent acts increased, decreased or stayed the same in the last four years? County-wide? By pyramid in the area you live?

* Numerous schools in other parts of the country have demonstrated that ensuring when smaller infractions are not ignored, there is a reduction in the more major infractions.  This focus on basic decorum and respect of others should be enforced within the schools.

* I do not have access to specific comparative data on violent acts.  There has been an increase in gang activity in certain areas of Fairfax County.

22. What school-boundary strategies could be used to address the inequity of under- and over-enrolled schools within FCPS?

* The first step to this process is to establish a consistent high level of quality in all of our schools.

* Using current technology, optimum solutions can be generated that would determine an equitable distribution of children, taking into consideration the distance and the time required to reach the school.

* Wherever possible, children should attend the school closest to where they live.