Office sought: Mt. Vernon District School Board Representative
Party Affiliation: Democrat
Previous offices held; please include dates: none
Incumbents: when elected to this position:
Occupation: Health Care Consultant and Executive
Current employment: Self for past 10 years
Education: (please list schools attended, degrees and dates) Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, Masters in Business Administration- Management & Finance, 1981
Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, Bachelor of Science in Business Administration- Finance, 1975
Community ties: Coach, Ft. Hunt Youth Basketball, 1989-Present
Abraham Lincoln Presentations to Schools and Organizations, 1994-Present
Member, Board of Directors, Southeast Fairfax Development Corporation, 2002-Present
Member, FCPS Budget Task Force, 2003-Present
Member, Mt. Vernon-Lee Chamber of Commerce, 2001-Present
President, Good Shepherd Housing and Family Services, 2000-2002
Vice President, Good Shepherd Housing and Family Services, 2002-Present
Board Member, Good Shepherd Housing and Family Services, 1999-Present
Member, Fairfax County Character Counts Task Force, 2000-2001
President, West Potomac High School PTSA, 1998-2000
Member, PTA (Stratford Landing, Sandburg or West Potomac), 1989-Present
Secretary, Riverside Gardens Recreation Association, 1997-1998
President, Riverside Gardens Recreation Association, 1990-1992
ENDORSEMENTS: Fairfax Education Association, Isis Castro, Gerry Hyland, Gerry Connolly, Kris Amundson, Toddy Puller and Democratic Party
1. What is your top public-service accomplishment?
There have been several for which I am very proud including leading our area recreation association back from the brink of financial collapse, leading our local non-profit housing organization to dramatic increases in housing assistance reducing homelessness and improving housing quality and leading a PTA committee in raising more than $10,000 to improve the grounds around our newly renovated high school. My top accomplishment would be as President of the West Potomac PTSA, leading the establishment of an adhoc committee of parents, students, teachers and administrators to address mental health and suicide issues at the school and creating the "Parent's Pledge".
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? Describe one challenge (or more) in your district that is different than other parts of the county.
Raising academic achievement for all students by increasing resources to those schools with the most at-risk students, offering incentives for the best teachers to teach there and restructuring programs to increase parent and community involvement.
Ensuring accountability by administrators, teachers, parents and students by identifying clear standards for each, collecting and evaluating performance information, taking action to improve results and beginning the cycle over again.
Keeping our children safe and classrooms orderly by ensuring that principals clearly understand their role as "mayor" and "sheriff" of their "towns", are given the resource flexibility required to do it and are held accountable for achieving it.
Building new classrooms and schools to reduce overcrowding by getting the Commonwealth to fund the SOQ and our fair share of funding for education, using new less expensive methods of construction to make dollars go further and using public-private partnerships (like South County HS).
Expanding after school based programs to address parent needs, improve academic performance, reduce risky behaviors and increase student interest in school by developing more public-private partnerships without additional tax dollars.
4. What qualities, qualifications and characteristics will you bring to this office?
Experience: I have been a parent of 3 very different children and, through them have a far greater understanding of how the system works for students and parents. I have been involved with PTA for over 15 years, serving as President for 2 years and in other capacities. I have presented and taught about history and character education to students of all grade levels. I have taught seminars on health care and insurance to adults and managed Head Start programs for pre-schoolers. I presently serve as a committee chair on the FCPS Budget Task Force.
Commitment: I care deeply about our "town", the Mt. Vernon district, and its people. Education of our children is the most critical responsibility we have to the members of our community. I understand that the great diversity and involvement of our community is its strength and I shall honor that at all times. I also recognize the challenges our uniqueness brings with it and am prepared to ensure that we receive the resources to meet our "towns" educational needs.
Community Involvement: In addition to my education experience, I have served as President and in other officer positions of local civic and social welfare organizations, coached children of all ages, been a member of the Fairfax County Character Counts! Task Force, a Board Member of our area's economic development organization and a member of the Mt. Vernon-Lee Chamber of Commerce.
Character: I have spent my life with people from all walks of life and believe deeply in the power of diversity to continue to make our society ever better, greater and stronger. I am committed to conducting myself with honesty, integrity and fairness at all times.
5. How will voters' best distinguish between you and your opponent(s)?
My overall school, community and work involvement and experience and the leadership skills that I have demonstrated throughout my life.
6. What is the minority achievement gap? How have the schools been successfully addressing this gap? What more can they do?
The difference in the academic success of certain minority groups must be closed. This will not happen in months or even a few years, but only over time through increased resources for schools and students most at risk and parents committed to changing these outcomes. All day kindergarten in additional schools, greater focus on minority achievement at an earlier age and increased parent/student outreach are some of the areas where more must be done.
7. What is your understanding of research studies into the effect of school size on student achievement? What are the implications for FCPS?
Research shows that smaller schools and classes produce higher achieving and better behaved students. FCPS is building schools that are too large for the optimum success of their students.
8. What is your understanding of research studies on sleep patterns of teenagers and the implications for high school start times?
Based upon current research, high schoolers would perform better with a later start and end time to the school day.
9. If reducing class size is a priority, how would you re-allocate the budget to pay for this change?
There are no easy financial solutions to reducing class sizes. Opportunities for securing these funds could come from decreasing administrative staffing and related expenses, non-school based overhead expenses, programs that are not "best practices" or are otherwise not meeting the grade and transportation costs
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?
See response to question 9.
11. Has the cluster director system been successful? If so, give examples. If not, what alternatives should be explored?
It is not clear at this time that the cluster director system is working. I will be reviewing this issue in depth as a school board member and identifying any alternatives that should be considered.
12. What have been the advantages and disadvantages of SOLs?
Advantages- Focused more attention on students and schools that needed support, identified specific minimum standards and provided a vehicle in which to gauge one measure of those skills
Disadvantages- Increased pressure on all staff and focus on test-taking skills
13. Explain how No Child Left Behind sets standards on categories of students and its implications for Fairfax County schools.
The act requires each grouping of students to improve their academic performance each year or face sanctions if this improvement is lacking over several years and if not ultimately 100% successful.
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 demonstration programs that would offer alternatives to the traditional middle school environment and between parents and school staff.
15. What are the hallmarks of a well-run school? Include measurable characteristics.
A well-run school offers a climate that balances the various needs of students, parents, teachers and administrators while maximizing the well-being, academic success and enjoyment for students. Academic measures for students are well documented and readily available, while other measures would be determined based on similar criteria and results from surveys of students, parents and teachers.
16. What are the hallmarks of an excellent teacher? Include measurable characteristics.
Knowledgeable, caring, creative and committed to each student's success.
17. If you were to create your own core curriculum, what subjects would you include? Place in priority order.
Reading, writing, math, social history, science
18. What are the advantages and disadvantages of public-private partnerships as they relate to Fairfax County schools?
Advantages- Offer "best practices" and innovative approaches that may otherwise be unavailable, involve the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors in supporting education, can leverage additional funds to achieve goals
Disadvantages- Could siphon off public funds for private benefit, may be no more effective than public-only approaches,
19. How would you increase involvement of the general public in the public schools?
Create more partnerships with community groups and private businesses so that they can use their own supporters and resources to support common goals.
20. How would you increase parental involvement in the public schools?
Improve the frequency and quality of communications materials and methods for interacting with parents, set-up special schools and/or programs that require greater parent involvement, and improve administrators and teachers training on the best methods for securing parent partnerships
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?
Disruptive or dangerous students should not be tolerated in the general school setting, but every child needs an education and our community, and the student, are the losers if one is not earned. Every possible effort should be made to offer educational opportunities that will enable the student to be successful, even if it is done in spite of the student's wishes. The number of incidents remains about the same, although gang activity in this area is increasing.
22. What school-boundary strategies could be used to address the inequity of under- and over-enrolled schools within FCPS?
With the addition of each new school, we have the opportunity to utilize FCPS data to minimize overcrowding by the decisions we make on boundaries. I am committed to using our best projections on enrollment to minimize disruption to students and neighborhoods and future overcrowding.