Questionnaire: Marlene Barney, School Board, Sterling District

Questionnaire: Marlene Barney, School Board, Sterling District

Office sought:  Sterling District School Board Member

Party Affiliation:  Non-partisan office

Previous offices held; please include dates: n/a

Incumbents: when elected to this position:  n/a

Occupation:  Realtor/Substitute Teacher

Current employment:

(1)ERA Teachers, Inc.

1064 Elden Street, Herndon, VA  20170

(2) Loudoun County Public Schools

102 North Street, NW

Leesburg, VA  20176

Previous employment:  AT&T (retired manager, Information & Technology

Services), Computer Applications, Inc., Computer Learning Systems, Educational


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

University of Maryland, B.A., 1966

University of Maryland Graduate School, Human Development Education, 1969-70

Mary Washington College, Elementary Education, 1976-77

Community ties:  Resident of Sterling for nine years; co-producer, writer,

host, "WomanSide," a community television interview program encouraging women

and teenage girls to take positions of leadership; former Vice President and

Member, Chatham Green COA Board of Directors; Member, League of Women Voters,

Sterling Community Coalition, La Voz, NAACP; former Vice President, Women of

AT&T, Northern VA Chapter.

ENDORSEMENTS:  Lt. Governor Tim

Kaine; former Sen. Charles Waddell, Co-Sponser, Elected School Board


Ann Kavanagh, former Sterling District School Board Member and former Dulles

District Supervisor; John Flannery, attorney and Visiting Executive, GWU

Graduate School; David Whitmer, Chairman, Loudoun County Planning Commission.

1.  What is your top public-service accomplishment?

Producing/writing/hosting "WomanSide" for over 11 years; this program is a completely volunteer effort that has won local and international awards, including a Hometown Video Festival Award for "Best Talk Show Series" and a Telly Award for "Best Community Affairs Program."

2.  Incumbents: Describe the top accomplishment of your last term:  n/a

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:

(1) Limited funds for public education - I will forge better working relationships with our BOS; work to get more funding for public education from the state; find ways to make more efficient and effective use of school funding; look for creative ways to fund public school programs, such as grants, model programs, public and private partnerships.

(2) Competition in recruiting and retaining well-qualified teachers - I will work to recruit and retain teachers competitively through positive incentives, such as pay, health insurance, retirement benefits, tuition and career development reimbursement, and will work to streamline the recruiting process.

*(3) An increasingly diverse population  - I will work to expand and improve ESL programs, such as more consistency, more sharing of successful ESL concepts and models; more intensive, full day classes for beginning level ESL students; adding more summer school and after school ESL programs; reducing student-to-teacher ratios in ESL classes; hiring more Parent Liaisons to help parents with school processes and paperwork; establishing better cultural and diversity training

*(4) Older, worn out school facilities and equipment - I will identify, address, and advocate for school needs that directly impact education/learning, environment/health and safety issues, and improve schedules for replacing tools/equipment used in learning where needed.

*(5)Alcohol/drug abuse and gang activity/violence among our children - (see answer to last question below.)

* = more significant in the Sterling District

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

A background in education, communication and business;  B.A. in English, double minor in Ed. and Soc. Studies, from the Univ. of MD; trained as an English teacher; took Masters Level classes in Human Development Ed. and Elementary Certification Classes at Mary Washington College; wrote educational materials as an Educational Writer/Analyst; substitute taught in 3 counties, including Loudoun; retired AT&T manager, where I worked as a liaison to bring disparate groups together to solve system problems; a No. Va realtor; a natural communicator and educator; like to identify issues/problems/challenges, find innovative ways to solve or overcome them.

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

(1) I have a strong, combined background in education, communication and business, which my opponent lacks; (2) I have not been censured/formally reprimanded by any organization or board; my opponent was censured/formally reprimanded for ethical violations by his colleagues on the School Board; (3) I am a team player and leader - meaning, I enjoy bringing diverse, bi-partisan people and groups together to collaborate, partner, and build consensus for the good of a common goal; my opponent has failed to build an effective working relationship with his colleagues on the School Board, or to effectively bring diverse, bi-partisan groups together for the good of our children and our schools.

6.  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 be looking?

I believe there is waste.  I would begin by looking in the areas of (1) improving waste management processes, including improving recycling, and more competitive bidding for services; (2) designing schools and school renovations for aesthetically pleasing function, not form; (3) preventing  legal problems that result in expensive legal fees through better communication, policy, and oversight; (4) improving audio-visual equipment management; (5) reducing school administrative costs not directly affecting educational quality; (6) eliminating overlap/duplication in processes, programs, services through better communication/information sharing.

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

Standardized tests are useful tools for assisting educators in assessing student academic performance, and needs of underperforming students, but no one tool should be used to assess a student's level of learning. or to determine whether or not a student graduates. Standardized tests should be one of mulitple tools and evaluative criteria used to assess learning.  Also, high-stakes tests such as the SOLs, which are used to determine whether or not a student graduates, cause teachers to "teach to the test," stifling  student and

teacher creativity and disengaging students.  Finally, standardized tests used for evaluative purposes should have more consistent and more clearly defined criteria

than the SOLs.

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

would like, how would you spend it?

In terms of capital improvements to schools or the school operating budget, 1 million dollars is not much money.  I would use the money to hire several well-qualified primary school teachers with the objective of helping to reduce student-to-teacher ratios in grades K-3 and possibly establishing additional all day kindergarten classes.

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

A well-run school provides an environment conducive to learning, bringing out the best in both students and teachers.  This includes hiring well-qualified, motivated teachers who enjoy teaching; providing support for teachers to be creative with student instruction, and support for students to develop to their full potential; maintaining a positive, respectful relationship between school administrators, teachers, staff, parents/guardians, and

students; providing updated school facilities, educational tools and equipment, clean school facilities, and a safe environment, and  demonstrating consistent progress and

improvement in student assessments and high marks in teacher professional assessments.

10. What are the hallmarks of an excellent teacher? Include measurable characteristics.

An excellent teacher is well-qualified, as demonstrated both through state certification in his/her subject/grade level and high marks in professional teacher assessments; enjoys teaching, believes that each student has the ability to learn, and is dedicated to helping each student develop to his/her full potential; has kept current with his/her subject matter, and with teaching and evaluative techniques and tools; is creative and has the ability to keep students engaged in learning, and appreciates and shares the joy of discovery and

learning with students; teaches and encourages students to use critical thinking skills, solve problems, make informed decisions, meet and overcome challenges, and do their best; positively impacts his/her students' academic performance, and positively influences his/her students' lives.

11. If you were to create your own core curriculum, what subjects would you

include? Place in priority order.

A core curriculum would depend on the specific grade level for which it is designed.  In general, a core curriculum for the primary grades should emphasize Reading, Writing and Basic Mathematics. As the student progresses, subjects requiring more abstract thinking, such as Science, Social Studies/History, and Foreign Language should be included.

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

I would increase public involvement through good communication and public relations.  In speaking with people in the community, many people tell me that their children are grown or they don't have children, and I talk to them about their own personal investment in having a good public education in the community.  They almost always respond positively.  I would work to keep this message in the public consciousness through consistent communication - newsletters, website, regular town meetings, surveys, and knocking on doors.  I would also work with local TV and radio to develop a Public Service Announcement promoting the value of community involvement in and support of our schools.

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

Using the same techniques as above, plus actively attending  school functions,  attending PTA meetings and LEAP meetings to listen to what is going on and to network with parents.

14. What additional public safety steps would you recommend in  addressing

gangs and violent activities on or near school property?

Everything in a child's life, in and out of the classroom, affects a child, and, therefore, affects his/her performance in school and behavior in the community.  For these reasons, I would work to forge partnerships between schools and community resources and programs that would positively impact academic performance and/or make schools safer, such as community police programs, supervised after-school and summer programs, children's healthcare partnerships, programs to engage children in the community in positive ways.  I would also work to improve and expand cultural and diversity training/awareness programs, and programs teaching students to use negotiation, mediation and conflict resolution as alternatives to using violence to settle disagreements.

Has the rate of violent acts increased, decreased or stayed the same in the last four years?

Parents say that violent acts in schools have increased, but teachers I have spoken with, tell me that it has not dramatically increased in schools.