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Questionnaire: Tom Reed, School Board, At-Large

Office sought:  At-Large Member, Loudoun County School Board

Party Affiliation: School Board Elections are Non-Partisan, However, I am Republican endorsed. I am a member of the Loudoun County Republican Committee and am the past Treasurer

Previous offices held; please include dates: None

Incumbents: when elected to this position: 1999

Occupation: Business Process Consultant

Current employment: Scientific Applications International Corporation, 1953 Gallows Road, Vienna, Virginia

Previous employment: American Management Systems, Fairlakes Circle, Fairfax, VA

Education:

St. Marys University, San Antonio, Texas, MS Computer Information Systems, 1986-1988;

Southern Illinois University Carbondale at Royal Air Force Station Chicksands, Bedfordshire England, BS Industrial Technology, 1983-1986;

Community College of the Air Force, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, AS Resource Management 1984-1986; University of Maryland, University College, College Park MD, AA Liberal Arts 1977-1979;

Broad Run High School, Ashburn VA, 1974-1975

Community ties: I am the President, American Management Systems Toastmasters in Fairfax;

Sergeant-at-Arms Speakers Professionally Speaking Toastmasters in Herndon;

Member, Virginia School Boards Association;

Member, National School Boards Association;

Past Educational Vice President, Golden Gate Chapter of American Society of Military Comptrollers, San Francisco, CA;

Member, American Society of Military Comptrollers

Member, Association of Government Accountants

Member, Society of Cost Estimating and Analysis

Member, American Legion Chapter 34 in Leesburg

ENDORSEMENTS: Loudoun Education Association and Loudoun County Republican Committee. I decided not to seek personal endorsements.

1.    What is your top public-service accomplishment?

Raising the salaries of Loudoun County Public School teachers to a completive level with surrounding jurisdictions is the top accomplishment of my public service career. When I joined the school board we were considered a training ground for school districts to the East. Teachers would gain experience in Loudoun and transfer away because of higher pay and benefits. We've stopped that exodus and now recruit teachers from those very same systems.

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

100% of our eligible schools passed the Standards of Learning tests; we were the largest school district in the commonwealth to do so. Another noteworthy accomplishment is that our dropout rate is 50% below the state average and continues to go down. Although we have increased our student population by thousands each year, the raw numbers of dropouts have gone down.  Both of the successes are directly attributable to our ability to recruit and retain the best teachers in the country by providing competitive wages and salaries.

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.

The greatest problems facing Loudoun County stem from growth. This impacts all of our schools, whether they are in rural areas like Banneker Elementary School in St. Louis or in built out areas such as Park View High School in Sterling Park. As we open new schools, we must establish new boundaries, transfer teachers, hire new teachers, and ensure that students are able to succeed in both the new and existing schools. As the at-large member, I have a responsibility to be cognizant of issues throughout the county, whether it is potable water in a western school, or capping of Kindergarten classes in Ashburn.

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

I make a decision only after listening to competing positions, reviewing as much information as possible and basing my decision on the impacts it will have on educating Loudoun's children. I have found that many times, listening is the most important thing a school board member does. Also, I can work with people with whom I don't always agree.

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

I have never met or seen my opponent at any forum during this election of during my tenure on the school board. For the past four years I've been there, and done it! I have attended nearly all boundary hearings, board meetings and committee meetings. I am the chairperson of the Legislative Policy Committee, a member of the Finance, Construction, & Site Acquisition Committee, and a member of the Technology Steering Committee. I have attended PTA or PTO meetings in every cluster. I attend as many graduations as humanly possible. I have gone before the Board of Supervisors to ask for policy changes that would impact our schools. I have attended town council meetings to gain support for school activities. I have gone to Richmond to lobby our state delegation to support education improvements. I have been to homes and churches to listen to parent's issues. I spend an average of half an hour a night responding to e-mails and phone calls concerning school issues.

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?

Within any system there is an opportunity for waste; if I find it, I will work to have it removed. To some folks, it is wasteful spending to support sports programs, for others it is art and music that are waste. I consider these areas an integral part of a successful education. During the budget process we look for efficiencies; Two years ago we centralized the purchasing of library and textbooks by creating a centralized purchasing staff. In the first two years, we saved the taxpayers of Loudoun County over a half million dollars. Through the use of value engineering, we've reduced the costs of constructing schools. During the current board's term we've returned to the board of supervisors over $30 million in unneeded bond funds. In the last school construction bids, the prices were 10% less per square foot than the previous school ($106 for Briar Woods and 117 for Freedom).

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

I believe the Standards of Learning are improving our student's performance. Our Curriculum has been reorganized not too teach to the test, but to teach the information in English, math, history and science that is important. There was a fear initially that students would pass a class, but not pass the related SOL, that problem has not materialized.

8. If you had an extra $1 million to spend on the school system any way you would like, how would you spend it?

Full day kindergarten for all at-risk children in the county would be the best place to start spending a million dollars. We have a program currently at two eastern Loudoun schools, but I would like to expand the program where it is needed. Any residual funds would be applied to hiring additional teachers so that we could reduce the student class size. Over the past four years, we've made progress in reducing class size, but we're not where we want to be yet.

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

A well-run school starts with a motivated principal, a team of focused teaching and support staff, involved parents, and most importantly children with a desire to be educated. Examples in Loudoun County run from Aldie Elementary to Waterford Elementary, In other words, all of our schools.

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

All of our teachers have basic educational training skills; the hallmark of an excellent teacher is passion; a passion to educate children. The best measurable characteristic comes not just from student accomplishments (grades and SOL performance), but also from parent recognition of the teacher's efforts. We have special education teachers that tirelessly strive to educate children that will never be able to be 'measured' on a test, but parents recognize improvements in their children's development that the teacher has helped produce.

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

In the primary grades (K-5) it would be on Reading, Reading, Writing, Mathematics, Computer skills, Science, History, Foreign Language, Music, Art, and Physical Education. I place double emphasis on reading at the elementary level; Literacy is the most important skill our young students must master if they are to achieve educational and personal success. For Secondary education my priorities would be Writing, Mathematics, Computer skills, Science, Literature, History, Foreign Language, Music, and Art, and Physical Education.

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

Our public information office distributes information through the media on a daily basis about achievements in our schools. At my speaking and social engagements, I always urge the public to visit their local public schools. But again, I would place strong emphasis on the local school principal to find ways to encourage public participation.

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

The back-to-school nights are an effective way to increase parental involvement. Also, parental involvement in signing off on homework keeps parents involved. I would allow principals and class-room teachers the 'freedom' to find ways to involve parents and then have them cross-flow their successes and failures to other schools.  Some of our schools have 100% parental participation in PTO/PTA while others are below 50%.

14.    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?

In the last four years, violent acts have increased; we've had two students murdered, as well as several shootings and beatings. Fortunately, most of the violence takes place off campus due to the presence of School Resource Officers (SRO). We have SROs at all of seven of our high schools and most of our middle schools. The SROs provide at least two benefits; first they provides safety and security so our students can concentrate on learning, but SROs presence also allows student's to develop a friendly relationship with a professional law enforcement officer.