Questionnaire: Phyllis Randall, School Board, Broad Run District

Questionnaire: Phyllis Randall, School Board, Broad Run District

Office sought: School Board, Broad Run District

Party Affiliation: Democrat Endorsed

Previous offices held; please include dates: None

Incumbents: when elected to this position: NA

Occupation: Mental Health/Prevention Therapist

Current employment: Prince William County Community Services Board, 10 years

Education: Memphis State University, Bachelor Degree Sociology

George Mason University, Master level courses Psychology

Community ties: Resident of Loudoun for over 10 years

Room mother Ashburn Elementary,

Loudoun Minority Student Achievement Advisory Committee

Member, Capital Community Church

Virginia's HAVA Committee (Help America Vote Act)

Political Action Chair NAACP, Northern Virginia

ENDORSEMENTS: I am thrilled to have received the endorsement of the Loudoun Education Association. I am also endorsed by the Loudoun County Democratic Committee.

1. What is your top public-service accomplishment?

I believe my "top" public service accomplishment is one I share with thousands of parents in our County. I am attempting to raise my children to be happy, responsible, stable people who are productive members of society. Before attending Ashburn both my children attended a "Play and Learn" pre school. I was both Vice President and Secretary of the Parents' Advisory Board. I am also a member of the Loudoun County Schools Minority Student Affairs Advisory Committee and a room mother at Ashburn Elementary School.

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

Not applicable

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 five problems are as follows:

Rising gang activity and Substance use/abuse (please see question number 14).

High student to teacher ratio (please see question number 8 )

Not having a fully funded school budget (please see question number 6)

Recruiting and retaining quality teachers (please see question number 6)

Common sense school boundaries

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

I will work to ensure Loudoun County Schools provide a safe, nurturing environment where our children can build confidence and receive a quality education. I believe my daily work with "high risk" youth makes me uniquely qualified to address some very tough issues that are a real and growing problem in our middle and high schools. These problems include increased substance use and gang activity. Also, being a room mother has allowed me to have first hand experience in the class and get an ideal of what our teachers do on a day to day basis.

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

Of the 20 plus school board candidates I am the only one who sought the endorsement of both the Republican and Democratic committees. I am willing and ready to work on a non-partisan basis toward the goal of educational excellence, not just for students in the Broad Run District but for all Loudoun County students. I have knocked on over three thousand doors and I am committed to listening to the parents, teachers and students of the Broad Run District.

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 the real question should be: is there waste in the County budget. The Board of Supervisors sets the budget for the School Board. This past year the BOS cut 10 million dollars from the schools budget. If elected I will encourage the BOS to continually "scrub" the County budget to eliminate waste. With Loudoun County being the second fastest growing County in the Country we should fully fund our schools without raising taxes. A fully funded school budget will allow us to recruit and retain quality teachers and keep class sizes small.

7. What have been the advantages and disadvantages of SOL's?

I believe the SOL should be one of many measures to determine a child's educational path. No one measurement should prevent a student from advancing to another grade or graduating. This determination should be made based on a students overall school performance. Because I have a child who took the third grade SOL's I have a clear understanding of what the term "teaching to the test" means. The answers to the test question are often not in context thus the student does not get the full benefit of learning that subject. Also, because these tests are not nationally normed we cannot know how Virginia students are performing compared to students in other states. Finally, I think it is important to remember that the SOL tests are not the "brain child" of educators but rather of politicians.

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

This past year 10 million dollars were cut from the schools budget, thus one million would only began to replace some of the needed student services. I would first meet with the parents and teachers of the Broad Run District to hear what they believe the pressing needs are. With only one million my priority would be to increase the number of teachers (especially special education teachers) at the elementary school level.

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

The students are the evidence of a well run school. Of course the primary goal of any school is to effectively educate the student population. Education however should not be the only goal. It is also important to have children who display confidence, citizenship and leadership qualities. The arts and physical education are also important aspects to a student's educational career that should not be overlooked. Finally it is imperative that a schools teaching staff receives competitive salary and benefits package and are valued.

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

Students are the evidence of an excellent teacher. For our teachers to perform to the best of their ability we must keep class sizes small and give our teachers the autonomy to practice their own individual teaching styles. I believe an excellent teacher can encourage a student to perform to the best of his/her ability. The evidence can been seen when we compare measurements such as test score and student involvement at the beginning of the year vs. the end of a school year.

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

At every level, elementary, middle and high school, I believe we have to remember the three R's, reading, writing and arithmetic are the basis of any school curriculum. In addition I would encourage subjects such as "thinking skills" at the middle school level, "test taking" at the middle and high school level and "confidence building" at the elementary school level.

Loudoun County has a good school system with devoted teachers and parents and incredible students. But if our students are to be successful beyond there high school years we have to try to arm them with more then just an excellent education.

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

I think there are many reasons people who don't have children need to be aware of what is happening in the schools.

Successful, safe and stable school increase community cohesion.

A well run County school system also aids in increasing and retaining property value. The goal is to educate the general public of the reasons they should be invested in the local school system.

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

Many families in Loudoun are two income households. Time restraints make it hard for parents to be as involved as they would like to be. What I find helpful is having regularly scheduled meetings that I know will take place on a set day of the month vs. having a meeting only when an issue arises. If elected I will hold community meetings once per month. The goal of these meetings will be increasing parental involvement and listening to the people of Broad Run. I would also hold "Spanish only" meetings; the goal of this would be to bring in families whose second language is English.

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?

Rising gang activity and Substance use/abuse is a real and growing problem not only in our schools but in our county. As a prevention specialist who works with "high risk" youth on a daily basis I feel uniquely qualified to address this issue head on. We need to form partnership with agencies such as the Community Services Board and the Sheriff's Office to educate parents, teachers and all concerned citizens to the warning sign of potential gang activity in their community. Our teachers cannot effectively teach and our children cannot comfortably learn if the schools are unsafe.