Town of residence: Great Falls
Family: Pete and his wife have lived in Great Falls for 20+ years. Their children attend Langley HS.
Education: U.S. Naval Academy ’79 ( mechanical engineering). US Naval Aviation School, 1980-81. Numerous continuing engineering education and professional education courses and seminars.
Offices held, dates: No previous elected offices
Occupation and relevant experience: Several decades of managing programs and working with budgets in Dept. of Defense, US Intelligence Community, and corporations.
Community involvement: Youth sports coach, Boy Scout Troop 673, Great Falls Citizens Assn., McLean Citizens Assn., Great Falls Freedom Memorial, FCPS parent volunteer, Haddad Youth Ballet, Great Falls Volunteer Fire and Rescue.
Email address: PeteKforSchoolBoard@gmail.com
Twitter handle: N/A
Name three favorite endorsements: Class Size Counts; Steve Stuban, chair of the task force to revise the FCPS Student Rights & Responsibilities; supported by Congresswoman Barbara Comstock and retired Congressman Frank Wolf.
1. What is one issue that defines your call to serve, why does it matter, and how will you tackle it?
I decided to run for the school board because I have children in school and have seen trends over the past 10 years that threaten the quality of education delivered by FCPS. Those include very large class sizes and excessive teacher turnover due to low pay and working conditions. I also was inspired by my AP Chemistry and AP Physics teacher at Fort Hunt High School, here in Fairfax County, 40 years ago. Like Colonel Jacoboski, I spent several decades serving our nation in the military and intelligence community. I now want to continue serving our republic in a different but equally important way — by ensuring that our public schools continue to prepare students for not just college, but also their adult lives and the responsibilities of citizenship.
2. What distinguishes you from your opponent(s) and why should voters choose you?
I will ensure that all students in the Dranesville District get their fair and equitable share of FCPS resources. For over 20 years, the incumbent has voted for budgets that short-change the bulk of the students in our district, despite being a member and chairman of the audit or budget committees for nearly all that time. We have ended up with the largest class sizes in the county. She started as an at-large School Board member in the 1990s, and she never made the transition to representing the people of this district. In contrast, I have worked with corporate and federal agency financial and budget documents for decades, and I understand that getting a fair allocation of the budget requires fighting for it. I will have no difficulty parsing FCPS financial reports and budget documents quickly and asking incisive questions. That’s what this district, and the School Board, needs.
3. How will you address the growing economic divide in county schools?
The economic differences across the county are outside the control of FCPS. The county and state must improve economic growth and make Fairfax more attractive to businesses. FCPS can contribute by delivering well-educated and well-trained graduates to those businesses.
4. How will you address the achievement gap?
Despite decades of our best efforts and large expenses, gaps between low-SES and high-SES students stubbornly persist. Unfortunately, most critical factors that influence achievement lie outside the school house. Schools will continue to engage parents as much as possible and provide extra services to students in need, but wisdom indicates that fixing the root causes of low achievement goes beyond the scope and charter of FCPS. These problems must be tackled by county and state polices and programs.
5. More than half of the county budget is devoted to the local school system with a significant budget gap looming, both for FCPS and Fairfax County. What steps would you take to manage the gap and to fund the needs of the school system? What are the top priorities and what could be cut?
This needs much more response than the 500 word limit set for this questionnaire. However, we should first start by using the $158M surplus cash in the operating budget carried forward from previous years. This can fund several years of “budget gaps” before we need to take actual cuts in expenses, and will give more time for economic recovery and business growth, which are absolutely necessary for long term budget stability.
6. What value does FCPS add for taxpayers who do not have children in the schools?
More than half the taxes collected in the county go to FCPS. However, a reputation for excellent schools significantly increases property values. FCPS provides an increase in value in return for those taxes.