Fairfax County School Board Candidate Questionnaires
* = Incumbent
http://www.connec...">Robert E. "Bob" Copeland
http://www.connec...">Omar M. Fateh
http://www.connec...">Jeanette M. Hough
http://www.connec...">Manar A. Jean-Jacques
Peter M. Marchetti, no reply received
http://www.connec...">Ryan L. McElveen*
http://www.connec...">Burnette G. Scarboro
http://www.connec...">Theodore J. "Ted" Velkoff*
http://www.connec...">Megan O. McLaughlin*
Katherine A. Pettigrew, no reply received
http://www.connec...">Jane K. "Janie" Strauss
Hunter Mill District
http://www.connec...">Pat M. Hynes*
http://www.connec...">Mark S. Wilkinson
http://www.connec...">Tamara J. Derenak Kaufax*
http://www.connec...">Sandra S. Evans*
Mount Vernon District
http://www.connec...">Karen L. Corbett Sanders
http://www.connec...">W. Anthony Stacy
http://www.connec...">Dalia A. Palchik
http://www.connec...">Patricia S. "Patty" Reed*
Elizabeth L. Schultz*, no reply received
http://www.connec...">Karen A. Keys-Gamarra
http://www.connec...">Thomas A. Wilson
Town of residence: Alexandria, VA
Family: Wife, Deanna; daughter, Summer (3rd grade); son, William (pre-
Education: Master of Public Administration, The Maxwell School of Syracuse University; Bachelor of Arts, Business Administration, Malone University
Offices held, dates:
Occupation and relevant experience: Consultant, Booz Allen Hamilton (current); Chief of Staff, Philanthropy, The Nature Conservancy; Program Director, Government Performance Project, The Maxwell School of Syracuse University; Assistant Director of Communications, Speaker of the House, Ohio House of Representatives; Young Political Leaders School, Teacher and Curriculum Lead, Bucharest, Romania
Community involvement: Advisory Board, C&O Canal Trust; Cofounder, Greater Salem, Ohio Area Habitat for Humanity; Founder, Malone College Habitat for Humanity; personal budget and financial counselor
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Name three favorite endorsements: Class Size Counts; former U.S. Senate candidate Ed Gillespie; State Senator Dave Albo
What is one issue that defines your call to serve, why does it matter, and how will you tackle it?
Of the 17 schools accredited with warning during the 2014-15 academic year, 7 are in the Mount Vernon District. Families shouldn’t feel compelled to take their children out of the public school or move to another part of the county because of the quality of our local public schools. Improving the quality of all of our schools to be the best in the county and the Commonwealth is my top priority. My goal is for all of our children to have an education that at a minimum provides them with the skills to enter the workforce upon graduation or pursue higher education. My approach will be focusing on strengthening the curriculum for all students, greater accountability from administrators, greater autonomy for teachers, and working with parents on methods to support their children’s education outside the classroom.
What distinguishes you from your opponent(s) and why should voters choose you?
My experience extends across the top levels of four sectors – private, public, higher education, and nonprofit. As Project Director of the Government Performance Project, I graded state, city, and county governments (including Fairfax County) on how well they were managed. I led daily operations The Nature Conservancy’s Philanthropy Department, responsible for finance and personnel. Finally, I have children in the public schools for the next 14 years, Class of 2025 and 2029. There are currently only three Fairfax County School Board members with children in the FCPS. Parents need more representation on policies that will affect all of our children.
How will you address the growing economic divide in county schools?
Every child has the potential to learn, so the Fairfax County School Board cannot allow current fiscal mismanagement to hinder academic quality. We need to focus our resources where they are needed the most and eliminate inefficiencies in the system to better support low income communities and ensure that our academic programs are producing measurable results.
How will you address the achievement gap?
Honors and AP classes do an effective job in preparation for higher education and should be maintained, but we must strengthen the standard curriculum. Our children should receive an education that is tailored to their specific needs and enhance their ability to be prepared to function as productive adults. I strongly believe that we can better partner with the business community to provide mentorships and opportunities to better guide our students in setting academic goals and achieving practical skills to achieve them.
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?
Five years ago, the FCPS was supposed to hire an Auditor General. It was not until political pressure was applied by the state legislature, the Board of Supervisors, the media and the public that FCPS finally hired an Auditor General last month. It is critical that we perform a line item review of the 400-page FCPS budget and assess for measurable results in achieving the academic mission of the school system. We need to see the results after these steps are taken to determine the best course of action. We must earn the confidence of the Board of Supervisors and the taxpayers before we can demand more money for the school system. I will not balance the budget by eliminating athletics and the arts. I will not balance the budget on the backs of our students by increasing class sizes. The current school board has already taken this approach three times and has mismanaged the $2.6 billion budget, causing a significant budget deficit.
What value does FCPS add for taxpayers who do not have children in the schools?
The quality of FCPS schools affects business development. Employers desire locations where their employees’ children can attend a quality school. Our local schools must improve if we want economic expansion in this part of the county. Home values are also affected by the quality of the local schools. The future direction of our economy and health of our communities, especially in the Mount Vernon District, hinges upon the health of our public schools.