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: Oakton
Family: Married 25 years to Kerry Wilson, a speech and language pathologist who has worked many years in the public schools. Four children, Maddie, Tommy, Teddy and Wendy, all of whom have been in FCPS. Two dogs, Ollie and Jefferson.
Education: Lake Braddock Secondary School, Cornell University, Northwestern Law School
Offices held, dates: None
Occupation and relevant experience: Attorney in private practice since 1995. Served as an officer in Army after graduating from Cornell University. Earned Bronze Star during Operation Desert Storm.
Community involvement: Member of St. John Neumann Parish where I have taught religious education to 8thgraders. Active parent in athletic booster clubs for Teddy (Oakton Crew) and Wendy (Capital Gymnastics).
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Twitter handle: n/a
Name three favorite endorsements:
What is one issue that defines your call to serve, why does it matter, and how will you tackle it?
I would like to see the School Board be more respectful of what parents, citizens, and teachers have to say. Last spring the Board voted to implement some controversial changes to the Family Life Education program. Hundreds of people emailed and came to the School Board meeting to protest the changes. When I asked a School Board member about that vote, he told me that the Board already "had enough information" to make their decision and the Board does not make decisions by "mob rule." The citizens of Fairfax County are not a mob, and they deserve to be authentically represented. I will provide that kind of representation.
What distinguishes you from your opponent(s) and why should voters choose you?
My opponent and her predecessor have sent around campaign literature calling themselves the "Sully Team for Education." The only vote this team deserves is a "no" vote. Fairfax County cannot afford more of the same. After 14 years on the School Board, our Sully District representative is leaving the school system with a $100 million projected budget deficit, 1,000 trailers, and larger class sizes. No progress has been made on closing the achievement gap in spite of millions of dollars spent. Our current Sully School Board member did not plan, did not lead, and did not cooperate with the Board of Supervisors, the taxpayers, or with the parents and teachers of Fairfax County. We have a professional, serious, and committed group of Republican endorsed candidates this year that are dedicated to the tough job of putting the FCPS house in order. Fairfax County needs a change! Voters should know that the Democratic officials they have voted in year after year have left us with huge problems to solve.
How will you address the growing economic divide in county schools?
I will not address any problem, including the economic divide, by throwing money at it and assuming the job is done. Any new programs or initiatives should have specific, transparent, and measurable goals. I would argue that most of the time FCPS does not need expensive consultants from outside our system telling us what we need for our schools. Principals, teachers, parents, and other stakeholders in the communities where these schools are located are the real "experts" on their kids and what they need to succeed. We have excellent resources right here in our school buildings. We need to tap into that professional wisdom and expertise to solve big problems. There are no magic wands, magic programs, or one line answers to these large societal problems. The road towards addressing these issues is a long one and will require leadership, creativity, and hard work. Step one for Fairfax County is voting in a new School Board.
How will you address the achievement gap?
See answer above.
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?
My priority is to get as much of the taxpayer dollars that fund our school system into the classrooms and the school buildings where our teachers teach and our students learn each day. I would look for savings from unnecessary teacher training programs, ineffective supervisory positions, redundant bureaucracy, poor logistical management, and sole source contracts. I have talked with janitors, teachers, bus drivers, and others who are in the school buildings every day, and they can easily point out all kinds of wasteful spending. I would definitely support having an independent auditor.
What value does FCPS add for taxpayers who do not have children in the schools?
Very few people actually vote in these off year elections, and the result is that those few people who do take an interest are making decisions that personally affect all of us, whether or not you have kids in the schools. Property values, of course, are dependent on having excellent schools. Schools also prepare our next generation workforce for the jobs of the future. Our businesses depend on an excellent school system. Other county resources affected by the success of our school system include public safety, the judicial system, health care, and services for adults with disabilities. Many thanks to all the voters who are reading this and taking an interest in the School Board race and thanks to the Connection newspapers for highlighting this election.