School Board-Fairfax County At Large: Dr. R. E. ”Bob” Copeland
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School Board-Fairfax County At Large: Dr. R. E. ”Bob” Copeland

Question and Answer



Fairfax County School Board Candidate Questionnaires

* = Incumbent

At Large

Robert E. "Bob" Copeland

Omar M. Fateh

Jeanette M. Hough

Manar A. Jean-Jacques

Peter M. Marchetti, no reply received

Ryan L. McElveen*

Ilryong Moon*

Burnette G. Scarboro

Theodore J. "Ted" Velkoff*

Braddock District

Megan O. McLaughlin*

Katherine A. Pettigrew, no reply received

Dranesville District

Peter Kurzenhauser

Jane K. "Janie" Strauss

Hunter Mill District

Pat M. Hynes*

Mark S. Wilkinson

Lee District

Tamara J. Derenak Kaufax*

Mason District

Sandra S. Evans*

Mount Vernon District

Karen L. Corbett Sanders

W. Anthony Stacy

Providence District

Dalia A. Palchik

Patricia S. "Patty" Reed*

Springfield District

Elizabeth L. Schultz*, no reply received

Sully District

Karen A. Keys-Gamarra

Thomas A. Wilson

Candidate for School Board at Large

Town of residence: Vienna

Age: 68

Family: Sharol: Wife of 44 years: McLean H.S. graduate.

Two Children: Both Marshall H.S and JMU graduates.

Seven grandchildren: All living in Fairfax County.

Education: Bachelor of Science Pharmacy, Doctor of Dental Surgery, General Practice Residency VA Hospital Washington DC.

Offices held, dates: Small Business Owner 1978 to present.

Occupation and relevant experience: Dentist: I meet with the general public daily, diagnose their problems, and then solve them.

Community involvement: Falls Church Little League, Vienna Civic Association, Citizen Advisory Committee for Fairfax County Police Dept.

Website: www.BobForSchoolBoard.com

Email address: docbobdds@aol.com

Name three favorite endorsements: FCRC, Elizabeth Schultz, Carly Fiorina

Questions

What is one issue that defines your call to serve, why does it matter, and how will you tackle it?

We have one of the best school systems in the country. The present School Board has little interest in budget management and is leading us in a way that is unsustainable. Despite an increase in the budget of 107% and enrollment growth of 22% over the past 15 years, we are falling behind in many major categories. Class sizes are up. Teacher salaries are flat and so is the achievement gap. Seven schools are in danger of losing their accreditation just in one district. It is past time for an outside, transparent and meaningful audit so programs can be evaluated, fluff eliminated and core educational achievement can be maximized . Anything less is poor stewardship and dishonoring to taxpayers.

What distinguishes you from your opponent(s) and why should voters choose you?

The School Board and Administration need to take responsibility for their failure to prioritize programs, eliminate waste and manage the budget.

I would not design an online budget tool whose purpose is to shield the administration and school board from criticism by creating cuts by popular demand. A real budget tool would engage parents by asking them what they would like to save. If cuts were actually needed, informed leaders would have to make the adjustment.

How will you address the growing economic divide in county schools?

Fairfax County Public Schools should use merit based instruction, with a focus on providing a quality education for all our students. The schools cannot change the economic conditions of families. All they can do is assure that every student has an educational opportunity that will allow each individual to succeed.

How will you address the achievement gap?

The achievement gap is largely between English and non-English speaking children. It is a tragedy that non-English speaking children are kept in ESOL programs for years without progress. I would advocate for summer school for ESOL students to speed mainstreaming. Since the federal government has opened the door to illegal immigration, they should pay for the added costs.

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?

I am confident that 2.3% of savings could be found in the present $3 billion budget. One of my frustrations as a concerned citizen is the lack of transparency of the cost and effectiveness of programs. As presently structured, the number one item for elimination is athletics. Athletics is an $11 million line item in a $3 billion budget. What is missing in the analysis is athletics bring in an excess of $100 million in non-taxpayer money to the School System. The take home lesson is: Never Never Never end athletics.

What value does FCPS add for taxpayers who do not have children in the schools?

FCPS is more responsible for your quality of life than any local government agency. Well managed schools protect the value of your home, attract new business, provide for a qualified and capable workforce, and foster wealth creation. Group think has allowed the School System’s reputation and ranking to slip in recent years. Class sizes are increasing and teacher morale is decreasing. The budget is growing three times faster than growth in the county, and they say it’s never enough. The new highly qualified team of challengers will right the ship. We must improve our schools.