School Board-Fairfax County Sully: Karen Keys-Gamarra

School Board-Fairfax County Sully: Karen Keys-Gamarra

Question and Answer

Fairfax County School Board Candidate Questionnaires

* = Incumbent

At Large

http://www.connecti…">Robert E. "Bob" Copeland

http://www.connecti…">Omar M. Fateh

http://www.connecti…">Jeanette M. Hough

http://www.connecti…">Manar A. Jean-Jacques

Peter M. Marchetti, no reply received

http://www.connecti…">Ryan L. McElveen*

http://www.connecti…">Ilryong Moon*

http://www.connecti…">Burnette G. Scarboro

http://www.connecti…">Theodore J. "Ted" Velkoff*

Braddock District

http://www.connecti…">Megan O. McLaughlin*

Katherine A. Pettigrew, no reply received

Dranesville District

http://www.connecti…">Peter Kurzenhauser

http://www.connecti…">Jane K. "Janie" Strauss

Hunter Mill District

http://www.connecti…">Pat M. Hynes*

http://www.connecti…">Mark S. Wilkinson

Lee District

http://www.connecti…">Tamara J. Derenak Kaufax*

Mason District

http://www.connecti…">Sandra S. Evans*

Mount Vernon District

http://www.connecti…">Karen L. Corbett Sanders

http://www.connecti…">W. Anthony Stacy

Providence District

http://www.connecti…">Dalia A. Palchik

http://www.connecti…">Patricia S. "Patty" Reed*

Springfield District

Elizabeth L. Schultz*, no reply received

Sully District

http://www.connecti…">Karen A. Keys-Gamarra

http://www.connecti…">Thomas A. Wilson

Town of residence: Oakton

Age: 55

Family: Husband: Antoine Gamarra; Son: Jonathan Gamarra, James Gamarra and Jordan Gamarra.

Education: Tulane University BA; Washington University School of Law, JD

Offices held, dates: Board Member, Time to Fly Board member 2007-2008.

Occupation and relevant experience: Attorney at Law, work primarily as Guardian ad litem

Community involvement: Church: Grace Covenant Church, CASA, Time to Fly, NAACP


Email address:

Twitter handle: @Keys_Gamarra

Name three favorite endorsements: FEA, FCFT, Congressman Connolly


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

I do not have one issue but rather a commitment and desire to use my experience and legal skills to serve my community. My background affords me a broad view of a child’s, parents and educators experience and the struggle to meet the educational needs of children. My desire is to provide a balanced approach to addressing budgetary concerns while providing leadership that begins with listening to my community.

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

Experience and Dedication. I am an attorney and volunteer in the community who has been focused on addressing concerns impacting children and families for more than 10 years. I regularly interface with teachers and school staff as a child advocate and discuss impediments hindering the ability to educate our children. I have experience with Special Education, English or Speakers of other Languages, Advanced Placement and other educational concerns. I collaborate with families and other professionals to develop solutions. I understand issues impacting children both inside and outside of the classroom. I have volunteered in a domestic violence organization and work to train others in assisting children in abuse and neglect situations. I study both legal issues and trends impacting children as well as appropriate safeguards to decrease risk. I am a member of the Budget Advisory Committee and have studied FCPS expenditures. Additionally, I have participated in community discussions and believe dialogue is critical when addressing issues impacting our schools.

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

By raising awareness of the diverse level of needs that such growth creates for educators. The FCPS response should include increased parental involvement, greater access to early childhood education, and more dialogue with educators on successful tools for all students. I would also like to explore alternative funding for such programs, such as, grants and/or funding from the private sector.

How will you address the achievement gap?

Through oversight of the FCPS Achievement Gap plan which includes providing academic support, developing positive teacher/student relationships, increasing kindergarten readiness and enhancing parent and community engagement. I would also add that FCPS needs to engage staff to examine teaching tools and curriculum that provides positive role models for all children.

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 top priority is to protect resources for the classroom including teacher and staff salaries. Management of the funding gap requires examination of existing programs and discussions with teachers and parents to determine effectiveness to make sure that we are spending our tax dollars wisely. I would use this analysis to determine where appropriate cuts are necessary.

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

Our schools provide the bedrock for our communities. Without quality schools, our property values suffer. Further, without appropriate community support and funding for schools, we miss the opportunity and responsibility to invest in the Fairfax County quality of life that we enjoy. I would rather invest in schools than in other programs to address the problems that stem from a lack of access to quality education.