Candidates for Williamson County School Board District 5

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1 Candidates for Williamson County School Board District 5 GARY ANDERSON - Questionnaire Responses contact: 1. What do you think are the primary roles and responsibilities of the Williamson County School Board (WCSB)? How do you describe the authority of the WCSB? The primary roles and responsibilities of the school board are defined in State Law, TCA They include: hiring and evaluating the Director of Schools, approving tenure, approving the budget and developing board policies. 2. Currently Williamson County Schools (WCS) has been designated as one of the Intermediate Districts in Tennessee (2 nd highest category tanking). Tennessee s three measured areas include raising proficiency levels, narrowing achievement gaps and guaranteeing growth for all students. If a member of the WCSB, what would you wan to see happen in an effort to achieve the designation of an Exemplary School District (the highest category ranking)? WCS is the top performing school district in Tennessee. We have the highest ACT scores in the State and we are always at the top of the list in every subject area and grade on the State s standardized test. WCS even has the highest test scores in the areas that the State made their determination, which is students with disabilities and students with limited English proficiency. The methodology that the State employs to determine its levels of competence for districts is strictly based on student performance on the State test and is rooted in the Federal guidelines. The State s model does not take into consideration the broad spectrum of learning opportunities that WCS provides. It has a limited evaluation instrument that cannot measure success beyond its narrow scope. 3. Besides funding, what do you think makes the biggest difference in student advancement? Please list at least three and no more than five key factors. Student achievement is based on many factors, such as 1) Parent involvement and interest in their student s education 2) Students eager to learn and achieve 3) Caring and dedicated teachers, administrators and support staff 4) Offering a broad spectrum of courses to provide multi-faceted learning opportunities 5) Engaging community businesses and organizations 4. Should standardized student tests and/ or assessments associated with percentage of the student s grade be available for parental review? Please explain. Prior to the tests, sample questions should be available for all to see. After the test, the specific questions should be available for parents to see along with their student s individual results.

2 5. Should standardized student test results be used in teacher evaluations to determine pay increases for teachers and/ or teaching and leadership position promotions? If yes, please explain. If no, what should determine a teacher s pay increase and/ or promotion? What other ways would you want to reward great teachers? If the test results are directly attributable to a specific teacher, they can be part of the teacher s evaluation. Great teachers should be rewarded through opportunities for advancement, further education, school leadership positions, recognition, etc. 6. Do you believe that WCS can exhibit better transparency/ accountability in the use of financial resources? Please explain your answer. WCS conducts public work sessions, puts financial information on line, televises meetings, has multiple media outlets covering the meetings and conducts all of its budget meetings in the sunshine. If someone has any questions about our accountability and financial resources, we all strive to provide that information. 7. What do you believe to be the top three capital needs for the future of WCS? The top three capital needs for the future are: 1) Facilities 2) Technology Infrastructure 3) Maintenance of the previous two items 8. Will you do anything, or have you done anything, with the selection of WCS curriculum? Please explain. My expertise is in administration, operations and management of school systems. I trust Dr. Looney and the professional employees hired by WCS who have degrees in instruction and curriculum design to develop our curriculum to fit within the State guidelines. My expectation is that they will develop out scope and sequences and include additional rigorous Williamson County Expectations. Designing the curriculum taught in our schools is not the role or responsibility of a school board. 9. How do you believe the WCSB should be managing the privacy and safety issues of students? All student information is protected under Federal Rules and Regulations (FERPA) and all staff members are trained on these required protections for student information. In addition, our district s acceptable use agreement follows the recommendations of the Consortium on School Networking (COSN) and the national organization of State Councils on Education Technology (SETA). WCS will continue to train all employees on this subject every year. 10. According to the Tennessee State Department of Education s Report card on their website, there were 10.4% (4,107 pupils) special needs students in school year This number is projected to increase yearly, what should WCSB consider doing to best address this population? Because of the level of services that we currently provide to our special needs students, WCS attracts more and more families to our area for their education. We

3 must continue to expand our training of our current and future employees and continue our proactive approach to attracting the best employees we can to this critical need area to maintain our high level of services. 11. Do you support using Williamson County taxpayer dollars to hire lobbyist to lobby our State Legislative Delegation. Please explain why you do or don t support tax dollars being spent this way. We do not need to lobby our own Williamson County State Legislative Delegation with taxpayer dollars hired lobbyists. We have full access in person with them letting them know our concerns on proposed legislation and asking for their support to introduce legislation to help WCS achieve. 12. Please identify what you consider priority items and issues not addressed in this questionnaire. I consider priority items for Williamson County to be: 1) Planning for growth 2) Maintaining fiscally responsible budgets 3) Recruiting, training and retaining the best employees 4) Improving Board relations 5) Continuing the WCS tradition of excellence

4 JULIE MAUCK- Questionnaire Responses contact: 1. What do you think are the primary roles and responsibilities of the Williamson County School Board (WCSB)? How do you describe the authority of the WCSB? While WCSB members have no authority over school affairs as individuals, the WCSB, collectively, has complete governing authority, within legal limitations, over the Williamson County public school system. Its primary roles and responsibilities are to work with the Superintendent of Schools to make and administer policy with respect to support services, instruction, personnel and students, in addition to the fiscal management of the school system. The authority for operation of the school system by the WCSB is derived from State Legislature, State Board of Education, State and Federal judicial opinions, laws, and regulations. As elected officials, WCSB members should represent and be a voice for, and provide transparency to, the parents and taxpayers within their districts for the benefit of its cherished students and teachers. 2. Currently Williamson County Schools (WCS) has been designated as one of the Intermediate Districts in Tennessee (2 nd highest category tanking). Tennessee s three measured areas include raising proficiency levels, narrowing achievement gaps and guaranteeing growth for all students. If a member of the WCSB, what would you wan to see happen in an effort to achieve the designation of an Exemplary School District (the highest category ranking)? While District Accountability and Designations are important, it s also important to note that Williamson County Schools have historically been fairly proficient at meeting their achievement goals and have fewer achievement gaps to reduce, and the new accountability system was designed to reward those districts that show the most growth in those areas. That being said, it is important to do a thorough review and analysis of those areas that we have the most opportunity for improvement in and to work with the administrators and educators in determining how to reduce those gaps if the determination is made that the designation of Exemplary School District is, in fact, an achievable and worthwhile goal. 3. Besides funding, what do you think makes the biggest difference in student advancement? Please list at least three and no more than five key factors. Studies have consistently shown that the two most important factors for student success and advancement are: 1) Parental involvement and; 2) The teacher connection. Williamson County is incredibly blessed to have both of these ideals. Funding for the appropriate provisions and the child s ability to learn are, of course, necessary as well. 4. Should standardized student tests and/ or assessments associated with percentage of the student s grade be available for parental review? Please explain.

5 Yes. If a student s advancement is dependent upon a particular assessment or high stakes test, a parent or guardian should have a right under the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) to examine their child(ren) s work as a part of their educational record. 5. Should standardized student test results be used in teacher evaluations to determine pay increases for teachers and/ or teaching and leadership position promotions? If yes, please explain. If no, what should determine a teacher s pay increase and/ or promotion? What other ways would you want to reward great teachers? No, standardized student test results should not be used in teacher evaluations to determine possible pay increases for teachers and/ or teaching and leadership position promotions. This takes away from the administration s flexibility and discretion in placing student with an educator that might be best suited to work with and help children with specific learning styles all children are different, and some teachers are better suited to work with specific types of learners. As a parent of children with very different learning styles and abilities, I have been especially grateful for those administrators and teachers that recognize this and have taken the time to hand-pick those teachers that break through and bring out the best in my own children. The alternative would be to weight the class with even numbers of high/ low scorers in an effort to balance the assessment scores, and this is not in the best interest of the student nor the teacher. Teachers should be evaluated on multiple levels based upon classroom observations and reviews, parent and student evaluations, appraisals of lesson plans, as well as teacher preparedness and subject and curriculum content. Teachers and administrators should meet and set goals for each year based upon subject standards and objectives and student demographics. Teachers should have a voice in how they should be rewarded. I would love to see a collaborative effort between teachers to identify and report on those rewards that are important to them and how they should be measured. Merit increases are important, but so are recognition and advancement. Let s make an effort to hear from those that are affected on a day-to-day basis. 6. Do you believe that WCS can exhibit better transparency/ accountability in the use of financial resources? Please explain your answer. I do believe that WCS can exhibit better transparency and accountability in the use of financial resources. For instance, there seems to be a great disparity (approximately $2,000) in the amount spent per student by schools just within this district with the older and smaller schools spending the most per student. However, there doesn t appear to be a great deal of financial information available to the taxpayers online as a means of drilling down and evaluating where the cost-differential lies. This may be a technical or programming limitation; however, especially as the school system grows, every dollar matters and should be transparently accounted for. 7. What do you believe to be the top three capital needs for the future of WCS? Clearly, growth and revenue in this growing county are of utmost concern at this time. I see the top three capital needs as: 1) Land and facilities acquisition and renovation,

6 2) Ensuring we are able to retain and hire the best teachers and support staff to manage the increasing student body, and 3) Determining whether or not WCS needs to continue to be tied to the State and Federal funding that forces its hand to comply with unreasonable testing and other mandates, and correcting any financial gaps that might ensure with a turn toward autonomy. 8. Will you do anything, or have you done anything, with the selection of WCS curriculum? Please explain. As a parent of four with three still attending WCS, I watch the curriculum closely and am in the process of determining the best avenue to approach any concerns that I might have with it. I have discussed both the Math and Social Studies curricula with the appropriate teachers but would like to be more involved in the selection process. 9. How do you believe the WCSB should be managing the privacy and safety issues of students? The privacy and safety of our students is paramount. The WCSB should take every measure possible to ensure that the privacy and safety of each and every student is handled in accordance with current regulations. 10. According to the Tennessee State Department of Education s Report card on their website, there were 10.4% (4,107 pupils) special needs students in school year This number is projected to increase yearly, what should WCSB consider doing to best address this population? In order to provide an educated answer to that question, I believe I would need to be able to drill down o additional information. Some questions that come to mind are: 1) What criteria does the TDOE use to determine that a student is special needs for the purpose of those numbers, and 2) Has that criteria recently changed thereby giving an inflated appearance to the statistic, and 3) What measure is the TDOE using to make the projection that the number will increase? As a parent of twins with lifelong learning disabilities and an unsure future, the subject of special education and identification of those children who need life skills and additional attention to learn the very basics is of particular interest to me. 11. Do you support using Williamson County taxpayer dollars to hire lobbyist to lobby our State Legislative Delegation. Please explain why you do or don t support tax dollars being spent this way. No, at face value, I do not support tax dollars being spent to hire lobbyists to lobby our State Legislative Delegation. Using taxpayer money to lobby legislators for more taxpayer money sounds like a conflict of interest and misuse of taxpayer money earmarked specifically for education. If school funding was as transparent as it should be, any shortfall in its funding should be apparent and conclusively defined. Our own elected officials should be lobbying the funding sources for clarification of the funding formula and additional transparency. 12. Please identify what you consider priority items and issues not addressed in this questionnaire.

7 I sincerely believe all of the aforementioned to be priority items and appreciate the thoughtfulness, seriousness, and research that went into this questionnaire. While these questions are directed at the WCSB as a governing body, any issues not addressed in this questionnaire would be specific to any shortcoming that I see specifically in District 5, such as opening up communication to the parents, teachers, and taxpayers, and making myself available and reliable to them. I would very much like to see our community more involved in the process by which our WC policies are defined in addition to the superior job of fundraising that they are already doing.

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