Warrensburg Teachers Association Forum last night! (It’s a long one….)

Yesterday, I got to spend some time speaking with our Warrensburg Teacher’s Association, and answer a few questions for them. We were provided with 4 specific questions, and then one additional one was asked at the end. I know there were some who didn’t get to attend that event, and maybe some ‘non-teachers’ who would like to know what was said, so I thought I could at least provide my answers here. If you know anyone who might be interested, please share this with them! The following are the four questions that we were given in advance, with my notes for my answer.

  1. Please give a brief introduction about yourself and tell why you are running for the upcoming school board.

I am have been in the Warrensburg area for over 20 years, and would like to introduce myself through  my reasons for running for school board:

  • I am a mother of 3, two of whom are in Warrensburg schools and one with Special needs, gives me a certain insight and drive to help build and maintain strong relationships between administration, faculty and parents.
  • Professionally I have taught for over 17 years, and currently develop online courses and technology-enhanced instructional materials. I also evaluate and assess online courses and instructional content and have a very strong interest in ADA compliance and UDL (Universal Design for Learning) in technology.  My combined experience as an instructor and an Education Technologist gives me a strong understanding of the importance of technology in the classroom as well as the risks and possiblities.

From what I have seen, we have a good board, and we have a good district, but I think it can be better. I think more and better communication and cooperation is possible, and I would like to make it my “cause,” if you will, to improve what we have and continue to improve it as long as I am on the board.

  1. If elected, what would you like to address within your upcoming term as board member?

I have seen a number of things over the past few weeks during my tours of the schools, most good, but some needing some improvements.  In the upcoming term, I would like to specifically address a number of topics, including the following:

  • Although I would of course support all our schools, I would especially like to find a way to support both the Career Center and Reese.  In different ways, I think these are invaluable institutions to our district. They are widely known and used, and I would hate to see budgetary cuts impact them too harshly. They barely have what they need now and still do a great job. I would hate to see them stretched any further.
  • I would advocate for all our special needs individuals – from the gifted to those needing Special Education. This is an extremely diverse group that needs every ounce of support it can get; this “cause” will never be exhausted.
  • Technology must be encouraged, supported, and constantly monitored. We have an excellent Education technology staff in this district, but if there is anything that comes close to needing the same constant vigilance and support as Special Needs, technology is it. I even combine these two by specializing in ADA compliant online courses in my current studies.
  • Above all, I would like to focus on building a strong line of communication between families and the members of the district – from administration to faculty to support. I’m not saying it’s bad, but it could be better. This blog is my means for communicating my experiences and thoughts as I have gone through this process.  I intend to continue with this, whether I make it onto the board or not. I will develop a similar thing specifically for the Special Needs families of the area, but I hope to use this and a place on the board to build communication between ALL families in the Warrensburg district.
  1. What are your long range goals for our district?

I would like to see a district that has an even more vibrant, active community of parents and district professionals working together. I would like to build a localized ‘hub’ for all kinds of helpful information, such as scheduled events, special interests like special needs resources and scholarships, calendars, contacts, and even external links like local Special Olympics and Community organizations. This would be connected to the District website but would go about 3 steps further as a true “hub” of information.

I would like to continue to build our technology programs, our Emints programs, laptop and iPad classrooms. I would like to see the Middle and High school have more science and art rooms, and a performing arts center for the HS; the Middle School needs to move the lunchroom away from the front door, and Reece and the Career Center really could use better securityReece also needs at least one more teacher and a lunchroom staff (not to mention computers), the Career Center needs much more room, as do all our elementary schools. But all this costs money, so these are definitely long term, and other goals have to be reached first. I think positive working relationship with communication and cooperation are the first steps to achieving these goals.

  1. What is your opinion of a tax increase for improvements throughout the district?

I don’t like taxes. I will say that up front – but there are certain things that I can accept paying taxes for – the security of my family and friends, the infrastructure of my state and country, and my children’s education. That being said, I have certain things I think are very important if taxes are going to be collected for improvements in the district:

  • I think the decisions of what the money is spent on should be made by the district – not Washington, not Jefferson City, not the internet, and certainly not some blowhard in the media.
  • I think taxes collected for education should go to education. WITHOUT deductions being made from other funding sources.
  • I think moneys should be spent according to priority – children’s needs first – if they don’t have books, for example, we buy books before we worry about raises,
  • HOWEVER – this doesn’t mean that we buy computers for every child before we pay for salaries – kids can learn without computers. They can even learn without books if need be, but we have to assess the need realistically and decide what is needed most – A raise, or a book. If they can share books, but teachers haven’t had a raise in a year or two, the raise may come first – but all efforts should be made to find a way to do both.

After all this was done, one individual asked a question: what do we think of Collective Bargaining. This was a tough one, and quite honestly I didn’t want to answer it – not because I wanted to hide anything, but because I was afraid I didn’t understand the question as well as I should. My first thought was, of course, Colorado and the disaster that went on up there. My answer, very briefly (after admitting to a need to do more research) was this:

I understand why teachers want collective bargaining, and I think it can be beneficial, but I am afraid the kids get lost in the fight. If the kids are protected, I have no problem with it, but not at their expense.

After the forum, I spoke with the individual who asked the question and she clarified – she meant communication between the teachers and the board – Well, this was an easy answer –

  • The teachers should always have the opportunity and means to come to the board to voice concerns and ideas. Always.
  • If they aren’t comfortable coming directly to the board, they should be able to come to a member who can then take their ideas and concerns to the board.  Always.
  • There is no other answer in my opinion. They might not like what the board decides, but no one always likes everything that their “employer” (so to speak) does. But they definitely have the right to present.

I wish I could have said this yesterday, but I just misunderstood the question. I hope that this gets out to those to whom it might matter!

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