City of residence: Cocolalla
Years of residence in Bonner County: 15 years
Marital status/family. Are, or were, you a parent of a child in the school district?
Tom and I have been married for 24 years. We have three boys, ages 17, 15, and 13 who all attend LPOSD schools.
How can the public contact you?
648 Quinns Lane, Cocolalla, ID 83813, (208)265-5690; e-mail [email protected]
Education: B.S. Chemical Engineering, Washington State University, 1983
Recent or pertinent employment history: I have recently returned to work part-time after being a stay-at-home mom for 17 years. I am working at the Navy Acoustic Research Facility in Bayview, Idaho as a project manager.
Public offices held:
• Trustee for the LPOSD School Board since 2002 (Two 3-year terms)
• Chairman for the last 5 years
Nonprofit and service groups or relevant professional organizations to which you belong:
• Founding board member of the Panhandle Alliance for Education (PAFE)
o PAFE board member since its inception in 2002
o Serve on Grants Committee and Nominating Committee.
• Member of the Cocolalla Lake Association
o Chairman of the Education Committee
What particular experiences or skills qualify you to serve on the school board?
• Six years experience serving as a school board trustee, five of those as chairman
• Attended the state school board convention every year
• Completed training sessions on school law, school governance, school finance, human resources, and student achievement
1. Why are you running for trustee? How much time can you devote to board service?
I am running for a third term as trustee so that I can continue to work for the students and patrons of our community. Also, I really enjoy the position.
I will continue to devote many hours per month to board service. The job entails not only attending regular board meetings, but also numerous committee meetings, special meetings (for example, student hearings), time spent preparing for meetings, training and self-education/research, and attendance at school and community events. As chairman, I spend additional time for agenda planning with the vice-chair and superintendent and am also a member of the District Leadership Team. At times, this position has taken up to 20 hours per week.
2. How frequently have you attended school board meetings? Have you been involved in any other school activities or groups?
I have attended almost every board meeting in the six years I have been on the school board. Serving on the board is a commitment I take very seriously. As a result, I rarely miss a meeting.
I have been a parent volunteer in the schools for the past 12 years. As stated above, I serve on the board of the Panhandle Alliance for Education. I have also been involved in the PTA at Southside School, Cub Scouts, SHS Band Boosters, SHS Academic Decathlon, Safe and Drug Free Schools, and numerous other school activities in which my children have been involved. As a school board member, I have the privilege of being invited to activities and events in all of our schools and throughout the community. I try to attend as many of these events as possible.
3. Do you believe the district is doing a good job or poor job in educating students? Why?
The district and its teachers are doing a good job of educating students. Test scores have been improving steadily over the last few years. Our high school students out-perform other North Idaho school districts and the state average on the ACT test. Clark Fork High School was recognized this year by US News and World Report as one of the top high schools in the nation. While our focus is on student achievement, and despite funding constraints, we are still providing opportunities for our students to excel in the fine arts, vocational fields, academic competitions and athletics.
4. Describe the top three to five issues you believe are facing our school district and your position on these issues.
Student Achievement. No Child Left Behind mandates that we meet proficiency standards in reading, math, and language usage. This accountability has resulted in an instructional focus on these areas and an improvement in test scores. Providing a well-rounded education, while maintaining this focus and continuing to increase test scores, is a challenge.
Facilities. Providing safe and healthy facilities for our students is a priority. The state of Idaho provides no additional funding for facility construction. We must address safety and health related issues in our school facilities and overcrowding in many of our schools.
Declining Enrollment. State funding is largely dependent on enrollment. The district has budgeted conservatively to minimize the impact of the decrease in funding due to the decrease in students. It is important to try to understand the demographics of our community, in order to better predict our school populations and make adjustments in staffing and programs.
5. What changes, if any, would you seek in the district’s curriculum?
The district has made great strides in the past few years in adopting curriculum that meets the needs of our students. The district is now on the state curriculum adoption cycle. Every 5 or 6 years, individual subject curricula are reviewed and adopted from a state approved list. A committee made up of teachers, administrators, and patrons researches, reviews, and recommends a curriculum to the school board for adoption. This process takes many months of work and involves many people. A board policy is being developed that will formalize this process. Ultimately, the board has responsibility for all curriculum adoptions.
6. Do you support or oppose the proposed $14.1 million plant facilities levy?
I support the proposed plant facilities levy. It addresses health and safety needs and overcrowding at some of our elementary schools. It meets some of our immediate needs in a fiscally responsible manner.
7. What changes, if any, should be made in the district’s budget?
During my time on the board, the district has created a very open and transparent budgeting process. It is imperative that the process remain that way.
When I started on the school board, the district had a budget deficit. About four years ago, the board approved a policy establishing a designated operating reserve. We have been building this reserve and must continue to do so until it reaches the stated goal of 5% of our general fund budget.
The district general fund budget is set by the state, with the exception of our voter approved supplemental levy. It is based mainly on average daily attendance and about 85% of the budget is salary and benefits. This leaves very little money left for discretionary spending. We must continue to look for ways to reduce costs where possible without sacrificing student achievement or the health and safety of students.
The district should continue to seek outside funding in the way of private donations (such as through the Panhandle Alliance for Education) and state and federal grants. We have recently been the recipient of a $300,000 multi-year science grant through the state of Idaho for grades 4-6 science programs.
8. What do you see as the role of technology in education?
Technology has three major roles in education. First, it is a tool that students need to learn to use with fluency. Employers will expect our students to be able to use computers. They also need to learn to use computers and technology for research, writing, computing, and for making presentations. Almost all secondary teachers now have web-sites and students get their homework and progress reports from these sites.
The second role of technology in education is one of infrastructure. We rely on technology for communication within the district and with the community and it houses our payroll, student grades, human resources information, and budget reports. Our students are also required to take the Idaho Standard Achievement Test (ISAT) on computers.
Lastly, students can take courses on-line. The reasons are varied, but can include scheduling conflicts, desire to receive college credit, and to make-up a failed course. While I believe that computers can never replace a classroom teacher, this option gives students some additional flexibility.
9. What, if anything, should our school district do about teaching values? Should our district teach about family life, sex education, AIDS?
The primary responsibility for teaching values, morals, and sex education lies with the family. Our schools support this by teaching our kids about responsibility, respect, and teamwork. I believe that sex education and health should be taught in the schools, but should be age-appropriate. Parents should continue to be encouraged to review all material that is taught in class.