Cliff Notes: March 14th PTA Council Board Candidate Forum

march 14th board candidate forum
http://vimeo.com/61917035
[NOTE: Stig LANESSKOG made a lot of great comments which are not recorded here – focused only on the candidates for the 4-year seats]

*OPENING STATEMENT*

BONNETT
———-
Leave the schools in a better place (leave a legacy behind).
JACKSON
———
listen well, but get out of the meeting room and get something done. Be able to speak the language of other people. Talk with families.
MACADAM
———
Been there done that (being on the board). “Asset to the board”.
STUCKEY
———
Talks about how she has been attending many board meetings, committees, etc; Unit 4 does many things well, still have challenges to tackle.
WILLIAMS
———–
“give them what they need to get into college”; focuses on low-income students. “Every student deserves a chance, deserves a voice”. Without the community involved, we have no school district (they provide over 77% of the funding). Listen to the little person.

 

 
1. The PTA’s tag line is “Every Child, One Voice”. In what ways will you work to meet the needs and promote the welfare of ALL children in Unit 4?

JACKSON
———
I will work on a system where students can have meaningful relationships with adults in order to make sure the student succeeds.
I will work on increasing attention given to students; smaller class sizes and better ways for the teacher to teach the child (maybe by getting out of the way)
MACADAM
———
“we need to embrace diversity”. make it a part of our learning environment; embedded in GST.
STUCKEY
——–
Need to recognize the cultural, linguistic and physical differences in each child
WILLIAMS
———-
two-prong approach
– outreach; give them multiple opportunities, connect them throughout the year, make them comfortable even if door-to-door. “olive branch effect”
– engaging; providing necessary information, meets them at the level where they are at
BONNETT
——–
remove barriers. Make sure transportation is not an issue for new high school (ie, after-school events). Access to technology not dependent on income level. Even if we have to provide it for at-home use.
Communication vehicles – same message across the board (twitter, facebook, pta, teachers, etc)

 

 

 

2.What are your top three objectives for Unit 4 schools?

MACADAM
———-
money
aging facilities
accountable, accessible, transparent to the community; “serving at the mercy of the public, we are there to serve their needs, they need to know what we are trying to accomplish”
STUCKEY
——–
each child achieving to the best of their abilities; different configurations, different environments
technology equity; not just at school, but also at home
budget cuts to impact the fewest number of children
WILLIAMS
———–
financial responsibility; lean more on local companies for support
student safety; understand mental health
k-12 structure (pipeline); when you come to our district, you get your needs met, you are ready for college (and not by a small margin).

 

BONNETT
———-
Simplicity; collective synergy, getting all members of the community to work together
fiscal health; become self-reliant
equal and quality playing field;
JACKSON
———-
excellence; Champaign should be known for education not just at the collegiate level, but also K-12
equity;
engagement; listen, pay attention, take into account cultural differences

 
*From the audience*
Q: how to reduce achievement gap among african-american students?

MACADAM
———
Engagement; starts in the home, reach out in various ways. Think outside the box
STUCKEY
———
k-8 schools on appropriately sized lots
WILLIAMS
———-
Who are my role models? Who looks like me? More effort to hire teachers and leaders of color/minorities. Extend olive branch to community members.
BONNETT
——–
learn and experience the culture; let the students teach us. Teachers need to look like us.
JACKSON
———-
Pre-K; not acceptable that “at risk” kids are waiting to get into Pre-K. he will work to address that
home visits and outreach; get to know all the adults in the student lives so we can all work together

 

 

Q: how to improve communication between the board and community members?

STUCKEY
———-
BoardDocs makes her computer crash. No printed packet at the board meeting. Board needs to be out in the community (churches, etc)
WILLIAMS
———-
Paper; get the information out early and often. An APP to broadcast events, more Twitter/fb/NG. calendaring app?
BONNETT
——–
board members should “preach” in their own circles.
JACKSON
———
board meetings are dull and not accessible; change the meetings.
Go to where people are. Be available.
keep the website up to date.
MACADAM
———
Make sure your own circles are educated on board proceedings

 

 

Q: teaching quality vs building age?

WILLIAMS
———-
ALWAYS cast vote with teachers.
BONNETT
———
Ditto
JACKSON
——–
Ditto
MACADAM
———
Ditto
STUCKEY
——–
Ditto. Teachers will tell us what they need.

 
Q: Which option from the future facilities do you support?

BONNETT
———
Build a new Central and put Edison in the old Central. Still very concerned about transportation. In the context of fiscal
responsibility, shared athletic facilities make sense
JACKSON
———
Did not like any of the options – put together badly. Keep Central central.
MACADAM
———-
Central and Centennial should be stand-alone, not shared athletic facilities.
STUCKEY
———
If we had listened to GST, we wouldn’t need DeJong-Richter; options are bad. Keep Central central.
WILLIAMS
———-
A school outside the hub of the community not well-researched. Keep Central central; DeJong should come up with another plan. Spalding park?

 
Q: Construction bond/referendum – how would you rally support?

JACKSON
———
Board members are not supposed to encourage the community to support a bond. Board should listen to what the community wants. Job of the board is to present the issues.
MACADAM
——–
The board’s job is to formulate options and “educate” the community. Tell the story.

 

STUCKEY
———
Need better plans.
WILLIAMS
———
Starts with developing a relationship with the community first. Show community why this matters – focus on positives as well. Get buy in.
BONNETT
——-
Board’s responsibility to educate, build trust, to communicate. Simplify the process.

 
Q: how to change schools of choice and better communicate?

MACADAM
——–
education and working with the clients/constituents about the options.
STUCKEY
——–
harder for esl students. can’t build schools on the edge of town
WILLIAMS
———
start outreach earlier. partner with local daycare providers, spam information.
BONNETT
———
Why is it called “Schools of Choice”? It’s not a choice. Better presentation.
JACKSON
————
Simplify the process. Do away with proximity. System is currently too opaque.

 

 

Q: which program would you spend $100,000 on (ongoing)?

MACADAM
———
work with administration to answer that, find the needs.
STUCKEY
——–
Literacy education/support (Pre-K & Kindergarten).
WILLIAMS
———-
early childhood education
BONNETT
———-
Family outreach
JACKSON
———-
Pre-K. Connect to pre-k families and find out what they need.

 
Q: How do you define Social Justice?

STUCKEY
——–
What worked in the past doesn’t always work going forward? The position we are in may not look the same from someone not in the same position.
WILLIAMS
———
*not* colorblind; equity provides each student with the tools they need to move forward; it is not giving everyone the same tool.
BONNETT
———
Recognizing different challenges. Learning about those differences.
JACKSON
———
listening to and empowering those who are not used to being listened to or empowered. Boils down to relationships.
MACADAM
——–
Sounds good but it’s hard. Schools need to have mentors that listen to constituents, who then report to the board.

 
Q: What is a quality education?

WILLIAMS
———
a. instead of just having a teacher directing from the front (*to* the student), have students teach students and teachers; more subjective.
b. include everyone’s history, everyone’s voice
BONNETT
——–
diversity of thought; talking about the white elephant in the middle of the room. Making the teaching relevant, question what is in the textbooks.
JACKSON
———
education is not filling a bucket but lighting a fire. Learning how to learn. Have to learn how to change. Learn all our lives.
MACADAM
——-
Highly engaged teachers. Wide array of class offerings allow students to shape their education.
STUCKEY
———-
Every student is succeeding to the best of their abilities; not necessarily at “grade level”.

 
Q: How to address reductions in state funding?

BONNETT
———
Diversification of investments. Have to resolve pension issues first.
JACKSON
——–
As creatively as possible. Board members become fund raisers? Tightening our belts and getting more money.
MACADAM
——–
Creatively. Look to the business community for possible funding. Write grants.
STUCKEY
——–
Creatively. But… Utilize technology to reduce costs. Attract students that are willing to pay tuition.
WILLIAMS
———
Creative = Intuitive. Tap into amazing resources (UofI, Parkland, etc). Lean heavily on community members. Ask folks from within how they are innovating.

 
Q: What will the district look like in 4 more years?

JACKSON
———
More technological savvy – know how to work in a 2st century environment. Minorities/low ses performing in ways that are indistinguishable from the rest of the population.
MACADAM
——–
Leverage relationship with UofI to upgrade/enhance technology. More transparent, accountable, accessible.
STUCKEY
———-
Hopes that we will be financially sound despite the State.
Hopes that the UofI will be more engaged
Hopes the board is more transparent
Hopes that we better building plans than we have now
WILLIAMS
———-
Board Meetings will be elsewhere; wants to “pack the house” and full of engaged parents.
Increased vocational training (not necessarily college-ready).
All students making AYP consistently.
BONNETT
——–
Population is more robust, continued growth in diversity. Education more career focused. Climbing test scores. Diversity in staff.

 
** CLOSING STATEMENT **

MACADAM
———
Wished he had not left the first time; explains Busey merger and stock market woes. Thinks he can be a good board member.
STUCKEY
———
Hopes to motivate people to become more involved, maybe make it out to more board meetings
WILLIAMS
———-
He will be a board member that sees the needs of the children first.
BONNETT
——–
Wants to “give back.” Reach out and make a difference. Like her day job, wants to advocate and provide opportunities. Good at listening.
JACKSON
——–
Wants to work from the inside instead of knocking on the outside; bring in the ideas of people he has been talking to.

 
from Meg’s article:
http://www.news-gazette.com/news/education/2013-03-14/school-board-candidates-field-questions.html

BONNETT
———-
Bonnett said she likes the idea of building a new Central and moving Edison Middle School to the old high school, but she’s especially concerned about transportation issues that a new high school might bring up. She likes the idea of Champaign’s two high schools sharing athletic facilities.

Bonnett said the board needs to educate community members and build trust with them, and believes the board needs to simplify its approach when doing this.

“We really have to simplify what we’re asking community to support,” she said.
Bonnett said she’d like to see diversification in the district’s investments
JACKSON
———-
Jackson said he doesn’t support any of the options that have been presented as a part of the district’s Future Facilities process.

Jackson said he doesn’t think it’s the board’s job to convince voters but should instead let the community know about problems and ask for input in how to solve them.

“Our job is to present the issues and then to listen,” he said.

Jackson said dealing with such challenges should be dealt with by thinking creatively.
STUCKEY
————-
And Stuckey said she’d like the district to wait to see what could happen with rural districts that may not survive the economic challenges in the next 20 years.

“That could impact what schools we need to build and where we build them,” she said.

She said she also believes that the district missed opportunities to deal with its facilities during its “Great Schools, Together” strategic planning process several years ago.

Stuckey said she believes voters would support a question on the ballot to give the district more money to operate, if it comes to that, but believes the district needs to present better plans in order to pass a referendum for building new facilities.
Stuckey said she wonders if the district won’t start accepting students whose home districts no longer operate and pay tuition to attend school in other districts.

 

WILLIAMS
———-
Williams said he doesn’t believe the process has included enough research and is concerned about transportation to a site on the outskirts of town.

Williams said he believes it’s a matter of getting the word out, not only about the district’s needs but also the good things happening in the schools.

Williams spoke about his hope that the district can forge strong relationships with community business partners.

“We need to be able to tap into their resources and their brainpower,” he said.

 

MACADAM
———
MacAdam said he doesn’t feel qualified to judge the options but believes the high schools should remain independent.
MacAdam had a similar answer, adding that the community needs to know about problems with the district’s facilities.

MacAdam had a similar answer.

“I think we need to look at the business community,” he said, adding that the district also needs to be aggressive about applying for available grants.

 

4 Responses to “Cliff Notes: March 14th PTA Council Board Candidate Forum”

  1. Karen Says:

    Scott McAdams’ ‘BTDT’ statement doesn’t bode well. It’s more of a reason not to vote for him IMO.
    The district and school board CAN generate revenue vs. ‘leaning heavily’ on tax payers, yes? It’s just a bit of an ‘out there’ concept for those ‘entrenched’ in the ways of Unit 4. While it happens in very good school districts, I do not foresee any time soon people from out-of-district wanting to pay tuition to go to Unit 4 schools. Does Unit 4 have a Giving Program (successful grads giving back)?
    How effective are these early intervention programs Chuck Jackson wishes to work on access to? Or, is it just assumed that they are beneficial. HeadStart has not been particularly successful (contrary to assumed ‘popular’ belief).
    Laurie Bonnett means what with her reference to the ‘white elephant’ in the room when she responds to the question about ‘quality education’?

  2. Another look at the school board candidates | Citizen4: A citizen's blog about Champaign Unit 4 Says:

    […] is going to come up with his responses to candidate surveys. And finally what he shared at the 2013 candidate forum. What has he said he is going to […]

  3. Another look at the school board candidates | Citizen4: A citizen's blog about Champaign Unit 4 Says:

    […] is going to come up with his responses to candidate surveys. And finally what he shared at the 2013 candidate forum. What has he said he is going to […]


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