WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — KSN News sent a questionnaire to each Wichita candidate facing a challenger in the November general election. Voters in southeast Wichita will decide the Wichita Board of Education District 3 race.
We have not made any edits to the candidate’s answers.
Campaign website/Facebook/Social Media:
What are the top 3 things you think deserve your immediate attention, and how do you plan to address them
Low Test Scores … Student Behavior … Parents Voices
We still have many outstanding instructors in our schools but we are losing them because of one main reason, they’re fed up with disrespectful student behavior. As I visit with folks throughout my district, I ask them if they have any concerns about what is happening in our schools. Most people don’t know or don’t care but if its a teacher or someone related to a teacher, they know and they tell me, it is disrespectful student behavior. I have heard it over and over again. The teachers tell me it is a nationwide problem. Some schools have resolved it, so maybe we can learn from them. Whatever it takes, we’ve got to figure out why so many students are tormenting teachers and driving them away. We need to survey students, teachers, counselors, and other staff, but most importantly, we need to speak with parents because it is their precious children we are trying to help. Once we feel confident that we understand the source of the problem then we can strategize on how to resolve it. No matter what, we want the parents involved so that their opinion is heard and we can partner to find successful solutions. We all need to collaborate as a team. I feel confident that once we get this hardship out of the way teachers will be able to get back to doing what they do best, student moral will skyrocket, test scores will soar, and more teachers will jump on board to be a part of the great movement.
What do you think is the largest obstacle to student success/graduation, and how do you plan to address it?
Statistics tell us that 70% of the current graduates of USD259 are not prepared for entry level courses at Butler county Community College. Because of this, those students must take and pass a remedial course before starting basic 101 courses. This is a red flag. It tells us that our students are graduating at below grade level preparedness.
One of the biggest obstacles to student success is their ability to read. It is a fundamental necessity for students to develop and become proficient readers early on. Upon watching the proceeding of the October school board meeting I was pleased to see that we now have a great team of administrative specialists and teachers diligently working to help children in all of our elementary schools do just that. Therefore, I feel confident this new program has our elementary students on track for great success in reading comprehension. With the old dysfunctional reading program phased out and the new phonics program in place we will be anxiously waiting and watching to see if state assessment scores move up. If this works students will be much more apt to succeed in high school and graduate at grade level or better.
What is your vision for USD 259?
My vision for USD259 is for the school system to perform like a well-oiled machine, smooth and efficient. I want other school districts to look at ours and be amazed at how we not only provide so much to our diverse student body but also how effectively and efficiently we are using their tax dollars. I want our students to feel safe and excited about coming to school and learning every day. I want every student to graduate with their own vision, purpose, and credentials to succeed.
What can schools do to promote culturally responsive and racially-inclusive education?
USD259 is the largest and most diverse school district in Kansas. Within our schools there may be as many as 112 different languages spoken in the homes of our students. This unique situation lends itself to a distinct opportunity for students of various cultural backgrounds to share and enlighten the student body about their heritage, norms, values, and rituals. I think it would be great to hold a cultural fair at each of the schools once a year where students and parents of unique cultures could come and stand behind tables to represent their culture. Then, other parents and students could come and visit with them at these tables and converse with them to learn more about the music and practices of those cultures. I have great respect for people who know how to fluently speak more than one language. It would be amazing to have parents speaking their native tongue and have their children translate those words for visitors at the table.
We should all be encouraged by the work of Dr. Polite and his team who are doing an outstanding job within the Department of Equity, Diversity, and Accountability at our schools. Many of his students are poised for academic success.
No matter what the background is of a student we want to remain focused on ensuring that they become academically proficient for their grade level by help ing them master the basics of math, english, science, and history so they can shine when it comes time to take the state assessment test. Many students come to our schools and need intense specialized tutoring to bring them up to grade level. USD259 has many para educators and the district supports meeting their educational needs in the classroom. We want every student to have a bright future. We need to be there to support them every day and we have some great teachers to do it.
What resources do you think Wichita schools need that they currently don’t have?
The Wichita Public Schools are in desperate need of more human resources. Not only are they extremely short on maintenance workers and bus drivers, they are also short approximately 230 accredited teachers. I understand steps have been taken to attract new teachers. Along that same line of thought we need to take action to retain veteran teachers. Helping to improve morale in the classroom is one thing but ensuring all teachers have a competitive wage is another important step that needs to be addressed.
Would you change how much the school district budgets on its different departments (teachers, safety, special education, etc.)? If so, how?
When I become a school board member, I will be one seven people involved in the decision-making process regarding the budget. The superintendent will also weigh in heavily on those decisions. There are also many committees involved who will weigh in on decision making. Decision making will always be a collaborative event. I will enter the scene with an open mind regarding the budget and its allocations. I will not suggest changes to the budget without fully understanding the logic behind its current established allocations. I am a very methodical and cautious decision maker. We all have preconceived notions about what is happening in the schools and what we want to change. However, we must follow the law and respect the chain of command. USD259 is a very immense and complex system. It has a vast amount of moving parts and people. It has been constructed over many years. There are many amazing programs happening within the school system. Good school board members understand that before you tear down any wall you need to fully understand why others erected it in the first place and look at its record of effectiveness.