Steven on the Issues
Our school district so desperately needs to be the center of the community. To accomplish this goal, I want the community to see professionalism and effectiveness practiced on the board level. This can only be accomplished if the board is intentional about pursuing a TEAM approach.
I would like an aggressive plan in place to keep the community informed about progress related to major policies that could be voted on by the board. To make sure that successful student outcomes are the desired outcome for all new policies and that those policies reflect the vision and values of the community.
Listening to the community. Communicating to the community. Listening to board members. Contributing to a TEAM culture committed to professionalism and effectiveness.
What can be done to address the poor English proficiency and Math Proficiency scores that are being generated by kids in our school system? English scores reflect that students are only 32% proficient and math scores are coming in at 38% proficient --- both below the state average.
The 4-day school proposal has served as a valuable tool for rural districts for sometime. It helps with the workload of agriculture and for farmers to make budget on family farms.
Certainly this type of school week has caught the attention of many city districts and is being adopted. For the SJSD, the original intent is for recruitment and retention.
However, until I have more facts, my concerns are:
A 4-DAY SCHOOL WEEK WONT SLOVE:
1. Won’t correct the problem of language/math comprehension scores
2. Student/teacher ratio
3. District support of behavioral issues
4. Teacher salaries
5. Athletic coach will not buy into an athletic program that only trains 4days week. Coaches will find a way to train a 5th day. And that’s because they know that Championship TEAMS don’t excel and advance body and mind strength on a 4days training plan.
5. I would like to see the data on 4/5day school week acceptance ratio to D1 athletic program acceptance
6. Athletes without a mode of transportation RISK NOT making it to practice/tryouts
7. Overall budgetary will go up
At this time I’m not in favor of a 4day/week school schedule. But I’m willing to listen and learn more about it. This type of decision should not be rushed.
Also, I’m curious to know what the verticals will be in place to determine the success of a 4day school schedule. And if our expectations won’t be met, will there be an exit strategy.
Do you understand the District's Annual Budget, and what are your plans to get your arms around the details of that budget and evaluate where and how Tax taxpayer dollars are being spent?
Every month the board approves the budget for itemized expenses. I would monitor the monthly budget as recieved.
Where do you stand on the proposed Bond Renewal of $20 million when the District Administration has no impactful plan to utilize that money to better educate our children? Passing that bond issue would cost the taxpayers 26 cents per $100 of access property value- approximately $3.2 million annually.
If students are expected to learn, and educators instruct, then it shouldn’t be asking too much for them to have access to HVAC, safe walkways and other urgent facility repairs addressed by the bond. My concern is the TIMING. I agree with the vision and the need for scaling the athletic programs, but per chance new facilities have a future, then what is the systemic plans for these improvements once a new bond is proposed. What part will the redistricting proposal play in the future of the athletic improvements?
What is your position on general levy Tax increases to increase the school district's annual budget?
At this time I’m not in favor of the increase.
At the time this is being written there is NOT a systematic plan in place for the HS. Until the board releases its proposal, I will have to wait to give an informed position.
What is your position on the proposal to build one or two new high schools replacing the three older facilities that currently exist?
Every week 125k people, who don’t live here, drive into our city, clock into work, clock out of work, leave the city limits and go home. That breaks down to a workforce white/blue collar, of 25k workers a day. That’s 25k employees whose taxes could support the infrastructure of St. Joseph and the expansion of the SJSD.
The number 1 reason they do not commit to St. Joseph as a home, the St. Joseph School District.
Since the most recent census, St. Joseph had a recorded population of 72,481 April of 2020. (census.gov) we are declining at a rate of -1.08% annually and its population has decreased by -4.15% If this trend continues, by the end of 2024, St. Joseph will have a population of 69,146. Certainly a trend that cannot be ignored by the board when planning an annual budget. Best case scenario is none of those leaving the city have families.
We can’t ignore what’s happening around us. School expansion and student growth continues strong in Savannah, St. Joseph Christian School, Mid Buchanan. Meanwhile, we continue to see an exodus of families and talent to these districts. If we can financially support 2 new high schools over the process of time, while aligning the district with the vision and values of the community, I’m in support of exploring and the possibility of building 2 new high schools. But it should be noted, that if the school board is compelled to move to a 2 HS district, it MUST keep the community informed and encourage forum questions.
Lastly, there must be a systematic plan in place for the 3 high school campuses that are being replaced.
What is your approach to school safety? What is your position on metal detectors, security guards, and safety training for our teachers and administrators?
School safety is key for the communities piece of mind. Parents want whatever resources needed to secure buildings. Metal detectors, security guards and safety training is a key component but not the totality of it.
It should be noted that metal detectors don’t screen bullies. So being intentional about mental safety is just as important as the physical safety.
The Special Education educator is one of the highest callings in the district. Reaching the individual student has its own challenges but the approach is good and experienced educators is key.
2.) student/teacher ratio
3.) district support for disciplinary action
4.) job security
A TEAM APPROACH
I will have a duty as a board member, if elected, to demonstrate to the community, that the school board and district values professionalism, effectiveness and TEAM.
TEAM STRUCTURE CONSIST OF:
Mining new data. Brainstorming solutions.
Gathering facts to create clarity as new policies are structured. As our knowledge increases on important issues, we will formulate and set new policies based on facts despite the distractions.
Application is the next step that builds off of that acquired knowledge and how are we use it to guide policy decisions.
Being mindful that when we set policy, it reflects the vision and values of the community. New policies must exist to protect and improve student outcomes. Always advancing the needs of the students vs. advancing the needs of adult.
We must stay focused on putting the SJSD back in the center of the community.
Do you support transgender-inclusive or lgbtq+ policies for schools such as bathroom and locker room inclusion based on someone's preferred gender?
Would you encourage the introduction of materials into the school system based on Critical Race Theory (CRT) and other "woke" ideologies?
No, I wouldn’t encourage the introduction of this type of materials.
Many, many community residents have expressed to me, that its vision and values are on improving math and reading comprehension scores.
What is your position on notifying parents if a child is considering something harmful to their bodies – whether it is gender-related or other? What will you do about the current movement to limit a parent's involvement?
Parent involvement is an absolute must, regardless of whether it’s in the home or the classroom.
The importance of the SJSD notifying parents is designed to protect students and to improve student outcomes. In service of that, education leaders must be prepared and have a responsibility to inform parents of the “harmful” even if it’s difficult or unpopular.
As a board member, I will see to it that relationship continues between district and parents.