In an effort to help voters prepare for the Nov. 7 elections, Atlanta Loop sent questions to candidates running for Atlanta City Council, Atlanta Mayor and Atlanta School Board. Early voting begins Oct. 16. To see district maps, click here.
1) Why are you running for Atlanta School Board?
I am running for this office because I have seen the work of people who are dedicated to the empowerment and education of students, made unnecessarily difficult. There are decisions the current board have made that I feel are not in the best interest of the students. Particularly closing schools to merge the students in schools that are not performing as well. We must be advocates of all students to fulfill the APS mission.
2) What makes you a better candidate than your opponents?
My experience in Atlanta Public Schools providing direct service to student, working with administrators and parents for the past 16 years puts me in a unique position to advocate for the system. Also, my experience administering federal grants and sitting on boards prepares me day 1 for the board seat.
I will give measured consideration to initiatives and not make impulsive decisions that bring unwanted attention to the board.
3) What do you think is Atlanta Schools’ greatest strength?
It is the city of Atlanta itself. If we did an asset map we would see first class colleges and universities, technology companies, entrepreneurs and infrastructure to have a world class school system. Atlanta is a growing city and new technology and ideas are at our fingertips.
4) What do you think is Atlanta Schools’ biggest challenge?
It is lack of utilization of the entire community to accomplish our mission. This problem is exacerbated by the constantly changing demographics which leads to insular thinking is many cases.
5) How would you address what you feel is Atlanta Schools’ biggest challenge?
We have to build a sense of community ownership through accountability. Everyone benefits when students receive a good education so the community must inform and participate in the process. Partnerships are not just nice to haves, they are essential to a global and holistic education model. Increasing the reach and number of true partnerships would be a priority for me.
6) What are the top two or three things you plan to focus on during your term as an elected official?
1. Transparency and Accessibility- I will advocate for using interactive live streaming (with an app like Blue Jeans) of all board meetings so parents and community members who cannot get to the APS building can still participate. Also all board meetings should be broadcast at every school live so that parents who are not able to make it down town can view the meetings.
2. Fiscal responsibility- I will ask that the board review all services being provided without a contract to determine if the same or better quality can be procured at a lower cost.
3. Student input- creating a forum where students (our ultimate customer) can speak directly to the board to let us know what they think and need from us. This can be done by survey.
7) What is your opinion of the current superintendent? Are you happy with her leadership or do you want the school system to go in a different direction?
I have learned to withhold judgement until I am presented with all of the facts. I will say there have been some questionable decisions made that I would seek clarification from Dr. Carstarphen.
Ultimately the question must always be asked who gives us the best chance of meeting the mission of the school system. Whomever we decide that is, I will fully support. If we need to make a change based on the facts I will not hesitate to do so.
8) If elected, do you promise to conduct yourself in an ethical and transparent manner?
Absolutely and unequivocally.