Strong Financial Strategy

We need a long-term strategy to the declining Fayette County Schools Budget.  While we are fortunate property values are on the rise, which will increase our school tax revenue, we face several other challenges. Two big ones causing financial struggle for our school system is the decline in Fayette County student population, coupled with the State of Georgia “Austerity Cuts”. In recent years, the Fayette County Board has used the Fund Balance to help balance the budget.  That is not the right approach!  Our most recent Board has again built up a safety reserve.  This is our stop-gap to protect our school system against unforeseen future issues.  It is not money that should be spent rashly! Many of our financial struggles are not the fault of our school system.  State financial cuts and declining enrollment are a challenge to be addressed through a long-term model that will allow our schools to operate effectively.

Local Based Decisions

I firmly believe that in most cases, the best strategy and vision for Fayette County schools will come from a local level.  We have a world-class Superintendent, we have amazing parents, strong local business support, and one of the top school systems in the state.  Who better than ourselves to build a roadmap for the future of Fayette County education?

I will continue to support local governance and decision-making, and lobby against umbrella policies and standards designed to put every school system across the nation in the same box.  The real world doesn’t work that way. I believe local decision-making is critical for continued excellence in our Fayette  County school system.

Common Core / Race to The Top

It’s easy to simply say… “I’m against Common Core”, and similar Federal Government based programs.  Rather than simply striving to achieve “minimum standards” as set by programs like Common Core, I believe Fayette County is much better than simple “one size fits all regulation”.   Many people say “Common Core” is evil, or have an intense dislike for it.  In most cases, this is because of the loss of decision-making and control over our education at a local level.  I agree with these naysayers, and see that as the first strike against the program.  However, that is not why I am a passionate voice against each of the programs.

There is value in having a minimum set of standards and criteria to ensure our children’s success.  But…this should be handled at a local level, or a combination local/state level.

A common marketing tactic for programs such as Common Core is that the program will engender academic excellence and “raise the bar” for our countries school systems.  As a consultant, I can appreciate the marketing message!

Unfortunately, the reality is that the Common Core is a failure.  States that have adopted it are leaving the program after realizing the promise far outweighs the reality. (Example:  Indiana formally withdrew in March 2014)

Even worse than the false advertising on the values and benefits of Common Core and similar Federal Programs, is the actual methodologies being taught to our children as a result.

I was fortunate to take many math classes in college and graduate school.  When I help my own 4th grader with math, it should not be difficult for me.  I find the Common Core math teaching model to be flawed, and doing a tremendous disservice to our children.  Our Fayette County teachers almost universally agree.  While they are not able to speak out negatively on these issues, I will be a voice for parents, students, (and yes, our teachers) against complicating math through the Common Core teaching model.

As your elected District 5 At-Large representative, I will be a strong voice against programs that marginalize our high quality education system.

Cultivate and Maintain World Class Teachers

One of the biggest assets we have in Fayette County is our teachers and experienced administrators.

As the parent of 4 children in our Fayette County public schools, I witness this first-hand on a regular basis.

We have a serious morale problem district-wide.  I will work with the entire Board of Education and Superintendent Barrow to address this.

Our State and National lawmakers are constantly creating new bills which collectively aim to create a “standardized test based ranking system” of teachers.  Unfortunately, these tests simply do not work as advertised.

I’m all for performance-based reviews, I think it should be done at a local level.  I believe our Principals and Superintendent are best equipped to make these decisions.  There is no “standardized test” that can replace the value of a good principal to ensure we have the absolute best teachers in our school system.

New Ideas / Technology

As a career technology professional, I am a very strong believer in the value of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) at all levels for our children.  Unfortunately, there has been a discouraging trend with some of our current and previous Board of Education members over the last 20 years AGAINST STEM in our system.  These members have been so conservative in their thinking, they desire to maintain a school system that operates in the model that I grew up with in the 1970s and 1980s.

This does not serve our children, and is a mistake

As your elected District 5 At-Large representative, I will be a strong voice for STEM based learning at all levels in our schools.   I will be a strong voice for technology, and using it in the classroom at all levels for Fayette County children.

We should also investigate careers, skills, trades, and other paths available for our children at all levels.

I am very open to new ideas, and believe that to be effective in the 21st century, we must equip our students to adapt to change, to be strong learners, and to think for themselves.

Partnership with Business Community

As a member of the Fayette County business community, I believe fervently that the Fayette County Board of Education should work to build more programs with local industry and businesses.  We are fortunate to have Pinewood Studios driving tremendous growth in the film industry.  We also have Delta and major local employers such as Chick-fil-A, Eaton (Formerly Cooper Lighting), Panasonic and many more with significant presences in Fayette County.

As your elected District 5 At-Large representative, I will be a strong advocate for additional business partnerships.

Data-Driven Decision Making

My experience serving on the most recent Redistricting Committee and various Superintendent parent boards was enlightening.  One thing that surprised me greatly was the lack of real, unbiased data used to make decisions.  I would work to change this immediately.

As your elected District 5 At-Large representative, I will be a voice of reason and help to ensure that when important decisions are made, they are done without regard to emotion but based on the reality that only unbiased data can provide.

Improve Overall Quality of our School System

Our system has long been a top-ranked school system.  What has happened over the past decade is that other districts have surpassed us.  The lack of leadership on our Board of Education coupled with a fear for technology and new ideas has been a very real disservice to our community.

I will work with the other Board of Education members and Superintendent Barrow to identify key areas we can improve, boosting the entire district.  These do not have to be expensive fixes.

As an example, I am confident we can boost SAT/ACT scores significantly across all of our high schools with very little spend.  This will help all of our students going on to continue their education at the college level, and will boost the state and national perception of our district.  I’ll talk through this in detail on my website and in any debate.

I also believe that we must create opportunities for students not focused on college, so that they can gain a foothold in the workforce.  The opportunities here for our children are great – and I will help create systems and training to boost these students.  Students who wish to pursue careers in trade/vocational/technical disciplines should not be ignored.  Every child does not need to go to college to succeed in life!  By teaching real world entrepreneurship to students seeking an alternative path than attending college, we give them a real opportunity to build successful businesses and simultaneously grow and sustain our community.

As your elected District 5 At-Large representative, I do not believe we serve our students and community by simply believing “Fayette County schools are the best”.  We must continue to innovate, grow, and transform our entire district into a world-class system.   This must be done for all students.

Proponent of Fine Arts and Sports Programs

All too often, we talk about the quality of our school system based on SAT and ACT Scores, AP Exams, and other “traditional academic” metrics.  While rigor of curriculum is extremely important, the fine arts and sports play an integral role in the development of our children.

I’ve attended many of our districts fine arts performances, from elementary and middle school, through the amazing work produced at the high school level across our county.  I’ve also attended middle school and high school sporting events at every middle school and high school in the county.  We are very fortunate to have the facilities, teachers, coaches and talented students that drive both our fine arts and sports programs.  These programs build well rounded students.

The Fine Arts fosters creativity and innovation – two very important skill sets in both college and the real world.
Sports help instill leadership, sharing, teamwork, and tolerance – all extremely important traits for our children.We must continue to build strong offerings in both Fine Arts and Sports, to offer Fayette County children the opportunity to participate and excel in a wide range of activities.  Our teachers and coaches need support from the Board and Superintendent, and should not feel like they are “under fire”.

Rather than seeing these programs as the first option to cut when we face budget issues, I believe we should nurture and develop these programs as part of a holistic outlook on education.

Limit Unnecessary Assessments

A world class school system can be measured in many ways against other school districts.  However, many teachers and parents tell me that we assess to assess, with very little feedback coming back to the local level.  When our kids take numerous assessments that serve only to create statistics and benchmarks at a Federal/State level, without involving our teachers and parents – we have a problem.  I’ve witnessed this first-hand with my own children and firmly believe this is a mistake.

I am not anti-assessment, however I truly believe we need to take a real look at how much classroom time is spent taking assessment tests.  I’d rather our children be learning new material than wasting valuable classroom time “prepping” for assessments that simply do not matter.

As your elected District 5 Fayette County School Board member, I will work with the other Board members and our Superintendent to do a comprehensive review of our mandatory and optional assessments.  I will work to determine the value of our current assessments, what we should fight as a school system to change, and what is truly beneficial to our kids.