April 29, 2005
1). Do you support the recommendations Superintendent Bert Bleke has made to balance the budget? If not, what other solutions would you suggest?
I am not sure what recommendations that you're referring to, if you would like me to address the issue of privatizing. I do not think privatizing is a legitimate option. If you are referring to the reduction of services, I would recommend that they be as far away from the classroom as possible, and that the reduction not include the teaching and counseling staff, and/or the building's principals. I would advise that all other individuals and positions can be reviewed.
2). The decision to privatize transportation and the recommendation to privatize some custodial work have been fairly controversial. Do you believe those are the right steps to take to deal with the budget problems?
No, I do not. Although, I understand that Superintendent Bleke must review every available option, in order to balance the budget and that he is committed to avoid making cuts in areas that directly impact student instruction; I do not believe that privatizing should be a consideration, nor do I believe it is the answer to this systemic problem. My preference would be to work with all of the union groups as well as all the other employees to realize the necessary savings and arrive at budget reconciliation.
3). Do you believe the state is adequately funding public education? If not, how would you work to change that?
No, the state is not adequately funding the public education. I believe that we, as board members should work with the community to change the law related to how the operation budget is funded. Currently, we are allowed to raise money to build buildings but, are not allowed to raise money to provide services. It would make better sense, if this were visa-versa (the other way around). Every school board in Michigan must work as a unit, and with its perspective community to get this law changed. In addition, make sure we elect those who are willing to amend this law.
4). Administrators have discussed an intent to request a school bond proposal to make improvements at other facilities in Grand Rapids Public Schools. Would you support a request for an additional millage increase?
At this point, It is an immediate, imperative, need for operational funds, not new buildings. If we can't afford to hire teachers, administrators, maintenance staffing, counselors and bus drivers to provide direct services to the students, then why would we consider new facilities?
5). The superintendent and board have instituted a number of programs designed to improve academic progress over the last few years (Four Blocks reading and writing program, small high schools, etc ...). Do you believe the school district is moving in the right direction with those efforts?
Absolutely, I believe they're moving in the right direction. If an individual can read, write and think; they will have the ability to master any other educational environment that they enter. The small school concept is an excellent one. The TRiO programs, a federally funded program, three of which I administer are based on that actual concept and instruc students how to read, write and think in a small comprehensive nurturing environment. It absolutely facilitates to their success in college. They are proportionately successful in college.
6). What will be your biggest priority as a member of the Board of Education?
I am very interested in working with the education committee and its programs, improving systems that will increase students' academic outcome, as well as serve on the education legislation committee, which deals with budget and legal issues regarding public school/education funding.