Mike Culbreath (District 5) School Board Candidate

EDITOR’S NOTE: With the goal of keeping local parents (and voters) as informed as possible about all things parent-related, the editors of RCM compiled “9 Questions for the Candidates.” We asked all the Huntsville City School Board candidates to answer the same set of questions and we will run one response each day this week unedited and in the order we received them. We encourage all of our readers to exercise their democratic right and vote on Tuesday, August 28.

Q. What made you want to run for this office?

Mike Culbreath, District 5 Candidate and Family

I know that our neighborhoods and communities are only as strong as our schools. I am encouraged about the direction of our system and believe I have the background and skills to help make our schools the best in Alabama.

Q. Are you capable of and willing to do the research necessary to ask questions about the policies, procedures and recommendations that the superintendent is bringing to the board for approval?

Yes. I believe our new Superintendant is doing a great job, but as a Board it is our responsibility to ask the tough questions and do the work to ensure we continue in the right direction.

Q. Do your children (or school age relatives) attend Huntsville City Schools?

My daughter and I both graduated from Huntsville City Schools. For family reasons my wife and I have made the decision to send our two youngest children to a private religious school, but I remain committed to the needs of public education.

Q. What is your vision for the schools in your district?

We need to ensure we have the highest quality facilities and technology across West Huntsville, but we cannot forget that we need top notch principals, teachers and programs within those buildings to teach our children.

Q. What is your plan for working with the other school board members, superintendent, staff, teachers, community to implement this vision?

I want to end the partisan fights that have hurt past school boards and work to get the entire community involved in our schools. Now that we have a plan and a positive direction, we need to reach out to our business community and make them our financial and instructional partners.

Q. What is your view of high-stakes standardized testing, and the use of those test results for the evaluation of teachers?

Testing is necessary to gauge achievement and set high standards, but we don’t need to test just for the sake of testing. We need to avoid situations where the test results become more important than the quality of overall instruction.

Q. What is your view of how the district’s limited funding should be divided among the needs of the district?

We must invest in technology and in providing safe, clean and appealing buildings. Beyond that, we need to invest in recruiting and retaining the best teachers and principals from across the country.

Q. What is your view on the superintendent’s plans to close, consolidate, “turn around”, and “restart” many of the schools in our district?

We need to look at each of these on a case-by-case basis and proceed cautiously. In some cases this makes sense and gives us the best chance for success, but that should always be a last resort and not just an easy blanket answer.

Q. What is your view of the role that parents and the community should play in the governance of our schools?

Our schools can only improve with help, support and advice from across our community. My candidacy is just a small example of the role the business community should and must play in our schools. We are truly at a tipping point for public education in our community. Almost every other major metropolitan area in Alabama has abandoned public schools, but we have not. Now, with new leadership in our Superintendant’s Office and a renewed optimism across our community, we have a chance to really make a difference. It might be our last chance. That is why I am running, and I would not be running if I did not truly believe the business community is ready to step up and support new leadership to transform our schools.