Q. What made you want to run for this office?
It’s a critical time for Huntsville City Schools. I feel I have the demonstrated credentials to represent District 4 on the board. It’s time for positive steps to be taken from a united board and not waste time with useless rhetoric that really doesn’t get us anywhere. It’s time for action. Ensuring Huntsville City Schools’ financial stability, improving relationships with teachers, and stronger support for Pre-K programs are what I would work towards if elected to the board.
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? How do you plan to fulfill the board member role of administration and supervision of the public schools as detailed in School Board Policy 2.2?
I am capable and willing to do the research necessary to ask questions about the policies, procedures, and recommendations that the superintendent will bring to the board for approval. Also in order to fulfill the board member role of administration and supervision of the public schools as detailed in School Board Policy 2.2, one must understand the difference between the school board role as administrator and the role or authority of the superintendent as the administrator. For instance, HCS Policy 2.2 also references action taken in accordance with applicable statutory procedures. The applicable statue in this situation is the Code of Alabama Code, Section 16-12-5, which authorizes the superintendent the responsibility for all recommendations of educational policy and rules and regulations.
Now, we have to add to this conversation, the School Board Governance Improvement Act of 2012. It states, “That, except to the extent otherwise provided by law, each member of a local board of education shall take formal action upon the written recommendation of and in consultation with the local superintendent of education, and may not individually or jointly attempt to direct or corrupt the operations of the school system in a manner that is inconsistent with the discharge of the statutory functions and responsibilities of the local superintendent of education.” (School Board IMprovement Act 2012, page 4, item e).
Therefore, I plan on fulfilling my duties by reviewing and consulting with the superintendent as required by law all recommendations before making a decision on the item. As well as developing relationships with the other board members that will advance, not hinder, the advancement of our school system.
Q. Do your children (or school age relatives) attend Huntsville City Schools?
Both my children attended and graduated from Huntsville City schools. A present I do not have any children in Huntsville City Schools. However, over my 36 years I have impacted the lives of thousands of students in my capabilities as a teacher, coach, and school administrator at Stone MS, Lee HS, Grissom HS, and Chapman MS.
Q. What is your vision for the schools in your district?
My vision for the schools in my district is the same for all of the schools in Huntsville City Schools. I will stand strong advocating for each and every one of our schools to be excellent in academics, leadership, staffing and facilities. If, I am elected, just like any other prospective member (elected after 2012) will be required for each term of office to affirm publicly and in writing affirmations of principles of educational governance.
For instance, the affirmation at center of stewardship on a local school board is “each decision, action, and vote shall be based on the interests of the school system as a whole.” (School Board Governance Act 2012, page 4, item c). Therefore it is in the best interest of the system as a whole that we have no schools not meeting the minimum requirements of the state or the public.
Q. What is your view of high-stakes standardized testing, and the use of those test results for the evaluation of teachers?
China has a long tradition of standardized testing and leads the world in educational achievement. China displaced Finland as number one in reading, math, and science when Shanghai debuted on the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) rankings in 2009. Despite calls for reduction in standardized testing, China’s testing regimen remains firmly in place. Chester E. Finn, Jr., Chairman of the Hoover Institution’s Koret Task Force on K-12 Education predicts that Chinese cities will top the PISA chart for the next several decades. Our children are competing with the world for jobs, not just the students in Alabama.
Standardized tests are not narrowing the curriculum, rather these tests are focusing it on important basic skills all students need to master. Most teachers acknowledge the importance of standardized tests and do not feel their teaching has been compromised. For instance in a 2009 Scholastic/Gates Foundation survey, 81% of US public school teachers said state-required standardized tests were at least “somewhat important” as a measure of students’ academic achievement, and 27% said they were “very important” or “absolutely essential.”
Our state has passed legislation that requires a performance-based evaluation for classified as well as non-classified. It is my understandings that each local school system will be able to add or go beyond the State’s new evaluation system but they cannot lessen it. With this in mind, it is not my view that matters but my leadership as an experienced educator that will positively direct how to incorporate these results in a fair and equitable manner.
Q. What is your plan for working with the other school board members, superintendent, staff, teachers, community to implement this vision?
My plan for working with the other school board members, superintendent, staff, teachers, community to implement this vision can be summed up as follows” Discussion is always better than argument. Argument seeks to find out who is right! Discussion is to find out what is right! Together, united this board can find out what is right!
Q. What is your view of how the district’s limited funding should be divided among the needs of the district?
HCS funding priority should always be to support and distribute funds that directly affect the academic, physical and mental needs of children.
Q. What is your view on the superintendent’s plans to close, consolidate, “turn around”, and “restart” many of the schools in our district?
What I have observed in my lifetime is no one has ever agreed or stepped up to volunteer, “Here is my school close it!” My view is every school must be one of quality and we must do everything we can do to provide every neighborhood a quality school whether is a “turn around” or a “restart”. Every child deserves our effort and commitment to make each child’s potential become a reality.
Q. What is your view of the role that parents and the community should play in the governance of our schools?
Sometimes parents and the community are not aware that many of the most sensitive and controversial points of governance comes from state and federal agencies outside of HCS. My role is to provide a venue for discussion with all key stake holder – partnering is required. Therefore, one important role the community should play in the governance of schools is to vote for Walker McGinnis as your school board member. I will build consensus with the other members of the school board to champion support for the academic, staffing, facilities, and other needs of our system.[sws_grey_box box_size=”450″]WANT TO MEET THE CANDIDATES IN PERSON? The Huntsville Council of Parent Teacher Associations is hosting a School Board Candidate Forum on Monday, August 18th, 2014. The event will be held at Huntsville High School from 6:30pm – 8:30pm. This forum will also be broadcast live on ETV (Channel 17 on Comcast and Channel 3 on Wow!) [/sws_grey_box]
Stephenie has worked with and around books and authors for over 12 years, both at retail booksellers and public libraries. She is a rare Huntsville native, mother of two high-energy teens and two ridiculous dogs, spouse of one incredible guy, and eerily addicted to community volunteering. When she's not being the Executive Editor for RCM she likes to stalk her favorite authors online, cook with way too much butter, and conduct freelance marketing and SMM work.