Ensuring the safety of students is the most important role of any School Board.
My experience in law enforcement and working in the schools provide me with a unique insight into potential problems and solutions. Here are just two examples:
- Utilize retired officers in our elementary schools and as back-up in secondary schools: VBCPS currently has uniformed officers in all middle and high schools. I believe it is time to put an officer in every elementary school. We should also ensure uninterrupted security at our middle and high schools. Currently, resource officers are often diverted from their designated school for training, leave, court appearances, etc.
- Safety Procedures: procedures must be consistent from school to school and not confusing. Additionally, procedures that are in place MUST be followed. A properly trained security assistant must ALWAYS be manning the front desk. All doors should be kept locked and students should be instructed to never let anyone into the school from the outside (this is a rule that must be enforced!)
- Student Discipline: Read my article from the Virginian Pilot that summarizes my views on this topic.
- Threats in VBCPS are real and must be taken seriously: In 2017-18, guns were brought into 2 schools (one middle school and one high school), and one student died.
- Lowering of standards: Did you know that the honor roll now includes students who receive the grade of a “C” ? In VBCPS, over 55% of high school graduates are recognized with “honors”. The definition of honor is “held in high esteem”. These “honors” have become watered down.
- Valedictorian/Salutatorian: The VBCPS School Board recently voted to get rid of the recognition of this achievement that rewards students at the top of their class.
- No zeros or points deducted for late work: In many schools, teachers cannot give a zero for work not done. A minimum grade of a 50 is given even if no work is done. In some schools, teachers are also not allowed to deduct points for work not turned in on time. How is this fair to students who work hard and meet the deadline?
- No Grades in Elementary School: No longer are standard “A,B,C” grades given to students. In VBCPS student receive AP, P, DP, N (advanced proficient, Proficient, Developing Proficiency, Novice). Students and parents are confused by what these marks really indicate. One parent told me that his child got all her answers correct on a test but received the grade of “P”.
If elected to the Board I will work to REVERSE these grading policies that lower standards and do not prepare students for the real world.
Priorities in Spending
- Spending continues to rise!: The VBCPS budget is roughly $800 million. Each year the average cost per student increases. According to the VBCPS FY 2018/19 operating budget document, VBCPS spent $12,534 per student in 2017/18. In 2012/13, $11,471 was spent per pupil. That is an increase of over $1,000 per student in just 5 years.
- Reduce costs of new buildings: I believe VBCPS could cut the cost of the elaborate schools being built. Kellam High was completed in 2014 and cost $102 million. Glass walls, curved architecture, geo thermal wells, expensive flooring, etc. I believe we should build schools that stand the test of time but elaborate architecture does not extend the life of a building nor does it improve learning.
- Stop hiring consultants: In 2017, a “consultant” was paid $45,000 for just 15 days of work to visit various schools and provide helpful hints to licensed professional teachers. This is just one example of many expenses that could be cut.
- Top Heavy Administration: The Superintendent of VB Schools makes over $250,000 per year. Advising him are 44 Chief Officers and Directors whose salaries are over $100,000. I know that VBCPS has many great employees (including many in these leadership positions), but are all of these positions really necessary?