Issaquah School Board candidates answer questions

October 18, 2011

By Staff

Issaquah School Board candidates Brian Neville and Suzanne Weaver, and Brian Deagle and Patrick Sansing, answered questions about issues facing the Issaquah School District. Answers had to be 25 words or less.

See the candidates’ responses: Issaquah School Board

Find more responses from Weaver, Neville, Deagle and Sansing — as well as uncontested school board candidate Anne Moore — below:

Suzanne Weaver

Suzanne Weaver

 

What is your opinion of the federal No Child Left Behind Act?

NCLB was well-intentioned legislation that caused districts to be accountable for the progress of specific sub-groups of students and has been beneficial in that regard.

 

What do think of the idea of adequate yearly progress as spelled out by NCLB?

The stair-stepping of AYP goals has resulted in targets which will soon cause all schools to be “failing.” The punitive nature of AYP is counter-productive.

 

Should the state seek a waiver of No Child Left Behind requirements and why or why not?

A waiver is warranted, given the unattainable targets and financial sanctions, provided that accountability is maintained and the state develops an adequate teacher evaluation system.

 

How important is required passage of a standardized science or biology test for high school graduation? Why?

It is important to ensure that students have mastered the state standards in science. I would prefer to see end-of-course exams for biology and chemistry.

 

Do you support the proposed capital improvement bond? What would you have changed?

The proposed bond is a comprehensive eight-year package which protects the community’s billion-dollar investment in school facilities and ensures spaces conducive to student learning.

 

If further budget cuts are needed, what top two areas do you recommend the board study to make those cuts?

I recommend more exploration of online and blended learning opportunities that would reduce staffing requirements without impacting the quality of education in the classroom.

 

What experience do you bring to the board that will make a difference to the school district?

Five years’ experience as an incumbent school board member, plus an MBA in finance and extensive board and treasurer experience in district PTSA and VIS.

 

Setting aside funding issues, what should district officials be asking of state legislators?

Many important education issues ultimately involve funding, but we should ask them not to lose sight of the education reform goals they set in ESHB2261.

 

What change to vocational training should the district consider?

Coursework should involve more “hands-on” opportunities for students and more exposure to career paths via internships or professionals who volunteer their time.

 

Do you think school board meetings should be televised, and should those meetings be shown live or recorded?

If it’s not cost-prohibitive, I would be in favor of televised board meetings shown live if possible.

 

How important is all-day kindergarten for future educational success?

Kindergarten is the foundation for future learning and is critically important for kids without preschool experience or whose families can’t read to them at home.

 

Is the district moving in the right direction regarding increased programming at Tiger Mountain Community High School?

Yes. We need to broaden the alternative educational and career-prep opportunities that we offer to students who don’t “fit” in our comprehensive high schools.

 

What is the role of the school board in the district’s relationship with the teachers’ union?

The school board provides the financial parameters and community values to the district for contract bargaining, to ensure both a balanced budget and high-caliber teachers.

 

What would you do to lower the district’s dropout rate, or is it low enough?

We need to understand why students are leaving our system, both students who drop out and students who leave for private schools or Running Start.

 

What change(s) would you propose in the role of the board as currently spelled out?

The board’s policy governance model is effective, but I encourage the continued sharing of the “means” the district is using to achieve the board’s ends.

 

Brian Neville

Brian Neville

 

What is your opinion of the federal No Child Left Behind Act?

The act was well-intentioned when developed in 2001, but public schools are highly localized and national standardized testing is nearly impossible to make effective.

 

What do think of the idea of adequate yearly progress as spelled out by NCLB?

AYP measurements were not well-conceived as the requirement to continuously improve is especially difficult to attain in the highest performing districts (like Issaquah).

 

Should the state seek a waiver of No Child Left Behind requirements and why or why not?

As currently designed, it makes sense for the state to seek a waiver from NCLB, while still considering accountability measures more appropriate for each district.

 

How important is required passage of a standardized science or biology test for high school graduation? Why?

Standardized testing for graduation requirements deserves scrutiny and should allow for some judgment at the school level, and science/biology is no exception.

 

Do you support the proposed capital improvement bond? What would you have changed?

I support the bond in general as the major modernizations at three schools are essential and I think committee approach to establish priorities was effective.

 

If further budget cuts are needed, what top two areas do you recommend the board study to make those cuts?

To fairly weigh in on where to cut, I would have to review full financials and consult directly with district staff before offering an opinion.

 

What experience do you bring to the board that will make a difference to the school district?

Ten years of management experience with a focus on critical/independent thinking, financial work with private schools and serving as a nonprofit board president.

 

Setting aside funding issues, what should district officials be asking of state legislators?

Finding the right federal/state/local balance on accountability measures to maximize student achievement given the socio-economic realities of different district locations.

 

What change to vocational training should the district consider?

While the ISD (appropriately) encourages a college-prep based approach, I believe a more defined vocational (and arts) path should also be considered.

 

Do you think school board meetings should be televised, and should those meetings be shown live or recorded?

No — I think the combination of fully open meetings, clearly documented minutes, as well as a recorded audio podcast provides adequate public access.

 

How important is all-day kindergarten for future educational success?

All-day kindergarten is preferable, but not critical (based on my current experience and research) to long-term educational success.

 

Is the district moving in the right direction regarding increased programming at Tiger Mountain Community High School?

I have not researched the changes at Tiger Mountain High School, but generally support the option of an alternative high school in the district.

 

What is the role of the school board in the district’s relationship with the teachers’ union?

The school board should have regular and open communication with teacher union representatives and try to focus on coming to consensus around contentious areas.

 

What would you do to lower the district’s dropout rate, or is it low enough?

Eliminating dropouts altogether should always be the goal, and this aspiration can be pursued by providing effective approaches to different learning styles.

 

What change(s) would you propose in the role of the board as currently spelled out?

As I currently understand the board’s operating agreement, I agree with the division of duties among the key stakeholders in the district.

 

Brian Deagle

Brian Deagle

 

What is your opinion of the federal No Child Left Behind Act?

It is a well-intentioned law that has outgrown its effectiveness. It now results in labeling almost all schools “failing;” that doesn’t help improve public education.

 

What do think of the idea of adequate yearly progress as spelled out by NCLB?

Good concept; measuring multiple subject areas for various student sub-groups (37 total measurements). A school, however, should not “fail” for missing only one of 37.

 

Should the state seek a waiver of No Child Left Behind requirements and why or why not?

Yes. As I stated above, the law has become ineffective and unfair, and the resulting federal penalties hinder our ability to serve our kids.

 

How important is required passage of a standardized science or biology test for high school graduation? Why?

It is critical that we ensure our children graduate fully capable in science, which I think is a proxy for critical thinking skills.

 

Do you support the proposed capital improvement bond? What would you have changed?

Yes. I voted for the bond and fully support it. The community can listen to the podcast (See www.issaquah.wednet.edu/board/podcasts) to hear the full board discussion.

 

If further budget cuts are needed, what top two areas do you recommend the board study to make those cuts?

Eighty-three percent of the district’s operating budget is staff salaries and benefits. If we must make meaningful budget cuts we have to cut this item.

 

What experience do you bring to the board that will make a difference to the school district?

I have five years of board experience, including one as president. I know how to drive the board to lead the district to achieve.

 

Setting aside funding issues, what should district officials be asking of state legislators?

I cannot set aside funding when our state constitution says that “ample provision” for the education of children is the “paramount duty” of state government.

 

What change to vocational training should the district consider?

We should consider expanding programs in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) with a focus on practical applications; for example, healthcare, given new local hospitals.

 

Do you think school board meetings should be televised, and should those meetings be shown live or recorded?

Yes, provided the cost does not come from our operating fund. We cannot afford to deplete operating funds with televising when we podcast all meetings.

 

How important is all-day kindergarten for future educational success?

More important is kids showing up at kindergarten ready to learn. Fortunately, the vast majority of our kids are ready; we focus on the rest.

 

Is the district moving in the right direction regarding increased programming at Tiger Mountain Community High School?

Yes. As I stated above, we need to expand practical STEM programs, and the new facility in the proposed 2012 bond will support that effort.

 

What is the role of the school board in the district’s relationship with the teachers’ union?

The board supports the relationship through policy, including contract negotiations. The board listens to the union each meeting, and we jointly participate in community groups.

 

What would you do to lower the district’s dropout rate, or is it low enough?

I am not satisfied with leaving any of our kids behind. At this point, the solutions are detailed and unique to the individual situation.

 

What change(s) would you propose in the role of the board as currently spelled out?

No role change; we should continue to set the standard for student achievement. I will propose changing approach, and push the district to move faster.

 

Patrick Sansing

Patrick Sansing

 

What is your opinion of the federal No Child Left Behind Act?

It was created to help failing schools. Issaquah doesn’t have failing schools. The federal government should not get involved in local schools to this extent.

 

What do think of the idea of adequate yearly progress as spelled out by NCLB?

In Issaquah, test scores aren’t the best progress measurement. School board must be more aggressive in pushing the district to innovate and improve beyond testing.

 

Should the state seek a waiver of No Child Left Behind requirements and why or why not?

I’m not sure about all other districts in Washington. For Issaquah, NCLB is failing, not schools. However, we must change now to become even better.

 

How important is required passage of a standardized science or biology test for high school graduation? Why?

State requires science testing to graduate beginning 2015. Until then, focus on supporting good teachers and stringent grading. Don’t neglect teaching creativity and soft skills.

 

Do you support the proposed capital improvement bond? What would you have changed?

I support the bond. I would have created a long-term comprehensive financial strategy and determined how the projects and costs fit into the strategy.

 

If further budget cuts are needed, what top two areas do you recommend the board study to make those cuts?

We need fresh thoughts on this, as current directors believe only teachers can be cut. Before that, study: reserves strategy, administration and school board expenses.

 

What experience do you bring to the board that will make a difference to the school district?

My career brings executive experience creating long-term strategies, managing $200 million budgets and implementing complex changes. Experience on school boards and as education lobbyist.

Setting aside funding issues, what should district officials be asking of state legislators?

Continued support for changing teacher and principal pay scales and evaluations to include parent and student feedback. Ensure Quality Education Council continues to be supported.

 

What change to vocational training should the district consider?

We have huge potential in our community. More companies, individuals and groups can be counted on to work with students and improve vocational programs.

Do you think school board meetings should be televised, and should those meetings be shown live or recorded?

Any method to engage the public is welcome, live or recorded. Encourages board interaction with broader public rather than usual volunteers and special interests.

 

How important is all-day kindergarten for future educational success?

Important to be available, but parents should decide what is right for their child. For most, but not all, it is important for future success.

 

Is the district moving in the right direction regarding increased programming at Tiger Mountain Community High School?

Yes. I will work to ensure the district continuously improves opportunities for all students in the district, including nontraditional students and learning environments.

 

What is the role of the school board in the district’s relationship with the teachers’ union?

Fix the unnecessarily tense relationship now before it’s too late. Board should be seeking regular involvement, feedback and buy-in with IEA. Focus on common goals.

 

What would you do to lower the district’s dropout rate, or is it low enough?

Achieve smaller class sizes in earlier grades for future success. Our low dropout rate is due to families and demographics: not current school board actions.

 

What change(s) would you propose in the role of the board as currently spelled out?

Eliminate complacency — develop innovative initiatives and improvement strategies to study, create and implement. Push the board to lead the ISD, not just manage it.

 

Anne Moore

Anne Moore

 

What is your opinion of the federal No Child Left Behind Act?

I believe the intention behind the No Child Left Behind Act was a good one — all students meeting standards.

 

What do think of the idea of adequate yearly progress as spelled out by NCLB?

The effect of not meeting AYP is too punitive. If a school doesn’t meet AYP in even just one category, it is labeled as failing.

 

Should the state seek a waiver of No Child Left Behind requirements and why or why not?

Because not meeting AYP is so punitive, requesting the waiver would be a good idea; however, we must work to have all students meet standards.

 

How important is required passage of a standardized science or biology test for high school graduation? Why?

Students need strong skills in science and be able to demonstrate their skills. Having a graduation requirement tied to a science test is very important.

 

Do you support the proposed capital improvement bond? What would you have changed?

Yes, I support the proposed bond package. I’m very confident in the package that has moved forward.

 

If further budget cuts are needed, what top two areas do you recommend the board study to make those cuts?

Unfortunately, cuts will have to come from all areas. It’s time to start looking at new models of teaching to maintain educational quality/save money.

 

What experience do you bring to the board that will make a difference to the school district?

I add a voice from the parent community with real examples of how students and families are affected by what happens in our schools.

 

Setting aside funding issues, what should district officials be asking of state legislators?

The Legislature should implement high school graduation requirements as proposed by the State Board of Education and add additional choices for the science end-of-course assessment.

 

What change to vocational training should the district consider?

I don’t have any suggestions now but want to better understand the vocational training opportunities our district offers.

 

Do you think school board meetings should be televised, and should those meetings be shown live or recorded?

School board meetings are recorded/available to the public as a podcast. If televising the meetings would add additional costs, I wouldn’t be in favor.

 

How important is all-day kindergarten for future educational success?

The key is the skills children need for first grade, whether they receive them in a full-day or half-day kindergarten program.

 

Is the district moving in the right direction regarding increased programming at Tiger Mountain Community High School?

No concrete information about programming has come from the district. However, I would like to see an expanded program of offerings at Tiger Mountain.

 

What is the role of the school board in the district’s relationship with the teachers’ union?

The school board sets policy that is carried out by the superintendent, who is the focal point for the relationship with the teachers union.

 

What would you do to lower the district’s dropout rate, or is it low enough?

The state just changed how the on-time graduation rate is calculated; now it’s time to better understand the dropout rate and develop an action plan.

 

What change(s) would you propose in the role of the board as currently spelled out?

I would like to see the board have more interactive sessions with parents and teachers to better assess the current environment and needs.

Bookmark and Share
Other Stories of Interest: , , , , ,

Comments

Got something to say?

Before you comment, please note:

  • These comments are moderated.
  • Comments should be relevant to the topic at hand and contribute to its discussion.
  • Personal attacks and/or excessive profanity will not be tolerated and such comments will not be approved.
  • This is not your personal chat room or forum, so please stay on topic.