What do you see as the main job responsibilities of a school board representative and how many school board meetings have you attended in person in the last two years?

The main job responsibilities of a school board representative are to be the voice and feet of my constituents.  I will serve as their representative at monthly PTA meetings held by each of my district’s schools.  During these meetings, I will listen to concerns of parents, grandparents, guardians, and teachers.   We will strategize together how to find solutions to their concerns. I have been involved with PTA for the past 11 continuous years and currently hold the position of Vice President of Northshore High School PTA. Being involved with PTA the past 11 continuous years has enabled me to keep a pulse on parents’ needs and how to best find simple solutions. I have attended 8 school board meetings the last two years to keep abreast of how St. Tammany School Board decisions and concerns affect my own school district.

 

What is the Minimum Foundation Program (MFP) and why is it important to the St. Tammany schools?

The Minimum Foundation Program adopts a formula to equitably allocate funding for education to school districts. Funding through this program is provided to school districts as a block grant.  After satisfying all mandated requirements, school districts have the flexibility to spend the funding to meet the needs of their schools and students. Each school district has different needs based on its student population.  With the Minimum Foundation Program, each school has the flexibility to apply the financial resources to meet the greatest financial need within its specific setting.  Empowering administrators and teachers to meet this need allows them to be even more effective in the classroom, which will in turn, produce stronger students.

 

The state has imposed numerous unfunded mandates on the St. Tammany school system. Discuss two of these mandates and how they affect the school-operating budget.

Mandating computerized testing without providing the financial support for computers is one of many state-imposed mandates.  Students’ method of testing needs to be the method of teaching.  If the state is requiring the students to take computerized testing, then they must provide the funding for EACH student to have a computer during instructional minutes allocated to assessment preparation.

Also, if a specialized subgroup of students is expected to make progress in a specific target area, the state should provide the support in order to achieve the expected goal.

 

Tammany has an “out of district” policy that states a student must attend the public school in the district where the parent/ guardian owns a home and claims a homestead exemption or has proof of rent or lease.  There have been reported cases in which the policy has been violated.  A by-product of the policy violation is the overcrowding of some schools and under-utilization of others. Do you think anything should be done to balance the enrollment and reduce the need for more buildings? If so, what?

I believe in meeting the individual educational needs of each student.  If all strategies have been exhausted and a student is not progressing – although proper protocol is being followed – I believe that students needs to be placed in an educational setting that can best meet his or her needs.  That student’s educational needs should be the priority over any social or status want.

 

A major concern to parents and voters is the safety of our children while they are in our care at school.  By the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year, all 55 schools will have a school resource officer (SRO) funded by FEMA and the BP oil settlement.  These funds will eventually expire.  Would you favor increasing the school board tax millage to cover this cost or do you have another suggestion for coming up with the money?

Yes, I would favor increasing the school board tax millage to cover the cost for SROs and MHPs. Student and Teacher Safety, Mental Health, and Education for all students is very important.  I also feel the private sector solution should be explored. Businesses have a vested interest in the success of our schools.  If schools don’t prepare their students to meet the expectations for employment, businesses will not retain local employees, which will greatly impact our local economy.

 

The Louisiana Industrial Ad Valorem Tax Exemption program allows school districts to reject exemptions that decrease the tax revenue available to the school board. What action, if any, should the school board take in compliance with the current law to adopt new policies and standards for industries seeking tax exemptions?  Do you think the school board should accept or reject most exemptions?

I believe businesses have a vested interest in the success of our schools. When businesses come to our area, they bring both revenue and families – often times with children.  It is our privilege to teach and educate those children. Unfortunately, that does not come without expenses. Teachers need to be paid, buildings need to be maintained, and books need to be purchased.  When schools are successful, businesses flourish and the economy is good.  When schools do not meet the standard, businesses struggle and the economy suffers.  Businesses and our schools truly have an interdependent relationship.  To ensure the best for our community we must work hand-in-hand.  This is why I believe that the school board should reject most exceptions that decrease the tax revenue available to the school board.