BISMARCK ALLIANCE FOR NEIGHBORHOOD SCHOOLS
QUESTIONS FOR THE CANDIDATES
Bismarck School Board Election will be held June 12, 2018
If elected, what would be your top three priorities?
1. Aligning the district financially to hire more teaching positions, creating smaller class sizes.
2. Empowering staff and increasing morale by promoting a culture that values “teacher voice”
3. Addressing behavior issues in the classroom by exploring a school within a school concept.
How do you plan to address the projected continued growth of Bismarck’s student population, especially in north Bismarck?
We have talked about long term planning extensively and we absolutely must formulate a long term plan that incorporates what we value as a community. This includes “points of action” if the numbers indicate a new school should be built, size of school, size of classrooms and ultimately a strategy for the physical placement of schools with boundaries that the school will serve. In the short to medium term, I expect we will have to address boundaries again to reduce overcrowding. I support a “one and done” plan for families which is if you are moved to a new school, that will be your school for as long as you have children in the system.
How do you plan to address the continually shifting school boundaries for Bismarck’s elementary students?
I think our board’s decision to slow down the process was wise and warranted. We recognized the demographer’s numbers were vastly accelerated from what we were seeing in real time. This afforded us the luxury of time. We have been able to step back, gather input and formulate the foundation of a plan moving forward. Shifting school boundaries has been a product of maximizing the space we already have. That type of “efficiency” comes at a cost and needs to be weighed against what’s best for our kids and community. It’s not a lack of long term planning per se but more a lack of prioritizing and defining the values of our community and incorporating those values into a comprehensive long term plan.
In the face of looming budget pressures, do you see it as a Bismarck school board member’s responsibility to advocate for K-12 education funding in state legislature?
I think it is my responsibility as a parent and supporter of K-12 education. It may not fall under a “responsibility” of a school board member. However, being a school board member gives me a unique platform to advocate for funding and that is certainly what I am committed to doing. The per pupil funding is on a downward trajectory in North Dakota. The consequences will undoubtedly affect student achievement and that’s a concern worthy of addressing.
In 2017, BPS administration figures erroneously suggested smaller neighborhood schools are significantly less efficient than large schools on Bismarck’s outer edges, subjecting neighborhood schools to closure (the recommendation was later rejected by the school board). How do you plan to maintain the integrity of Bismarck’s neighborhood schools?
I was concerned with the figures presented and did voice those concerns. I was challenged with the notion that smaller schools are not fiscally responsible. I dispute that on the basis of new construction costs compared to buildings that are already bought and paid for by the taxpayer. I do not believe the cost of new larger schools to replace smaller neighborhood schools is a wise investment. Many of our neighborhood schools have faithfully served this community for decades, they have smaller class sizes, kids can actually walk to school and I believe they are in the best interest of our kids. I approach every decision with one question “What’s best for our kids?” Our neighborhood schools are in the best interest of our kids and produce desirable outcomes that we as a community should value.