Meeet the Candidate Community Questions and Answers

Can you share your thoughts, if any, on our current special education program-strengths & weaknesses? Specifically, what are your thoughts on Springboro School’s lack of teaching Orton-Gillingham to students with dyslexia? (parents/guardians must seek out and private pay a certified OG instructor/tutor).

I believe that the school district should be doing everything in their power to supply IEP accommodations to students who need them. This is the best way to ensure our students can succeed in their educational goals. While private tutoring is sometimes necessary, the district’s 504 and IEP programs are available to be requested by any parent or guardian for their student.This is the only way to ensure our students can succeed in their educational goals. The districts 504 and IEP programs are available to be requested by anyone for their students.

As far as Orton-Gillingham, I am not knowledgeable enough to speak on this directly, but I would be happy to have a sit down with you to discuss it and see how the district could potentially help by putting together a plan to present to the district. I believe if there is a beneficial tool available the district should be utilizing it. (Strengths/Weaknesses are further discussed in #16)

What non-teaching, administrative, or other tasks & obligations you’d like to see removed from teachers’ plates to help them better focus on teaching?

I would have to do research on this by talking with teachers to see what is currently on their plate outside of teaching and go from there. I would encourage any teacher, at any point, to reach out to the union and the board with concerns. It would allow them to be able to help the teacher find ways to better focus on teaching and remove the other tasks from you. These extra tasks are likely lowering the morale of the teachers and low morale directly affects the quality of education the students are receiving. If there are tasks that are being given to teachers that shouldn’t be, that needs to be addressed quickly and efficiently.

What is your view on Erin’s Law? Support /oppose and why?

(Trigger warning for readers as Erin’s Law deals with child sexual abuse) For those who may not know what Erin’s Law is: “Erin’s Law” requires that all public schools in each state implement a prevention-oriented child sexual abuse program which teaches: Students in grades preK – 12th grade, age-appropriate techniques to recognize child sexual abuse and tell a trusted adult School personnel all about child sexual abuse Parents & guardians the warning signs of child sexual abuse, plus needed assistance, referral or resource information to support sexually abused children and their families (erinslaw.org) This law is already in place in 37 states and is pending in 13 states, including Ohio. If this law passes then it will be implemented by the Ohio Board of Education with set curriculum expectations. If that happens Springboro schools would be required to teach it within the state guidelines.

As a trauma informed foster parent I have sat through hours upon hours of classes learning about the signs of sexual abuse, how it effects a child’s brain, how it effects them emotionally, and how to help a child heal from this type of trauma. I would welcome any education that can help an adult recognize that a child may be in a dangerous and/or abusive situation. The more our students, teachers, staff, and parents/guardians know what to look for in these situations the better. I understand that it is hard to believe, but child abuse is happening everywhere, even in Springboro. Teachers already receive training to recognize all types of abuse - sexual, physical, emotional. These are included in teacher education classes. I believe continuing education courses in this area would be good for schools to provide. I believe all parents/guardians need to be educated to know the signs and how to have age appropriate discussions with their kids. These topics can be asked while talking to a kid about their day without alarming the child, but still being able to gather concerning information if it exists. The state will give requirements about educating students and all lessons would absolutely need to be age appropriate.

What are your financial priorities using the limited funds available?

See Next Question

Where would you make/suggest spending cuts? Increase funding?

I believe in fiscal responsibility and feel money should always be spent wisely. While the district operates within a set budget, funding is allocated and expenditures are bound by the specific scope of the respective levy or funding stream from which that funding flows. As a district there is not just one large checkbook per say, but multiple accounts that have to be balanced and spent according to the rules of those accounts. For example, we cannot just pull dollars away from funds earmarked for salaries to build new buildings. In order to make informed decisions to determine which requirements make it above the funded thresholds for each ‘account’, input is needed and impacts determined. It would be irresponsible of me to make campaign promises regarding areas to cut or preserve since there are so many rules and variables regarding school funding and mandates.

While we all want teachers, educators and administration to be able to teach and also be autonomous, we also have recently learned with the Hopkins case that oversight is poor, sometimes absent. Please delineate how, as a board, you will provide an environment for teachers to educate and be passionate about education yet be held accountable?

(Trigger warning for readers as this answer deals with child sexual abuse) I first want to say that there are no words for what happened to the 88 students that went through this. My heart aches for you. For those students, and families, who may still be struggling with this, please know there are many resources available to you. I encourage you to reach out and get the support you or your child may need. As a trauma informed foster parent I assure you I am educated and understand dealing with these impossibly tough topics.

The unfathomable fact in most abuse cases is that the predator is someone close to the child (family, friend, teacher, coach, etc.). These predators know how to hide what they are doing from other adults. They are monsters and our schools and community never want something like this disgusting act to happen. Our children deserve to feel safe in our schools. There are many processes that go into place during hiring a staff member, but sometimes that fails us. The hiring of Hopkins was one of these times. There have been many suggestions on how to prevent this kind of thing happening in the future. Suggestions of cameras in all public places (classrooms, halls, gyms, etc) but there are rules and legal issues that would have to be overturned. Additionally, this does not allow our teachers, educators, and administration to be able to teach autonomously. We have to trust in the due diligence of the hiring process (the background checks, verifying references, etc.). We must also be utilizing training to bring attention to events that don’t feel right (See #3, Erin’s Law)

What is your stance on mask mandates/ vaccine mandates, & covid precautions, and where have you obtained the information to form your opinions?

I would listen to the guidelines and requirements that are shared by the experts in the proper medical fields.

What are your thoughts about Critical Race Theory? Is it important to be included in Springboro curriculum?

Thank you for your concern over CRT coming to Springboro Schools. The truth of the matter is that CRT is a college graduate level course. Springboro schools cannot just start teaching CRT. There are zero plans for Springboro Schools to teach CRT.

I believe the Springboro School curriculum should follow the learning standards established by the State Board of Education, which has input from the Ohio Dept of Education.

In this day and age of misinformation, what are your thoughts about adding formal critical thinking classes that include science literacy and media literacy to the curriculum? Classes that would teach what makes good evidence, what scientific consensus means? How our brains can be fooled? How our logic can be faulty? How even smart people can fall for conspiracy theories?

I know my daughters actually were taught this in both 9th and 10th grade. I believe it was in their history and English classes. They had to learn how to find legitimate sources. They learned about how pathos, ethos, and logos are used in all forms of media. I’m not sure it went as in depth as this question is wanting it go, but I can tell you the baseline of science and media literacy is being taught currently.

Should parents/guardians be involved in student education?

Absolutely! parents/guardians are the main caregivers and education should not end when school is let out. Education happens on a daily basis, even into adulthood. Parents/guardians should always be an active part of a student’s education.

The NSBA has asked the Biden administration for help at the local level at school board meetings where they view parents/guardians who disagree with certain ideology (CRT/inclusivity/diversity) being taught in schools as a threat. What is your view on this?

We are all adults here and should be acting like adults. Disagreements are inevitable but we need to have these discussions in a respectful, non threatful way. A board and district can not make every person in the community happy. What a board should be doing is choosing the best path forward for the betterment of the students' education. The role of the board is to provide a safe, positive, productive, and nurturing educational environment. I encourage all parents/guardians and community members, students included, to come to a board meeting, voice their opinions, be heard, and know that the board will do what they believe is in the best interest of all students. This should always be based on listening to the experts in the room, and not based on “feelings” of a board member.

In light of the recent hate (racial/ ethnic) incident at the high school, what do you think needs to happen to ensure a safe and welcoming environment?

The school district needs to be more transparent about what happened, as well as what action is being taken. I understand that names of students cannot be disclosed, however I do believe that we should be informed as parents/guardians and community members of what consequences are being issued and how we are preventing this in the future. Springboro schools state they have a zero tolerance policy, but it seems that it is not fully being upheld. The school has said things like this in the past are non-credible threats, But even a non-credible threat still has consequences and can trigger issues for students, preventing them from being able to focus on what is important, their education. This is a mental health issue in addition to an ongoing bullying/intolerance problem.

Republican or democrat? Conservative or liberal values?

School boards are a non partisan position. My only concern is that we continue to build a great district for our students, teachers, staff, and community. My political views will not have a role in my position as a board member.

What will you do to shift education back to reading, writing, English, and arithmetic rather than nonsensical surveys around gender, etc?

The core of education is reading, writing, english, history, art, music, and arithmetic, that doesn’t change. Now, with that out of the way, I want to address what I believe you are talking about. Yes, there are teachers who pass out introductory surveys so they can get to know their classes. I’m going to lead the rest of my answer with these facts: “Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth facing significant disparities in suicide risk compared to their straight and cisgender peers, based largely on the ways they are treated in their broader environment (Johns et al., 2019; Johns et al., 2020; Meyer, 2016). Compulsory education results in most LGBTQ youth spending the majority of their waking hours in school, a setting that can serve both risk and protective functions. As a new academic year begins, LGBTQ students are preparing to enter into spaces that may or may not be affirming to their LGBTQ identities. Among LGBTQ middle and high school students, 59% felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation, 37% because of their gender, and 42% because of their gender expression (GLSEN, 2020). Our previous findings show that LGBTQ youth in affirming schools had nearly 40% lower odds of attempting suicide compared to LGBTQ youth in non-affirming schools (The Trevor Project, 2020).” Now, as a trauma informed foster parent and an ally of the LGBTQIA+ community, I can tell you these things help immensely with the mental health of these kids.. I want to turn this around and ask you a couple questions in response. If a teacher goes the extra step to ask how a student feels and can do something as simple as respecting a child’s pronouns and name knowing it will drop the odds of that child attempting suicide by 40% why wouldn’t you?

Transparency-how will you assure all decisions are transparent? How will you assure these are publicly available?

Transparency is an important topic at Springboro Schools. Every board meeting is open to the public and that is because of the sunshine laws. There are a few meetings that are superintendent committee meetings that have been closed to the public due to students being involved with them. This is to ensure that these students feel safe to be open and honest during the meetings. I believe that even these meetings need to have publicly available minutes, or even have them recorded for the public to view later in a way that protects the students that are involved.

Many mentioned a desire to help all students succeed academically-especially those non-gifted students. What intervention systems will you put in place?

All students deserve to have the same quality education. IEP and 504 accommodations should be accessible to any students who need them for their educational success. The process right now is very difficult and there is a huge learning curve for parents/guardians that are new to navigating this process. Due to this some parents/guardians feel strong-armed into accepting what the school says at face value. The district should not be adding artificial hurdles to make sure our students succeed.

For our gifted students, we should be focusing on the actual areas they are gifted in, and not lumping them all together. I have spoken with parents/guardians who currently have students in the program, or have in the past, and the story has been the same. They told me that it seems just because their student is/was in the gifted program at Springboro, the school just threw more work at them and that may not have even been in the subject area that they were found gifted in.

We need to evaluate all programs and make sure we are focused in the right areas for the individual students and adjust where required. Our students' educational success is the number one priority at Springboro, and we need to make sure we are doing what we can to fulfil that. We also need to make sure parents/guardians understand the process of these programs.

How can we get transparency on the PEACOC meetings?

This is a community group not affiliated with the school district or school board. If you have interest in what is happening within this group, please reach out to the organization with your questions and concerns. Find out more about their group by visiting their website at https://peacoc.us

With continued population growth in the district, how do you see the board addressing school capacities, new construction, facility infrastructure improvements, demolition of functionally obsolete facilities, IT improvements? Do you see the possibility of a single district (ie Mason) or a dual-district (ie Forest Hills, Lakota)?

This community will continue to grow. However, this growth does bring us some challenges that we will be seeing in the future. I plan to rely on experts in the field to help guide our community and district on how best to handle this growth. As far as changes to the district structure, I don’t believe we are at a spot right now to have to begin planning for anything this big. That being said, we need to not only be focused on the now, but the future as well. I will encourage the board to bring in experts, have a plan that we can present to the community, and make sure we listen to community members before a final decision is made.

Brian: After saying your name at all your introductions, you say you identify as “He/Him”. Why do you feel the community needs to know this? The simple answer is that pronouns are important and we need to normalize sharing them so our LGBTQ+ community members don’t carry that responsibility. You do not have to understand someone’s pronouns in order to respect them.

The more complex answer is that our community, as a whole, needs to do better about normalizing pronouns because when only LGBTQ+ people are sharing their pronouns, it puts all the responsibility on them to differentiate and identify themselves. As an ally and as a straight, cisgender male I can share that responsibility and then no one else needs to make assumptions about someone’s pronouns. There is also a huge mental health aspect of pronouns. Did you know that “as of 2020, around 24 percent of U.S. transgender and nonbinary youth who reported that no one respected their pronouns attempted suicide in the past year, compared to 13 percent of youth who reported that all or most people around them respected their pronouns.” https://www.statista.com/statistics/1172835/us-lgbtq-youth-who-attempted-suicide-pronoun-respect/ I have used and will continue to use my pronouns in public forums to allow our students, teachers, staff, and community members to know that I am a safe place for them to be who they are. They/Them, He/Him, She/Her, I care what you use as your pronouns. So if you tell me your pronouns, I will use them.

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