SEA & SCEA Questions and Answers
What is the role of the Springboro Board of Education?
The board’s main responsibility is to set the policies for the district that guide students, staff, and teachers. Policies that are introduced, or already in place, need to make sure they are there for the betterment of our district. The board cannot be playing politics and all members need to be willing to listen to logic, science, and the needs of the people inside the schools. If the board cannot set aside personal beliefs for the betterment of the district then they will be doing a disservice to our community. Any and all policies that come from the BOE should be creating a safe, positive, productive, and nurturing educational environment. If we are not providing this for our students, teachers, and staff their mental and emotional health will suffer. Poor mental and emotional health makes it harder for them to be successful in our schools. School boards also have the duty to be fiscally responsible and transparent. The board’s role is to be looking at what we are doing now and what impacts their decisions will have in the future. The BOE needs to make sure that they prioritize spending in the places needed the most by students, staff, and teachers. This needs to be done while cutting costs in other areas to maintain the best educational environment possible. Another responsibility is that they must ensure that students, staff, and teachers have technology available to them when it’s needed. Showing leadership and asking questions is a part of the board’s responsibility. The board must not just be a rubber stamp without reasons. Lastly, the BOE needs to encourage our students (and their guardians), teachers, and staff to speak up when necessary. Then the board has the duty to listen and take action. This is how we can grow as a district and provide a safe and nurturing school district.
What are the most important issues facing Springboro City Schools? How can those issues be addressed?
An important issue we face as a district is being more fiscally responsible and transparent. We have to be looking at what we are doing now and what impacts it will have in the years to come. We need to make sure that we prioritize spending in the correct places while cutting costs in others to maintain the best educational environment possible. Our students and staff should have technology available to them when it’s needed. Looking back to the Model B option, I was told by parents that they chose to send their kids to school due to the lack of reliable internet, or even enough technology in their homes to allow them to stay remote. This basic technology should have been readily available to our students, even prior to the pandemic. A lot of homework and classroom assignments require technology. This is one of the reasons I worked with my network of friends and personally funded chromebooks to anyone who needed them. When my daughters couldn’t hear two of their teachers I spent $30 and supplied those two teachers with lapel microphones. It was an easy fix and the school should have been supplying the teachers with what they needed to make Model B as best as possible. We need to have more transparency to show accountability on spending within the district to rebuild trust.
Another important issue is bullying and discrimination within our schools. I know this because I have watched and at times still do watch my children struggle not fitting in and being bullied. The board and community have heard countless reports of incidents. As a district we need to be able to recognize various forms of bullying and discrimination, from race, gender, sexual orientation, special needs, disabilities, financial means, and even to family and personal background. As a district, we need to work on building an inclusive foundation through the education and training of our students, teachers, and staff to give them the tools to recognize and handle these real life circumstances. If we are not providing a safe and positive educational environment for our students, teachers, and staff, their mental and emotional health will suffer, making it harder for them to be successful in our schools. We need to double down on all efforts to provide the resources needed to help our students, teachers, and staff. By adding student representatives to the Board, we will be giving them a safer platform to speak about the bullying and discrimination that they are actually seeing in our schools.
What is your position on funding our growing schools in the immediate future?
While the district operates within a set budget, funding is allocated and expenditures are bound by specific scope of the respective levy or funding stream. The board needs to first determine the area that we need additional funding for, and go from there. There are many sources for funding that can be explored based on the areas of need. We currently have a permanent tax levy that does help with our district, but there is going to be more of a need. We can look at specific grants that are available, such as STEM grants that can help with our programs to further expand these activities. There are also grants available for IEP, 504, and gifted programs. I would recommend that the board and district bring in experts for the specific areas of need to help determine the best path forward.
What ideas do you have to make the district safer for students and staff?
I believe that the district needs to be more open to staff and student input. I am open to having very honest conversations with our staff to hear from them what they need to make themselves feel safer in our district. Over the last 20 months, the district has made a lot of decisions, seemingly without much input from our teachers and staff. This is not the way it should be. Teachers and staff should not be afraid of going to board meetings to voice their opinions in fear of their contracts not being renewed. This should never happen to a staff member of the district. If teachers and staff can’t ask their board for the help they need without fear, then the board is failing their teachers.
I see a lot of the same issues for students as well. The students are in the thick of it daily and they are affected by the decisions of the board. I want to see more student involvement through the implementation of student representatives to the board of education. What better way to provide a safe, positive, productive, and nurturing educational environment for our students than to have their voices be respected as a part of the board of education? The student representatives would apply with an application, an essay, two teacher references, a principal reference, and two peer references. Ideally, these need to be students who are involved in a wide range of activities, but can also take the position seriously. This group will be a part of making sure Springboro is supplying the best education possible. The student representatives will be able to tell the board about actual struggles they, and their peers, face in the classroom. This is also another way to be able to provide support to our teachers and staff.
What role do you think unions should have in the district?
“The fundamental and legitimate purposes of unions [are] to protect the employment interests of their members. It is the primary function of management to represent the basic interests of the enterprise: teaching and learning.” published in Education Week on December 7, 2005. I fully believe in this and the district must have this understanding. I encourage representatives from the teacher unions to be in attendance at board meetings. This will not only provide healthy, open communication, but will also allow us to work with the unions, and not against them.
What can alleviate the current labor shortage facing our schools?
The labor shortages we are seeing in our district are not limited to our little part of the world. This is a widespread issue that is being seen across the country. I strongly believe that the key to figuring out how we can alleviate our labor shortage is to have open and civil dialogue with the current district employees. Decisions that the board makes are affecting the morale of its staff and that low morale is seeping out into the community as well. A community will know if working conditions aren’t ideal and that will always make it difficult to fill positions. If the district has open communication and takes input from the employees, the district can begin to work together to alleviate the labor shortages. In addition to making sure employee morale is up, we need to be offering competitives wages and benefits.
How do you feel about subcontracting jobs currently held by district employees?
This is an, “it depends” type question. I do not want to see the district replace jobs currently held by district employees and hire subcontractors to replace them. This is not a good path forward and will really affect not only the morale of employees, but will also impact our students' educational environment. Replacing current district employees with subcontractors will also not assist in our labor shortages. If however, we are using subcontracting to help alleviate the workload of district employees, I would fully be in support of this. I would want to see the budgetary concerns of doing this, and make sure that it does not put any current district employees at risk.
Teachers and staff are dealing with increased levels of physical and emotional exhaustion from the increasing standards and expectations. How can a board member help them?
The mental, physical, and emotional health of all of our teachers and staff needs to be the priority. Our teachers and staff are asked to do a lot with little to no support. I suggest that we begin fixing this by listening to their needs. How Model B was handled last year at the junior high and high school levels was incredibly unfair and a near impossible task that was put on our teachers. Covid-19 pressures are still on teachers and the board needs to be asking the teachers what they need and what would alleviate some of the physical and emotional exhaustion. I would love to see the board sit down with the teachers and staff and listen to their views on what is happening in our schools. I would also love to see the board embrace the teachers’ and staff’s ideas on how to solve problems they bring up. If the board truly wants to alleviate struggles within the district, it can only happen through collaboration with the teachers and staff. If we expect teachers and staff to help provide a safe, positive, productive, and nurturing educational environment for our students, then the board needs to be providing a safe, positive, productive, and nurturing work environment for the teachers and staff.
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