Campaigns are underway for Board of Education seats in ten local districts, and election day will be Tuesday, April 3. The KC Education Enterprise is asking each candidate to respond to a list of questions that may help voters decide how to cast their ballots.
Aleasie “Lisa” Branch, who is running for election to the North Kansas City School District Board of Education, responded:
1. What skills and experience would you bring to a position on your local Board of Education?
I believe that I would bring a unique skill set to the NKC School Board. I am an Emergency Room nurse in Kansas City, which is a very stressful and demanding job. The life and death situations that I face daily put into sharper focus the important things in life.
I have experience in the areas of banking, administration, higher education, charitable organizations, fitness and the health industry that have given me many skills that allow me to be an effective communicator, administrator, planner, leader and budgeter.
2. Are you – or have you been – a parent or grandparent of a child in public schools?
I am a product of public schools. My husband is a product of public schools. Our two children are enrolled in North Kansas City Schools by choice. When we moved to the Kansas City area, we intentionally chose the NKC School district, because this would be the community that we were investing our lives in.
3. In what school or district activities have you been involved?
I have been a member of the Davidson PTA, the Northgate PTA and currently a member of the NKCHS PTA. My daughter, Joy, is a Varsity Cheerleader for North Town and I have been at most of her cheering events both at home and away. I am also a member of the NKCHS Booster Club. My daughter, Anna Beth, is in the SAGE program for her 5th year and I have been an avid supporter of gifted education.
4. How frequently do you attend board meetings, and how long have you been attending meetings?
I have attended 1 meeting where parents and community members were asked for their input and ideas on how to improve the fiscal standing of our school system. I have also actively followed the board meetings and decisions through the online archive of documents from each meeting. If elected to the Board I would strive to have a perfect attendance at the meetings.
5. What do you see as the board’s roles and responsibilities?
It is my philosophy that the school board does not exist to run the schools but to ensure that the schools are run properly. I also believe that the school system belongs to the district, primarily to the children and we must keep that as a forefront in all development and implementation of ideas in the future.
6. What is the role of the superintendent?
The superintendent is primarily a liaison between the community and the School District and between the state and the school district. The superintendent also plays a major role in curriculum development.
7. Can you – or should you – support a board decision you do not favor?
I believe in the market place of ideas. When someone willingly chooses to join a governing body of an organization they must understand that not all decisions or ideas will be ones that they favor. Being a board member means that, at times, I must submit to a cooperatively chosen idea or decision of the board that I do not favor. This does not mean that I must check my convictions at the door. I will not support an ethical or immoral decision and I would hope that fellow board members would not expect me to do so.
8. What are the some of the challenges currently facing our district?
There are many challenges that are facing our district. The first, I believe falls under the area of accountability as it relates to our student achievement scores. While No Child Left Behind was an initial step in accountability of schools, inherent problems with the legislation have arisen. I would support a petition to allow Missouri to remove itself from NCLB and I would also encourage state leaders to pursue other avenues that would continue to put Missouri students in a position for academic success.
The second greatest challenge will be in the area of finances. Statistics show that money is the most commonly argued about topic in our culture. If families are to be successful, they have to learn to live within their means. This often means developing and following a budget that is based on the principle that you spend less than you earn. This principle applies not only to families, but to businesses, to non-profits, to governments and yes, to school boards also. With the impending deficits in our income, we must learn to make every dollar work to its fullest potential. We will also need to identify unique sources of additional income from within our community.
9. What are some of the district’s strengths and weaknesses?
I believe that we have had some wonderful success in our district. The implementation of the IB program has offered our students an excellent opportunity for the highest of academic pursuits. The integration of technology with the laptop initiative has given our students an advantage in their learning opportunities and experiences both in and out of the classroom. However great our strengths, we still have room to improve. We need to aggressively pursue a plan to reward and retain our teachers. Studies show that most new teachers will leave teaching within the first 5 years after college. We need to identify school districts that are defying the odds and borrow ideas from them to not only retain our teachers, but to reward them for their hard work and effort in the classroom. Another area in need of improvement is the concept of the culture of excellence. When a standard (academic, character, moral) is set low, a majority of children will only meet the standard. We should set high standards that are worth striving for, because the students will reap the benefits personally and our reputation as a district will only grow in its esteem in the community.
10. What do you think is the most important thing board members can do to support children who attend school in the district?
Remember that every decision, every vote, every idea must be made with the children in mind. If it does not benefit the children we must question whether it benefits the district. If it were not for the children, we would not have a school district.
Read our Twitter feed for more education news from local, regional and national sources:http://twitter.com/#!/JW_Martinez
Or you can subscribe to the daily KC Education Enterprise roundup of local, state and national education news on paper.li: http://paper.li/JW_Martinez/1322883462