I received and answered a questionnaire for a potential endorsement by the Chesapeake Education Association. While I have not yet heard whether I have earned their endorsement, please read below for their questions and my answers to this survey.
What is your occupation? I am a high school Latin teacher.
What is your educational background? I have earned a B.A. in Latin, Summa Cum Laude, College Honors, from the University of Vermont; M.A. in Classics from Tufts University; M.S.A. in Educational Leadership from East Carolina University. I have also participated in summer study at Skidmore College, Harvard University, and in Italy on two different occasions.
How long have you been a resident of Chesapeake? I moved here in August of 2011.
Did you or do your children attend Chesapeake Public Schools? If not, which schools
were/are attended? I teach in Chesapeake; my son is grown. He attended schools in Elizabeth City, North Carolina and in Culver, Indiana.
Have you recently been in or volunteered in a Chesapeake Public School (CPS)? If yes,
describe your experience. I work daily at Deep Creek High School, am a member of the ESTAT Team, and am the Latin Club Sponsor.
Have you held any elected or appointed public offices? No.
List your activities in the community and/or civic organizations. I was secretary and treasurer of a regional writers’ group, I started and led “4 Chesapeake Hens,” the successful grassroots group that got backyard hens legalized (with restrictions) on all single-family residential lots, and I have been an active volunteer in regional political and environmental organizations.
Chesapeake City Council Candidate Questionnaire
Why are you running for the Chesapeake City Council? It is time for change. Current Council has approved residential development at a faster pace than our community schools and infrastructure can keep up with. It has also cut the schools’ capital improvement budget for next year. Council has also been denying solar farms which should have been approved. I am an environmentalist who is dismayed at how fast our green spaces are disappearing. We need to encourage redevelopment and investment in areas like Western Branch, Deep Creek, and South Norfolk where we already have the infrastructure and public transportation.
How do you perceive the relationship between city council and an elected school board? The school board and superintendent run the schools and develop a budget. City Council funds the budget. It makes other decisions that affect the schools, too, regarding taxes, business taxes and development, residential development, proffers, etc. Some affect the schools directly, others indirectly. The city needs to develop sources of funding to bring in taxes to support core needs like schools.
Should the school board propose an operating budget which reflects the real needs of the school system or a budget that reflects the use of the current revenues available? Why?
The school board should develop a budget that reflects the real needs of the school system. Council should make its funding decision based on accurate data and based on how much money is available to fund the schools’ needs. I have worked in school systems, for example, that took too many shortcuts on areas like maintenance, and the students and their learning suffered as a result.
What do you perceive as the school systems most pressing needs? How would you prioritize them? Pay and benefits for teachers, bus drivers, and support personnel need to be competitive. Security is an issue, especially in the wake of the Parkland, Florida, shooting. Some schools have to share a school resource officer with another school. Every middle school and high school should have its own SRO. Equitable funding and facilities and access to technology is important. Replacing and maintaining technology and our facilities is necessary. Some schools are overcrowded even with the use of portable trailers and others under capacity. Recent rezoning will hopefully relieve some of this, although it upsets parents. There is a need to communicate the excellent quality of all our schools in Chesapeake, not just those in Hickory or Great Bridge. I tell skeptical parents that Deep Creek High School is a hidden diamond, for example.
If available revenues are insufficient to fund the school operating budget, what measures would you consider to raise additional funds? How would you prioritize the city’s needs in allocating the funds that are available? I would consider additional fees and raising taxes if all other options have been exhausted. Preferably the city or school system could find grants, use proffer money, and encourage the relocation here of businesses and growth of small businesses. I would prioritize public safety, schools, infrastructure, and public transportation as top priorities. Maintaining public parks and recreational facilities would follow.
What plans do you have for increasing the city’s economic base? I would like to work with a non-profit to develop a small-business incubator. Taxes should be kept low to attract and grow businesses. I support the regional approach to a potential high-speed data network and the effort to draw data centers here as a means of bringing in new tax revenue without overburdening schools. Strong public schools and vocational and college programs will also draw businesses looking for an educated workforce.
The capital improvement budget is a long range financial plan for new school facilities and major renovations of existing facilities. Since lock box concept is currently insufficient to meet the needs and, in effect decreases funds available for the operating budget, what would you propose as a revenue steam (sic) for school construction? I would advocate shifting money from other areas of the city budget toward the schools where feasible. I am not opposed to using bonds to raise the funds if this can be done in a fiscally-responsible manner. Chesapeake’s current strategy of being a bedroom community for jobs outside of Chesapeake is adding to this problem; it is also important to increase and diversify the city’s economic base.
How should city council handle the issue of growth so as not to place an impossible burden on Chesapeake Public Schools? Council has been approving residential development even when Planning has voted to deny the development because it is not aligned with the city’s comprehensive plan. Council needs to take the comprehensive plan more seriously and deny residential development or at least place a moratorium until schools, roads, and bridges can catch up. I am running a clean money campaign and have pledged to take campaign contributions only from individuals and no contributions in excess of $500.
As Chesapeake realizes a reduction in debt service how would you allocate those funds? I would allocate those funds toward other long-term needs such as fire equipment, schools, etc.
How should City Council handle requests for reductions of established and future proffers? Developers should be pressured for every penny of voluntary-proffer money the city can squeeze from them. Legally, the city can only accept new proffers in a narrower sense. There must be an obvious connection between the proffer and the impact the specific development is making on roads, schools, etc. I would be skeptical about reducing proffers after an agreement has been reached and signed.