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Why are you running for school board?

I want my child and my neighbors' children to be safe and get the best education possible. As a motivated, dedicated mom and former educator, I am capable of bridging the gap, connecting the community to our board, making this a team effort because it should be. Our community deserves a board that is approachable, accessible, communicative, and driven to represent you and make our district the best in the state. 


Where do you differ from your opponent?

What makes me different is my perspective as a current district parent, my experience in our schools' classrooms, and my ideas. The people I talk to every day are parents, students, and teachers. I see in real time the impact that policies and decisions have on our schools and families. I see the same communications from the district as every other parent. I see where transparency can be improved. That perspective from the ground level is valuable to inform board decisions.  

I was trained as an educator and have many years of experience working with children, youth, and adults through my community work and church congregation service. Already as just a candidate, I have had parents and community members reach out to me with questions and concerns regarding issues they see. I will make the board feel more approachable and connected to the community.

I also bring fresh ideas of how we can improve board-community connections and open up opportunities to work together. My goal is to inform and include families, and ensure everyone feels valued and heard.   


How has your experience prepared you for this position?

I taught fifth and sixth grades at a Title I elementary school. Then once my own children started school, I returned to the classroom as a parent volunteer and have done so for the last 16 years. I understand the importance of making every child feel valued and building meaningful relationships within schools and with families while advocating for high academic standards. I was trained to "do my homework", and that's what I do. What I don't know, I put in the work to learn inside and out, I ask questions. I am motivated and invested in our district because it effects my family and the families of my neighbors. I have honed my communication and leadership skills working with children, youth, and adults. 


Would you promote any new initiatives to enhance the safety of students, teachers, administrators?

Yes. Safety is an ongoing commitment, and one which we need to be discussing with our district community to address and improve. There are two prevention initiatives in particular which I feel would be a great benefit to our students.

After speaking with the PTO president of my neighborhood elementary school, I learned there have been concerns about suspicious people approaching students while walking to school. The PTO decided to reach out to the district and received the go ahead to organize a parent patrol. I think that would be a fabulous model for our other schools to consider. I think it what be a good idea to hold annual assemblies including our resource officers and deputies to educate elementary students about what to do if they are ever approached by a stranger, how and when to report it, and then send home discussion points to include families in the conversation. 

Another issue that's come to my attention from discussions with youth is regarding harassment. For the physical and emotional protection of our students, teachers, and administrators, I think it would benefit everyone to have an initiative that includes in-depth discussions and education on this subject, what it looks like in its many forms to build awareness, how to speak up and report, as well as clear expectations for appropriate behavior. It would also be helpful to make an easy to use digital portal on the district website for reporting incidences. 


What is the most important improvement you can make to CVSD?

I want to prioritize the strategic plan direction to enhance communication, focusing efforts towards the streamlining of communications within the district and with the board directly. Good communication is the key to building trust and understanding.

When busy families are trying to get information or support, they need it to be clear and easy to access. Multiple platforms can be used to share information. Responses back from the district or board should be forthcoming in a timely, courteous manner. 

I have some simple, yet powerful ideas about how school board-community specific connections and communication can be improved. One idea is to hold "office hours" for the public to meet one-on-one with board members to talk about thoughts or concerns in a more personal setting other than in a public forum. Another is to adjust the board meeting agendas to make more space for public comments, such as after special presentations. Then the informed public can ask questions relative to the topic and share thoughts prior to board actions. Then the community can feel like the board truly represents, includes, and hears them. 


Our communities are popular places to live and draw many new families. How can CVSD best prepare for growth?

To stay ahead and proactively prepare for growth in our area, it will be essential for our district to enact a rolling comprehensive planning process to collect data on projected enrollment while assessing facility needs, continually updating facility plans, projected operations costs, property development, and acquisition needs. Such a rolling plan could coordinate with a bond planning process to ensure that funding would be in place for future costs. 


What have you learned from the COVID-19 pandemic that will aid CVSD in the future?

1- Children need healthy social interactions and teacher connections for optimal mental health conditions and to keep morale towards school high. 

2- Families know their children best. Our school board needs to respect their wishes concerning their children's education within the bounds of the law


Please describe a board member's responsibility regarding the intersection of religious beliefs and board member duties.

Board member duties are clearly defined by law and should be carried out honestly and without bias in accordance with the law. Personal standards such as honesty, integrity, and compassion are qualities that every board member should espouse whether they are religious or not. It is every American's right to hold their own personal belief systems, however as a board member, elected officials are to represent all the diverse people they are serving, not their own interests or beliefs. 


Are you going to ban books?

No. I've been a local library volunteer for years, and was hired to head up the summer reading programs for the teens and adults. I believe that policies regarding the criteria used for selecting materials for our public schools should be clear and accessible, and be generally suitable for age and grade-level. Just like the filters which our district has on all internet access and the permissions required for showing films to students in class, library materials should also be held to a standard consistent with student safety. Procedures for reviewing books should be clear and accessible for district families. Ultimately, parents have the right and responsibility to determine what is appropriate for their child and family. 


What is your position on critical race theory?

The definition of critical race theory varies depending on who you are talking to. I believe that in order to best serve all students, history should be taught factually, without bias, and include information regarding all people. History is a vehicle by which we can learn from the mistakes of the past with hope for the future. Students should be encouraged to think critically and discuss history from all perspectives to improve understanding, considering the lens through which past generations viewed the world. 


Do you support school levies? 

Yes. In the past, I have supported and voted in favor of school levies. I understand how levies help close the gap between what is needed and what is provided by state and federal sources to fully fund and maintain programs including extra-curriculars, sports, the arts, and even employee salaries. I would be in favor of a levy renewal to support our district. 

That being said, I also think it is crucial that our district foster trust with the community it serves with transparent, accessible, and understandable information concerning levy money and district spending. I am concerned that despite past levy dollars and budget allocations, I have watched as the schools throughout the district have been fundraising thousands and thousands of dollars these recent weeks for just these programs. Even with these subsidies, families are being asked to pay upwards of $600 and $800 per student for their children to participate in programs such as marching band, cheerleading, and football. That is an added hardship for our district families, especially in light of today's economy.

In an effort to be equitable for all district families, regardless of free lunch status, we need to take a closer look at money allotted by levies and the budget, then look for ways to balance them with what it actually costs to maintain these programs. Families and tax payers need to feel confident that their tax dollars are going where they are truly meant to go and that all students have access to these programs without undo hardships to their families. We are accountable to our community. I will strive for greater transparency, build community confidence, and strive to keep district promises to fund the programs tax payers have invested in.   


What is your position on curriculum?

Having an approved curriculum for each major subject not only allows for continuity of instruction across grade levels and schools throughout the district, but increases accountability to the public to ensure that standards are being taught.  

I believe that curricula should be openly named on school and district webpages to allow interested families to look into what is being taught in their child's classroom. Curriculum adoption committees should include a well-rounded group of professionals, teachers, community members, and parents.  After adoption, curricula should be evaluated on a continuing basis with input from teachers, students, and parents. This is where having advisory committees would allow for discussions as to how things are going at each school. Chosen curricula should be factual, research based, incorporate best teaching practices, and allow students to practice critical thinking and understand real-world applications of the material. 

Paid for By Vote Stephanie 4 School Board
PO Box 92 Spokane Valley, WA 99037
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