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Keep more business local, Pasco School Board candidate King says



king.JPGWith the economy so bleak, the Pasco County school district should do more to keep its money flowing through local businesses, District 4 School Board candidate Karen King says.

Out-of-town firms often win the bids, King told the Gradebook, because local companies -- most usually the small ones -- don't know about the rules governing the process. District officials say they offer seminars explaining how to bid for business, but King contended that those events are not well known.

"I would like to get the word out so they can work together and bring more people to the table," said King, sales director at a local hotel.

She stressed that she is not calling for preferential treatment for local businesses. "Just give them the opportunity," King said. "We should keep the money in Pasco County whenever we can."

Read on for more about King's views on the issues in response to a questionnaire from the St. Petersburg Times.

What specific ideas do you have on balancing the school district budget? Would you consider furloughing employees, cutting benefits, reducing salaries or other personnel cost reductions?

I believe that all options need to be kept on the table. One particular idea I am currently looking into is seeing if we can change the Penny for Pasco funding into operating expenses when it comes up for renewal.

Do you support or oppose levying an additional quarter-mill property tax this year?

I do not support raising taxes.

What is your opinion of Superintendent Heather Fiorentino's job performance?

I have not worked with the Superintendent professionally and do not think it's proper to form an opinion without actually working with her. I look forward to working with all parties involved.

What is your position on amending Constitutionally required class sizes? How do you propose to finance the long-term costs of the class-size amendment if voters choose not to alter it in November?

I believe that smaller class sizes are a good policy initiative that should be sought after with or without an amendment. Unfortunately, the current language does not allow for any local control in the matter. This lack of flexibility actually ends up hurting the school system and, in the end, the students.

Increased parental participation at schools is cited as a common need nearly universally. How would you propose to get parents more involved in their children's education?

I support a larger volunteer movement in the schools. One thing I have noticed while campaigning is that many people would like to volunteer, they just haven't been asked. The first thing I would try is to simply ask. Also, I support expanding "the parent university" concept into other schools in the county. This is an amazing program that brings parents into the school system and helps them become involved in their child's education.

Do you support or oppose the expansion of charter schools? What do you think is the appropriate role of charter schools in public education and what should be the benchmark for performance?

I support the expansion of charter schools working in conjunction with the public school system. They are an invaluable tool in providing specialty education that cannot practically be provided in the general school system, for example the Athenian Academy. We can work together and learn from each other.

In light of Senate Bill 6 and the promise from legislators to seek a new version of it next year, should the district be moving toward changes in teacher pay/performance and developing end-of-year tests in each subject?

Given the legislative uncertainty surrounding this, I think it is the wrong time to spend money conforming to a standard that hasn't been established at the state level. I will say that I believe that good teachers should be rewarded, but do not think that this should be tied directly to an end-of-year test. I think it's a tragedy that tests have taken over the system. A test should be a tool, not some type of false idol.

Would the school district and its students and families benefit from a magnet school approach to gifted education or one that has part-time programs at every school?

A decision for this would have to be based on additional information. We have to look at not only what is best for the children but costs involved to implement programs. Some programs may benefit from a magnet school approach--others may not. We need to use common sense to make these decisions on a case-by-case basis.

Describe why voters should consider you for this office and what you hope to accomplish:

I am running for school board because I believe that every child deserves the opportunity to be the best that they can be. Over the years I have been very involved in the community and want to bring my experience to the school board to make sure that we are providing our children with all of the opportunities that they deserve.

[Last modified: Monday, August 2, 2010 1:50pm]


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