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Pasco should reconsider fundamental school concept, School Board candidate Crumbley says



crumbleythumb.GIFPasco County schools need to get fundamental, District 4 School Board candidate Alison Crumbley says.

Schools should have parents sign contracts in which they promise to have their children complete their work and where they pledge to volunteer an amount of their time to the school in some capacity, Crumbley suggests. This concept worked well for some Pasco schools in the past, she said, and it should be considered again.

"Let me make it clear that if these type programs were to be initiated, they would take place at ALL schools, and not just a few," Crumbley said. "Otherwise, parents tend to request that their children attend those schools with the prototype programs, and inequalities are created. For this concept to work, all children and parents should participate to the best of their abilities."

To learn more about Crumbley's views, continue on to see her responses to a St. Petersburg Times questionnaire.

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 hope the requirement is amended as it is going to cost Pasco County at least $13 million to fulfill. And the fine is $11 million per violation. By averaging the class room sizes as proposed in the "new" amendment, no student will suffer academically and a lot of money will be saved.
If the amendment is not altered, the additional money may have to come from increased taxes, an option I do not like. Once again, it appears the Tallahassee legislature would like to see taxes raised and have the School Board backed into a corner.

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 would like to go back to some of the "fundamental" education concepts where parents are required to sign a contract when their children enter a school. Within the contract, they would agree to make sure the students complete their homework, they agree to a certain number of volunteer hours, they can serve on committees, etc. This concept worked very successfully in the past at Richey Fundamental Elementary and Cotee River Elementary schools. Let me make it clear that if these type programs were to be initiated, they would take place at ALL schools, and not just a few. Otherwise, parents tend to request that their children attend those schools with the prototype programs, and inequalities are created. For this concept to work, all children and parents should participate to the best of their abilities. Maybe we start at a lower expectation level (for example, only 5 hours minimum per year of volunteer hours), assess at a later date, and see if we can raise the bar. Of course, background checks, etc. will be an issue and cost has to be studied.

I would like to ask for more supplies, etc. to be donated at the beginning of each school year from the parents if they can afford it. During this budget crisis, I think many parents will be willing to help, even if only in a small way.

I like the idea of regularly scheduled Town Hall style meetings where parents can participate and bring ideas.

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

I am opposed at this time. There are too many struggling families here in this economy and I would pursue other funding or budget-balancing options first. However, I think that anyone running for public office that says they would never raise taxes is probably not being honest. In this crisis, I repeat that I will look at all other options first.

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 charter schools and long as they are held accountable fiscally and held to the same standards as the rest of the county's schools. Their performance benchmarks should be the same as the rest, no less. I think their role is to give parents a choice and theoretically innovation can come from charter schools. Unfortunately, the success rate of many charter schools varies greatly and depends on the leadership at each school.

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?

In theory,Performance pay, if administered correctly, could encourage greater teaching performance and innovation of ideas which would result in greater student performance. In theory, greater financial reward for the best teachers achieving the best results makes good sense. There are many factors to consider. I think the Performance Pay aspect should only be a portion of the compensation teachers would receive, based on a formula agreed upon by school board members, educators and administrators and policy makers after mutual review and recommendations by these parties. THE KEY TO THE SUCCESS OF PERFORMANCE PAY IS THE FORMULA USED AT EVERY LEVEL. I would like to find evidence supporting the success of these type of compensation programs, as I have not seen this yet. There are significant factors out of control of the teacher when evaluating Performance Pay, such as parental participation and students' home environment.

Regarding end-of-year tests, there has to be some measurement and I would like to see these tests more closely resemble college-entry tests such as SAT or ACT.

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

My assessment of the Superintendent's job is positive, however, I think communication can be improved in her relationships with teachers as well as the School Board and teachers' union (USEP).

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

As a long-time Pasco County resident with a history of commitment to the community, I wish to serve on the School Board. I want to see all Pasco students provided with a relevant, world class education, while assuring accountability to our taxpayers and keeping our tax burden low. We need to continue to raise our standards in education to a level that allows our graduates to not only compete but excel on a global level; in fact I want us to LEAD the way in education and not be accused of following Asia or Europe.

Yes, the economy is tough and it's affecting our schools just like everything else. But I believe we can find balance and continue to raise standards in Pasco classrooms and give our students the tools they need for successful lives, while fixing budgetary innefficiencies. Fiscal accountability is key.

Pasco County has been my home for many years. I want our "intellectual capital" increased so that people want to come here, stay here and flourish here. In order to attract businesses and in turn JOBS and employees, we have to provide an exceptional school system. Part of that system includes a great workplace for teachers that supports their dedication to their field. We must attract and retain the brightest and the best educators for our children's as well as our county's future.

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?

The above suggestions are among the LAST options I would consider towards balancing the school district budget. I do not want any educators to lose their jobs or benefits. I would first like to thoroughly delve into budgetary inefficiencies such as textbook costs and various bidding processes. Anything affecting the actual classroom should not be cut. As a believer that the Arts and Sports are integral parts of a well-rounded education that encourage self-discipline and creative problem-solving, these are areas I do not want to cut. I would like to examine partnering with existing private organizations such as the YMCA and Richey Suncoast Theatre in order to provide extracurricular sports and arts activities that are budget-friendly.

It is essential that we look at new, creative ways of solving the budget crisis. In our own household and in our business that we own (Prudential Tropical Realty), it has been the small cuts in many areas that add up and have saved the day fiscally and allowed us to survive in this economy. I think the same concept must be applied to the School District's budget.

It's important to understand that much of the budget shortfall is a result of unfunded legislative mandates from Tallahassee and Washington D.C., which are out of the control of the School Board. Communication with our state and federal legislators from the voters is paramount. With 86% of the district's operating budget going to teachers' salaries and benefits, it is an extremely frustrating situation when these mandates are thrown in. I prefer greater control at the local level; no one knows the needs of Pasco's students and teachers better than our local community.

Why not award bonuses to teachers/staff/ administrators who come up with significant budget-saving ideas that can be implemented? After all, they are at the grass-roots level and should have plenty of ideas.

During a recession, I do not want to raise property taxes (millage rate) on already struggling families. If taxes have to be raised, the voters should decide on this.

[Last modified: Friday, July 30, 2010 1:59pm]


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