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Hillsborough County School Board, District 2

School Board | District 2

The three candidates for the District 2 seat Candy Olson will vacate live in South Tampa, but that's about all they have in common. Sally Harris owns a preschool; Michelle Popp Shimberg is a longtime school volunteer and community leader; and former math teacher Michael Weston is an outspoken advocate for special-needs students and overall reform in the school district administration. Marlene Sokol, Times staff writer


Sally Harris, 64


Preschool owner

Michelle Popp Shimberg, 52



Michael Weston, 58


Former teacher

Experience Sally Harris' experience as a teacher, a child care center owner and a foster mother has given her a passion for "the whole child," including the student who is not headed for college immediately after graduation. She pledges to bring that perspective to the board. This is the second time she is seeking a seat. The first time, in 2010, she lost to April Griffin in the runoff. Michelle Shimberg is a regular at school district events such as Parent University and the superintendent's parent meetings on Common Core. She was PTA president at three of her children's schools. She has held leadership positions in nonprofit organizations and served as chairwoman, vice chair and scholarship chair of the district's Citizen Advisory Committee. Michael Weston had a long career in information technology before he switched to teaching in 2009. He taught special education briefly at Coleman Middle School, then math at Freedom High School, an assignment that ended in 2013. Weston was outspoken in his opposition to Empowering Effective Teachers and volunteers his time as an advocate for special-needs students.
How well is the district handling problems in the bus system? "I can now say they have jumped on it with speed. They may have not done it in a timely manner, but with all the recent publicity, on the errors, corrections are now getting done." "The district is making progress on many of the issues that have plagued the transportation department. (But) it is also important that the board ensures there are systems in place so that the district does not return to a 'crisis' situation." "It is inexcusable that the district administration allowed the bus fleet to reach its current level of disrepair without raising the alarm. ... Both the board and the district failed in their response to the fleet issue."
Your view of the Florida Standards, or Common Core? "I do not support Common Core for many reasons but it goes much deeper than just support or no support. Our learning environments have become a testing ground. Our young learners are losing the real teaching time and experiences that our growth and comprehension really comes from, and that has been replaced with tests, test scores and data." "I support high education standards in Florida so that our students can be better prepared to be successful after graduation. (But) I am an advocate of local control of curriculum and instruction. It will be very important for the School Board members to understand how the implementation of Florida Standards affects students and teachers." "I do not support the implementation of Common Core. I could go on for pages citing deficiencies; the lack of hands-on educators involved in its creation, the reduced importance of literature in favor of 'close-reading,' privacy concerns arising from the creators' intent to create huge longitudinal databases. ... One statement says enough."
Assess the Gates teacher evaluation project. "A teacher now has evaluations and a goal path on how they teach and are given opportunities to improve and enhance those teaching skills. ... However, the tests that have come with this method of evaluation need to be looked at more closely as it is unfair practices when it includes ESE or children with learning disabilities and other special circumstances." "The greatest impact of the Gates effort has been the Peer Mentors, who assist new teachers during their first two years. This program has resulted in significant increases in teacher retention. ... An unintended consequence of the effort may be that some teachers have experienced feeling less confident, undervalued and demoralized." "As the quality of teaching is not a major problem in our schools, their money would be much better spent providing job training for those students left behind. ... While I find little to love, the mentoring portion of the Gates project has the potential to be effective. New teachers need support beyond that which traditionally comes from within their schools."
Personal Widowed with five children, ages 16 to 40, she lives in Beach Park. Married to Robert Shimberg. Three children, ages 20 to 24. They live in Parkland Estates. Married to Jennifer Weston. Three children, ages 19 to 28. They live in Sunset Park.
Fundraising as of Aug. 1 Collected $10,455, spent $7,965 Collected $97,405, spent $26,168 Collected $9,330, spent $7,167
Concerned about racially identifiable schools? "I would not support a return to racially identifiable schools. We worked too hard to be all-inclusive. ... I do feel that charter schools are the way to go as that allows students of any race or ethnic background to have a school choice." "All schools, no matter what the ZIP code, must provide the same high-quality education from highly effective teachers. In addition, I believe it is important to expose students to individuals from a variety of racial and cultural backgrounds." "I am not a great fan of busing or magnet programs to manipulate the racial composition of schools. ... I would prefer to see that money spent ensuring that each school will adequately meet the needs of its neighborhood."


About the job: School Board members oversee the superintendent and administration at the nation's eight-largest school district. That job includes late-afternoon meetings twice a month, and occasional workshops and legal hearings, along with inquiries from constituents. District 2 includes South Tampa and southern Hillsborough west of U.S. 301. The job pays $40,000 a year.

Hillsborough County School Board, District 2 08/14/14 [Last modified: Thursday, August 14, 2014 4:50pm]
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