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Hillsborough County School Board, District 7

School Board | District 7

The most crowded race in the school district pits five challengers against 20-year incumbent Carol Kurdell. Some have well-known positions on controversial issues. Terry Kemple favors better control over classroom visitors, while Michael Weston takes issue with the Gates-funded Empowering Effective Teachers program. Others, such as Carl Kosierowski, “Joe” Jordan-Robinson and Robert McElheny, have a multitude of concerns about the way the district has been run under the current board. Marlene Sokol, Times staff writer

Terry Kemple, 65

Management consultant

Carl Kosierowski, 62

Brandon YMCA

Carol Kurdell, 67

School Board member

Robert McElheny, 64

Truck dealer

“Joe” Jordan-Robinson, 58

Engineer

Michael Weston, 56

Teacher

Experience This is Kemple's second run at a School Board seat in recent years. He is known locally as an activist for conservative Christian values. He waged a campaign against same-sex marriage and recently mobilized speakers who oppose classroom visits from the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Kemple also would like to see the district do more to get parents involved in their children's education. Kosierowski drove a school bus until he was suspended and then fired for giving campaign bookmarks to staff and students on school district grounds. He became interested in politics while he was a graduate student in Illinois. He has worked in trucking and as a safety instructor at the Brandon YMCA as well as his bus route. He'd like to see better work conditions for the district's support workers. Kurdell, a Tampa native who was educated in the district, is the board's most experienced member and a three-time chairwoman. She's the School Board liaison to the Gates-funded Empowering Effective Teachers program. She is former president of the county council of PTA/PTSA and has represented the school district on numerous government and community boards. McElheny majored in education in college and raised two daughters who became teachers, but he supported himself as an automotive dealer. He has served on the Anna Maria City Commission and his homeowner association in Fishhawk Trails. Now that he is cutting back on his work hours at Gator Ford, he wants to return to education and pledges to bring more business sense to the district. Jordan-Robinson is an engineer and community activist who has served on numerous government and civic panels, including the Hillsborough Charter Review Board. He has worked as a school district engineering contractor and filed governmental complaints, seeking investigations of alleged wrongdoing. He has sought other elected offices in the past, including Tampa City Council. After a career in information technology, Weston became a math teacher in 2010 at Freedom High School. Disappointed in the Empowering Effective Teachers plan, he backed anti-EET candidate Joe Thomas in a teacher's union election. Thomas did not win but Weston was motivated to seek a School Board seat. He wants to see more opportunities for students who are not headed for college.
Education Lakeland Regional High School, some college and Naval Academy credits Master's degree in business administration, Southern Illinois University Bachelor's degree in human growth and development, Eckerd College Bachelor's degree in secondary education, University of Tennessee Bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering, University of Iowa Master's degree, oceanography, Old Dominion University
What are your thoughts about the possibility that schools are again becoming racially segregated? It is not the school's responsibility to attempt to force outcomes through the process known as "social engineering." Rather, the board's efforts should be focused on achieving success regardless of the racial makeup of schools. I'm concerned, yes. This issue needs cautious monitoring on a national level. However, I do not believe that the American people as a whole want a return to racially identifiable schools. This is an issue that is constantly monitored. The "choice" program was instituted to alleviate the return to racially identifiable schools and has been successful. Our demographics have changed over the years where it is not the black-white issue as in the past. We now have other ethnic groups in the mix. This discussion is going on around the country and will be an ongoing issue in the future. A return to racially identifiable schools is the same as a return to segregated schools, especially since the racially identifiable schools that are predominantly minority also tend to be less affluent and those that are majority Caucasian tend to be more affluent. I am more concerned with the performance of schools than with their demographic makeup. I am not a great fan of busing or magnet programs to manipulate racial composition. I prefer to see that money spent ensuring that each school will adequately meet the needs of its neighborhood.
How well is the district expanding enrollment in Advanced Placement courses, and is this the correct course? At the present time there is an over-reliance on pushing students into Advanced Placement courses for which they aren't prepared as a means to make up for training they haven't received. This is a tremendous educational opportunity for students. But parents may see the AP program as a way to save thousands of dollars in college tuition, and pressure their students to excel in AP. Students then miss opportunities in other areas of school. AP courses have given more students opportunities to expand their skills, i.e. critical thinking, that will serve them well in their future business endeavors. We have the highest enrollment in Advanced Placement classes ever. I think our pass rate is lower than the national average. It is okay to challenge students but I'm not sure if a bonus should be given to the superintendent for higher enrollment. While the district has won awards for AP course growth, there is concern that offerings differ by teacher and school. Students encouraged to stretch should be given additional support to ensure their success. Attempting and failing too many AP courses would be harmful in the end. AP courses should be taught to advanced students capable of the rigor of a college level class. With parental approval, under-performing students should be allowed the opportunity. But the district's high-pressure sales approach is not of benefit to students anywhere on the spectrum.
What are your views on the Gates-funded Empowering Effective Teachers effort? The effort to help teachers improve their skills is laudable. Offering merit-based pay generally works well in the private sector. Good intentions aside, so far it has fallen far below the expectations that were announced at the outset of the program. EET seems to parallel other programs of this nature currently being implemented in our nation. The plans for these programs are well thought out and very definitive. It seems the biggest challenge is in the subjective area of teacher evaluations. The shift from teacher performance to student learning in observations and evaluations is a challenge. It has adjustments, corrections and alignments that are needed but difficult for some. (Senate Bill 736) shows that Hillsborough is fortunate to have a two-year lead. The teacher morale is low and the system has flaws. We must address these problems with the teachers and make sure the process is headed in the right direction. It is a work in progress. After two years, it is difficult to know if the outcome will be positive. EET has completely changed how teachers are assessed in Hillsborough. The 30/30/40 split has caused some strong discontent, especially from veteran teachers. It is considered that teacher performance is highest on the district's list of required education reforms. I find this insulting as a teacher, and misguided as a citizen. Teachers are not the largest problem in education.
What needs are not being met in the district, and what solutions do you propose? The lack of parental involvement is a huge detriment to the students affected by it. It also has a significant impact on those who are affected through fallout such as classroom disruption and other disciplinary problems. It seems too many employees of the district, in management, teachers and support personnel, feel the School Board is out of touch with the people. Coming from a position of support, I can bridge the communications gap. Technology is a challenge cost-wise and curriculum-wise. An oversight committee of business processes, curriculum, procurement and IT could be formed to look at it as a whole. An outside review could be done as well. We should always strive to maximize the dollars to the classroom. Streamlining the district office should also be a priority, and reduce the bureaucracy as much as possible. Too many minority and lower socioeconomic status students are not taught the basics. FCAT scores and discipline statistics indicate serious discrepancies in how youth are educated and treated. The greatest unmet need in our district involves non-college-bound students. To apply to a technical center, you must first drop out. I would like to see more decentralization of career training, and more flexibility in courses of study.
Assets House in Valrico, savings, business, spouse's business Bank account House Real estate in Florida, Georgia and North Carolina, boats,
savings accounts
Five houses in Tampa Rental property in St. Petersburg
Liabilities Mortgage None Mortgage, loans Loans Mortgages None
Income Business, spouse's business, Social Security Jobs as a school bus driver and at the YMCA School Board salary, Social Security Earnings at truck dealership Engineering firm, rental property Teacher salary, rent receipts, consulting
Personal Married; five children Unmarried; no children Married; one stepson Married; two children One daughter Married; three children
Website community
issues
council.com
captaincarl-
district7.com
www.sdhc.
k12.fl.us
Robert
McElheny
campaign.com
In progress michael
weston.org
Email cic@integrity.com captaincarl
-district7
@live.com
carol.kurdell
@sdhc.k12.fl.us
gfmcpalms
@gmail.com
jrobin19
@tampabay.rr.com
mike
@michael
weston.org

About the job: School Board races are nonpartisan, and the terms are four years. The seven-member board generally meets every other week to set policy for the district. The job pays $40,932. District 7 is a countywide seat.

Hillsborough County School Board, District 7: Terry Kemple, Carl Kosierowski, Carol Kurdell, Robert McElheny, “Joe” Jordan-Robinson, Michael Weston

Hillsborough County School Board, District 7: Terry Kemple, Carl Kosierowski, Carol Kurdell, Robert McElheny, “Joe” Jordan-Robinson, Michael Weston

07/27/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 1, 2012 7:14pm]
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