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Pinellas School Board | District 1, Robert J. Beal v. Bill Dudley v. Joanne Lentino v. Matt Stewart

Pinellas School Board | District 1

When School Board member Janet R. Clark announced she would not seek a fourth term, the race for her countywide seat became the most competitive one out of the three seats on the ballot — and the most crowded. Meet your four District 1 At-Large candidates.

About the job: Elected School Board members serve four-year terms and make $42,222 annually. They are expected to attend regular meetings, usually held twice a month, and a workshop once a month. The primary duty of the board is to establish policies.

Robert J. Beal

Profession: 

Part-time college student, Marine veteran

About the candidate: 

Beal, 46, stepped up to run for the School Board to advocate for special needs children like his 14-year-old daughter, Lauren. He says both the public and private school systems have failed her.

Education: 

Passed the GED test in 1994. Currently working toward an associate degree at St. Petersburg College.

How would you rate the district's efforts to improve failing schools in south St. Petersburg? 

"The schools' efforts have been satisfactory, however an incentive should be given to encourage more parental involvement in the south St. Petersburg schools," such as a buffet at school community meetings, school supplies for children and gift cards for active parents and volunteers.

Do you agree or disagree with those who say the district isn't doing enough to ensure black children catch up to their peers? 

"Agree. I would reinstate a program that ended in 2007 called On Campus Intervention Program," which was designed to help students with reading and math skills, as opposed to staying home during a school suspension. "This program would be important because disadvantaged students are suspended more frequently."

Do you agree or disagree that charter schools are being held accountable? 

"I agree that charter schools are not being monitored properly or held accountable, as evidenced by the closing of Windsor Preparatory Academy." Adds that more charter schools would divert money needed for public schools, and that charter schools have had questionable success nationally."

Should the district create more magnet schools? 

"Yes, based on what I've heard. I have to do more research. I don't know exactly why they're so successful and it's something I need to research."

Assets/liabilities/ income: 

Assets: $39,858 Liabilities: $50,373.39 Income: $0

Personal: 

Divorced with one daughter, Lauren, who is 14. Lives in Seminole

Campaign fundraising: 

Contributions: $2,400 Expenditures: $2,148

On the web: 

None

Bill Dudley

Profession: 

Former City Council member, retired high school teacher/coach

About the candidate: 

Most know Dudley, 72, as "Coach" after spending most of his 38-year teaching career as a coach at Northeast High. Since being term limited out of the St. Petersburg City Council, he says a spot on the School Board is a "matchable progression for me."

Education: 

University of South Florida, B.A., 1966; Stetson University, M.A., 1981

How would you rate the district's efforts to improve failing schools in south St. Petersburg? 

"Unsatisfactory. Earlier efforts to improve student performance have not been successful because the plan that was implemented did not have all of the stakeholders on the same page. A clear, well-defined vision complete with personnel, resources, funding and commitment from the School Board will improve the chances for success."

Do you agree or disagree with those who say the district isn't doing enough to ensure black children catch up to their peers? 

"Agree. I believe their concerns are justified. …These schools are receiving in excess of $1 million more than north county schools and they are receiving additional resources in the form of teaching aides and additional support staff. Is it enough? That will be answered when all of the achievement scores are posted."

Do you agree or disagree that charter schools are being held accountable? 

"Disagree. Charter schools, when run properly, do offer parents a choice for the education of their child. … I find fault with our School Board for not doing a better job of overseeing these schools. Accountability is a very important part of how we justify the use of public funds."

Should the district create more magnet schools? 

"Yes. (But) as we move forward, the School Board should only create magnet … schools on a very limited basis. I am a big proponent for the use of career academies as an alternative to (magnet schools)."

Assets/liabilities/ income: 

Assets: $686,000 Liabilities: $178,800 Income: $141,289

Personal: 

Married , two adult children, lives in St. Petersburg.

Campaign fundraising: 

Contributions: $21,830 Expenditures: $18,103

On the web: 

dudley4schools.com

Joanne Lentino

Profession: 

Retired elementary school teacher

About the candidate: 

Lentino, 67, knows what it's like inside a Pinellas County classroom. She says her recent experience as a teacher shapes a platform with stakeholders at the forefront: the parents, their children and the professionals who teach them.

Education: 

University of Nevada, Las Vegas, B.A., 2001

How would you rate the district's efforts to improve failing schools in south St. Petersburg? 

"Unsatisfactory (from my experience as a first-grade teacher). The school district's efforts have fallen short." Would focus on early childhood education and parent/family member involvement, and address discipline issues. "Making our schools better will be a huge undertaking and will take time."

Do you agree or disagree with those who say the district isn't doing enough to ensure black children catch up to their peers? 

"Agree. The word 'spending' is key. Let's follow the budget. Where is the money going? Who is following the data? … Is the PCSB being forthright in the mandates that were set by the court? I think not, based on the short time I have attended the (Concerned Organization for the Quality Education of Black Students) meetings."

Do you agree or disagree that charter schools are being held accountable? 

"Disagree. I believe from the reporting that the Tampa Bay Times has been doing, charter schools are not held accountable. It was explained that PCS do not receive enough funding to monitor charter activities. That may be right, but who set the monitoring up that way? The state. "

Should the district create more magnet schools? 

"Yes. I would definitely favor more magnet schools. … I understand there is a waiting list for fundamental schools." Says fundamentals don't seem fair for families without transportation means.

Assets/liabilities/ income: 

Assets: $1,027,103 Liabilities: $18,801 Income: $34,126

Personal: 

Single, lives in St. Pete Beach.

Campaign fundraising: 

Contributions: $18,688 Expenditures: $12,853

On the web: 

joanne2016.com

Matt Stewart

Profession: 

Deputy director for Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections and St. Petersburg College adjunct professor

About the candidate: 

Matt Stewart, 36, was born and raised in Pinellas, graduating from Largo High. As a parent to a foster child who attends a district school, Stewart says he is dismayed by local education. If elected, he says he would scrutinize data and ask difficult questions.

Education: 

St. John Vianney, B.A., 2002 St. Vincent de Paul, M.A., 2010 University of South Florida, Ph.D., 2008

How would you rate the district's efforts to improve failing schools in south St. Petersburg? 

"Unsatisfactory — When the series was printed, the district did not act with any haste to rectify the problem. We are a year later and have seen marginal improvements. ...I recommend the following changes to address the issues:" to name a few, a longer school day, individual mentors for each child and tracking students' progress.

Do you agree or disagree with those who say the district isn't doing enough to ensure black children catch up to their peers? 

"Agree. The Pinellas County school district has not directed enough money and resources to ensure that black students are on par with their peers in reading and math. A review of (those test scores) confirms the lack of funding has had an adverse effect on student achievement. Black students are not getting the support they need to perform well.

Do you agree or disagree that charter schools are being held accountable? 

"Agree — The Pinellas County School Board has a responsibility to vet, approve and oversee charter schools. The board should take swift action when charter schools are not fiscally sound or meeting educational requirements.

Should the district create more magnet schools? 

"No — At this time, the district has more than enough school options for students and parents....We should continue to maintain the current choice options while evaluating the viability of them going forward."

Assets/liabilities/ income: 

Assets: $196,018.92 Liabilities: $163,009 Income: $62,513.17

Personal: 

Stewart is married and currently has one 13-year-old foster son. He lives in St. Petersburg.

Campaign fundraising: 

Contributions: $25,240 Expenditures: $23,501

On the web: 

Pinellas School Board | District 1, Robert J. Beal v. Bill Dudley v. Joanne Lentino v. Matt Stewart 08/18/16 [Last modified: Thursday, August 18, 2016 11:59am]
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