Monday, November 7, 2011

School Board Elections

We are down to the wire before tomorrow's elections and both of my e-mail accounts are full of pleas to support particular candidates. Here's my take after 13 years as a parent of LCPS students living first in Ashburn Farm, and now in Lansdowne. I was one a very small group of voters who attended the public forum at Belmont Ridge MS.

The issues:
Dr Hatrick - If our superintendent should continue to be our superintendent is an ongoing debate that, it seems to me, is fueled by the loud voices of those who want him replaced for every possible reason. Is the silent majority in the middle? Most of us moved here because of the good schools; we visited Fairfax schools and Loudoun schools before we bought our house here in Loudoun. If the schools were awful, the superintendent would have been replaced long ago. But since the schools are very good can we not give Dr. Hatrick some credit? I think so. What would I like to see improved? There are too many layers of communication between the parents and Dr. Hatrick. This was most obvious to me at the recent Special Ed Advisory Comm. (SEAC) meeting where Dr. Hatrick spoke to the membership: no one asked him a single question during the Q&A time. We know that we have to start with our case manager and assistant principal, working our way up to Mary Kearney, and through Dr. Kealy to get to Dr. Hatrick.

HS-8 - If we need HS-8 is not really an issue, but where it goes and when it opens is a big enough issue to deserve it's own post. The boundary will eventually be an issue also.

Technology Plan - Millions of dollars to put tablets in the hands of every student from the 4th through 12th grade requires more consideration. What happens to that 12th grader when they go to college and have to downgrade to a laptop? There are two computers in the classrooms at Belmont Ridge MS and one of them is used to run the whiteboard, leaving ONE computer for classroom use. Is there a middle step here that should be considered?

Currently, both Bob Ohneiser and Tom Reed represent me. I have spoken before the school board on boundary and special education issues. Bob Ohneiser knows who I am, but Tom Reed doesn't. Both of them want to see a larger commercial tax base, which is needed, but I don't see how the school board can accomplish this goal. I would like to see the winner of this seat improve communication with the parents/voters of the county.

Jay Bose - I was happy to hear him in person, but don't agree that LCPS and/or it's students are mediocre. Diversity is good, but not the first reason to ask for my vote.
Tom Reed - I watch most of the school board meetings and it concerns me to have someone represent me who seems to treat the other members as less than his equal. He promptly answers e-mails with self centered answers instead of parent/voter centered answers. If he wins he needs to communicate through his blog regularly not once or twice a year.
Bob Ohneiser - I like the questions that he asks and his persistence in seeking answers. Regarding the technology plan, he wants to know what problem we are solving; is this a solution to an undefined problem? He has searched out answers to specific questions that I have had regarding the budget and special education. He has sought out my input on special education ideas. Bob has my vote. I hope he starts a newsletter or some other regular means of communicating with the parents/voters of the county.

Ashburn District
Two of the candidates live in Lansdowne, one in Belmont CC and two in Ashburn Farm. Until this weekend, when my husband and I were out of town, no one has come to my door and asked for my support. I have met some of the candidates at various meetings and have not been shy about calling those that I wanted more information from.

Debbie Piland - I think Debbie has been running the longest, and I have watched her grow as a candidate. She has an interesting background and I like her. She doesn't have the first qualification for my vote though - a personal knowledge of the classrooms in the district.
John Ryan - My first opportunity to hear John Ryan was at the candidate forum. I'm glad I got to hear him and he seems to be a pleasant man with a sense of humor. But like Debbie, he has no first hand knowledge on the current state of the classrooms in the district.
Chris Souther - He wants the superintendent replaced and fully supports the implementation of the technology plan. And in an earlier post on one of the newspapers didn't seem to know that elementary "resource teachers" means special education. Sorry.
John Andrews - John Andrews' previous school board experience began shortly after we moved to the county. I like him and was part of a group several years ago that asked for his input on boundary issues. But he has school-aged children that attend private school.
Eric Hornberger - As a member of Ashburn Farm Parents United, Eric and I have been on opposite sides of boundary issues. So, if he didn't know who I was, I knew what position he represented! But the Stone Bridge issue, as presented by the planning dept., was moving Lansdowne students out TEMPORARILY, and then moving them back to SBHS. When our family moved to Lansdowne, in the fall of 2004, we had a kindergarten student at Seldens Landing, and a freshman and senior at Stone Bridge. Our older son was part of the Harper Park Annex at Stone Bridge for 8th grade, the year Stone Bridge opened. In six years, our older kids went to 5 different middle schools, including our daughter moving to Belmont Ridge the year it opened as an 8th grader. I am relieved that the three school solution was developed for the Ashburn area. With all of the growth that we have seen, sending our youngest to Stone Bridge was not a priority, but having a school for him to attend still is imperative. Eric is a parent and has knowledge of the Ashburn schools at all three levels. Eric has my vote.

Algonkian District
John Stevens has been an active supporter of special education students and their parents. He has worked directly with the Special Education Advisory Comm. board and has encouraged the membership to be active and involved. I can't vote for John, but have supported him financially and encourage the voters in his district to return him to board.

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