I am running for the School Board to help make Loudoun County Public Schools the best and safest in America for students, their families, educators and the community as a whole by taking positive steps to resolve today’s challenges and being more prepared for the future.
More Proactive Communications with Families
Proactively communicating mitigates about 80% of the challenges and there is a bucket of 20% challenges that potentially will fall off and needs to be handled with effective communications.
This type of communication between LCPS School Board, LCPS Central office in Ashburn, Communities being served, Families, Schools and Loudoun County Board of Supervisors (LC BOS) is core and central for better collaboration while strengthening the system. It all starts with reviewing the current communication policies in place, ensure team structure is matched to the policies both at a central office/school level and ensuring it meets the 21st century needs for Loudoun County.
2017 Communication flaws: New bus stop software rollout that caused buses skipping stops and parents-kids not aware of where to wait for buses. Communication of Stone Bridge High School student suicide attempt in campus. Seclusion practices that burst into huge issue.
2018 Communication flaws: Plenty of isolated school incidents that happened in Aldie Elementary, Lucketts Elementary, Discovery Elementary, Tuscarora High, Woodgrove High and there’s more to the list.
Minimizing Rezoning Hops & Overcapacity Schools
Our students, families, educators and communities deserve better.
Every time a rezoning discussion comes up it puts all those involved on the edge. Speaking with School Principals, Assistant Principals and everyone involved the rezoning process takes a toll on everyone, makes them anxious and impacts greatly. The fact that they might not be part of a school in the next year or two disengages them from being involved with the school PTA activities and the school community.
Source: Loudoun County Public Schools – www.lcps.org
Having been a resident of the Blue Ridge district since 2008, I can tell the district and the county has experienced great growth which is good. With the growth comes challenges that had to be addressed so the tax payers are treated like a paying customer. As a Brambleton resident, students zoned to go attend Briar Woods High back in 2011 were moved to Rock Ridge High due to the redraw of attendance boundaries.
While we understand, that when we open a new school, we need students in there and not run an empty school. As seen in the recent case of Waxpool Elementary, where students and parents spoke about having moved already once or twice. I think the rezoning had to be kept minimal and reduced as much as possible.
Respecting Home Schooling & Small Schools
I was raised at my grandparents place in a small town until I turned 7. I was home schooled and had the opportunity to attend a small school in the small town. I also attended regular schools in a suburb as I grew up.
As a product of home schools, I strongly support the families rights to home school their kids regardless of the exemption categories – Religious beliefs, Home Instruction or Tutoring Provisions where families take on the responsibility to provide education for their kids.
As a product of small schools, I get first hand how the small schools make up a town. Even today when I go visit my small school teachers/principal (who are retired now), soft serve store, convenience store, barber shop, place of worship, physician – it’s amazing how each entity is dependent on the other to keep going and without a doubt small school plays a vital role to the town’s economy.
Fair Compensation for Educators
Having met with educators – teachers, bus drivers, janitors, administrators and principals. We need to retain the best talents by making living affordable for them here in Loudoun county.
In the age we live in, we have big expectations on our kids which means onus on our educators are a tall order. They need to be compensated better and given tax deductible benefits that eases burden on them. Happy educators create successful kids that our families and communities can cherish and grow stronger.
I plan to work with my fellow school board members and review efficiencies in process and technology that LCPS has in place as well expand the business partnerships to pay for the educator raises/tax benefits.
Better Campus Safety
LCPS Student Support Services division has done an outstanding job in keeping our school campus secure. After every major school shooting that happens elsewhere in the nation, could be Parkland FL, Newtown CT and dating back to Columbine CO or the tense situation locally that we had at Lucketts elementary in 2018. Families are constantly pushed to fear what if this happens in my backyard.
I will work with fellow board members and staff to take steps to ensure that our school campuses are secured by reviewing and identifying outdated door locks with latest locks that would assist the personnel with swifter lockdowns in case of emergencies.
Hire our veterans who want to lend a hand in keeping our campuses safe as a volunteer or in payroll. Review LCPS system wide security training needs and look at areas to improve for lockdown drills, review and assess school-based threat assessments.
The moment families drop off their kids at school, they should be at peace that their child is in safe hands. That is the state we want to be in.
Keeping Class Sizes Down
Any human being performs the best when they get the needed guidance/attention. Goes without saying that kids in school especially elementary age kids will be able to get a strong foundation and footing when class sizes are small/teacher to student ratio is lower. While LCPS has worked to make this happen, strongly think this is an area for improvement.
Same with school capacity, as I visited schools in growth areas of the district/county, the schools have more students than they were originally planned to.
One thing is for sure at least in the growing parts of the county, Town homes are not starter homes anymore. Town homes are the permanent homes for families with 3 or more kids at times. With that comes the territory of adjusting the Forecasting formula. This certainly would require the school planning division to work with the county government staff to understand where the new homes are coming up and then work on the projections.
Promoting Good Mental Health
Our kids’ wellbeing especially the mental aspect is very important for their happiness and achieving maximum potential in the future.
LCPS has taken right steps in this direction and will work with fellow board members to continue to invest in hiring more mental health workers such as psychologists and social workers to strengthen our students mental-health. This is directly tied to campus safety in many cases and could help thwart threats as well help perform any follow-up threat assessments.
Kids today due to the technology – social media and other means feel a lot of pressure on them to perform and succeed, I strongly feel that families need to be the supportive structure behind them and tell them it’s OK to fail but never lose sight and try again and to remember it’s not the number of times we fall, but the number of times we get up is important.
A Holistic Approach to Education
From visiting various LCPS schools that’s adopting/adopted Project Based Learning (PBL’s), Computer Immersion, Individualized Educational Programs (IEPs) and schools that are incorporating learning through experiments are at a better stance compared to those that have SOL’s.
Also, from my speaking with Curriculum and Instruction Assistant Superintendent Project Based Learning is being advocated to state Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) over the Standards of Learning (SOL) approach for the State of Virginia and I am supportive of that.
I would work with fellow board members/staff in getting International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma for high school students that gets them a foot into universities that Clarke county schools had in their offerings.