Budget

What is the biggest issue the district is currently dealing with? What’s your solution?

I think everyone recognizes the budget is the biggest issue the district is facing. We need to address the budget limitations, but it’s also important to discuss the most pressing issues that have resulted from not addressing the budget sooner. The staff at our schools are struggling to keep themselves and our students safe with reductions in staffing, families are struggling to adjust to Special Ed programs being consolidated, and many of our students are struggling in larger classrooms.

While I think it’s important to look for federal and state funding opportunities, I also think it’s important to take responsibility for the students in our community when federal and state funding simply isn’t enough to support the level and quality of staffing our community values. It’s always important to fight for the federal and state funding our district needs, Ignoring our responsibility to our students has left our district struggling. It’s become clear that is is long past time for this budget issue to be addressed and I would advocate for a local levy as soon as possible to increase staffing levels at the upper grades and regain recent losses.

What do you see as the top challenges currently facing Spokane Public Schools and what qualifies you to address those challenges?

The budget is one of the most pressing challenges facing the district as it affects everything else. As a single parent, I know what it means to work with what constantly feels like an impossible budget. As a small business owner, I’m known for working to help clients find cost-effective solutions to meet their communications needs on small budgets. I understand the importance of prioritizing, considering options, and searching for the most cost-effective solutions. I have experience working with a leading economist on a statewide healthcare spending research report for Washington. That lead to developing and advocating for state-level healthcare legislation. My experience collaborating with state legislators in drafting legislation helped me develop the skills to work with legislators on state-level funding solutions for the district.

Of the recent cuts, which do you feel has most affected the quality of education in Spokane Public Schools?

I believe the loss of staff will have the most significant impact on the quality of Spokane Public Schools because smaller classroom sizes, dedicated librarians, and ample maintenance staffing are vital to a quality educational experience for our students. We must work hard to ensure remaining staff have the resources and support they need to succeed at their jobs without suffering exhaustion.

Moving forward I will advocate for restoring staffing levels by looking for ways to reduce redundant or ineffective spending and working with state legislators to increase funding to the district. It’s also likely that the district will need an additional Levy to be able to restore staffing and programs quickly.

Given the district’s current financial situation, is there anything you would have done differently, had you been on the board since the summer of 2018?

Many of these issues were discussed in closed-door meetings and I don’t have enough information to confidently say I would have done specific things differently. I can confidently say that I’m an experienced problem solver and I enjoy getting into the details of policy in an effort to research and find practical solutions.

As a Board Member of Whole Washington, I helped Dr. Gerald Freidman collect data on healthcare spending in Washington, provided resources on related state healthcare and tax laws, and proposed multiple funding solutions for board and committee consideration. Last year, I had the pleasure of assisting Senator Marylin Chase on SB 5222 and I worked effectively with representatives from the Department of Revenue and the Employment Security Department to find policy solutions and funding mechanisms.

I’d like to think that the skills and experience I have could have helped the district mitigate the many fiscal challenges it faced over the last year. However, I also recognize that the current board members are dedicated and I believe they tried very hard to make the best decisions they could given the budget constraints.

Do you agree with the district’s decision to release elementary students from school each Friday at 1:45 PM instead of 3:00 PM?

I believe this is going to be very challenging for many parents, but I also understand the Board must balance and prioritize. The SHOP after-school program helps and I would like to see it also be available for elementary students on days the middle and high schools are out early. Ultimately, more staffing and funding would be needed to avoid the Early Release Fridays.

Should the district seek a local levy for additional operating funds? If so, when and why?

The district had to make many cuts to the staffing due to budget reductions during the last year. Despite that, the district is still facing a budget deficit in the next few years. I think a levy is necessary and I believe voters in our district will support funding for things like increased staffing at the higher grades, librarians, and to accommodate the professional time our teachers need (which results in Early Release days).

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