I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

2 Candidates for Superintendent, 2 Important Issues

I read this past Sunday’s Pensacola News Journal articles on both of the candidates for Superintendent of Schools. Read the complete articles here:

One of the candidates is pro-merit pay, and speaks about the necessity to continue to find efficiencies in the district by closing and consolidating underutilized facilities.

On school consolidation: (from the PNJ)

Thomas also hopes to save the district money by closing some schools with small enrollments.

"We can't break even with elementary schools with fewer than 300 students," Thomas said. "Now, we have seven schools with fewer than 300 students. We're spending so much on the infrastructure to fund these small schools."

On Merit Pay: (from the PNJ)

Thomas said the system [Merit Pay] is a good way to reward high-performing teachers, but he said there were formulas in place to make sure that teachers in low-performing schools also had a shot at the merit pay, including adding additional points to the merit pay calculations of teachers in such schools.

"We had teachers in low-performing schools get merit pay," Thomas said. "We need to continue to grow the program. It's a source of money for our teachers, and I cannot ignore it."

The other candidate is against merit pay, even though previously this same candidate voted for the merit pay plan. This candidate also does not seem to have a clear, coherent, objective plan for closing our numerous under-utilized facilities.

On school consolidation: (from the PNJ)

"We need an objective measurement when it comes to closing and consolidating schools, but my main concern is what goes on inside of those buildings," she said. "We need to increase academic achievement and maintain some of those schools so that they don't lose students."

On Merit Pay: (from the PNJ)

"If I had to vote over for it again, I wouldn't," she said. "I thought it would be more fair to all teachers, but it favors teachers in certain schools."

This election is important. I want a superintendent who has passion, but passion in and of itself is not enough. Our next Escambia County Superintendent of Schools must have vision and a clearly defined plan. I want to work with the next superintendent to utilize our existing and well established SAZAC ("objective measurement") to identify underutilized facilities for closure, because I understand that there is a process for identifying schools for closure. I want to work with a superintendent who understands that merit pay is important, and that our Escambia county Merit Award Plan

does account for and gives bonus points to teachers who work in schools that struggle with achievement.

From reading these two articles, it appears that one of the candidates understands these things but one does not.

I want to work with a superintendent who will vote to do what is right, even if it is unpopular. I want to work with a superintendent who shares my views on these issues. I like both of the candidates as people, but I’m voting for and supporting the one who is clearly prepared to lead our district.

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