Investing in Our Future
My campaign priorities are simple, but solutions are likely to be complex requiring advocacy and teamwork. Our education system will always be as good as the people who make it work. As a BOE member, I will take long-term action in the budget process to ensure that all FCPS staff receive a full, comprehensive, and competitive salary and benefit structure. In light of the myriad challenges facing our students and community, sufficient resources must be directed to school buildings and classrooms ensuring every student an opportunity to be nurtured, to be fed, to be inspired, and to go to school in an environment conducive to learning. FCPS must incorporate the Blueprint’s investment in early childhood education, career/college readiness, and resources for mental health, social-emotional learning, and special education needs. I look forward to fighting for the needs of all Frederick County students over the next four years with your continued support and input.
Investing in our educators
Our education system will always be as good as the people who make it work. Each year, FCPS has an opportunity to advocate for transformational change and invest in the people and programs necessary for all of our students to succeed. First and foremost, this includes a steadfast investment in the people that make education possible for our students. Classroom educators continue to battle challenges on nearly every front – addressing student behaviors rooted in isolation, trauma, and disconnection during the pandemic; over-testing in response to local, state, and federal requirements; addressing “unfinished learning” within school buildings; to a growing list of duties and tasks that cannot be successfully accomplished in the myth of an educator’s seven-hour workday.
Frederick County Public Schools’ pay scale is not competitive to our surrounding counties. A new teacher can take a job in any one of our surrounding counties for significantly higher pay than in FCPS. When looking at the pay scales for teaching professionals across Maryland, FCPS consistently ranks at the bottom for teacher pay, particularly at the entry points for employment. It is beyond time that we as a county, state, and nation invest in our education system in a way that supports and honors the people doing the work as the professionals that they are.
As a member of the Frederick County Board of Education, I will take long-term action in the budget planning process to ensure that all of FCPS’s employees from bus drivers to substitutes to food & nutrition services to classroom educators have access to a full, comprehensive, and competitive salary and benefit structure. Additionally, our educators should be recognized and celebrated for the knowledge, experience, and expertise they bring to our classrooms and school buildings. As a system, we need to focus on building partnerships and pathways to recruit and retain highly qualified, diverse employees into our system to meet the varied needs of our students. With open positions in every district in the state, if FCPS does not act aggressively, the best will soon be teaching in classrooms elsewhere, driving buses elsewhere, and serving food elsewhere — or simply leaving school buildings entirely. The time to act is now.
Investing in our programs
Ensuring investment in our teachers and staff is the first step to ensuring our schools are places where students have an opportunity to learn and thrive. However, in light of the myriad of challenges faced by our students and community, we must simultaneously direct sufficient resources to school buildings and classrooms to ensure that every student is afforded an opportunity to be nurtured, to be fed, to be inspired, and to be educated in an environment conducive to learning. This includes capitalizing on the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future’s investment in early childhood education, career and college readiness pathways, and additional resources to meet mental health and social-emotional learning needs.
Extensive evidence links access to early childhood programs to long-term success for children. The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future will ensure access to high-quality, affordable, and accessible opportunities for our youngest learners. FCPS early childhood programming should focus on enriching early childhood experiences with a focus on play, small class sizes, social-emotional and physical development, and targeted support/outreach for English Language Learners and students with unique learning needs.
I believe strongly that expanding access to programming, especially high-quality career and technical programs also offer additional pathways to success for our students. While the 26 CTE programs currently in place within FCPS offer excellent opportunities, I would like to prioritize the expansion of Construction Technology Programs like Carpentry, Mechanical Programs like Collision Repair, and Service Programs like Cosmetology. Our schools must acknowledge that every child is not collegebound, and make efforts to remove the stigma of pursuing alternative post-secondary options. Our CTE programs must also take into account the varied needs of student populations, while expanding access to English Language Learners to provide an inclusive and comprehensive program experience. Many high school students balance a need for employment and education – ensuring that CTE opportunities encompass these needs will lead to better student outcomes, vocational placements, and career pathways.
Investing in our school communities
Frederick County’s average cost per student as calculated by the Maryland State Department of Education consistently ranks at the bottom of all Maryland counties. Despite starting to recover from drastic under-funding, our system simply continues to do more with less. More dollars allocated does not automatically equate to improved outcomes – I argue for fiscal responsibility with the dollars that we do allocate – and yet, under-spending in FCPS during past years forced prioritization that resulted in significant inadequacies in important budget items. When the BOE approved the 2020-2021 school year budget, we made tough decisions about halting planned program expansion, reducing the numbers of specialized staff to be hired, while expanding access to technology given the virtual learning environment of COVID-19. However, additional resources and programming to meet the unique needs of students is needed – not just now in the midst of the pandemic, but as demonstrated in students’ return to school buildings – including mental health programming, restorative practices, programming to reach learners with limited English proficiency, and wraparound support services. In light of the recent Department of Justice investigation, it is clear that additional resources, staff, and training are needed to meet the needs of special education students in our care.
In a time when our schools are places to meet so many unmet student needs, the Board of Education must ensure the timely and adequate distribution of financial resources to our students.
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Whether you are interested in donating your time, front lawn, or money, I am extremely appreciative of everything that you are capable of giving.