Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Doug Barnett for School Board

This from Doug Barnett:
1. A redistricting plan which benefits the entire system will do best for Board District. As a member of the redistricting committee, I believe the priority should be on developing an open and transparent student zoning plan which provides each and every student with the opportunity to be successful while respecting the character and cohesiveness of our neighborhoods. I feel that FCPS should preserve our neighborhood schools where possible, particularly at the elementary level, while simultaneously ensuring that socioeconomic inequities are addressed by developing a logical and rational feeder pattern throughout the district as well as a systemic plan to assist those schools that are unable to develop or rely upon substantial school activity accounts. I believe the rezoning plan should be publicly released and multiple forums should be held throughout the community to gather constructive feedback. Upon analyzing the feedback from these public forums, the committee should recommend a fair and equitable plan for our students to the school board for its approval.  As always, I will solicit community reaction to the final plan but I realize that not everyone may be happy with the final product.

2.  The audit found errors and “chronic mismanagement” that was caused by the actions of the district’s finance manager and superintendent which concealed the district’s true financial condition from the school board.  The audit found that financial services personnel utilized a trust fund to benefit their own travel and educational pursuits at the expense of FCPS students, that the superintendent circumvented board policies to pursue a business relationship with a close friend and that the superintendent took no action to address a toxic atmosphere within Central Office despite knowing about it since at least 2012.  I believe that the superintendent, the only employee within the personnel purview of the school board, should be held responsible for the findings of the audit.  Even though no employee may be subject to criminal liability as a result of these audit findings, I am very disturbed that current FCPS leadership believes that the avoidance of criminal liability with respect to "chronic mismanagement" is reason to celebrate.  I trust that avoiding criminal liability is not the maximum standard that we wish our students to achieve.   

3.  I do not support the passage of charter school legislation in Kentucky because there is very little data supporting charter schools as a viable alternative for traditional public education.

4.  Over the past five years, I think FCPS has done some things well. FCPS has recognized that innovative programs are needed for college and career readiness and has created programs like STEAM, the FCPS Innovation Zone and Carter G. Woodson Academy. FCPS has also started emphasizing early learning initiatives such as preschool and Born Learning Academies as a way to stop achievement gaps before those gaps start. Also, I am excited that the district has finally decided to address issues within the special education system with the establishment of the Special Education Task Force. With respect to what should change in FCPS, the district must address the chronic morale issues which exist in our schools and in Central Office. The district will never close achievement gaps or ensure that all students are college and career ready until morale issues are addressed.

5.  Leadership has played a role in the problems which currently exist in the district. The superintendent has been aware of the issues with respect to morale within the district and has done little to address those issues. Achievement gaps will never close, however, until we improve staff morale in our schools, meaningfully include parents in the conversation through an atmosphere of mutual trust and engagement, and eliminate the culture of fear that has been permitted to run rampant in our district.

6.  I believe my greatest personal achievements while a member of the FCPS Board of Education:
A.  A new elementary school to serve District 2 on Georgetown Road opening in Fall 2016.
B.  A new elementary school opening Fall 2017.
C.  Approved the creation of STEAM and Carter G. Woodson Academy.
D.  Preserved FULL FUNDING for band, music, orchestra and special education in the 2014-2015 budget.
E.  Advocated for the creation of the Special Education Task Force.
F.  Returned nurses to our schools.
G.  Provided LEADERSHIP for FCPS to reach “Proficient” status under state KPREP testing for 2012-13 school year.
H.  Defeated a plan to outsource custodial services to a for-profit company.
I.  Advocated for students at Arlington, Booker T. Washington, Deep Springs, Harrison, Mary Todd, Northern, Russell Cave, Wm. Wells Brown, Bryan Station Middle, Winburn and Bryan Station High School to eat breakfast and lunch under a federal program FREE OF CHARGE!
J.  Advocating for our teachers, staff and students to improve morale and culture in our schools.
K.  Advocating for a smart, workable redistricting plan.
L.  I am the ONLY candidate in District 2 to ACTIVELY AND IMMEDIATELY protest the “chronic mismanagement” of our kids’ money by unethical Central Office administrators. Our kids’ money must stay in the classrooms to be used for closing achievement gaps and providing educational opportunities for our kids!
7.  Outside of information that could potentially identify a student without the student’s consent, I believe that all information and data collected by the district should be made available for public inspection. I believe in complete transparency, including transparency with respect to the budget process, expenditures, data, etc. I also believe that all meetings of the board of education, including planning meetings and "lunch and learns" should be televised live on Channel 13 and over the district's internet site.

8.  While I appreciate the higher standards that Common Core has provided to our schools, I am very concerned about the impact of high-stakes assessments, the drive to weaken teacher tenure, the growing demands upon our teachers and the increases in class sizes that have emerged with the federalization of education. I believe that increased class sizes only weaken the ability of a teacher to connect with and adequately instruct students. High-stakes assessments provide little practical information about how a school performs other than provides a number to a school. Personally, I think assessments such as KPREP are suspect when self-assessments are used in the formula for providing a total assessment score for the school because of the potential for abuse. I believe that we need to restore the success/failure of a school more upon how an individual child masters subjects rather than on how they perform on standardized assessments. Our educational system will never ensure college and career readiness for our students unless and until administrators actively engage and collaborate with those who work with our students on a daily basis and ensure that the daily needs of education, such as ensuring that classrooms have adequate supplies, are met.     

9.  One of the biggest issues facing Fayette County Public Schools is ensuring that each and every one of our students, regardless of race, socioeconomic status, gender or disability, possess the skills and knowledge necessary for college and career readiness. Achievement gaps will never close, however, until we improve staff morale in our schools, meaningfully include parents in the conversation through an atmosphere of mutual trust and engagement and, eliminate the culture of fear that has been permitted to run rampant in our district.

            I also want you to know that while I believe in allocating resources necessary to close the various achievement gaps that exist throughout the district, we must ensure that programs such as music, band, orchestra, fine arts, gifted and talented education, special education and technical education are fully funded. To me, equity demands that the needs of all children are being met at each and every school with our kids' money being used solely for the benefit of teaching and learning. Equity does not mean shoving our kids' money into the pockets of national consultants whose only desire is to cut arts education and special education or into the pockets of consultants who have profited off of the achievement gap.

10.  My campaign finance report (which will be submitted to the Registry of Election Finance on October 3, 2014) will show that I have raised approximately $4000. While I am unsure at this time how much I plan to spend on this campaign, I do plan to aggressively defend this seat.    

Douglas W. Barnett
Fayette County Board of Education
Member, District 2

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