Make Our Funds Achieve More!
A Leader with GREAT Character
It is time to restore Howard County schools to its original reputation as the crown jewel of education in the country.
Great Schools. Great Education. "Where You Live."
We achieve great schools when we meet the needs of the individual students in a school community. Build up Great schools where students live! Instead of moving kids around, meet them where they are with the tools/resources and intervention, they need to be successful. Every child should be able to learn in the community where they live!
SAFELY REOPENING OUR SCHOOLS
The HCPSS reopening survey clearly showed that the vast majority of parents wanted a hybrid or in person option but were also very concerned about the safety of the school building. The new Board of Education will be tasked with building consensus with many stakeholders to come up with a safe manner to reopen our schools in a choice based manner. Governor Hogan's benchmarks for reopening are very robust and are far stricter than even the ones proposed by infectious disease experts such as Dr. Fauci. I have proposed an action plan to safely reopen our schools in February by procuring PPE for our staff consisting of Masks and Face Shields and adhering to CDC guidelines when we meet the state-required benchmarks for a safe reopening and give parents online, hybrid and in-person learning options. If we had started procuring PPE right away we may have been able to meet Gov. Hogan's recommended time frame of the beginning of the 2nd quarter but the current board has decided to continue with virtual learning into February. The new board's direction is determined by what the current board has decided. As a result, the best-case situation is to reopen in February as long as we meet Gov. Hogan's benchmarks and COVID continues to go in a positive direction. Elections have consequences and voters will need to elect someone dedicated to reopening safely for choice-based options to be offered. I have an action plan to do that if elected in December. Read more at larrypretlow.com/safelyreopen.
ACHIEVEMENT & OPPORTUNITY GAP
The achievement gap is one of the major issues that our school system has faced for a long time and the reason why I ran for this seat back in 2018. We need to focus on the root causes of the achievement gap. . We need to invest in reading specialists, tutoring opportunities and after school programs in technology, music and athletics to work to close the achievement gap. We must also work to implement best practices Hammond High School uses
There are socio-economic and racial opportunity gaps in Howard County. As an advocate, I will hold the county council accountable to the socio-economic needs and racial opportunity gaps of communities to develop practical solutions to improve the quality of life for all residents.
REDISTRICTING and LOCAL VILLAGE SCHOOLS.
Redistricting is one of the many tools that can and should be used sparingly to alleviate overcapacity. However, last fall many of District 2's neighborhoods were unfairly targeted for redistricting away from their Village schools when capacity was not a concern. Some of our most vulnerable students such as those living in the Verona Apartments (Polygon 96) who were walkers were turned into bus riders.
When Jim Rouse developed Columbia he wanted to promote racial and economic diversity in each village and ensure every child went to their local village school. He would be rolling in his grave watching the prior county councils concentrate poverty in the older villages of Columbia while the BOE now buses the students living there out of their village schools.
Polling shows that 70% of parents say they want diverse schools but only 20% of parents think its a smart idea to arbitrarily go to a further school. (https://nceatalk.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/49th_annual_pdk_poll.pdf PDK Poll 2017 pg.6)
Our community is divided more than ever because of the redistricting in Fall 2019. We need to build consenus on a solution that the majority of the community wants. We need to redistrict minimally for capacity but we cannot repeat the same mistakes of the 2019 cycle. We also need to promote diversity in our schools which parents also overwhelmingly favor by promoting magnet programs that will promote socioeconomic diversity.
We must approach redistricting with some common sense rules that were unfortunately violated by the current board and proposed by Jen Mallo. We must NEVER redistrict walkers as that is simply fiscally irresponsible especially during these tough times for our budget. We must also never move students from 1 under capacity school to another like done in district 2 between schools such as Ilchester, Waterloo, Phelps Luck, Bellows Springs, Thunder Hill, Talbott Springs and many more. That is a political game and disrespects both students and parents.
There is also extensive evidence to show that minority students are often steered into lower level courses. As a result, many times even in socioeconomically diverse schools the classrooms are still segregated.
We must focus on tangible solutions to solve this problem like how Hammond High School did. A culture of believing in students and after school tutoring opportunities and summer bridge programs resulted in a large increase in minority participation in advanced courses. This is how we increase achievement and promote diverse classrooms.
I have ten years of experience working in both management and supervisory roles, and I’ve gained the functioning experience required to effectively manage employee relations, evaluate employee performance, ensure productivity, and adhere to an established operating budget. I will also bring my skills of budgeting, procurement and engaging the community on the Village Board to the Board of Education where it is sorely needed to fix our budget and make our funds achieve more. Our school budget must be reviewed with a fine-tooth comb with input from all stakeholders. This can be accomplished by using zero based budgeting to make it easier to find waste. We have to see what is working and what's not helping our children effectively. In this economic climate we have to make our funds achieve more and spend every penny wisely. A penny spent unnecessarily in administration means a penny lost from the classroom.
There is money to do what is needed, and there are unexplored future partnerships to be created to deliver on a commitment to serve our children through excellence in customer service in great schools in their communities.
I believe that special education students are woefully underserved, and that there’s not enough funding allocated to support special education. I first plan to increase community input to provide special education parents and teachers the rightful opportunities to work collaboratively with myself and my colleagues to develop an effective plan to support special educators, students, and families. The special education crisis is an equity issue. Right now our most vulnerable communities are disproportionately impacted by the special education crisis as those that have the funds can often spend the time to fight for their children while our most vulnerable families where parents work multiple jobs may not have that luxury. For this current budget, the county government cut special education funding while increasing the amount of already bloated mid level administration spending from what the BOE proposed. In the past we have cut paraeducators instead of Central office. It is time to reverse that. We must also work to ensure our special education educators have the tools and training they need to be successful. That is one of the most effective ways to help our special education educators in this tough fiscal climate.
I am also committed to prioritizing Special Education reforms that ensure productive transitions from high school into the real world.
We have to make sure we have enough qualified teachers to educate every child. HCPSS has a diverse student population, and so I would work to encourage a diversity of educator-applicants to match the diversity of our student population. We have to also focus on culturally relevant curriculum with parent, student, and teacher input before implementation.
STUDENT RESOURCE OFFICER'S (SRO)
Student resource officer's play a big part in keeping our schools safe. Many students especially minority students are in shock of the brutal murder of George Floyd and want reassurances that their voices are being heard as we work to increase tolerance and inclusion in our schools. Once schools open up, I would like for there to be an assembly in every school with the SRO(s) so students can hear the guidelines that SRO's have to abide by as well as develop open lines of communications with the school SRO(s). Every child should feel safe and protected in the school building.
Now more than ever the mental health needs of our children are not being met. I plan to work with Mental Health experts to ensure school counselors receive practical training on how to assess, identify, and approach the root causes of mental health issues. We must ensure counselors have a conceptual understanding of and can make practical recommendations to help students work towards healthy resolves to dealing with root causes.
SCHOOL START TIMES
Research shows that healthy school hours can reduce absenteeism and work to increase achievement for all students. I am committed to gathering community input on this topic and studying fiscally responsible ways to implement healthy school hours. The current times are too early especially for high schoolers.
I believe we need to refine our vocational education program by offering more opportunities at the ARL and collaborating with businesses to promote more internship opportunities to our students.
SCHOOL SAFETY & SECURITY
I believe the security measures we currently have in place have proven to be effective. What I would like to see is that we never let the memorandum of understanding with the police expire. I want to make sure that we request community input (students, parents, teachers, and police) to make any necessary updates to the memorandum of understanding to ensure it is respectful of student privacy and rights I also want to ensure that appropriate personnel receives updated training on current safety and security policies.
Skills for Getting it Done
I have proven to be a leader for our children and a voice for the community. As a parent, serving on the community association board of directors, I have the experience necessary for serving on the board of education, listening to resident input, and working collaboratively with others for the greater benefit of the community. I will bring my skills of budgeting, procurement and engaging the community on the Village Board to the Board of Education where it is sorely needed
I know what it takes to find viable solutions, navigate complicated governmental agencies and get things done. I also see the importance of needing to be heard by your representation. My heart for all children will lead me to ensure that decisions require utmost consideration of all community input, fact-based analytical data, and a constant reminder that our children are not pawns in the political system.
Continuing My Commitment
For so long, officials have sought to get between parents and their children. I intend to stand with parents to uphold our values and advocate for the precious treasures of every community: our children. One of my top priorities as your Board of Education representative is to work to meet the unique needs of every school community so that we serve students and foster great schools in the communities where they live. We need a push to drive the success-in-education, community by community. I also plan to call our county officials to action so that we build up communities for children and families.
In District 2, we have a clear choice to make: Me or my two opponents. I'm not running because of convenience. I'm not running because of an opportunity to be elected. I was first to declare because I knew in April 2019 that it was time to start fighting for our children to close the achievement gap so we can revitalize our schools and get an education we can believe in!