Occupation: Executive Director, Michigan Land Bank Authority (employer: State of Michigan – LEO Dept)
Educational degrees and qualifications:
Bachelor of Science in Economics and Political Science – Central Michigan University (2007) and Master of Business Administration – Detroit Mercy (2012)
Why are you running for Flint Board of Education?
I want to prioritize repair of community partnerships and rebuilding trust with parents to help stabilize the district’s attendee numbers. Additionally I want to serve the community with my real estate development and property redevelopment skills to help eliminate blight by selling or demolishing vacant properties, maintaining current schools and building new schools. Finally I want to increase student access to skilled trades trainings, arts/foreign language, sports, and life skill building.
Flint Community Schools continue to battle against financial hardships. If elected to the Flint Board of Education, how would you leverage the current Flint Community Schools properties, occupied and vacant, to alleviate this financial strain?
This is a leading question that inappropriately labels school district real estate primarily as a monetary asset by which the district can profit instead of a community asset for which the school district has a responsibility to program / maintain / dispense in ways that positively impact the community at-large and the neighborhood in which it resides.
Therefore, the school properties should not be looked at as a revenue driver for the district and especially now, after so many years of neglect, the properties do not have positive real estate value and need to be aggressively disposed of through demolition or sale for redevelopment. As a Board Member, I would use my real estate background to find creative solutions and develop partnerships to piece together demolition funds and as well as funds to help prepare the remaining sites for sale for redevelopment. I do believe there needs to a be a performance clause and/or reverter clause on any option or sale to ensure new owners with plans for redevelopment must take action within a reasonable time frame.
If elected to the Flint Board of Education, how will you ensure that the district attracts and maintains highly qualified teachers and other staff? Please explain any plan(s) for recruitment and retention?
Plans for recruitment and retention are the responsibility of the superintendent, not the Board of Education – we are here to hear his proposed ideas and determine if the cost vs. impact ratio is reasonable and feasible to fund. The Board of Education is a governance board, not an operations board. I would first ask about the current coordination with the Federal Dept of Education regarding student loan forgiveness and the Michigan State Housing Development Authority regarding down payment assistance for homebuyers and encourage the superintendent to prioritize more coordination if that could be helpful to staff. Additionally, there could be a partnership proposed with the Genesee County Land Bank to purchase houses to be renovated and sold to staff at a reduced price. These ideas would be brought up to the superintendent for him and his staff to explore and implement.
Flint Board of Education meetings have become tumultuous and often inefficient. If elected to the board, what role will you play in returning decorum to the board and making it more efficient?
I’ve spent 15 years working on teams in the public sector and making positive change requires respect for individuals and respect for the process. I would propose adopting a Board Civility pact that includes strict adherence to Robert’s Rules of Order and a zero-tolerance rule regarding response to any type of verbal or physical threats by any attendee of any meeting. Additionally, I will only vote for a Board Chair who knows how to run a meeting using Robert’s Rules. Finally I would push for increased efficiency through better organized committee meetings; usage of consent agendas during full board meetings; use of timers for board member and public comments; and increased staff support to assist the superintendent pull together meeting agendas and packets a set number of hours prior to a meeting, as well as better technology for the live broadcast of meetings.
In your opinion, what role does the Flint Board of Education play in improving academic progress of students in Flint Community Schools? Please explain any plan(s) to implement measures to improve academic progress.
As a governance body, the Flint Board of Education’s top priority must always be improving academic progress of students in Flint Community Schools. Ways to do this include (but are not limited to):
1) Approve a budget that includes increasing professional development opportunities for teachers – this means external-to-the-school learning for continuing education credits as well as internal-to-the-school learning through using a “professional learning communities” format that help same grade teachers to discuss different tactics to reach a student that is struggling and help same subject teachers learn what’s being taught above and below their grade so there can be increased continuity
2) Make sure the superintendent and curriculum director are both spending time in classrooms to offer feedback to teachers – everyone can benefit from coaching
3) Approve a budget that includes providing stipends to teachers in each grade who dedicate extra time to serving on the curriculum committee with the curriculum director to allow for deep dives into the NWEA test data at the beginning of the year and mid-year
4) Write a grant proposal to a foundation for investment in tools for students to use at home as well as providing workshops (with food) for parents to learn better tactics to support their child learning while at home
These are all ideas that could be proposed and then tweaked to best fit within the superintendent’s vision, the Board’s recently adopted Strategic Plan, and an ongoing Parent Outreach Strategy that would be created as a way to build trust again with parents who are sending their kids to the district.