HomeBlogsJeff Hewitt's blog2018 School Board Candidate Questionnaire Responses

2018 School Board Candidate Questionnaire Responses

April 20, 201810353Views

Norfolk's citywide election for School Board and City Council takes place May 1st.

Don't know where your polling place is? Click here to find it.

Norfolk's School Board has fourteen candidates running in all but the two superwards. The board is responsible for overseeing the Superintendent, who sets overall policy for the system, and for the annual budget request to the Council -- though it's worth noting that the board has no power to levy taxes and is entirely dependent on the amount the Council approves for its operational budget. The Antonym does not endorse candidates, and merely provides this questionnaire as a service to the public. We sent this out and received responses from ten candidates.

We received no response from the following:
Ward 3: Carlos Clanton.
Ward 4: Leon Rouson, Christine Smith, & Alfreda Thomas.

Ward: 1

Candidate: Adale M. Martin
1. What is the single largest issue facing our school system today, and how do you propose to solve it?:
Norfolk Public Schools face real world challenges with a portion of the schools still seeking accreditation, a budget deficit, and notably, a lack of public trust. Strategic and accountability planning, specialty curriculum pathways, and facility renovations have not prevented NPS from experiencing reductions in student enrollment, on-time graduation rates at 10% below the state average, and stagnation due to decades of poor policy decisions. This dysfunctional climate undermines support for high-quality instruction; therefore, diminishing trust from teachers, parents, city council, and the community. For far too long, Norfolk’s children have been left on the sidelines of policy decisions that impact their education, access to resources, and future. NPS board members must make a concerted effort to practice good governance strategies, such as transparency, sound management and accountability, regular communication with key constituents, and a student-centered comprehensive academic agenda in order to restore trust, confidence, and momentum.
2. Do you believe that Norfolk's School Budget is overfunded, underfunded, or funded correctly? If over or under, by how much?:
The Norfolk's School Budget continues to be underfunded as a result of deferred investment in NPS. This has resulted in a patchwork approach to staffing, school resources, and facility management. An independent facilities assessment report concluded that NPS facilities alone require a $14 million annual capital investment in order to bring them up to acceptable standards. A comprehensive equity report that includes an assessment of key operations is needed to ensure that all students in every school have the necessary resources they need for the highest quality education that NPS can afford.
3. If overfunded: What would you cut? If underfunded: Where would you spend more? :
The NPS need to be better staffed, better equipped, and held to better standards. Norfolk should eliminate it's reliance on long term substitute teachers and focus on funding more full-time teaching positions at competitive wages that includes a comprehensive employee benefits program. It could partner with universities to attract new teachers and provide career-advancement opportunities that include differential pay and other incentives for positions in high-need academic subjects and low-income schools. NPS should also provide more resources and assistance to better manage the unique student needs within the classroom. Additionally, NPS facilities need to be updated and maintained in order to evolve with the educational, social, and security needs of our students.
4. Why should a parent consider educating their children through the Norfolk Public School system?:
I bring a unique perspective as the only Ward 1 candidate who has children enrolled in NPS. I also feel I am uniquely qualified to answer this question as both of my boys were previously enrolled in private school. Both public and private schools offer particular educational and social experiences. I believe that parents are the best advocates for their child. As parents of a child with hearing loss, my husband and I discovered that the public schools offered options through the 504 and IEP programs that activated wrap-around resources for him. With our second son, we worked closely with administrators, counselors, and teachers to ensure that he received a challenging curriculum to meet his academic goals. In addition, we enjoyed observing that, compared to private school, our children became a part of a diverse community which more accurately reflects the city we live in. Also, NPS offers specially designated curricula that provide exposure to a variety of interests and levels of academic rigor.