Jim had planned to share this at our weather cancelled round table tonight:
Candidate for School Board, Jim Rousseau planned to share the following this evening:
What does being a supporter of public education mean to you?
It means my kids have an affordable education. Without public education, my kids would have a harder time achieving many of the academic and social skills they currently have and will continue to develop. I believe in public education. I am a product of public education. I have successfully started, operated and sold a business and now work at an executive level mentoring others. It started with public education.
What will you do to help attract highly qualified teachers to our schools?
So, there are many facets to attracting employees to our school. The Board provides funds to ensure an attractive workplace; lighting, ac, windows, etc. They fund a growing tech plan to ensure teachers have updated equipment and set aside dollars for workshops and guest speakers for current presentations. They also provide a pool of money for tuition reimbursement if staff wishes to further their education.
All this stated, I am not overly concerned with attracting talent. As a school board, our job is to appropriate funds that support the administration of our school. Strafford is the highest compensating district in this SAU. However, I believe compensation would be secondary.
Beyond providing a healthy workplace that is properly stocked, it is the administration that will attract the talent in the culture they create in school. It is the administration’s job to choose the talent to match the skills they require; and I have faith in our administration.
As a school board member, I will work with our administration to understand their needs as it relates to required skills for any given position. I will work with the community to help them understand these requirements and work with my fellow board members to adjust budget constraints to accommodate the needs as presented by the administration.
Do you believe that art and music are part of a quality education, and if so, what do you plan to do to make sure these programs remain in our school?
As a father and a citizen of Strafford, I do believe the arts have a large part to play in our children’s education. However, as a school board member, I am one vote on a school board of five who have been entrusted the stewardship of tax dollars. When it comes to public tax money and votes, I cannot in good conscience “make sure these programs remain in our school.” I will show my support for these programs but for whether we fund them or not, it is not up to me. It is up to the voters. I am one vote.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing our public schools right now and what is your plan to address it?
Kind of an odd question. Both as a Strafford resident and as a candidate for the school board, I do not choose to engage in what other school’s issues may be. That stated, I will answer the question as it relates to Strafford specifically.
In speaking with many recently, it has been shared with me the largest challenge right now is a climate and cultural issue stemming from the continued impasses of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. I believe there are many who are happy with their job, their compensation and work environment. I believe there are few who continue to be adversarial to the school board, and by extension the voters, creating an uncomfortable work environment. I believe it is time for a reformation of the CBA and for it to be settled.
However, I believe the CBA needs to be a new one. It needs to be mutually beneficial, to have no impact on our administration’s ability to manage our school on a day to day basis and reflect what our tax paying citizens are willing to pay.
By addressing the CBA I believe we address the climate and cultural issues within our school.
What kind of community partnerships or activities could support student achievement outside of school?
I am not sure the nature of the question as it pertains to running for a position on the school board. There are many activities and partnerships today that support student achievement both academically and socially. The Strafford Sports Recreational Sports, Destination Imagination, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts are just a few to name in our community. Each one of these programs are part of the community outside of our school, promoting personal and social achievement. These programs are directly and indirectly with our school. These and many others are available to our students.
What are three questions that you would ask a candidate for our S.A.U. 44 Superintendent? What would you hope to learn about the candidate from the responses?
This is a great question and a difficult one to answer since I have never had to interview a Superintendent before. Relying on my past professional experience, I would need to ask some of the basic questions.
What qualifies you to be our Superintendent?
What do you know of our district, its challenges, its strengths and how would you work within each?
What do you want to see as a relationship with this school board?
There is nothing that I would specifically be looking for in these answers. I would evaluate the answers with my fellow board members and probably come up with additional questions collectively with them. We would collectively continue to ask questions until satisfied.
In your past professional experience, what criteria do you use to make decisions about hiring people, retaining goods and services, or the effectiveness of a course of action? How will you use these criteria when making decisions as a school board member?
Dear Lord you could write a book in answering these questions LOL.
At a very high level, each hire of employee, contract for goods and services or decisions on course of action are independent of each other. In my experience, you can not simply have a blanket script to work from in each decision.
The only thing you can really ensure is that you ask questions, evaluate answers and based on the information you have, make the best decision you can. Every situation is different.
In your view, what groups are major stakeholders in public education? Explain what their roles may be when making educational decisions.
The kids. They are THE stakeholder in public education. Without them, and without the purpose of educating them, there is no public education. Every decision the administration, superintendent or school board member must include is to ask how this effects the kids. The kid’s role in this is to be kids and in doing so, give the rest of us purpose in providing their education.
The school administration. Without the administration, there is no education for our kids. The role of the administration is paramount to the success of our school. The administration ensures the day to day operation. To administer an agreed upon curriculum and ensure appropriate skills are hired to support that curriculum.
They need to work with employees. It is an ongoing process, constantly keeping up with changes in how to teach our kids with the rapidly moving social influences that effect the kids, parents and teachers alike.
As a school board member, I have spoken outwardly about my commitment to making sure the board does everything reasonable to give all the tools our administration needs to succeed. Their success is our kid’s success.
The community. The Strafford community funds this school. They have the final word. They entrust the School Board to be the steward of our children’s education. To hire a strong Superintendent and to work with the superintendent and the school administration. To bring to the community its best recommendations and the costs associated to be successful in supporting the major stake holder; the kids.
What specific steps would you take as a school board member to improve transparency and make school district information more widely available?
Have you seen my posts? Watched my videos? Without being on the school board I have brought transparency to the school board processes and the collective bargaining agreement negotiations.
As a school board member, I will continue to work with my fellow board members to maintain and expand transparency. If there is one thing I really would like more transparent, it would be the Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations. I want to see these negotiations done in public. I would like them to run like the School Board meetings today. Allowing to public to see but not be heard until an appropriate juncture. I believe doing so will allow the public to understand, ask questions of stake holders and each other alike and openly debate concerns. It is my belief both parties could then learn from the voters and better be able to respond to the community to which they both serve.
This is a request for transparency the SEA has historically denied.
How will you balance the needs of your constituents with the needs of the overall school district?
The voters are the constituents. The voters get to decide. As a school board member, I am nothing more than a steward to their will. As a board member, my job would be to do the best I can conduct business as they will it.
What contact information would you like attached to this survey for the voters to be able to reach out to you with questions?
I can be reached on Face Book.
For anyone without Face Book access I can be reached by email firstname.lastname@example.org