Opinion | School board candidate Danielle Surrette: I will help prioritize academics, financial security
School board candidate
Three years ago, I had never attended a board meeting. I trusted the schools to uphold a certain standard of education. They had their job (to educate), and I had mine (to parent). In three years, that has all changed. Like many parents throughout this nation, I was ripped out of my sleep with my eyes wide open.
Occupation: Real estate agent
Years in Summit: Five
Family: Two kids in the district
Civic involvement: Parent Teacher Student Association, School Accountability Committee, District Accountability Committee
I am running for school board for the many parents whose voices are being ignored. I am running for the many families who have moved away because of the school district’s progressive direction. And most importantly, I am running for our kids.
Instead of focusing on teaching our children the academic foundational skills upon which everything is built, the district has been focused on activism and social issues. We should be teaching kindness, respect and tolerance for all students, but our focus should be on raising our schools to the level of excellence our kids deserve.
Priority No. 1
I hope to restore our school district to a level of excellence.
As an involved parent, I attend many of the school board meetings. It is apparent that the current board’s priority is not academics. Social issues and identity politics have diverted their attention away from the true focus of school, which is academics.
In 2010, students in Summit were nearly 80% proficient in reading and math. Today as a district, we are at 40.9% for English language arts and 28.1% proficient for math, which is below the state average that is already dismal.
At Frisco Elementary, my children have had wonderful teachers and an amazing principal who is focused on reading, writing and math proficiency. These dedicated teachers, principal, and staff are getting great results by focusing on these competencies. I will bring this achievement to all Summit Schools. I understand that test scores are not everything, but they are a measure of where we are and should be valued. Even if a student is not academically inclined, every student needs to achieve these basic skills. It is our responsibility to equip all students with the best tools possible to be successful in life.
Priority No. 2
If given the chance, my greatest hope would be to bring balance back to the school board.
There is constant rhetoric of diversity but no diversity of thought or dissenting opinion. This is demonstrated by the consistent 7-0 vote for 3 years with virtually no discussion. Numerous groups of involved parents and community members are being ignored. I will be their voice on this board. Parents, community members and even teachers often confide in me. They agree that personal politics and ideologies do not belong in the classroom. They don’t speak out for fear of repercussions, because the board and teacher union will vilify you if you dare stand up.
Debate is not disrespectful. It is necessary to genuinely consider all opinions before making decisions.
Priority No. 3
I will cut down on unnecessary spending and reallocate funds back to teachers and students.
We are squandering money. We are currently exhausting our reserve budget and are in critical financial condition. It is surprising how much money is being wasted. The solution is not to raise taxes or sell off school land. I believe we have plenty of resources if properly managed. The admin department is lopsided and has become a huge bureaucracy. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are going to new positions like the equity director and transformation officer (whatever that means?).
Our academic officers have all been let go, and an unusual amount of our budget is spent on consultants and unnecessary projects. My goal would be to find out exactly where all the money is going and adjust spending accordingly. I believe the bulk of the budget must be earmarked toward extensive professional development training for teachers, pay increases for teachers, and structured tutoring programs and summer school options for our students.
Danielle Surette is a candidate for Summit School District’s board of education. For more election coverage, visit SummitDaily.com/election.
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