Two candidates in District 5 talk about campaign issues

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 29, 2004

[10/29/04]Please state what you believe are qualifications that will help you be an effective school board members?

Gibbs The qualifications I believe that will make me an effective school-board member are: my work experience, education, training and relationship with the community. My experience as a budget analyst gives me an extensive knowledge dealing with a budget. I’ve gained a tremendous amount of knowledge through my experience as a management analyst in developing the most efficient and cost-effective way of doing business. My experience as an Equal Employment Opportunity Specialist has helped me in interacting with a varied group of people, leadership skills and team-building which will enable me to be effective within the school district and within the community. Most importantly, my relationship with the community provides the school district a foundation to build a strong community/school-conscientious board.

Shelton I have a proven record as a parent volunteer in the schools over the past 16 years. I served as a PTA officer for four years, as a member of the strategic planning committee and as a member of the superintendent search committee in 2000. My professional experience in engineering and construction will help the board make good decisions on capital expenditures and my graduate education in business will help me handle the complex financial aspects of the job.

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Are there specific problems or shortcomings you hope to address? If so, please describe them. If not, please explain what you think are the biggest challenges faced by the district.

Gibbs The Vicksburg Warren School District is superb. We have a Level 5 superintendent, Level 5 principles, Level 5 teachers and administrative staff. We just need to bring all our resources together to get the Level 5 accreditation we deserve. My main issues of concern are the dropout rate and absenteeism within the schools.

Shelton I would like to see the school district become more “user-friendly.” Public education is by necessity a bureaucracy that suffers from the same shortcomings as any other large governmental body. It is bound by lots of administrative rules and regulations and is slow to change. That sometimes produces bottlenecks and inefficiencies that frustrate parents and students. I would work with the district to improve performance in this area.

The Strategic Plan adopted by the board in 1999 made “communication” Strategy No. 1 in its action plan. What is your assessment of school-community relations now? How, if at all, do you think communication might be improved?

Gibbs I served on the strategic-planning committee as an action team facilitator. The school-community relation is an ongoing process. I will build on the strategies already in place to improve/implement outreach programs for more parental involvement. Parents are the stakeholders, who should be involved in the decision-making process, when possible.

Shelton I believe that school-community relations are pretty good at this time. However, they could be improved by implementing two things recommended in the communications strategy create a single clearinghouse/hotline for any and all types of questions involving the schools and hold community forums where citizens can ask questions of the board and district leadership.

One big change for schools will be when elementaries transition to zoned “community” districts next fall. Another proposal is a year-around schedule. How do you stand on these topics?

Gibbs I commend the current administration for allowing the community to have a voice in the transition to community schools. I definitely support the community decision. In reference to the year-around school concept, I believe an in-depth study, which includes input from the community, needs to be conducted to determine the effects of year-around school will have on the Vicksburg Warren community. Year-around school will have a drastic effect on some because many students need the summer jobs to assist parents financially. Year-around school is a good idea, but data and community input are a must.

Shelton I fully support the community-school concept and look forward to seeing it put in place next year. Going to a year-around schedule would be a major change for our schools, and I will have to do a lot of research and seek lots of input from parents and educators before making up my mind on that issue.