Candidate Questionnaire — Board of Education (Chattooga)
seat number 2
My name is Tiffany Lawrence. I am a small business owner in Chattooga County. I have two children currently in the Chattooga County School systems and have had four children who have already successfully graduated from the Chattooga County School systems.
What types of experiences and understanding of the education system do you believe is necessary to competently serve on the Board of Education?
I believe the experience and understanding needed could be but not limited to knowing what challenges families, children, and leadership face in “our” school system. I believe that there really isn’t a “cookie cutter” model for every school. Let me explain: What works for one school may not necessarily work for the next school. Meaning that we need to be personal and intentional about understanding what challenges we face in Chattooga County Schools. What works for another school may not work for the next or vice versa.
What are three strengths of which our district can be proud? Why do you see these as strengths?
I would say that three strengths of our district would be 1.) We know how to adapt to change for example kids along with faculty and staff have adapted (and very well I might add) to a very familiar topic of the four/five-day challenge, even when it may or may not have been what they would have chosen. 2.) I think that the trades that are taught within the system as a whole are outstanding. 3.) The Mountain Ed High Program absolutely amazed me . I had not educated myself as to what the program was about but after my Husband and I had the opportunity to go and demonstrate our trade as Barbers I was excited. It is a program to help kids that face great challenges that many of us did not face have a choice other than to just quit school. I see these as strengths because they are equipping kids for what? change and challenges something that will always be a part of their life.
What are three needs that must be priorities for our district to address?
I personally believe that three priorities for us to address. 1. Making sure that we can offer competitive job opportunities/benefits to help keep and draw staff for the schools to operate at full staffing needs. 2. Building stronger personal communication between staff and families. We live in a smart phone world, and we have been pushed away from face-to-face relationships. 3. That we are improving all around every year. I think we should always want to be greater tomorrow than we were today.
An individual school board member has no authority; only the board as a whole can make decisions for the district. What skills or traits will allow you to contribute to effective operations of the board as a whole and how do you overcome disagreement?
My skills and traits would be I’m sure everyone has had to face in their life, conflict and opposition. I do however desire to see unity in anything I am involved in. when we move in unity there is nothing we can’t accomplish. Sometimes you just need to listen to understand why someone feels or acts a certain way. We don’t always have to be the one heard. Sometimes we are all just not going to agree but I believe I am mature enough that we can sometimes agree to disagree and still walk in unity.
If (re-)elected, what would you hope would be key accomplishments of the board during your years of service?
During my years of service, I would hope that we would see increase in every area, new ideas birthed to help the school, and everyone involved flourish as never before.
Chattooga County is very diverse and continues to become more diverse every year – economically, racially, culturally and in other ways. Is the Board of Education and the school system generally doing enough to adequately represent the needs of the various demographics across Chattooga County?
I haven’t really studied into to it. There are however a few programs that come to mind. They first are a clothes closet where they are allowed to get clothes if needed. The other I believe it is called the backpack program where kids are able to pick up food (discreetly) and carry home over holidays and weekends, so they don’t have to be hungry. I’m not sure how involved the board is as far as these two particular programs, but I do believe they deserve much attention.
What should our school district be doing to ensure the safety of students and staff?
I’m not sure in what way you are asking as far as safety? I believe as far as covid making sure that the schools are thoroughly cleaned along with buses. Mental health is a big issue facing our world right now I believe that making sure that the kids and staff have a support system even if you must have volunteers such as church groups work with your school system just to ensure that extra support and love that we all need. Also, social media is another area that needs to be monitored and have a well communicated plan in place for families, staff, and students. Maybe even have a tip line where students could report anonymously if there has been a threat made on social media towards the school or staff and students.
How can the Chattooga County Board of Education be more transparent about activities and finances?
To the best of my knowledge everything is public record, and they are very transparent. There are also monthly meetings that is open to the public.
Will any other employment or business venture in which you are vested present a conflict of interest for you as a Chattooga County BOE member? Please explain your answer.
a) In the event of an unforeseen conflict of interest arising in your official duties, how would you handle such a conflict to ensure maintenance of public trust?
My business now is not nor should ever be a conflict for me to serve on the board. If an unforeseen conflict to arise I would go to my authorities and be very transparent and allow them to direct me.
Chattooga County School District has operated on a 4-day and a 5-day school week schedule. Do you support the 4-day or 5-day school week, please explain. (Please be clear in your answer I support a 4-day or 5-day)
I do support the four-day school week for our school system here at Chattooga. I will be very transparent I never really did the research before and to be honest when they first made the switch to four days I honestly complained, all I heard when they said four day was more money because it meant having the kids at home an extra day. After about the first month it was not as bad as I had thought it would be. Time went on and I noticed a shift at the school everything was up! The attendance, spirit, morale, and then we started seeing improvements made at the school. I ended up be a supporter after all. I was able to attend the last board meeting. I felt our superintendent Mr. Hosmer explained and made some valid points. He was asking not for the money but as many of us know anywhere you go now days you see a help wanted sign, he said that had been a real challenge to stay fully staffed, let along find subs for the classrooms. He purposed that he could not compete with the surrounding county recent increase in pay but that he could offer a five day pay with a four-day work week. This was a brilliant idea and I believe he and his team had much wisdom in seeking for this change. We can’t simply say “well that’s the way we have always done it.” or “I went five days it won’t hurt these kids to go five days.’ As much as we wish it were the same good ole days, we grew up in we are in different times. Some of these kids must work to have food or gas for the week this extra day gives them the opportunity to do that. I did do the research this time and honestly, I will say there were really no cons in the research. It just simply works.
What motivates you to want to become a Board of Education member?
If we want change, we must be the change.
What attributes are essential for successful school board members?
I believe not just board members, but all people should have Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control.
What do you see as the board’s responsibilities and roles?
I believe our role is to ensure that our Superintendent is performing his duties and help support and assist. Also, to be a voice for the people who elected us.
Do you have sufficient time/energy to devote to being a Chattooga County Board of Education member?
I believe what you deem important you will always make time for.
Describe the role of the Superintendent.
He plans and oversees the operation of the school to make sure the school is upholding the state requirements. To ensure policies and development of the school.
With only one or two meetings a month, all school boards are limited in what they can do. How does/should the board decide what is most important?
The voice of the community concerns should be important.
Do you think our local BOE seats should be a nonpartisan election? Please explain
I think that BOE seats should be nonpartisan. I feel that’s just another topic our country has been divided on. Sometimes people will only vote for someone because of there party and not go by what the person values or their convictions.
Do you think superintendents should be appointed by the BOE or elected by the voters?
Appointed by the board
Are there specific needs you feel that are important for your district’s school to perform better?
I think the biggest hurdle is finding ways to communicate personally with families.
The daily operation of schools is not a role of a board member. How would you help someone who comes to you with a complaint about a teacher or coach?
I would assure them that their concern is important and help them find the right lines of communication to talk with.
Top tier jobs in the school system need to understand what is going on in the community to better help the students. Should administrators, principals and leadership positions live, shop and invest in the county they are employed by?
I believe to the best of their ability/ I do know however that we do not offer a lot of “single” housing here in the county. So, I could understand why one may have to commute. Hopefully this will change in the near future.