BOE Survey Jolene Mosley – District 3
1. How long have you lived in Howard County? Which voting district would you represent?
I have lived in Howard County for my entire adult life, close to 25 years now with a one gap year when I lived in AA county. My husband, four children and I live in District 3 and due to the crossover of school districts and county council districts, my children attend both District 3 and District 2 public schools. I am running for the Board of Education in District 3.
2. What is your experience with and interest in public schools?
For many in our community it is no surprise that I finally decided to run for Board of Education (BoE) in District 3 given how active I have been over the last 13 years. I have supported public education by representing my children’s schools in Howard County Parents of School Music, GT Parent Academy, PTA volunteering, chaperoning field trips, as well as helping in the classrooms. I have supported the Board of Education through being a General Community member on the Policy Review Committee, Member and Vice Chair for CAC and a representative on OBRC.
I decided to run for three main reasons:
1. I realized that District 3 has been historically underrepresented on the Board and needed a strong voice of an engaged HCPSS parent and active community advocate.
2. I believe my professional background as a data scientist will be a tremendous asset. I will bring evidence-based decision making that is thoughtful and well- reasoned combined with vast K-12 school system experience as an HCPSS parent to the Board.
3. My life experiences as a parent with GT and special needs children, my experience of having a child who survived cancer, my experiences of having four children who range from 4 – 17 yrs old all give me a unique perspective from which to advocate for all children.
The burden of educating our children falls on all of us. We pay taxes in various ways as active members of our community and we all should be engaged to support a healthy school system. There needs to be open communication with more fluid and long-term planning between HCPSS stakeholders and the County Council when considering approving new residential development on many layers of the infrastructure outcomes (e.g., not only school construction and renovations, but also transportation impacts). These have to be honest conversations on strategy of balancing the needs for development and the needs of the school system to handle the growth of population and enrollment as a result of development.
They were placed at schools that were in need of redistricting their student body to optimize the school experience for the students, educators and staff. Instead, some schools continued to be overcapacity and other schools remained at lower than targeted enrollment. The addition of portables in overcrowded schools also impacted the under- capacity schools because their maintenance and renovation needs were not met or have been deferred indefinitely. This further negatively impacts a school’s offerings and opportunities in their school communities.
I believe the triggers for redistricting are accurate in the Policy 6010. This policy is clear about what triggers a redistricting and what aspects for which the school system should be held accountable when making a redistricting plan and implementing that plan. I would like some changes to the process, however. I would like to see a data freeze from the time the feasibility study comes out through the whole redistricting process. The changing enrollment and capacity data as well as the differences in definitions of suppressed data made the data aspect of the process more complicated than it needed to be. Another process change I would like to see is a more iterative approach to the creation and changes of the redistricting plan. I would like the process to be a whole plan per iteration for BoE work and public input returned with another whole plan. This will allow more accurate impact analysis and more targeted issues reviewed.
3. Considering many schools are still overcapacity, how should the BOE address this continued concern?
One example of poor planning is prioritizing capacity issues while neglecting aging infrastructure and the use of portable classrooms as a long-term solution prioritize some areas and cut other areas, which is extremely difficult because these changes usually occur in instructional areas or programs.
I would like to work on policy that focuses on extinguishing root causes of inequities, policy to support funding formulas specific to a school’s demographic based needs, and policy on school climate with the goal to encourage inclusion and tolerance.
Educational Equity is the identification and compensation for areas that create barriers to opportunity and success in education for students. The barriers of an individual student vary across all students but there are some specific demographic characteristics that have been identified to be educational barriers. A student’s socioeconomic status, disability, race, gender and language are some examples of areas where students may require additional support for academic success. HCPSS supports these specific areas through identified programming. I believe funding should be budgeted based on a school’s demographic characteristics, not just enrollment. Students should be provided support through staffing, supplies and services from Black Student Achievement Program, Hispanice Achievement Program, International Student and Family Services, as well as MESA. Feedback from students, families, and staff providing these services should be welcome and program offerings should be budgeted to support educational equity for the students. These programs should be reporting the graduation rates as well as any other feedback for the program.
4. How should the BOE ensure that resources reach the students who need them most?
The school system’s financial situation is far from ideal and the school system is still trying to recover from previous BoE budget decisions, county-level decisions, as well as trying to support a growing student enrollment. The Superintendent/BoE is faced with balancing not only what they feel the school system requires to maintain its current level of services, but also to repair past debts. This has forced the school system to
5. What should the relationship between the BOE and the teachers’ union be?
The BoE and the Teachers Union relationship is a collaboration of teams focused on improving the quality of teaching and learning in the school system. This relationship should be used to best align resources to meet goals and guidelines that commit to the quality of the school system as a whole. The team is also responsible for negotiating contracts; generally every two years, for the Teachers Union members. Maintaining an honest and open relationship is important for the health of the school system.
6. What should be the approach to school safety? What is working and what could be done differently?
I believe school security should be realistic and not a security theater. People using the buildings should feel safe and be able to be their true selves to promote a safe learning environment. Listening to educators and administration talk about their building security needs has brought to light a specific issue. Custodial staff are tasked with cleaning and building security. Administrators feel that security is lacking when the building is utilized outside of school hours. The school system has grown and at the same time the custodial staff has maintained their work while square footage needs have increased. This lends even less time for them to commit to maintaining building security at the same time. Since there are SRO officers utilized during the school day as well as Security Administrators, perhaps one of these supports could be staggered to be utilized in the gap expressed by the administration. This would allow the building to be safely used, custodial staff to be focused on their work, as well as lifting a weight off of admin shoulders. Payment for this staggered support could be collected by hourly coverage charges paid for by programs using the building.
I would also like to work on policy that focuses on school climate with the goal to encourage inclusion and tolerance. This policy would include school-wide training and workshops that are ongoing for all members of the school building community (including bus drivers). By encouraging a school climate where students and educators feel welcome and safe, boundaries that students face can be lessened to allow more educational progress. When students and families feel included they are more willing to attend school and engage in their education. Students that understand and welcome diversity and tolerance as the culture of their school, are more likely to support their peers rather than bully them and compete with them in ways that are unhealthy. Educators and other adults that interact with the school population will embrace the positive outcomes for their school communities and more easily see a student for their goals and be less influenced by their own past biases or flattened expectations based on demographics of their students.