BOE Survey Sezin Palmer – District 4

Sezin Palmer – District 4

  1. How long have you lived in Howard County? Which voting district would you represent? I have lived in Howard County my entire life. I was born and raised in Ellicott City and currently live in Columbia with my husband and two children who attend HCPSS. I would represent District 4.
  2. What is your experience with and interest in public schools? I am a graduate of the HCPSS and currently have two children attending HCPSS schools. I have also been an active member of PTAs and Boosters for both of my children. My primary interest in running for the BOE is to ensure sound decision-making, which includes using data properly to inform potential solutions, seeking community input, and utilizing that input in considering potential solutions and developing processes that are fair and transparent for all Howard County students, parents and teachers.
  3. Considering many schools are still overcapacity, how should the BOE address this continued concern? First and foremost, the BOE should examine the full scope of possible solutions before focusing on a single solution. For example, high school #13 will be coming online in the near future. This will necessitate a significant realignment in school boundaries. This should be one factor considered in alleviating overcrowding in many schools. Fundamentally, however, the challenges HCPSS is facing with overcrowding is due to overdevelopment. We must consider alternative approaches to mitigating the continued efforts to develop residential communities in already-overcrowded school districts. My approach would be to align new developments in areas of school overcrowding to the closest schools with capacity. This may result in new developments being assigned to schools outside of their communities, however, I believe this is a tool the BOE could and should consider as a way to mitigate the rampant overdevelopment continuing across Howard County. New developments that are not assigned to the closest schools may not be as attractive to developers and, even if development continues, it would not further exacerbate the overcrowding situation.
  4. How should the BOE ensure that resources reach the students who need them most? The BOE should identify their priorities and then align resources accordingly. The current decision-making process of the BOE does not adequately communicate where resources are being added and removed, the costs associated with each change, or how those decisions correspond to priorities in a transparent way. Hundreds of pages and spreadsheets showing movements of programs and resources that require forensic analysis to trace is not indicative of transparency or clear communications that taxpayers can easily understand. The first thing that needs to be addressed in order to ensure resources reach the students who need them most is that it has to be clear where the resources are intended to go. Next, there must be accountability to ensure resources were used in the way they were intended. This requires clear measures that will be evaluated to ensure proper use of resources.
  5. What should the relationship between the BOE and the teachers’ union be? The teachers’ union should be a strong voice that provides input to the BOE on behalf of the thousands of teachers in HCPSS. While theirs is not the only voice that is important, it is one that’s an essential component with significant impact on HCPSS. The BOE must also consider community input because, while the teachers are a critical part of our children’s education, parents are the stakeholders and “customers” of the HCPSS and their views are equally important.
  6. What should be the approach to school safety? What is working and what could be done differently? Approaches taken in recent years to enhance school safety have been positive. Overall, I think it is working reasonably well, however, there are still many areas for improvement. Particularly with portable classrooms outside of the secure school perimeter, I would like to see additional security measures in place. I would look to experts in safety and security, such as the Howard County Police Department, to provide additional recommendations for enhancing school safety and security.