Coral Springs and Parkland residents had a chance to meet the candidates for School Board on Monday evening and ask them questions.
The event, sponsored by The Achievables, an elementary school program, was held at Mythos Greek Taverna in Coral Springs and led by Candidate for Broward Commissioner, Robert Sutton (REP). The cities that are included in District Four are Parkland, Coral Springs, Tamarac, Margate and North Lauderdale.
Over thirty people were present at the event and each had an opportunity to ask the candidates various questions about school issues. The candidates at the forum were : Abby Freedman, Andrew Ladanowski, Louis Kushner, Robert Mayersohn and Shelly Solomon.
School Board Candidate Nick Steffens did not attend the event but said in a statement, “Since this is a nonpartisan race, I will not attend an event which is run by a current partisan candidate for public office regardless of their party affiliation.”
The candidates were asked a variety of questions such as their involvement in schools, drug usage in the schools, and preparing our children for a competitive working world. Below is just a snapshot of some of the important points in their answers.
What is your opinion was regarding Broward Teacher’s Union and how would you help maintain the standard of living for the teachers?
“I made a point to reach out to the teachers themselves, not all the teachers are part of the union. I will make sure their needs are taken care of. My number one priority are the teachers, their pay, and their health insurance.”
“Salaries start for a teacher around $40K which is a very tough wage for a professional in South Florida. We need to work on getting the bottom half of the teachers salaries up to the peak range of $70K. We need to establish that quicker in the first two years for teachers. To get the money we need to spend the money more wisely.”
“I can only speak from experience and tell you how unhappy the teachers are (regarding BTU). I only work in one school in the district. Teachers need to have more options for healthcare, they are locked into one provider and it costs too much.”
“Unions are a viable entity if they are actually doing what they should be doing and that is collective bargaining for their employees. Unfortunately, what is happening is it’s been problematic. We’re stuck in a system with inadequate funding. In order to fund education properly we need to understand what the costs are. My theory is we need to have a cost study done to determine what the cost is to education. We constantly hear about a gap. We need adequate salaries for teachers to live on. We’re going to lose teachers because their not being paid what they should.”
“What I’m concerned about with teachers is that we increase their base pay. We need to offer more alternatives for their healthcare and dependent care. I’m all for fair and just compensation for all employees and teachers.”
We have a large drug presence in schools, how will you address it?
“The High Schools have access to (drugs) and there is nothing we can do. How do we combat this issue? We become educated on the signs when a person comes in high. As an educator we need to become educated and a mentor to them and find out why they chose that path and how we can fix it. What it comes down to accountability to our administrators and our schools to handle it appropriately to our discipline matrix.”
“We have to educate our kids. Having more programs so kids understand the ramification of the choices they make.”
“Everything starts in the home and as our kids get older we tend to disengage a little because it’s easier to do that. From a school’s perspective, one of the things that is important is education and awareness and asking the question, ‘Why?’ I think it’s important to change the culture. SRO’s (School Resource Officer) are also important at our schools.”
“I look at it from a perspective that I never did drugs or had the desire to do drugs. I was educated about the effects of drugs. Some of the teachers at school have actually incorporated (drug awareness) into their lesson plans. We need to educate instead of telling kids they shouldn’t.”
“It’s a combination of education and enforcement. At Coral Springs Charter School we have a very tight enforcement policy where we have the dogs in school to ensure the schools are safe and that there is proper enforcement. Unfortunately, this is where there is a large disagreement between the BTU and the SRO. WE need to focus on a combination of good education and strong enforcement to assure the schools are safe and that there are no drugs in the schools.”
For further information on each candidate, please read more this week when an update will be published on the candidates. Voting is on August 14.