Fulton County Board of Education: Incumbent Schultz challenged by Goodman for District 1 seat

Posted:

Comment

The race for the District 1 seat on the Fulton County Board of Education will be decided between incumbent Linda Schultz, the current president of the FCBOE who is completing her second term of office, and longtime Roswell resident Robert Goodman, who is seeking his first elected office.

Schultz was first elected to the FCBOE in 2004 and has a background in educational advocacy at the local, state and federal level. Goodman has been a resident of Roswell since 1982 and is a Vietnam veteran and retired Delta Airlines pilot. Both served as volunteers and leaders in the Roswell public schools where their children attended.

Linda Schultz

1. Why are you running for a seat on the Fulton County Board of Education?

For the last 18 years, my passion and focus has been education and child advocacy. Prior to my 2004 election to the school board, I served six years locally as PTA president, represented the Georgia PTA at the State Capitol and served on the Georgia Standards and Grading Committee. Eight years ago, my advocacy efforts came home to District 1 of our school board. My commitment is to continue improving student achievement for all students and to remain a responsible steward of your tax dollars.

2. What are your priorities if elected?

I will expect high levels of achievement for all students; recruit and retain talented teachers and administrators; use technology to individualize instruction; expand educational options for our students; and provide responsible and transparent financial management.

3. What are the short-term and long-term changes you would like to implement, if any?

In the short term, we will enhance professional development, service and support to our school staffs. With our Continuous Achievement framework, we can ensure our students advance in their studies as they become proficient. Technology tools that support innovative instruction and further engage students will be implemented. Over the next five years, we will develop more choices in career paths for our employees. We will expand options for our students to explore careers and pursue their interests, while earning credit towards graduation.

4. Please list the successes you see of the FCSS over the past 10 years, along with areas you believe it has fallen short.

Significant improvement in student achievement has occurred over the past 10 years. Our students are exposed to more rigorous material that emphasizes critical thinking. Our District 1 students passed over 3,300 Advanced Placement (AP) exams, a 73 percent increase in the last eight years. However, some students need additional help, particularly those living in poverty. We must identify these students early, and provide the supports needed for their success. Making sure that each school has a quality staff and the flexibility to address their students’ needs is critical.

5. What challenges and opportunities do you envision for the Fulton County School System as it moves to a charter system?

The charter system framework will improve student achievement by exempting the system from many prescriptive state rules. We now have flexibility in hiring and allocation of staff positions, developing courses, instructional methods and much more. Freedom from state spending requirements will allow targeted spending to address local school needs. Parents will have greater involvement in their schools through school governance councils. Effective training and support for the councils is critical to ensure decisions align with proven research.

6. Do you feel the operations of charter schools should be tightened or loosened, and how much oversight should the Board of Education have over the operations of the charter schools?

Charter schools play a role in addressing each child’s individual needs. Charter schools are public schools and are primarily funded by your tax dollars. For oversight, the National Association of Charter School Authorizers states school systems should err on the side of protecting students, parents and the public interest. We should tighten financial oversight in several areas, including contracting, regular internal audits, securing long-term debt and transparency of record-keeping.

7. What makes you the better candidate for the school board?

For the last 18 years, my passion and focus has been education and child advocacy. My recent community leadership roles include STAR House board and past-chair, Leadership North Fulton alumna and past-chair and Roswell Rotary committee chair. I also help manage the school performance data on a statewide website. These opportunities have provided unique preparation to serve and lead on the school board. I’m excited about our future as a charter system. Our strategic plan is the culmination of years of input from students, staff, parents and the community.

Robert Goodman

1. Why are you running for a seat on the Fulton County Board of Education?

I am running for school board to best represent our constituents. Our county had some of the best schools in the state, and I want that reputation restored. We have falling graduation rates, overcrowded schools, and need to update facilities. We need to carefully consider redistricting, and take aggressive action to address failing math scores. My campaign is about raising standards and supporting both programs and teachers, which will instill confidence in our school system.

2. What are your priorities if elected?

I would like freedom of educational choice within the Fulton County School System. We need to expertly match our vocational, technical programs, college preparatory programs, magnet schools, online learning and charter schools programs to excite our students and support job opportunities.

3. What are the short-term and long-term changes you would like to implement, if any?

Short term, I would like to see frequent reviews of budgets and forecasts of expenses. We have a huge budget, $1.1 billion for 2012-2013, and Fulton County is one of the largest employers in Georgia. Nothing should be wasted. Long term, I would like to see existing infrastructure supported and refreshed, including technology and facilities. Huge sums of money have been spent on new schools while allowing older facilities to become dated and unkempt.

4. Please list the successes you see of the FCSS over the past 10 years, along with areas you believe it has fallen short.

We have kept strong Advanced Placement courses and built new schools. However, 10 years ago, Roswell HS was a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence. It is now ranked 36th in the state. Only Milton HS in District 1 made U.S. News and World Report’s list of top high schools. Fulton County recently dropped another 10 spots to rank 54th out of 164 districts in a state not known for education, well behind our neighbors. We have to address what has gone terribly wrong.

5. What challenges and opportunities do you envision for the Fulton County School System as it moves to a charter system?

It’s important the board define clearly the new cohort and charter school system. The challenge for Fulton County will be determining which schools may qualify as a charter school and how much autonomy will be allowed in these schools. What increase in administrative staff will be required to implement and maintain the charter system and at what cost?

6. Do you feel the operations of charter schools should be tightened or loosened, and how much oversight should the Board of Education have over the operations of the charter schools?

It is the autonomy of charter schools that makes them successful. As long as the charter schools are achieving the desired results, are fiscally responsible, they should be able to retain their autonomy. However, if the school failed to meet its academic goals, the school system may need to tighten control. I do believe competition among different types of schools makes the entire system better.

7. What makes you the better candidate for the school board?

My diverse life experiences, [involvement in education], a military combat pilot and a Delta Air Lines captain, have cultivated leadership skills that I can transfer to challenges with our schools. I spent many years active in elementary school PTA and served as LSAC chair at Roswell High School. I am confident I can represent our community with a fresh perspective. I am constantly told that “parents know what is best for their children,” not the school board. I believe that to be true.