PRINCE FREDERICK, Md. — On Wednesday, June 29th, the College of Southern Maryland and the League of Women Voters hosted a debate forum featuring eight candidates running for the Board of Education in Calvert County.
The candidates that were featured in this debate included Scott Devine, Scott Fowler, Christina Hall, Camille Khaleesi, Joseph Marchio, Tracy McGuire, Jana Post, and Damien Villanova.
The candidates were asked a variety of questions asking them what they would support and advocate for if elected to the BOE, four or three candidates out of the eight were selected to answer each question.
Here are some of the more standout questions, along with the notable answers that the candidates provided:
How should the school district work with behavioral issues in the classroom?
Fowler: “In my opinion, you can’t have one uniform policy for behavioral problems for all students in all situations. Each situation, every occurrence isn’t necessarily the same as the other, so first you need to kind of identify the actual situation itself, what’s warranted, what isn’t, you know, like a child being violent is very different than a child just talking out of turn and not listening…”
Hall: “I think that ensuring that we have adequate staffing at our schools is an important part of that, including safety resource officers or safety advocates, behavioral specialists, psychologists, guidance counselors, and additional support staff. I also think that ensuring that the policies and the procedures that we have in place know are able to be applied effectively…”
Khaleesi: “So with regards to behavioral issues I think it’s important first for teachers to be aware of what all is available to them to address behavioral issues so any policies that are pertinent, any staff or other specialty members of the school system that are available and then in agreement with what Mr. Marchio said they need to figure out what’s causing the behavioral issues. Being a parent of a non-speaking child, behavior is communication and behavior is communication for everyone, so you really want to assess what’s happening…”
Marchio: “First and foremost I think the best thing to do is to figure out why the behavioral issues are happening, you know, it’s possible that students got something more going on at home that needs to be addressed and may need help with that…”
In light of the recent court ruling on CRT in Calvert County Public Schools, how would you ensure that an age-appropriate and accurate inclusion of Black History as a part of American History be implemented in Calvert schools?
Fowler: “I think the first thing that I would want to do, honestly, is get a bit of a review of what is taught in U.S. History Class in high school. To the best of my knowledge, I don’t remember of any actual history class taught in middle school and elementary school. I do know social studies is taught but I don’t honestly remember to the extent at which it goes into history…”
Khaleesi: “I’m also going to try and address both questions…I think what’s very important for that as far as what the board can do is to assure the accountability and engagement at the superintendent level because we do have several culture issues within CCPS and so we need to make sure that the culture coming from the leadership is strong so that can the filter through so that teachers can feel supported enough and have enough time and bandwidth to do the jobs that they are paid to do while also being able to engage with parents in administration and work and collaborate together…In light of the ruling, it is a little bit more of the same. So I would want to have awareness of the current curriculum that exists and what’s currently being taught and be inquisitive and probe and ask questions…”
Post: “I’m going to try and answer both questions…In regards to encouraging parental involvement, I think for starters we can respect, listen, and address the concerns when parents attempt to communicate. As far as the CRT ruling in the recent court case, as a number of folks here have said, there is no official CRT curriculum being taught in CCPS…I would work to bring transparency, and certainly, work cooperatively with parents and the community so that they are not forced to communicate with our Board of Education through attorneys…”
Villanova: “As we already know, for the ones who don’t know, the board of education does not create curriculum, it comes down from the state of Maryland. Once we get the state of Maryland curriculum, as far as what’s being taught to the schools in all the counties in the state of Maryland, that’s what we get. What I would do personally, I will talk to our county commissioners and our delegates. I have great relationships with them, they’re the ones that actually control what’s going on as far as what is being taught to the county…”
How will you attract and retain a diverse workforce, especially teachers?
Hall: “Teachers want to be valued for their hard work, dedication, and capabilities. Teachers should be compensated for the extra time they spend over and beyond their planning period and not be taken for granted. Start-out salaries for teachers get them here, but there is not much room for raises and bonuses until this year when it was put in the budget because they fought for it…When a close-by county values their teachers with more income or raises…”
Marchio: “I think first and foremost we need to seek and retain the most talented teachers with the best skill sets for our children, I think in doing that we will bring in a very diverse group, whether it be their cultural diversity, but more importantly probably their diversity of thought…”
McGuire: “I believe that everyone wants to participate in a world-class school system. A world-class school system is a school system where all the students feel welcome, they feel like they belong and they believe that the adults around them are there to help and support them so that they can be their best selves academically, socially, and emotionally. A world-class school system is a system where teachers want to teach because they’re well compensated, respected by the administration, and esteemed in the community. Finally, a world-class school system where the administration seamlessly runs everything…”
Do you support the LGBTQ resolution recently approved by the Board of Education?
McGuire: “Yes. One hundred percent. Thank You.”
Post: “I agree, I think I support that resolution in part because certainly no one, any class of individuals, should be treated differently or mistreated, bullied, harassed, none of those things…”
Villanova: “I support in part. The reason is that because I believe that no one should be shunned, K-12, or ashamed of the identity they choose. That’s their perspective, that’s how they want to be addressed, I support that aspect…”
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