Board of Education Candidate, Sue Johnson – Part III

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On April 2, The Tentacle sent a Questionnaire to each Board of Education candidate containing 19 questions. Below are Question and Answers 12-19. Part II (question and answers 6-11) can be found here; part I (question and answers 1-5) can be found here. Ms. Johnson’s website can be found here. We previously wrote about non-responsiveness of other Board of Education candidates here.

12.  Who has more authority over students, parents or school administrators?

Parents and school administrators should be working as partners and share authority with the balance shifting when students are at home or on school property. Students aged 18 and over should be responsible and accountable for their own actions even if they are living at home unless they have a documented intellectual disability that would qualify them to be under a court ordered guardianship. The Board of Education, as elected representatives of the public, should be developing goals and policies with a clear delineation of the rights and responsibilities of students, parents, and the school system.

13.   How do you feel about a line item budget?

I support an open and transparent budget and budget process. The public should have access to the same budget document(s) used by the Board of Education unless there is some compelling reason to withhold that information.

14.  What is your opinion on school vouchers?

Article VIII of the Maryland Constitution states that the Maryland General Assembly “… shall by Law establish throughout the State a thorough and efficient System of Free Public Schools.”  The key point in the quote is Free Public Schools. Vouchers imply there is a payment necessary to attend a school. I do not support school vouchers due to Article VIII but do support charter school programs and would be open to expanding offerings in this area to promote additional and more diverse learning philosophies, modalities and opportunities.

15.  Should members of the Board of Education communicate in their official capacity on their personal social media accounts?  Should they be able to block constituents if they do?

Personally, I do not support posting official communications from a personal social media account.  I do not have a problem, however, with a Board of Education member providing a link to an official communication from their personal account. I also think it is fine to promote FCPS events from a personal social media account. If the previous guidelines are in place then I think any Board Member should be able to choose who they invite into their personal social media circle.

16.  Should the Board negotiate in the teacher’s contract the ability to fire inadequate teachers?

There should be standard human resource policies and procedures that dictate circumstances where a teacher’s contract is not renewed. Teacher contracts should clearly articulate the job requirements, functions, and duties as agreed with the teacher’s union. Requirements, functions, and duties should all have measurable objectives. The human resources division should have a clear process to identify teachers not meeting requirements and offer clearly articulated performance improvement plans. Teachers who do not meet requirements, functions and duties of their positions and who fail to make progress under a performance improvement plan should not expect to have their contracts renewed.

17.  Do you think teacher salaries should be capped? 

Yes, and my understanding is that there are caps in the various steps and lanes of existing compensation charts. With said that, we do not compensate our teachers, especially entry level and early career (where we rank 18th out of 24 jurisdictions), at rates commensurate with the value they bring to our students and community. Teacher compensation should be at a rate where they can earn enough money to purchase a home in Frederick County so they can live where they work and so we don’t lose so many good teachers to other jurisdictions that pay more competitively.

18.  Should the Superintendent’s salary increase every time the teachers’ and staff salaries increase?  If yes, why?

No, the Superintendent should have a separately negotiated contract not linked to contracts or compensation of teachers, support staff, and administrators.

19.  Do students have enough free, unstructured play and recess during the school day?

I am a firm believer in significant daily physical activity with a certain amount unstructured play and recess. It is amazing to watch children self-organize and develop life skills on a playground or field. As a volunteer youth baseball coach, I regularly offer opportunities for players to self-determine portions of their practice. Supervised unstructured play does wonders for development of children. There is plenty data to support benefits of unstructured play and recess time in developing cognitive, social, physical and emotional skills and imagination. I would endorse devoting more time to this. https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/131/1/183

On December 13, 2019 the Frederick County Council interviewed candidates to fill the vacant seat left by Joy Schaefer. Ms. Johnson was one of those candidates. Her interview can be found here.

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Cindy A. Rose began writing for the Tentacle in 2011 trying to raise awareness over things happening within Frederick County Public Schools. She began keeping a close watch on FCPS when she learned there were not enough air conditioned buses for special needs children during the hot Maryland summers. The Tentacle offered her a place to share her concerns with her community when local newspapers didn’t always. Cindy had the opportunity to buy the Tentacle from creator/owner John W. Ashbury in 2019, so she did. She believed then, as she believes now, our communities, friends and neighbors have important things to say that needs to be shared with those living around them. Large corporate news companies don’t always share in those passions and concerns. The Tentacle is a local news, commentary and community website run by citizens, for citizens. Its success depends on your participation.