Leesburg Today: Last Words: Chamber Hosts Final School Board Candidate Forum

One week before Election Day, the 24 candidates for the Loudoun School Board got a final chance to illustrate how they stand out among the rest. The Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce hosted the candidate forum Tuesday morning at the Belmont Country Club.

The candidates were split into three panels, and each was asked four questions. The questions touched on some of Loudoun County Public Schools’ hot-button issues such as the acquiring land for new schools, the relationship between the School Board and the Board of Supervisors and the use of technology in the classroom.

Comments from the incumbents in the race pointed to what is going well in the school system and the gains the School Board has made-from improving the business-school partnership to keeping up with record-breaking growth-throughout the last four years. New candidates maintained a message of the need for reform and improvements in how the school system spends money, how it trains teachers, how it prepares students for careers and how it acquires land for schools, among others.

The first panel of candidates was asked whether Loudoun is competitive enough in recruiting high-performing teachers and rewarding the ones it already has. Current School Board Chairman and Algonkian District candidate John Stevens suggested introducing a new pay scale to reward people who enter education as their second career. “We need a pay scale that reflects that kind of mobility in the workforce as the rest of the workforce has,” he said.

One of his challengers, Debbie Rose, challenged Stevens’ comments about the need to improve pay for teachers. She referred to the School Board’s decision last year to give teachers two furlough days to save needed money. Prior to the scheduled days off in November 2010, the board received federal dollars to pay teachers for those two days, even though they remained school holidays. The school system later had a surplus, which the School Board voted to partially spend on interactive white boards for classrooms.

“He said we could all feel good about the furlough money because it could go to the teachers, but that money didn’t go to the teachers,” Rose said. “That money went to interactive white boards and GPS for buses. I don’t think it’s very genuine when he says he wants to put that money back into teachers because the evidence is contrary.”

The third candidate for the Algonkian District Eileen Tagg-Murdock, a former LCPS teacher, said teachers need a competitive salary, but also need more training once hired. “I think that teachers feel very overwhelmed and they need a greater support system,” she said.

When asked about how the school system can improve its relationship with the business community, Catoctin District candidate Paul Arias said he’d like to see the school system working with businesses to offer student internships. “I truly believe that if children had the opportunity to do limited internship, they might change their career path and they might understand what it’s like to live in the real world.”

Catoctin District incumbent Jennifer Bergel responded: “We have business partnerships. A lot of this has been going on.” She added that there is room for improvement. “Let’s start bringing more business leaders into the schools during the day so you can see what you can do to help,” she said.

A question about technology in the classroom brought a variety of answers from candidates. Dulles District candidate Jeff Morse urged the school system to allow others to go before Loudoun in testing new waves of technology, such as replacing textbooks with digital tablets. Blue Ridge District candidate Jill Turgeon said the school system should not focus as much on the gadgets, but purely on what will improve learning in the classroom, saying “As an educator, I am well aware that education has very little to do with the tools that we use, but the interaction between a teacher and a student.”

She challenges incumbent and current School Board Vice Chair Priscilla Godfrey, who reminded the roughly 60 people in the audience that Loudoun will need to bring in improved technology sooner rather than later.
“Virginia is going to go totally digital with their tests, and it’s very difficult for us to do that with the four computers we have in each classroom, so one way of getting around that is to give students a 1-to-1 device,” she said.

The third panel pitched ideas about how to better prepare students for higher education and the workforce. All five Ashburn District candidates voiced their support for equipping students for their careers earlier.

Chris Souther suggested encouraging businesses to get involved to teach career skills, such as Volkswagen of America training the next generation of automobile engineers right here in Loudoun.

John Ryan said he wants to see more options for students to fit their unique learning styles and interests. Similar to Souther, Debbie Piland suggested bringing businessmen and women, such as architects into the classroom.

John Andrews agreed that students should be engaged in what they might do after high school well before their senior year. “You see the rest of the world-Europe, Asia-that have ways of getting students interested earlier in their career paths,” he said.

Eric Hornberger showed his support for a variety of education models for Loudoun students, including charter, magnet and vocational schools, as well as more involvement with the local business and nonprofit communities. “These are ways we can provide opportunities for students to think broader,” he said, “and expose them to their world.”

The candidate forum was the fourth of its kind the Loudoun Chamber has hosted this election season. Anjan Chimaladinne and Margaret Michaud, both Dulles District candidates, and Sterling District candidate and incumbent Brenda Sheridan, who is running unopposed, did not attend.

Loudoun Times-Mirror: Algonkian district about dollars and sense

http://www.loudountimes.com/index.php/news/article/election_2011_algonkian_district_about_dollars_and_sense123/

(excerpt…)

Rose, a parent of two Loudoun students, announced her intention to run at the Loudoun County Republican Committee meeting May 23, the first of the three candidates to commit in Algonkian.

“I am running for School Board because I am a concerned parent and taxpayer,” Rose said. “As a proud resident of Loudoun County, I am impressed by the education my children are receiving in our Loudoun County Public Schools; however, the economic well-being of this county is threatened by the size of the school budget. All too often I am frustrated at the amount of taxpayer money spent by the LCPS on line items that are unwanted, unnecessary, and not in furtherance of its mission to provide our students with a world class education.”

Rose, who grew up in California and attended UCLA, is no stranger to the board, a frequent and vocal attendee of meetings since she settled into the county.

“Over the last four years, I’ve been very vocal on every cycle of the budget,” Rose said. “There are a lot of great things in our schools, great students and great teachers, but we need to be using the money better.”

Rose said the budget, a 300-page behemoth document, is difficult to understand unless you’re actually a part of the board and are able to see how the money is being spent. She believes her background as an attorney will help her tackle understanding the budget.

Her campaign is focused on opening up the board and allowing more people to have a voice.

“I’m just one voice. I would love to hear other voices,” Rose said.

She proposed an idea where the bead meetings move around to different schools, allowing community members an easier time getting to certain meetings.

Rose said that the board needs to take a hard look at the budget and many of Loudoun’s school programs which she said have been ineffective. She also wants to examine personnel and determine if there is overlap between departments.

“I intend to ask a lot of questions to push back on programs, and seeing if they’re actually effective and if the teachers even want them,” Rose said. “We need to present a good faith budget to the Board of Supervisors. Everyone has to cut back. The Board of Supervisors is less trusting and less cooperative with the School Board. We need to mend that relationship, and have those two bodies working cooperatively as a team.”

To learn more, visit debbierose.org.

Loudoun Times-Mirror: Algonkian district gets first School Board Candidate

http://www.loudountimes.com/index.php/news/article/algonkian_district_gets_first_school_board_candidate929/

With November fast approaching, candidates from all districts for the Loudoun County School Board are coming forward – and the newly established Algonkian District has its first candidate.

Debbie Rose announced her intention to run in November’s election at the Loudoun County Republican Committee meeting May 23.

The Algonkian District was created by the Loudoun Board of Supervisors this past spring during the redistricting process. It encompasses most of the old Potomac District and significant sections of the old Sugarland Run. Neither of the currently serving School Board representatives, Chairman John Stevens (Potomac) and Joe Guzman (Sugarland Run), have publicly announced his intention to run again.

Rose has been a resident of Potomac Falls for the last five years and has three children, Jack, 9, Olivia, 6 and William, 4 with her husband Randy. Jack and Olivia are both students at Lowes Island Elementary School.

In addition to looking after her three children, she has served as counsel for intellectual property copyrights, patents, and trademarks for the House Judiciary Committee and as a lobbyist for the video game industry with the Entertainment Software Association.

She currently works part-time blogging and lending her copyright expertise to the Association of Competitive Technology in Washington, D.C.

“I am running for School Board because I am a concerned parent and taxpayer. As a proud resident of Loudoun County, I am impressed by the education my children are receiving in our Loudoun County Public Schools,” Rose said. “However, the economic well-being of this county is threatened by the size of the school budget. All too often I am frustrated at the amount of taxpayer money spent by the LCPS on line items that are unwanted, unnecessary and not in furtherance of its mission to provide our students with a world class education.

“The School Board needs new members who are willing to refocus the LCPS administration on the mission of educating students and creating a responsible budget to accomplish that,” Rose said. “If I am elected to the School Board, I will do that.”

Rose sat down with the Times-Mirror for a more in-depth question and answer session:

What are the most pressing issues for Loudoun County Schools?
I am very driven and passionate on the budgetary issues facing our county. I don’t like wasting money and I will step up and take action to try and make a change. There is definitely waste that can be eliminated and it should definitely be more easily understandable for everyone to know how money is being spent. It all needs to be on the table and be discussed. I would also really like to compensate the teachers of our county and make sure they are receiving their [Cost of Living Adjustments], their pay increases and establishing some sort of performance-based bonuses.

What are your thoughts on land acquisition and the cost of building new schools?
I have watched a lot of the continuing arguments over some of these properties up for discussion and it seems there might be some back room deals going on sometimes on whose selling what land and what interest they have. It just seems like it is not all on the up-and-up for everyone to see. I think there needs to be more openness on that, like what and who is involved. I would like to facilitate a more open discussion on all of those so we can come to the best decision for everyone.

What are some of your strengths that would benefit the county as a School Board member?
I learn quickly and I really want to get in there and learn that budget. I would like to bring to the public what I learn. I think very few people spend the time to trying to figure it out and I can use my analytical skills to get that information out to the people in an easily understandable way.

Loudoun Times-Mirror: Algonkian district gets new School Board candidate

http://www.loudountimes.com/index.php/news/article/algonkian_district_gets_new_school_board_candidate999/

With November fast approaching, candidates for the Loudoun County School Board are beginning to come forward.

Debbie Rose, a parent of two Loudoun County Public School’s students, announced her intention to run for the School Board’s Algonkian District in November’s election at the Loudoun County Republican Committee meeting May 23.

Rose has been a resident of Potomac Falls for the last five years and has three children with her husband Randy.

She has served as a counsel on the House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary.

“I am running for School Board because I am a concerned parent and taxpayer. As a proud resident of Loudoun County, I am impressed by the education my children are receiving in our Loudoun County Public Schools,” Rose said. “However, the economic well-being of this county is threatened by the size of the school budget. All too often I am frustrated at the amount of taxpayer money spent by the LCPS on line items that are unwanted, unnecessary, and not in furtherance of its mission to provide our students with a world class education.

“The School Board needs new members who are willing to refocus the LCPS administration on the mission of educating students and creating a responsible budget to accomplish that,” Rose said. “If I am elected to the School Board, I will do that.”

The Algonkian District was created by the Loudoun Board of Supervisors this past spring during the redistricting process. It encompasses most of the old Potomac District and significant sections of the old Sugarland Run. Neither of the currently serving School Board representatives, Chairman John Stevens (Potomac) and Joe Guzman (Sugarland Run), have publicaly announced their intention to run again.

For more with Rose, stay tuned to next week’s print edition.

Too Conservative: Debbie Rose Announces Run for School Board

http://www.tooconservative.com/?p=9219

Debbie Rose, former counsel to the House Judiciary and active member of the Loudoun Republican Committee, announced at last night’s LCRC meeting that she would seek the new Algonkian seat on the Loudoun County School Board.

The race will be an interesting one, particularly because redistricting has placed two current incumbents, Joe Guzman and John Stevens, in that same district.  Neither of these incumbents, however, has made clear that he would seek reelection, and, as you know, the seat is technically non-partisan so there won’t be any primary.

Regardless of what the other guys do, Rose is the one to beat.  Bright, honest and extremely dedicated to educational causes, Rose has one even greater advantage – people genuinely like her.  (Take a look at the ton of positive Facebook responses to her announcment in the first few hours).  And, rest assured, she’ll actually attend the school board meetings.

Rose is the latest in a set of very strong Republicans to announce their candidacies for local offices.  Not to jinx it, but things are looking pretty good for the Republicans so far (even considering the selection of a convention).

Her website is here:  www.debbierose.org