School Board Candidate Q&A: Jeanne McQueeney
School board candidate Jeanne McQueeney answered the following questions posed by the Vail Daily.
Im running for the school board because of my investment in the community. Ive lived here 16 years and believe that the quality of the public education system impacts all aspects of the community. Im also invested in the public school system. My children have attended Eagle County Public schools since preschool and now attend Eagle Valley Middle School and Eagle Valley High School. I have a lot of pride in our schools and want to see others embrace that feeling of pride. And Im committed to making our schools great. I believe we are on the way to doing that with the strategic plan set by the district and I would like to be a part of making that plan a reality.
The achievement gap begins before children come to school in kindergarten so I believe more needs to be done in the early childhood years and with parent education so that children arrive at school ready to learn. Research shows early intervention is one of the best ways to close the achievement gap. We also need to invest in innovative programs like extended school year and school days to help meet the needs of any student not making adequate progress.
I believe the TAP program is both innovative and well intended. Im encouraged that the board is putting together a committee to review and make recommendations about the TAP program. I would look forward to being part of that committee. The implementation of it as a system has given us some problems particularly with the performance pay. With strong leadership we should be able to find some solutions that will meet everyones needs. I believe that in two years time we will have a program that is much improved and can be used to draw teachers to this district.
I believe that the best thing we can do for our schools is put qualified teachers in front of the children. We need to know why teachers are leaving our district and how to recruit great teachers to the district while at the same time keep the outstanding teachers we do have. One of the biggest factors contributing to teacher turn over is the cost of living in our community due in large part to the cost of housing. The school district needs innovative plans for making housing affordable and needs to work with the larger community to address this issue.
It would be inappropriate for me to comment on this decision since all the information they had in order to make the decision as they did has not been shared with me. I believe this issue demonstrates the need for more open communication so that the public can understand the rationale behind decisions. Being equitable to all our schools is important and how this is achieved needs to be clearly and openly communicated.
I think the board has made tremendous progress in developing a strategic plan that is comprehensive and far reaching to address many of the issues necessary to make us a great school district. There are certainly decisions they have made that I question but I believe that the board tries to make the best decisions it can based on the information it has. As a board member I would strive to do the same.
My ideal candidate would be an open and honest communicator, able to hear from a variety of stakeholders and to integrate their thoughts and ideas into the process. I believe we need someone that is skilled in implementing strategic plans so the current goals underway can be realized. I would look for a proven track record of success and a good fit for the direction our district is headed.
We need to meet the needs of all our students. Each student needs to make adequate yearly progress or better. Our teachers need continued support in differentiating the curriculum for all learners. The cluster meetings and mentor support provided by the Teacher Advancement Program help teachers meet the needs of all their children. I believe that all children have different lifelong goals, and we need programs that help children reach those goals. Students wishing to go to top universities need innovative programs that meet their needs including expanding AP classes and duel enrollment options.
We are moving in the right direction with the leadership of John Kuglin and others on the district administration team. A comprehensive plan is in place to continue making the latest technology available to the teachers, and students. Keeping pace with the technology needs in the classrooms also means we must continue to train teachers to more effectively utilize the technology that is available. Being competitive in the global workforce is key to being a high quality school district.
One of the challenges for the legislators in reexamining No Child Left Behind is to find funding sources for implementing all the parts of that law. As a district we should also look at how we are addressing those same issues. Of particular concern is the definition of Highly Qualified which could use more flexibility and the testing of children with significant disabilities or those new to learning English. If elected I will keep a close eye on what the legislators are working on and help our district continue to work to employ highly qualified teachers and focus on student achievement. Compiled by Matt Terrell