School Board Candidates Views & Goals

schoolboardelectionThis is Part B of the 7th Ward Independent Democrats School Board Candidates Survey. These are the Candidates As School Board Members, Views and Goals questions.

Part A Personal Side, get to know the candidates here. 

B1) Do you support or oppose full return of governance of St. Louis City Public Schools to the elected School Board? Support or Oppose. Explain. (100 words or less)

Donna R. Jones: I have always supported the return of the elected board. It’s very important to me that our community has a voice in education.

Joyce M. Roberts: I support full return of the governance of St. Louis Public Schools to the Elected School Board because the conditions for the return of the Elected School Board has been met.

Adam Layne: I support full return of governance to the elected board. I believe the democratic process allows for not only transparency, but accountability of elected officials to do what they say they plan to do, and if not, power lies in the people to make decisions to remove or replace ineffective leaders. I also believe the elected board with full governance can make more direct actions in accordance with the community SLPS serves in efforts to actually transform our education landscape and maximize the voice of the students and their families.

Bill (William C.) Haas: It should never have been taken away. The same people who engineered that were the ones who just were voted off the board for running the district into the ground. None of the three reasons were true or at least not fault of elected board itself, but rather Slay slate. Long been advocate of returning governance. A little messy at times, but better for democracy and achievement in my opinion. Achievement basically flat for 10 years of SAB governance.

Jared Opsal: I wholeheartedly support the full return of governance to the elected board, and I am running to ensure the people have a say in how their children are taught once again, just as every other accredited school in the state does. The board will not return to power unless the elected board and the people demand it, and I offer my experience advocating for public health and community-driven policies to ensure the people are in control of their school district once again.

Cydney E. Johnson: I support full return of governance of St. Louis City Public Schools to the elected School Board. Returning the power to a group of individuals elected to report to the parents and public, the efforts and strides being made in St. Louis City Public Schools will benefit the students greatly. Change will not be made in the schools unless change is made to the board.

David L. Jackson, Jr.: I support full return of governance to the elected school board.  The SLPS is funded by the citizen’s real estate tax and those citizens must have a direct say in their school district.

B2) Do you support or oppose the Special Administrative Board’s efforts to create a nonprofit Consortium Partnership Network to govern the City’s lowest performing schools? Support or Oppose. Explain. (100 words or less)

Donna R. Jones: Until further information is received, I oppose the Special Administrative Boards efforts to create a non-profit consortium due to the lack of transparency relative to funding for the network at this time.

Joyce M. Roberts: I’m not quite sure of what you mean here.  It appears that there is information that has not been fully disclosed to the community.  However, I oppose the creation of CPN network used to divide our schools within the community and then outsourcing them to entities with no direct ties to the community and no proven track-record of success based on Missouri School Improvement Plan (MSIP) criteria used to determine accreditation for St. Louis Public Schools.

Adam Layne: Oppose. The elected board should be the elected board for ALL schools in the city of St. Louis. If the board decides to work with the nonprofit to gain insight and use expertise to develop and improve the lower performing schools, that should be the decision of the board. To have some schools be governed differently, to me, creates division and doesn’t allow for a smooth transition, which is especially needed during this time. I believe the intent is pure, and I’d like to learn more.

Bill (William C.) Haas: In general, I’d oppose I think, but the way Dr. Adams and SAB has explained it, b/c of a new federal law, there is state legislation coming to do this anyhow, so for us to get ahead of it has various advantages to do it our way. We’ve seen both the proposed state legislation and our proposal. And it might work if schools have more flexibility.

Jared Opsal: A Consortium Partnership Network model that allows for more flexibility in pedagogy and allow for more guidance from parents and teachers of schools in the consortium has the potential to be a positive. However, schools in the consortium must remain accountable to the elected board and the people who voted for them. Arranging a system for schools to operate severed from the rest of the district with little oversight from the elected board is not something I can support, and I recommend parents, children, and voters of the district to share their concerns about this model.

Cydney E. Johnson: I support any initiative that will not strain taxpayers and hard working families who are already being short changed by there students attending failing schools. There would need to be more innovative efforts put into place for the lower performing schools. If/when full governing powers are returned, the elected board can continue to make these innovative strides for our tax paying parents.

David L. Jackson, Jr.: I oppose this effort.  The elected board was elected by the citizens of this City in good faith and confidence, to be stewards of their entire school system.

B3) In the event that full governance is restored to the elected St. Louis City School Board, describe your role as a School Board Member after the Special Administrative Board is gone. (75 words or less)

Donna R. Jones: After the Special Administrative Board is gone, my continued focus, and goal is to ensure that policies are in place that serve in the best interest of our children. It’s very important to ensure that students in St.Louis Public Schools received the finest education possible. Duties: Employ and evaluate the superintendent; Incorporate the views of the community; Expand and adopt policies and the budget; Determine the overall goals and direction of the school district

Joyce M. Roberts: My role as a School Board member is to ensure that all children receive a quality education, approve budgets, establish policy, hire/fire and hold the superintendent accountable (documented evaluation of performance) for maintaining accreditation of the St. Louis Public Schools.

Adam Layne: My role is to represent the best interests of the students and families in the city of St. Louis. My role is to work diligently alongside my fellow board members to ensure the success of the SLPS district, in turn ensuring the success of the students and families we serve. Additionally, my role is to maintain engagement with the St. Louis community to make sure community voices remain important.

Bill (William C.) Haas: Support the superintendent’s efforts to improve achievement, starting with third grade reading scores.

Jared Opsal: My role will be the same as every other elected school board member of an accredited district. I will have oversight of the district’s policies, budget, and the superintendent. It will fall upon our shoulders to ensure the wants and needs of the voters, parents, and kids of our district are addressed through those roles.

Cydney E. Johnson: I plan to focus on neighborhoods that house the lowest performing schools/students. I will maintain constant attendance at the ward meetings to make sure the parents are in attendance and the the transparency of the board will allow parents to see the issues and efforts being made.

David L. Jackson, Jr.: As a board member, my responsibility is to establish and ensure policies and procedures are implemented, as well as, ensure the Superintendent has fully and effectively carried out the expectations of the board, in ensuring our children are learning.

B4) In the event that full governance is restored to the St. Louis City School Board, describe one specific funding priority in the Budget that you would champion. (50 words or less)

Donna R. Jones: I would champion equality of opportunity for students. I will work to promote equality in funding among the general population while ensuring that extra support and resources are provided to students to ensure they succeed. I encourage a transparent process that reviews past decisions and change when necessary.

Joyce M. Roberts: I would focus on teacher professional development lead by teachers who can demonstrate how to effectively engage students around reading across content areas.

Adam Layne: Commitment to developing teachers. I believe we have a long way to go in terms of helping teachers be the best they can be for our students. However, I’d like to look at the budget and see how we are spending money before I throw out another way to spend

Bill (William C.) Haas: A second qualified adult in early childhood classrooms to improve reading. All studies show it works. It would take $12 MM a year. That’s a tax increase equal to about a third of the one we recently passed. You either want a good school district, city and region or you don’t.

Jared Opsal: Our kids are struggling with housing instability, drug use, and a wide range of other traumas. I will advocate for an improved process for assessing the health and wellness needs of our children and triaging the ones who have been identified as being in need of assistance.

Cydney E. Johnson: Did not provide an answer.

David L. Jackson, Jr.: There’s really not one specific funding priority in the budget that I would champion, however all my efforts will be utilized that appropriate funding is allocated and the district operate within that budget.

B5) As a St. Louis City School Board member, what specific steps will you take to be accessible to the community? (50 words or less)

Donna R. Jones: Build strong relationships with media, city leadership, businesses, members of community to craft meaningful solutions. Continue to serve as conduit between school-community. Community learning sessions to engage parents and community stakeholders. Enhance social media presence with live monthly broadcast of superintendent and board members with questions by public. Monthly take home survey of SLPS families to monitor our progress.

Joyce M. Roberts: I plan to visit all schools as a visible show of support for students, teachers, parents and community.  I know what school looks like, feels like and sounds like.  Additionally, I plan to attend community meetings and forums where schools are being discussed as an advocate.

Adam Layne: As an educator, I know how important it is to create space. I’d like to have “office hours” in different city locations (coffee shops/local businesses) where the community can regularly access me to sit and chat in an informal setting.

Bill (William C.) Haas: Any necessary. At 28th ward meeting last week, a retired teacher said in her 45 years teaching only two board members visited her classroom and I was one of them. Community meetings are good. Most specific matters are best handled by administration. Appearing before the Board meetings good too.

Jared Opsal: I will have a website and social media site for people to contact me through, and I will hold regular meet and greets throughout the year and the city to hear from the community.

Cydney E. Johnson: I would maintain a known schedule of ward meetings and community events and make sure I am in attendance, as I already frequent wards 2,4, and 27.

David L. Jackson, Jr.: As a previous board member, I will make sure all parents, teachers and community partners have direct access to myself, through email, telephone and the SLPS board office.  In addition, I will attended any PTA, PTO and Community meeting for which I might be invited to and just wanted to attend to hear what our parents thoughts are.

B6) Should the St. Louis City School Board be elected by districts instead of at-large? Yes or No. Explain. (75 words or less)

Donna R. Jones: No. I believe we should follow the same formula as every other successful school district in the State of Missouri.

Joyce M. Roberts: No; I believe that the School Board should remain as a city-wide vote instead of by districts to eliminate any appearance of defacto-segregation.

Adam Layne: I’m open to both. I think it would allow for greater representation. But I believe if the elected board is doing their due diligence, being accessible, and rooting themselves in the issues facing all schools, at-large seats should be enough. Given my experience in teaching, although my school’s issues and needs may have been different from another school, the overall issues do permeate a majority of the schools in the district.

Bill (William C.) Haas: I’m not sure. I like it in theory, but people I respect are against it, I forget why. I’d be ok with putting it too a vote of the people. So district children some disproportionately from some neighborhoods, so I don’t know how you account for that.

Jared Opsal: Yes, if done properly. The idea of sub-districts is intriguing due to the ability it has to provide representation to areas of the city that have been historically underrepresented. However, the major sticking point will be in how the subdistrict lines are drawn. The body charged with drawing the lines will need to be separate from the school board and district to help prevent gerrymandering.

Cydney E. Johnson: No. We should be elected at large. Otherwise, forcing representation from different districts such as areas like Holly Hills or Shaw for example would force more representation from areas that are not necessarily representative of the demographics of the children in our district.

David L. Jackson, Jr.: No. Election of all board members should remain at-large.  This enables all board members to concentrate and remain committed to the entire school system on a mutual thought process and level.

B7) Should the position of elected St. Louis City School Board Member be full time with a full time salary? Yes or No. Explain. (50 words or less)

Donna R. Jones: No.  I do not agree with St. Louis City School Board members receiving a salary. The Board of Education is a volunteer representative body elected by the registered voters of the local public school district.

Joyce M. Roberts: I don’t know.  That decision would have to be determined by the people of the community through petition and then voted on.

Adam Layne: Yes. There is so much work to do. If working full-time to transform the educational opportunities for the district were an option, I believe it would yield amazing results with the right people at the helm. I wouldn’t however, want to take needed financial resources from our students and staff.

Bill (William C.) Haas: It would never pass, nor should it. It would have advantages, but I’d be against it. Very few districts are. Or none. Part-time with part-time salary, but conventional wisdom it’d attract candidates in it for wrong reason.

Jared Opsal: No. I see no need for the school board members to be paid. The motivating factor for this work is to improve the outcomes of our children, and the work required by a board member can be accomplished in a volunteer capacity.

Cydney E. Johnson: If governing powers are returned to the school board I believe it should be full time with a full time salary because we will be in charge of a 391.3 million dollar budget and responsible for servicing the needs of 100+ schools, students, and parents. In turn, the schools would be more successful if this happens. 

David L. Jackson, Jr.: From my past experience as a board member, I would welcome the consideration of a salary for the position.  Some school districts give their board members salaries, stipends or other benefits.  The time you commit to the District and board can be more than expected in order for you to be an effective leader.

B8) Who is your campaign manager and what political consultant(s), including fundraiser, if any, are you working with, whether paid or unpaid? (30 words or less.)

Donna R. Jones:  No campaign manager.

Joyce M. Roberts: I don’t have any paid consultants or fundraisers. I am supported by family, former students and colleagues, community members who are familiar with my efforts on behalf of young people.

Adam Layne: Currently, I am managing my own campaign. I am working with LEE (Leaders for Education Equity) for their support in developing candidates who may have not pursued political offices before.

Bill (William C.) Haas: Me. No fundraiser. Or consultant.

Jared Opsal: I do not have campaign manager, consultants, or fundraisers.

Cydney E. Johnson: Donte Steele is my current campaign manager. I am currently seeking political consulting from John Paul Johnson.

David L. Jackson, Jr.: I currently do not have a campaign manager or consultant.  I do have several volunteers, whom are friends.

B9) Complete the following sentence- Rex Sinquefield is… (20 words or less)

Donna R. Jones:
… a power hungry millionaire that works to manipulate the political scene here in the State of Missouri.

Joyce M. Roberts: … active in Missouri politics, his two main interests are rolling back the income tax and education reform.

Adam Layne: … high in dollars, low in sense.

Bill (William C.) Haas: … @!#$^^%$%^^&&**(())(($%^&*%$#@ A high-functioning fool who doesn’t have the sense he was born with. His main goal to reduce his own taxes.

Jared Opsal: …someone who attempts to influence public policy with money.

Cydney E. Johnson: … the worst.

David L. Jackson, Jr.: … a very shrewd business person who puts his money, where his mouth is and expects a return.

B10) Will you pledge to not accept campaign contributions from Rex Sinquefield, Jeanne Sinquefield, any Sinquefield funded organization or political action committee, any political action committee legally laundering Sinquefield money, or, if you unknowingly accept such a contribution, to return said donation if it is brought to your attention? Yes or No. Explain. (30 words or less)

Donna R. Jones: Yes. I do. I pledge to not accept any campaign contributions from Sinquefield.

Joyce M. Roberts: Yes. I will not accept funding from any sources that doesn’t align with my beliefs about education.

Adam Layne: I pledge WHOLEHEARTEDLY! I think my previous statement answers why, in addition to him not having interests beyond his own.

Bill (William C.) Haas:
 Of course. But if he wants to fund a presidential race for me in 2020, I’d let him. In fact, I think I’ll call him now and ask him.

Jared Opsal: Yes. My understanding is he is not in support of a strong public school system and instead is interested in diverting money from them towards other educational systems.

Cydney E. Johnson: Absolutely. I consider myself a man of principle and those principles do not consist of accepting “dark” money or from anything those who lack integrity.

David L. Jackson, Jr.: Yes. I pledge not to accept any contributions from Sinquefield in any fashion, if accepted through an organization, upon realizing its a Sinquefield association, all contributions will be promptly returned.

B11) Political Goals- Describe what elected or appointed office, if any, you would like to hold in 5 years, 10 years. (30 words or less)

Donna R. Jones: I have never had a desire to run for any other office, so after the school board that would be it for me.

Joyce M. Roberts: I don’t have any political aspirations for the future.

Adam Layne: My goal is to be where I’m most needed and where I believe I can make an impact. As of right now, I don’t have aspirations for other offices.

Bill (William C.) Haas:
 If I win a big lottery, I think I’d be able to do a lot about third grade reading scores from the White House.

Jared Opsal: Possibly remain a school board member, but I will wait to make that decision if it presents itself.

Cydney E. Johnson: I would like to continue to serve on the School Board. It speaks volumes for those students who live in our neighborhoods because it will provide the proper representation.

David L. Jackson, Jr.: As far as elected, only the Board of Education.  I would accept any appointment to any local or state board, associated with housing, employment and tax increment financing.

B12) How should public schools be funded? (75 words or less)

Donna R. Jones: Schools should continue to be funded by the State and local governments.

Joyce M. Roberts: Public schools should be fully funded by local, state and federal entities responsible for developing budgets with line items dedicated to schools without restriction.

Adam Layne: Public schools should be funded by the public (our government). Public funding sources should make education a priority. I believe there is enough funding available to make public education a high-quality option, but unfortunately, state budgeting priorities and sometimes even what the district prioritizes doesn’t result in effective spending that leads to better outcomes.

Bill (William C.) Haas:
 Something more progressive, some variation on school funding formula. If kids aren’t reading in a district, that district should get more money from the state, or if they’re dropping out. Or graduating without skills.

Jared Opsal: I am a supporter of a standardized amount of property taxes going towards a statewide pool that is dispersed back to districts based on attendance numbers. This will level the playing field for districts in areas with little property tax revenue to pay for their basic needs and still allow for special taxes to be levied by districts for other needs they have identified.

Cydney E. Johnson: Did not provide an answer.

David L. Jackson, Jr.: Public Schools should continue to be funded as is, through local real estate taxes.

B13) Will you pledge to testify, at least once each year, against tax abatement before a Board of Aldermen Committee or City development-related agency if elected? Yes or No. Explain. (75 words or less)

Donna R. Jones: Yes. The city development agency has undermined the funding of essential education dollars.

Joyce M. Roberts: Yes. I believe tax abatements are interfering with school funding. It is my role to advocate for full and untethered funding for schools.

Adam Layne: I pledge to testify against tax abatement if elected and would be willing to join with other to testify even if I am not elected. Tax abatement is not working for the city of St. Louis, and is even more strangled due to political game being played between the city and county. We say we don’t have enough money for education, but we literally take it off the table with tax abatements.

Bill (William C.) Haas: Yes, it was a plank of my mayoral platform last year.

Jared Opsal: Yes, if the opportunity to testify against an egregious use of tax abatement presents itself. I will not testify against a justifiable use of tax abatement such as abating the construction or rehab of residential properties in distressed areas

Cydney E. Johnson: Yes because it is very important that we take control of how OUR city looks and who we trust to develop the students neighborhoods.

David L. Jackson, Jr.: Yes. Tax abatement hinders the local school system to be adequately funded.

B14) Describe your opinion of charter schools here in St. Louis City. Include what you believe is the impact of charter schools on the St. Louis Public School District and the future of charter schools here, including views on expansion. (150 words or less)

Donna R. Jones: Currently the City of St.Louis has 38 charter schools and the numbers continue to grow yearly. Charter schools have effectively drained close to 1,000 students each year away from SLPS. So right now we have thousands of taxpayer’s dollars going into privately run publicly funded educational institutions. I would like to see a limit placed on the number of charter schools being opened and would like to see the issue placed on the ballot. In a city that has so many racial divisions, I feel that more charter schools will lead to a deeper educational divide in our community.

Joyce M. Roberts: I respect a parent’s right to choose to send their children to a charter.  However, in my lived experience, I know that charter schools are not held to the same accountable standards as our public schools, yet they receive the same public dollars. I can use the example of the Imagine Management firm that operated the Ethel Hedgeman Lyle Charter Academy. I would like to see the data of charter schools presented to the community for review. Charter schools should be required to demonstrate a minimum data review over a five year period detailing student achievement that meets and or exceed local, state and federal standards to be considered for the right to expand.

Adam Layne: I believe in quality education and I believe that not every school is the right fit for every student. In my career, I have had the opportunity to be in almost every St. Louis high school (public, charter, independent, parochial) and in all of them I have seen what works and what doesn’t. I don’t like that charters can take money out of the district, don’t do what they claim, or feel as though they are “the answer.” On the other side, I believe that if charters, as well as public schools, committed and actively drove toward what they promote, the options and results for students would be maximized. In my opinion, charters that aren’t doing what they promise should be shut down, or else we are doing a disservice to those students and families. We also need places of quality for those students to go.

Bill (William C.) Haas:
 So the goal should be to make our traditional public schools so good that parents don’t look to send their children elsewhere. They cherry pick our students and we’re left with hardest to educate with proportionally less funds. But they’re here to stay, but should be made to play by same rules as traditional public schools.

Jared Opsal: For the city as a whole some of the schools have provided a needed option for parents and kids to the unaccredited schools in the Saint Louis Public School District (SLPS). The impact on SLPS has been a reduction in enrollment and therefore funds to educate those children. Now that SLPS is fully accredited and a transition of power has begun, the City of St. Louis needs to be removed from the state’s list of areas that can have charter schools. Furthermore, a higher level of scrutiny is needed for every charter school. Underperforming charter schools should not be allowed to continue delivering subpar educations to our children year after year without either expedient interventions to improve their outcomes or to develop a plan to close them and transition the students to other schools.

Cydney E. Johnson: My two younger siblings attend charter schools, so my emotions are mixed. Charter schools cut into City School funding but personally after volunteering time over the summer with staff and students at Aspire Academy. I believe the alternative methods are something that can contribute to the city’s curriculum as we try to increase performance.

David L. Jackson, Jr.: Charter schools impact the local school district immensely, relating to finance.  I understand Charter schools are public schools, but they were intended to provide education and/or curriculum in which the local public schools do not.  If a Charter school wants to open within this school district, that Charter school must provide to the children of the City of St. Louis a curriculum that the current school district is not providing and provide a true partnership with the local school district.  I would work with the board of education to demonstrate to the local governing authority, reasoning as to why they should enact a Moratorium on opening any additional Charter schools until every SLPS individual building is fully accredited, for at least three years.

B15) Should public funds be spent on private education? If Yes, describe why and whether you specifically support vouchers, tax credits, or direct appropriation. If No, describe why. (100 words or less)

Donna R. Jones: No. I do not believe public funds should fund private educational institutions. As a taxpayer, I would like to at least think I have a say so over how monies are spent. I believe that public funds should pay only for public schools that are open to all children and accountable to the community.

Joyce M. Roberts: No. All students can attend public schools. When a family decides to send their children to a private school then they assume the responsibility of paying on their own.

Adam Layne: If we call it private education, we shouldn’t be using public funds, especially when the public school system is already struggling for funding sources. I think my answer would be different if the public education entities across the country were teeming with funds, however, it’s very clear that this is not the case.

Bill (William C.) Haas: NoNoNo, as it takes money from our public schools. But I’ve often said I’d support it once public schools have enough money to adequately educate our kids there. Wont happen. Not enough money to go around.

Jared Opsal: No. Public funds for education should only be used for public educational institutions. This ensures the funds are made available to every student no matter where they come from, what they look like, or what religion they follow.

Cydney E. Johnson: No, public funds should never be spent on private education because it wouldn’t be fair to students or parents.

David L. Jackson, Jr.: No.  Accountability, private schools do not provide the public any accountability and aren’t held to the same State Mandates as public schools.

B16) Describe one St. Louis City Public School Policy you would change or you would vigorously defend against change. (50 words or less)

Donna R. Jones: I vigorously defend the policy of educating all student regardless to race, creed, color, sexual orientation, or disabilities.

Joyce M. Roberts: Did not provide an answer.

Adam Layne: I would advocate to enforce and improve the part-time employment policy for students (R5139). I know students usually work when of age as I did, but we need to ensure the hours are healthy and manageable for students to be able to be successful in the classroom.

Bill (William C.) Haas: Exit test of basic skills students have to pass to graduate, as long as we start in 9th grade support to pass it. We also need to reach out to our LGBTQ students better, and have better sex and health education, which we have policies to address thanks to me.

Jared Opsal: I would advocate for a transparent and fair pay schedule to be used throughout the district.

Cydney E. Johnson: Did not provide an answer.

David L. Jackson, Jr.: I really cannot answer, due to the fact, the Special Administrative Board has change many of the District’s policies and I really haven’t had the time to research their effects upon the District.

B17) Should teachers be able to carry guns into St. Louis City Public Schools? Yes or No. Explain. (50 words or less)

Donna R. Jones: No. I strongly feel that teachers should focus on teaching. I believe the Board should provide a highly trained security force to protect all schools.

Joyce M. Roberts: No. The focus of school is to successfully educate all children. To give teachers another added responsibility of carrying gun is unfair.

Adam Layne: Absolutely not. As an educator, what I knew was important, but only went so far. Building relationships with my students was pivotal in their achievement. I can’t fathom how that happens with me carrying a gun or seeing my students as a threat.

Bill (William C.) Haas: No. I think it increases the risk of a death not reduce it.

Jared Opsal: No. I have seen no evidence supporting this approach to student and teacher safety. However, there is plenty of evidence that displays a connection between an increase in the amount of firearms and firearm related injuries and deaths.

Cydney E. Johnson: Absolutely not, the students are already exposed to dangerous environments when they leave the school doors. It is imperative that we do not add another possibility of violence in these children’s lives. For some of these students school is an escape so in don’t see any reason to compromise the one place they can be adolescents.

David L. Jackson, Jr.: No.  Guns have no place in schools, none.

B18) Should creationism or intelligent design be taught in St. Louis City Public Schools? Yes or No. Explain. (50 words or less)

Donna R. Jones: Every aspect of life should be examined by students if we are teaching our children to be independent thinkers.

Joyce M. Roberts: No. The schools are not the venue for the debate over natural selections. We are all created equal but are the products of homes, access to resources and society.

Adam Layne: I believe separation of church and state is still (supposed) to be in effect. In respect of that and the fact that students and their families have varying beliefs, my answer is no. I believe what I believe and my beliefs don’t require others to believe what I believe.

Bill (William C.) Haas: Just say no. It’s just not accepted by credible academics though I support people’s right to believe in church or home what they want.

Jared Opsal: No. There is no scientific evidence to support those claims.

Cydney E. Johnson: While both creationism and intelligent design provide alternative viewpoints for the origin of the universe over evolution, it also eludes to the idea of God or some intelligent being responsible for creation. While these ideas are phenomenal it can create converts due to different religious views.

David L. Jackson, Jr.: No, this is a matter of an individual family and their Church.

B19) Should the anti-abortion group Thrive be allowed in St. Louis City Public Schools to teach its Best Choice abstinence-based sex education program? Yes or No. Explain. (50 words or less)

Donna R. Jones: This is a choice best made by the parents of a student Any sex based education should have parental involvement.

Joyce M. Roberts: No. The schools should not be held responsible or be the staging place of Thrive to teach its’ programs.

Adam Layne: No. My reason is because of my stance on the abstinence-based approach to sex-education: it only works when students don’t have sex, but if they decide to be sexually active, we haven’t educated them on how to not let it be detrimental to their physical or mental health.

Bill (William C.) Haas:
 State Law now mandates teaching abstinence-based sex education as the primary focus. I’ve been advocating for years to let Planned Parenthood in our schools, which has programs to teach consistent with state law. I’d let Thrive in if we let Planned Parenthood outreach in too.

Jared Opsal: No. There are mountains of evidence displaying the ineffectiveness of abstinence-based sex education programs in preventing unsafe sexual behaviors. I will advocate for a comprehensive sex education program for our kids.

Cydney E. Johnson: No, because they can’t control what happens in these children’s lives. I think that we need to reinforce that children are children but we shouldn’t add any more pressure.

David L. Jackson, Jr.: No, this is a matter for an individual family and their beliefs.

B20) Should all public schools in St. Louis City and St. Louis County be consolidated into one school district? Yes or No. Explain. (100 words or less)

Donna R. Jones: Not at this point in time with all the political corruption in education, I believe that certain groups would receive far fewer services.

Joyce M. Roberts: A thorough review of the impact of such a large scale undertaking would have to be conducted to respond and at this time I don’t have enough information.

Adam Layne: No. There are pros and cons. I don’t know how this would work financially unless the city and county were also combined. I believe it would cause more harm than good especially if there aren’t clear guidelines as to where public funds from the city and county are allocated. It would allow students access to all schools and the issue of students leaving the district, but adding more schools doesn’t solve the issue of having low performing schools. Normandy’s situation taught me that students migrating from Normandy in mass to other schools caused friction, labeling, and wasn’t a seamless transition.

Bill (William C.) Haas: No, and it wont happen without vote of all districts, and that wont pass. Even St. Louis County schools aren’t consolidated into one school district nor should be.

Jared Opsal: No, I see no need for combining all of those districts. However, I am open minded to learning more about this idea.

Cydney E. Johnson: Yes, I believe that it if done correctly it can make things a lot better for everyone in the long run. If they are learning Mandarin at Clayton they should be learning it at Beaumont.

David L. Jackson, Jr.: No, however, there could be a consolidation of all existing surrounding school districts, particularly North County school districts, which sit from the St. Louis City limits out to the Airport.

B21) Name one strength of which St. Louis City Public Schools can be proud and explain why you chose that strength. Name only one. Do not provide a list. (75 words or less)

Donna R. Jones: The one thing I can be proud of is that St.Louis Public schools have provided a platform of growth for many thousands of students. They have formed relationships and gained a valuable educational experience that will last a life time. SLPS have also provided a sense of family to thousands of students.

Joyce M. Roberts: A strength that the St. Louis Public Schools possesses is a staff of professionals that are caring, committed and determined to educate all students without adequate funding, lack of appropriate resources, within buildings that need repair/maintenance, against a backdrop of societal ills that follow our children to school.

Adam Layne: I worked alongside and met so many educators in SLPS that have a deep care and commitment to the growth and development of the students. We have educators who go into their own pockets to maximize the educational experience of their students. They genuinely care and love these students as their own children. We must retain and commit to developing them and cultivating environments they can thrive in.

Bill (William C.) Haas: Doing so much with often the kids who need the most help, and paid less than county schools. I’m so proud of our teachers and staff, but teachers need more money, especially special ed teachers.

Jared Opsal: The district should be proud of the magnet schools it has developed. They are a great option for kids who are high performers. With that said, the magnet schools need to ensure they are accessible to students who may not perform well on a standardized test. There are many kids who fit the criteria for needing a more challenging learning environment but are overlooked due to sometimes outdated and discriminatory testing standards.

Cydney E. Johnson: Northwest High School in particular has done an excellent job of empowering students and letting the surrounding neighborhood know that students learn / live there. I think that has helped the residents who cause trouble understand that these schools are safe spaces.

David L. Jackson, Jr.: It’s strong commitment from it’s teaching community.


B22) Name one weakness in the St. Louis City Public Schools and how you would champion to improve the situation. Name only one. Do not provide a list. (75 words or less)

Donna R. Jones: Classroom size has always been a hot button issue for me. I am looking forward to a time when classroom size can be greatly reduced. Our district has a serious problem keeping highly qualified and experienced teachers in these overcrowded classrooms. The district management should consider working a lot closer with teachers and addressing their concerns in a timely fashion.

Joyce M. Roberts: A weakness that the St. Louis Public Schools possesses is demonstrated in the decisions that are made to eliminate resources and staff positions that  have been proven to increase student achievement outcomes.

Adam Layne: Commitment to consistent quality. Schools go through great years, and not so great years for many reasons. We can’t honestly say we have enough quality schools to be this inconsistent. To commit to quality, I would focus on recruiting, hiring, retaining, and developing quality teachers and staff.

Bill (William C.) Haas: We need enough funding to compete with county schools for teachers and staff. After 5 years most can leave for more money and less stress, and they do. City teachers should be paid an average of $5000/year more! We need to attract and retain the best teachers.

Jared Opsal: I have not witnessed a substantial effort to address the basic needs of our kids who are in need of the most assistance. We have 20% of our students who are housing insecure and many who experience trauma on a daily basis, but we have not instituted a program to identify and triage those students. How can we expect someone to perform well in school when their basic needs are not being met?

Cydney E. Johnson: Did not provide an answer.

David L. Jackson, Jr.: The one weakness the SLPS has now is it’s disconnect between the Special Administrative Board, it’s Administration and it’s individual schools.  Many of the administrators located at the 801 Headquarters building need to spend more time in the individual school buildings assisting and working with the staff of that school.

B23) Describe one piece of state legislation related to education, but unrelated to governance, that you would advocate or oppose as an elected School Board member. Name only one. Do not provide a list. (75 words or less)

Donna R. Jones: I oppose any legislation geared toward the expansion of charter schools and vouchers.

Joyce M. Roberts: I would advocate for a comprehensive early childhood program for all children.

Adam Layne: One law sets the age limit for free education at age 21. I would oppose this because I believe in the value of education and know that circumstances could have prevented someone from obtaining a high school education by 21. If a 24 year old comes to the realization that a high school diploma is what they know need, it should be funded because it could set them up for success.

Bill (William C.) Haas: More money for districts where students have less achievement, especially as measured by early childhood reading scores, until scores are on par

Jared Opsal: I would support an effort to require comprehensive sex education be delivered to all of our state’s public school children. The evidence is there to show their effectiveness in preventing disease transmission, lowering unplanned pregnancies, and fostering healthy relationships between couples. We simply need to stop doubting what the evidence is showing us.

Cydney E. Johnson: Expectations must be raised. Upon hearing the SLPS report from Dr. Adams, it seems as if we expect the students to perform low.

David L. Jackson, Jr.: I would oppose any School Voucher legislation presented in any manner.

B24) If you could remove one provision in Missouri law unrelated to education, or add one provision to Missouri law unrelated to education, statute or Constitution, what would it be and why? One provision. Do not provide a list. (75 words or less)

Donna R. Jones: Open carry has been a heavy issue for Missouri. I’d like to see stricter guidelines on firearms.

Joyce M. Roberts: Criminal justice system reform. The current system devastates families and in many cases destabilizes the emotional, social, and decision-making of the young people in our schools and contributes to their trauma.

Adam Layne: Cash bail. I would advocate strongly against it and the entire cash bail system. It favors rich offenders and imposed undue and compounding hardship to people who don’t have the finances to post.

Bill (William C.) Haas: Redistricting to adequately reflect Missouri as a purple state not a red one.

Jared Opsal: I would expand Medicaid as outlined under the Affordable Care Act. This would provide healthcare to thousands of people in our city that did not previously have access to it, as well as hundreds of thousands of others in the state. This will help address some of the basic needs of our kids and their parents.

Cydney E. Johnson: It should be illegal for children to carry guns in Missouri. As it stands now, there is no penalty outside of ordinances. This is unacceptable.

David L. Jackson, Jr.: The right of a person over the age of 21 to carry a weapon concealed upon their person, or in their vehicle, without a permit.

B25) Tell us something about your education views, or goals as a St. Louis City School Board Member, not otherwise found in this survey. Do not repeat information from another survey question. (100 words or less)

Donna R. Jones: I would like to leave a legacy of fairness and honesty in all my efforts to support education. It is important to me that the students and staff understand how important it is to take ownership of their school district and know that their voices matter. Education is the nucleus of everything.

Joyce M. Roberts: I know what works for schools because I have done the work successfully at every level in St. Louis Public Schools. I believe that the following correlates are required to ensure that every child receives a quality education and they are: Strong instructional leadership, climate of high expectations for student success, safe/orderly environment, frequent monitoring of student success, positive school, home and community relations.

Adam Layne: I believe a high-quality educational experience creates limitless potential for students. We should all (educators, community members, policymakers) intentionally build relationships with students and families in our community to holistically work toward improving educational opportunities in and outside of the classroom. As a board member, I will use my background in education to commit to quality which will increase options students have in school and beyond, ensure financial transparency to make the best use of the funds we have, and increase advocacy so our community know their voice is valued and necessary to the work we aim to do.

Bill (William C.) Haas: I’ve been lobbying for years for hardware and software for computer-based learning for early childhood reading and other grades students behind. It’s costly but I think we can find the money from the manufacturers of the material to pilot such program. Our joint program with SSD in 1997 when I got on the board, showed it works. I think it’s the panacea we’re looking for to equalize education across race and class.

Jared Opsal: My overarching goal is to ensure the will of the community is reflected in the work I do. I use the philosophy of a servant leader. I attempt to ascertain the needs and wants of the people I represent and undertake actions and advocate for policies that will address them.

Cydney E. Johnson: My goal is to help curve the school to prison pipeline, as our young men need roll models and I fear for their future.

David L. Jackson, Jr.: Every child can learn, this District is not financially crippled.  A strong board, along with a knowledgeable Superintendent can realize the goals of an equity education, if they work together and concentrate all their efforts directly in the classroom.