Jessica Rooney is running unopposed for one three year term on the Wrangell School Board.
Jessica, why are you running for school board?
I am running for school board because I would like to see some of the fractured relationships within the school district repaired and work on increasing communication between the board, staff and community. I’d also like to see post-secondary courses for students enhanced and focus on student achievement.
Can you elaborate a little bit? You said fractured relationships, what do you mean?
I don’t want to. Maybe I shouldn’t say that. I guess that comment (is) fine, I just don’t want to elaborate on it.
OK, so what about the second point you made. You want to do more for the students.
Yes, absolutely. I’d like to focus more on student achievement and really, actually communicate more with the students. I know they do reports from student council to the board and that’s great. It would be great to get more student input on how the board can help students and what students would like to see. It’s just really important to get their perspective. They’re just one of the big stakeholders as well as parents.
Do you have any ideas on how to move forward in the challenging budgetary times that the school district is facing?
I’m going to be learning a lot as a board member. I have never served on a board before so learning those rules and regulations and how our input goes toward making the budget and everything will be a big learning curve for me. So, that’s not something I could really give out my exact suggestions on how to fix things right now.
Do you think the school board can minimize the effects of those shortfalls on the district?
Absolutely, I think there are areas we can cut back on with different things like staff travel. I think there’s more opportunities to be able to skype and cut back on those expenses and put the money where we really need it with the students, and making sure we have enough teachers, and we’re not overwhelming the staff we currently have is something I’d like to see also.
Are there any current policies or practices that the board is employing right now that you would like to change?
There is. At the last board meeting one policy that was reviewed for recruitment and selection and there were some lines added and edited to have it say that the superintendent is the only person that makes a decision whether or not to advertise a position in the district and I think that narrows it too much because a position advertised, whether it’s in-house or out-of-house. Everybody should have an opportunity to apply for a new position that opens up in the district. By minimizing that in that policy, it really lets the superintendent have all of the say and I think it should be more of a group decision.