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INDIAN RIVER COUNTY ― Each candidate was asked the same three questions and given 150 words to respond. Their answers follow.

Alla Kramer:

Q: Because of COVID-19, residents have endured a very trying 2020. What are some of the ideas you'd like to see implemented to ensure the safety of your constituents moving forward?

A: I’m a candidate for the School Board, so my constituents are children, teachers and school support staff. We’re under the Governor's order to reopen schools in August. What we can do is to make sure we open them with safety as a priority in mind. Our superintendent Dr. Moore created a plan how to open the schools safely using CDC guidelines: social distancing, providing disinfectants, making hand sanitizers available and proper usage of masks. The biggest challenge I see is the implementation of the plan. Currently I work at a healthcare facility. This gives me a unique perspective on infection control. We have to do the health screening upon students and staff arrival. This will eliminate having someone sick on the premises. Cleaning and sanitizing is a must. The first step for infection control is prevention and it starts with education: proper hand washing techniques, proper use of disinfectants, etc.

Q: What would you change from the current School Board’s priorities, and what would you keep?

A: The district just released the strategic plan that identifies 5 focus areas. The most important is academic achievement. In recent years, students’ performances declined. But we are on the right track to bring this district back to all “A/B”. We must provide the setting that every student can achieve his/her potential. Equity is another important area. We need to create an environment that is inclusive and equitable for all. The district is making progress by having the African American Achievement plan with goals: eliminating the achievement gap, increasing the graduation rate and the employment of minority teachers.

What I will focus more on is the mental health of our students. We need to make sure schools have counselors to assist students, provide them with emotional and psychological support. Another one: parental involvement. We need to include parents in the decision making process (teamwork) and restore the relationship with parents & teachers.

Q: Why do you feel you are the best candidate for School Board?

A: I am a concerned parent, who spent 10 years as an active volunteer in IRC classrooms while my 2 children attended 5 different local schools: traditional and charter. I know the issues, expectations and concerns that we face here. My experience as a small business owner for 25 years will help me to make fiscally responsible decisions and put your tax dollars to work effectively. I will use my knowledge (MA in Education) and experience as a former teacher to work closely with our superintendent to set policies and procedures that will benefit ALL students and teachers. Currently, I am a healthcare worker. This gives me a unique perspective on the safety issue we will be facing while opening the schools next month. I’ve been a full-time resident here for 20 years; have been actively involved with this community and volunteered for many organizations. I care deeply about this community!

Brian M. Barefoot:

Q: Because of COVID-19, residents have endured a very trying 2020. What are some of the ideas you'd like to see implemented to ensure the safety of your constituents moving forward?

A: I support the school district's detailed plan with options depending on what conditions exist when school resumes on August 24 and what adjustments may be required should conditions change during the school year. The key components are masks and social distancing. Accepting less than ideal learning conditions begins at home. I'd offer in person or online sessions with the parents being offered the opportunity to visit the child's school before it opens and observe sanitation procedures and how classrooms and common areas have been rearranged to accommodate social distancing. There should also be an orientation YouTube/video for those parents unable to attend in person. Some people will oppose masks or returning to school but it's critical that kids get back in school for both academic and social reasons and the district and school board will just have to deal with those opposed.

Q: What would you change from the current School Board’s priorities, and what would you keep?

A: The first priority is to get the schools open and have as safe an environment as possible. Getting out from under the desegregation order and attaining unitary status is a priority. Beyond that, the biggest challenge will be managing the financials of the district given the uncertainty surrounding funding from both local and state sources. The pressure will be greater next fiscal year if the proposed .5 millage is not renewed. Additionally, teacher turnover has to be reduced but the forthcoming pay increase will help. Other needs include increased funding for ESE students and increased choice for those students/parents who feel there really aren't choices given logistical or program related limitations. The achievement gap has increased in this virtual learning environment and it needs additional focus. Bottom line is setting priorities and funding items absolutely necessary while postponing those that are nice to have but not critical.

Q: Why do you feel you are the best candidate for School Board?

A: I have over 30 years in executive/CEO management and leadership positions in both the public and private sectors with a track record of results. Specific to education, I've devoted over 40 years having served 4 different educational institutions, two K-12 schools, one public high school and a total of 23 years as a trustee, board chair and president of a college. I guided that college thru 911 and the initial phases of the financial crisis of 2008-2009. I understand more than any other candidate the culture, mission and finances of educational enterprises and can bring that hands on experience to benefit the IRC School District. I know how to plan, think strategically and execute in a collaborative and results oriented manner.

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