Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Reid Goldstein

The following are the responses school board candidate Reid Goldstein (http://reidgoldstein.org/) gave to the HeraldTrib's survey. --ST

Question 1: Little was changed after last year's process to alleviate overcrowding in a few north Arlington elementary schools. Many parents were angry that county-wide programs at Arlington Traditional School and Drew Model School were removed from the charge that the Elementary Crowding and Capacity Committee considered when looking for solutions to overcrowding. The school board has pledged to continue the process of looking at capacity issues.
Will the school board have to consider admissions priorities or moving/relocating ATS and Drew while looking at overcrowding issues in the coming year or two, why or why not?

On the one hand we need to be mindful that moving countywide programs moves just as many students as boundary changes do. This can be as disruptive as changing neighborhood school boundaries. Still, our community processes should enhance the entire community and everyone should expect to be involved. Unfortunately, Arlington Schools’ citizen decision-making processes have historically divided neighborhoods and schools into winners and losers. This doesn’t have to happen. As a professional strategic planner, I create processes that result in successful outcomes for multiple stakeholders functioning in similar dynamic and chaotic environments.

There are numerous other options. APS [Arlington Public Schools] failed to consider capacity trends prior to the 2006-07 ECCC process, despite the School Board directive in the previous round. As a result, very significant enrollment trends have been ignored. I’m thinking here of Barrett’s remarkable success attracting a strong base of families with a very attractive program; Campbell has had similar success. Both schools have brought families back to schools that had significant enrollment declines. Through their commitment and resources, they have created thriving school communities. These are examples that could be replicated elsewhere in the county—enhanced programs championed by School Board members and community leaders that attract families to under-advertised schools.

Question 2: What specific initiatives would you develop or enhance to ensure capital projects stay on time and at--or under--budget?

First, we need to tell the community the truth about what can be accomplished with the resources we have. We cannot promise what we know we cannot deliver. Second, we need to stop dividing neighborhoods into winners and losers. We should make a plan for all the needs, not hold a bi-annual scramble for who goes next, which is what seems to happen every two years when the capital plan is revised.

Controlling budget growth is a matter of strategic planning, followed by diligent oversight. We need to plan years in advance. For example, the new W-L [Washington-Lee High School] building could have gone right on Washington Boulevard and been constructed for less cost, and with less impact on the neighborhood. But the School Board had already moved forward with renovation of the football stadium on that spot.

Once the plan is set, make sure the original budget is realistic—we have seen many that were not—then require a justification for every change. Finally we should take time for lessons learned - to inform peer review of designs and specifications so we can make better choices of what works, without budget growth.

Question 3: Most of you have on your web site, in one form or another, concerns with the "achievement gap" between whites and minorities in the schools. Please consider the achievement gap in terms of a budgeting priority. Of the money that the school board controls (i.e., not "entitlement" monies from the state or federal government that must go toward specific programs), which program would you defend as having the highest priority in a shrinking budget and why?

The highest priority should be to ensure that every child has access to pre-K. For students who are already in school, the priority should be high expectations, beginning with effective English language skills. As [school board candidate] James Lander pointed out, the first step toward equal achievement is language achievement. Studies from other parts of the country have shown more than one generation remaining in poverty—a failure of the American Dream. We must also strengthen our network of teachers and community volunteers to consistently convey the high expectations the Arlington community has for all its students.

Question 4: Democrats will endorse only two of you on May 1 and 3. If you are one of the four not endorsed, will you stay in the race? If so, what is your strategy beyond that date, given the strength conferred with the endorsement to the two winners?

When we filed as candidates in the Democratic Party endorsement process, we pledged to not oppose the two winners of the May endorsement during the general election in November. If I’m endorsed on May 3, I will embrace the best ideas of the other candidates in this contest and reach out to them for their continued participation. This year’s six candidates represent an unprecedented slate of talent and experience. If I don’t succeed, I’ll be spending years paying my debt of gratitude to my long-suffering family and generous supporters. Help me avoid Payback Hell! Please vote for me on May 1 or May 3!

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