ELECTION 2010: Manatee County School Board

 

ELECTION 2010: Manatee County School Board

 

Date: October 27, 2010
by: Pam Eubanks | News Editor

 
 

Longtime school volunteer Julie Aranibar will challenge incumbent Jane Pfeilsticker, a professor at the State College of Florida, for her seat on the Manatee County School Board.

Julie B. Aranibar
Age: 51
Family: Married with children
Hometown: Lived in Bradenton since 1998; originally from Massachusetts
Education: Bachelor’s degree in business and professional management; AAS, National Certification Licensure: Laboratory Medicine, DLM, ASCP (Diplomat of Laboratory Management), (American Society of Clinical Pathologists)
Career: Laboratory medicine, pathology, dermatopathology and molecular histology research.

What’s the biggest challenge the school board faces currently, and what are your solutions?
The budget and falling test scores. We have had a season of highest budgets for this county, smallest class sizes, and our test scores have dropped four years in a row.

How can the district maintain its commitment to its students while cutting costs?
We need our board to ensure that classrooms and teachers are protected first. We then need to incorporate some fiscal policies for the district on budgeting and planning. To ask for a tax increase to give pay raises to the highest paid employees in the administration departments makes it difficult to gain community or district support.

Are teachers paid enough?
There are more than 2,500 teachers, and I cannot list each one and their salary and answer “yes” or “no” for each. Three years ago, teachers agreed to a decrease and have been disappointed to see administration and other departments have increases. My position is to listen to teachers and do more to provide classroom supplies.

What is your stance on the FCAT?
Under the president’s “Race to the Top” initiative, we will see many changes. Florida has begun with last year’s Senate Bill 4, which will change core classes to include end-of-course exams.

The FCAT or any test should be one parameter to measure, and in this case, it became the only parameter to measure students and grade schools, and funding tagged with them. I would like to see more national achievement testing to see how our students rate along with other states.

Regarding the mailer Jane Pfeilsticker sent out: Do you feel your personal financial background is relevant to this election?
My personal background is relevant but what is mailed or released from a campaign should be factual data, and that was not the case. The flyer stated I =lied and only paid when I got caught. The truth was we had an audit and our accountant made some mistakes; we were responsible for them and set up an immediate payment plan, which was in January 2010 as per the agreement. Our last payment was in August 2010, which is when the lien was released. We have owned and operated a business in this community for more than a decade. My husband has cared for people who have and do not have insurance and has gone to the homes of those in need.

(Pfeilsticker) states she relies on data and in this case of trying to get votes, she attacked a candidate and family members she did not seem to need facts or data. Yes, our personal backgrounds are important, and in my case, we have paid our bills, helped others along the way. Many seasoned politicians have stated it was the worst flyer they had ever seen.

What skills and experiences do you feel you bring to the table that your opponent does not?
I’ve learned leadership through service to others and have more than a decade of volunteer service to our schools. As a mother, involved parent, business owner and someone with a degree in business and professional management, I would bring experience that would be helpful in reorganizing and prioritizing budget expenses for the district.

What policies do you think the school board needs to look at over the next year and why?
No. 1: Policies for spending and budgeting, including hiring policies. No. 2: full accountability including online checking account for public funds. No. 3: Balancing the health care benefit fund. I would like more information and cost benefit analysis and comparison of available plans.

What immediate steps or actions do you feel are critical to take to improve education in Manatee County?
The improvement for education will depend on mutual agreement and cooperation of administration and teacher’s union representatives.

Administration needs to take a position of working for the teaching staff to best facilitate the business needs of the district.

Community and parent involvement are paramount to the success of any school.


Jane Pfeilsticker
Age: 54
Family: Married with four children and one grandchild
Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pa.
Education: Undergraduate degree at Pennsylvania State University in microbiology and medical Technology; graduate degree from University of Pittsburgh, School of Medicine, departments of microbiology, biochemistry and molecular biology
Career: College professor at State College of Florida

What’s the biggest challenge the school board faces currently, and what are your solutions?
The budget constraints are obviously a huge problem. We must find a way to decrease spending without sacrificing student learning. I think we can accomplish this without depriving our students of needed enrichment programs. We no longer need to build schools so support costs involved with new school construction will not be needed for at least five years. We are studying the possible consolidation of schools in areas where we have empty student stations. Our budget committee will be very actively involved in our decisions to address the budget.

How can the district maintain its commitment to its students while cutting costs?
We will need to increase efficiencies throughout the system. We have already cut about 130 positions from administration. These positions were needed when we were growing so rapidly but are no longer needed in a slow growth time.

Are teachers paid enough?
Teachers have historically been underpaid and under-appreciated. This is most likely due to a perceived gender bias. Traditionally, most teachers are women, and a gender-related wage differential has existed for a long time. As we hold teachers accountable for student learning gains, we must value their jobs as professionals and pay them commensurately. We place our money with that which we value most.

What is your stance on the FCAT?
The FCAT exams do not give a complete assessment of student learning. I am pleased to see that we are moving away from FCATs at the high school level in favor of end-of-course exams. At earlier grade levels, I would like to move toward nationally-normed, well-understood measures of student achievement.

What was your motivator behind your mailer regarding Julie Aranibar’s IRS audit? Do you regret sending it?
The mailer I sent concerning Julie Aranibar’s tax issues was factual. It presented the information that was available in the public record. I stand by the claims contained within it. My experience with the IRS is that it does not issue a tax lien until all other mechanisms for collection have been exhausted.

What skills and experiences do you feel you bring to the table that your opponent does not?
I have a great deal of experience in education. I have taught at both the medical school level and at the undergraduate level. I know what skills are necessary for success in college and graduate school. I have been re-mediating students at (State College of Florida) for years. I would like to complete my work toward identifying the need for remediation while students are still in public schools and affecting that remediation at the earliest possible time frame. I am experienced in preparing students for their future success.

What policies do you think the school board needs to look at over the next year and why?
We must address the need for continuing and intense professional development. The new state standards, and the curriculum written to match them, require a great deal of additional skill acquisition on the part of our teachers and administrators.

We will also be examining policies pertaining to modifications leading to spending decreases. We will examine all successful models that decrease spending without decreasing student learning.

What immediate steps or actions do you feel are critical to take to improve education in Manatee County?
We are moving forward with the Race to the Top initiative. This encompasses many reforms that should improve education in this county. Most of the measures that I see as beneficial pertain to teacher quality. I have no doubt that the most critical factor in enhancing student achievement is teacher quality. Our teachers must have a deep understanding of their subject matter and be committed to eliciting student learning, not just to teaching strategies.

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