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Sarasota County School Board, District 4: Shirley Brown

Meet the candidate

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  • | 9:50 a.m. August 6, 2018
Shirley Brown
Shirley Brown
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Name: Shirley Brown

Age: 65

Occupation: Sarasota School Board Member, District 4

Family (spouse/children, ages):  Jack Brown, married 43 years; Angela Perrotta, daughter, Teacher at Phillippi Shores Elementary and her daughter Maddie (3rd Grade Phillippi Shores Elementary). Jack Brown, son, Attorney & Sarasota Small Business Owner married to Leah Siegel and their children Liv (Junior Pineview) and Kai (Freshman Riverview).  

Elected government experience:  Sarasota County School Board Member - 2006 to present; Florida House Representatives   1992-2000 (Education Committee; State Task Force for Juvenile Sexual Offenders & their Victims; State Coordinating Council on Early Childhood Development; Chair of Women’s Legislative Caucus)

Why are you running for school board? I’m running for our students, for our teachers, and for the great public schools that make our community strong. I will fight privatization of our public schools.  Special interests and self-serving politicians seek to weaken our public schools by privatizing them. For 20 years, I’ve stood up to these private interests and politicians.  I’ve fought and will continue to fight to keep our children safe, protected, and well educated so they are ready for college or careers. 

What do you see as the top three challenges facing the district, and where do you stand on each?

  • Advocate for our public schools: As a former legislator, I am uniquely qualified to effectively fight for our district.  I understand how to get the most from Tallahassee lawmakers.
  • Improving our A-rated district: I will work to ensure every student comes to school ready to learn and graduate college or career ready.  I pledge to get our schools what the tools to succeed.
  • Keeping our students safe: Keeping our children and staff safe while at school is our moral obligation and my top priority.  We need to keep improving our safety measures to safeguard our students and to affect positive learning.

What is your opinion of the school district’s plan to ultimately set up an in-house police force?

Lawmakers in Tallahassee tried to find a simple solution to a complex problem and mandated we have law enforcement officers or armed “guardians” in our schools. I am totally opposed to arming our teachers with guns.  I believe only licensed law enforcement officers should have guns in our schools.   Law enforcement alone cannot protect our schools. Under my leadership, we have taken steps to secure our school perimeters, and funded programs to bolster the emotional support of students.  I believe in a community-based approach where we work together to proactively find ways to prevent a crisis like Parkland from happening. 

Discuss your position on Superintendent Todd Bowen.

I am proud of the accomplishments of our district.  Due to diligent work by our excellent teachers we received an “A” rating for the 15th consecutive year with a 4-percentage point increase over last year. Public support for Dr. Bowden remains mixed.  He made several missteps on critical issues and never earned the support of all of our teachers.  We all need to return our focus to our students. I propose we bring all the players together with a mediator to resolve our disagreements and move beyond the concern about the Superintendent to build our schools and make them even stronger.

What is your stance on charter schools?

I support local non-profit, community-based charter schools that address unique educational needs.  To earn my support, applicants must have a local board that can be held accountable by our parents, taxpayers and district. Tallahassee legislators aggressively continue to pass laws supporting the expansion of for-profit charter schools.  As your Board Member, I am the front line of defense in protecting our district from those who see our students as a way to take a slice of your tax dollars.   I’m opposed to these for-profit management companies and will continue to vote to stop them from expanding into Sarasota County.

What is your position on closing School Avenue on the campus of Sarasota High School?

All school campuses must be secure. I have an unwavering responsibility to proactively find ways to prevent a crisis like Parkland from happening in our schools. Under my leadership, we have taken steps to secure our school perimeters. We cannot have gaps that allow unidentified people to walk through our school grounds.  My first responsibility is to our students, staff and community. 


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