Name: Eric Robinson
Family: I am married to Christine Robinson and with three children.
Bio: I am a U.S. Navy veteran. I have a bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida and a Master of Business Administration from Florida International University. I am the managing partner for a CPA firm in Venice. I have been on the boards of directors for United Way of South Sarasota, South County Habitat for Humanity and Sarasota Humane Society. I am a member of American Legion Venice Elks Lodge and Sertoma of Venice. I am the former chairman of Sarasota Manatee International Airport a former trustee for the State College of Florida. I have also served on the Financial Advisory Board for Sarasota County School Board. I am currently on the audit committee for Sarasota County Schools and a board member for Sarasota County Schools.
Why are you running for office?
I am running for office to make a positive impact on my community. I was able to attack the achievement gap by helping to change the curriculum at Emma E. Booker. I also spearheaded bringing the Dive Into Reading program into Sarasota. I have had a positive impact in my first term and fully expect to expand on my success.
What are three policy priorities you hope to accomplish, if elected?
- Work on closing the achievement gap;
- Improve oversight over the budgeting and spending process;
- Create a more equitable funding model for our schools.
What are your concerns regarding student learning under pandemic conditions and how will you work to address them?
My major concern for the students as result of the pandemic is the learning loss and any long-term impact it might have. I am especially concerned how this effected our ESE students. We also need to reprioritize our budgeting priorities. During the crisis, we need to be able to reallocate funds to address issues that arise out of the crisis and possibly delay projects that would divert the attention of staff during this period.
How will you as a member of the school board measure the success of the district’s new superintendent?
Our core function is to educate our students. As such I will determine success by how our students become better educated.
If elected, what can and will you do to lessen the strife that has existed among board members?
We need to listen to one another. I do not believe having all 5-0 votes is necessarily a good thing. Sometimes you must take a principled stand. For example, I could not vote with the majority when they wanted to investigate a victim of sexual harassment to intimidate and harass her. I have voted against items that shifted money and attention away from the classroom and into administration.
What is your position on the following:
- Charter schools: I support charter schools if they offer a special or unique purpose that the district cannot do and perform at a rate higher than the district.
- The state’s recently expanded voucher-scholarship program: There are two ways to address Corporate Tax Scholarships (vouchers).The first is to go to Tallahassee and demand they become illegal. Second is to make our schools better. We should spend our efforts on making our schools the best they can be for everyone. I think this starts with budgeting based upon an equitable funding model. We need to allocate our resources where they will do the most good. Vouchers are used mainly by poor minority students. If you do not do something to improve their education, then you should not blame Tallahassee if they want to leave to pursue educational opportunities somewhere else.
What would you say the Sarasota School Board and System can do to help recruit teachers?
I would start by improving the environment and culture that teachers must work under. You cannot solve the problem by simply throwing money at it. For example, I championed offering our teachers free after care and pre care for their students. The cost does the district is minimal, but it improves the working environment for the teachers.