ALLYSON'S GUIDING PRINCIPLES
Put Students First
Make ethical, thoughtful, fiscally responsible decisions focusing on student needs
Engage the community on policy, budget and student outcomes
Be a Team Player
Work with other School Board members and the Superintendent to advance the vision and mission of DeKalb Schools
Enhance relationships between the School District and business, government and community leaders
CURRENT BOARD OF EDUCATION ISSUES
What are your thoughts on changes to the ESPLOST list?
Many agencies, businesses, and school districts have scaled back capital projects due to the increase in construction costs. I’m not surprised DCSD has been impacted by this trend. Fortunately, the Board approved funding for a Comprehensive Master Plan (CMP) which will include "a total review of overcrowded schools, under-utilized schools, feeder patterns, school consolidations, instructional programming, new construction, renovations, etc.." The CMP should be complete in time to inform the next ESPLOST list prior to a November, 2021 referendum.
How is the District responding to COVID-19?
The Board of Education is fully supporting Superintendent Watson-Harris in her decision-making surrounding this crisis. Ms. Watson-Harris is in regular contact with the Georgia DOE, the Metro Superintendents Network, the Governor's Office, DeKalb County Government, the DeKalb Department of Public Health, leaders of local municipalities, DEMA and GEMA. She is also working with partners, such as Emory University and the Atlanta Community Food Bank.
For the 2020-2021 school year, all schools will open with distance/remote learning. Superintendent Watson-Harris will monitor the COVID crisis and adjust plans based on the latest public health guidance. When COVID community spread is substantial, the online model is the safest choice. However, this will be re-evaluated monthly, and other learning models, such as a hybrid option, may be considered.
What are your thoughts on charter schools?
I’m a fan of charter schools, especially those which align with the original concept. Albert Shankar, one of the founders of the charter school movement, developed the idea of charter schools to engage students who otherwise might not progress through school. The concept allowed educators to collaborate on creating a new type of school to creatively address the needs of students in danger of dropping out. Charter schools could be free of the usual regulations and serve as an idea incubator for public schools. The idea was for charter schools to share their innovative strategies with traditional public schools, not to compete with them.
DCSD prioritizes school choice, through charters, magnets, and special programs. During our strategic planning process, DCSD stakeholders told us they value school choice. Offering educational options allows parents to meet the unique educational needs of their children. DCSD has offered more options with more of a focus on equity and access than any other Metro Atlanta district. DCSD’s intention is to support ALL students. That means we must have transparent, equitable funding for both charter schools and traditional schools.
What is your position on "cascading redistricting"?
Several years ago, I was part of a committee of school principals and designated parent leaders who reviewed Secondary School Facilities Plan and Feasibility Study options. One of the options presented was a solution to solve overcrowding by redistricting rather than building new schools/additions. It pushed kids out of their neighborhood schools, and sometimes even forced them to travel past adjacent schools. This potentially left students/families unable to participate in many aspects of school/extracurricular life due to lack of transportation and access. If the Comprehensive Master Plan suggests this type of redistricting is best for our students, I will reconsider it. .
Will you be endorsing any individuals running for elected office?
No. The Board has strict policies about separating personal and Board activities. In the past, I've declined to make endorsements, whether as an individual or as a Board member, because the line between them can be blurred. Please see the DCSD Board policy on "Board Member Political Activity" for more information.
What is your position on the audit committee?
I believe the Board of Education should have a functioning audit committee. During 2019, I asked for the Audit Committee to meet or for the Board Chair to convene a Committee of the Whole on the audit. I discovered that the Board of Education's Audit Committee had not met since 2012. Obviously, the Board's oversight of the audit has not been working. I'm in favor of changing the Board policy to create an Audit Committee that works. I'm less invested in the makeup of the committee than I am the fact that it meets and studies the annual audit.