May 31, 2003 Special Election Coverage

Sunday Coward's Answers to the Leader's Questions

               Are you in favor of or opposed to the 2003-2004 budget and why?

Yes, I am in favor of the 2003-04 budget.  As a public school system, we must provide quality educational programs and services for all students regardless of academic preparedness and socioeconomic status. The New York State Education Department has provided a “one-size-fits-all” standards-based curriculum that assumes that all students learn at the same pace. I am a proponent of high standards for all. However, being a realist, I know that we must meet students where they are - developmentally and educationally - and then, provide academic services that will enable them to meet and exceed the State’s educational standards. In lieu of adequate aid to fund these State mandates, the District has identified ways to increase student achievement while creatively maximizing its existing resources.

The proposed budget will provide funding to restore Department Heads at the secondary level, upgrading facilities to meet safety codes, increase professional development opportunities, purchase textbooks, improve educational services for students with disabilities, and upgrade technology.

Why are you running for the school board?

As a Freeport Public Schools graduate (Columbus, Archer Street, Atkinson, Dodd, and FHS), I know that we have dedicated teachers, administrators, and staff.  I know that everyone wants the students to succeed.  While there may be some disagreement on how to increase student achievement, there is no doubt that Freeport residents care about their community.

I am seeking re-election because I believe we need continuity and stability on the Freeport School Board and within the school district. Currently, the District is implementing the Superintendent’s restructuring plans that will directly impact student performance. I believe that my presence and input provides a “voice” to residents interested in returning Freeport ’s public school system to prominence. With two teenagers who attend J. W. Dodd Middle School , I know how important parental involvement is in a child’s education. I look forward to continued work with the Freeport PTA Council and various external groups to promote collaborative community outreach to promote and enhance student learning.

Are you in favor of or opposed to the proposition increasing the number of Board members to nine and why?

I am not in favor of increasing the number of Board members to nine. It is very difficult to find consensus with five Board members. Adding four more members would make an already challenging position more difficult.

What is the most important issue facing the District?

The most important issue facing the District is finding creative ways to improve student achievement with limited funding.

What is the role of a School Board member?

I believe that the role of a school board member is to set District policies and ensure fiscal prudence.

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