Relevant Experience, Education or Civic Involvement:
I am currently serving on the Board of Education at Southern Door Schools as the Clerk in my first three-year term and am involved in the following school committees: Education, Partners in Health/Wellness, School Board Scholarship, and Technology. I co-chair the Southern Door Schoolyard Garden.
I have a variety of experience working with people and important issues. As a freelance writer for local newspapers and magazines, I research issues and connect with people in many different roles in the community. In my past position at HELP of Door County, I coordinated Domestic Abuse services for victims of abuse, developed innovative programs and provided community education and training. I coordinate projects at my church, have volunteered with local nonprofits and participate in 4-H activities. I am a Class of 2000 Leadership of Door County graduate.
My education includes a Masters of Social Work from the University of Minnesota – Duluth and a Bachelors of Social Work from Carthage College, Kenosha. I graduated from Southern Door High School in 1991.
I have three children (ages seven, 10 and 12) and they attend Southern Door Schools. I am married to Jarrod Parks.
What do you think is the greatest issue facing public education, and, if re-elected, how would you address it?
Public education strives to ensure that all students are prepared to meet their future goals, whether their career paths include furthering their education at a college or technical school, directly moving into the work force, serving in the military, owning a small business, giving back through civic service, or an array of additional opportunities. Preparing them for this journey begins long before high school. Having a solid foundation of reading, writing, math, history, science and the arts in elementary school will open the door to opportunities in middle and high school. That solid foundation is built by having the best team of educators and staff in front of our students, having the resources needed to prepare students for the future, and offering extracurricular activities for students to explore their talents.
Southern Door’s strong tradition of providing an exceptional education will continue if the school board and administration are able to focus on the mission and goals set before us. To do so, we need to focus on the good work that needs to be accomplished, celebrate our successes, and keep a careful eye on the horizon – to be proactive rather than reactive to the education needs of our students.
How would you address the district’s budget shortfall? Do you have any specific ideas for cutting costs or generating incomes?
The school board as a whole has been addressing the budget shortfall and must be prepared to continue to do so because of the decreasing state aid formula that is affecting every school in Door County. As a board, we work with the administrative team to continue to control costs, cut spending and increase revenue. We collaborate to find solutions and accomplish this by asking stakeholders – parents, staff and taxpayers – for cost-cutting and revenue-generating ideas, refining the ideas, discussing them, and selecting the combination we believe work, under present circumstances, for our school. No one person has all of the answers.
While careful evaluation of costs is always applied, there will soon come a tipping point where Southern Door will be challenged to provide the excellent education our community has come to expect within the confines of continued decreasing revenues. Our work on the budget shortfall is critical. Continued collaboration and revenue generation activities are key to answering this tipping point or we will face the same crisis the Florence School District did a decade ago.
What has caused the animosity in the school community, specifically regarding Marilyn Fitzgerald-White’s alleged harassment over “B4 Southern Door?” How can that be solved?
Unfortunately, someone or some group of people have been expressing their bitter hostility through harassing behavior. On the receiving end are people who want to express positive regard for our school. They have been met by basic bullying behavior. It is much easier to tear down another person who does not share the same opinion than to sit down and to work out a solution or at least “agree to disagree.”
We can turn the tide on this by acknowledging that we find these attitudes and behaviors unacceptable. It will take each and every one of us working toward that goal and expecting to see change and actions that match the expectations. Signing the Door County Civility Project’s Civility Pledge is a good start. Sign the pledge because you are compelled to be a part of the positive change in our school community and then strive to uphold it. No one is perfect but we all can work to do better. We have a lot to celebrate and build upon in our school and community, so let’s get on with our good work, shall we?
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