- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Q Superintendent Michael Martirano’s contract ends this school year after serving two four-year terms. Would you vote to offer him a new contract, or would you look for a new superintendent?
Allen: I would vote to give him a new contract. I believe that the superintendent has met our expectations set orignally eight years ago: improving communication, increasing student achievement, offering choice in programs and significantly improving relations with our employee associations.
Q. Which of the initiatives to serve student academic needs put in place in recent years has been most successful? Which has not?
Allen: Most successful would be Fairlead Academy, STEM, charter school, APEX program. I would like to see the Global and International Studies and Finance Academy numbers increase. But at the same time I believe they are offering choices for our students and the number of students they’re serving supports the programs continuing.
Q. Has the board of education effectively made the case to the county commissioners for adequate funding for the schools?
Allen: We continue to work with the commissioners to help them understand the mandates put upon the school system by the state and federal governments as well as the ongoing needs of the system and state law impacting education. Those conversations have ongoing both publicly and privately. We have a good relationship with the commissioners and we continue to try to make our points.
Q. What issues should be included in diversity training for students and staff?
Allen: We have a good start with our pillars of character education, because it’s about respect. Treating others the way you want to be treated and I think giving the benefit of the doubt to others.
The board is very mindful of community standards and comfort levels and our expectation is that the diversity training will respect our community standards in terms of what will be presented.
There was some suggestion that we would be somehow endorsing alternative lifestyles that the community is clearly not comfortable with. That has never been my understanding of what this diversity training would entail. At the same time, respecting another person for who they are is part of this training. But the lessons specifically send students home to talk about issues with their parents so that students will understand their parents’ perspectives and their family beliefs ...
When students are in school we have expectations of how we treat others, and we are going to hold to that.
Q. Do you think the school board participates in enough public discussion on issues before making decisions?
Allen: I have always advocated for discussions to be held in public and that advocacy happens behind the scenes as well as publicly. I think there have been times that if I knew something was coming forward I would have asked that we change the schedule.
I made my feelings known publicly about contracting out temporary employees ... That absolutely did not get the public time enough. The people affected should have been told back in the May-June time frame.
.... I have continued to advocate for board members being notified in a more timely fashion about our agenda so that we have that input. The chair controls much of that and if the chair has a different opinion then, or a different thought process, then I advocate to the chair.
The superintendent doesn’t bring things forward that he knows are not going to fly.
I continue to think that what I bring to the table is my willingness to question and not to just expect things and my knowledge beyond just this [school] system through the work that I do at the state through Maryland and the committee meetings I attend there.