Candidate for Corbett School District School Board
April 21, 2011
A little about who I am:
Victoria Purvine: I moved to Corbett in 1999 and enrolled my older son Morgon into the second grade. The next year Max joined Mrs. Ortman’s kindergarten class and school became the main topic at the dinner table. Between the two of them I have been involved in T-ball, basketball (CYS), football, wrestling, band, choir, academic decathalon, AP classes, AP tests, graduation fundraisers, graduation and homework, homework, homework! The boys travel with us when we are on jobs and have spent summers in locations from LaPush, WA on a Coast Guard base, (with a quick trip to Canada), to spring break on the Snake River in Heise, ID. We all spent the start of one summer in Ely, Nevada where Max decided he wanted to skin a rattlesnake, so he and I got one, and learned how to skin it the hard way! We love coming back to our home in the woods when our jobs are finished. We have great neighbors, people throughout the community you can count on to be there for you and if you are in trouble on the side of the road, you know someone will stop and ask if you need help. Corbett is a wonderful place to make a life.
Why are you running for the CSD board?
Victoria Purvine: I am running for the School Board because I want to help those students and parents whose needs are not being met in the Corbett School District. I want to help provide the information they need to empower them in negotiating the sometimes confusing educational system we have today. After attending many school board meetings I have been made aware of the frustration and apathy that is part of our school community. While many parents feel their children are doing well, there are also many who tell me that they are just waiting for their kids to get out of school and put this all behind them.
There are parents talking about sending their children to other school districts because of a lack of responsiveness to their children’s needs. Some parents have already left. Some have never enrolled. Many parents feel it is important to know how their children are actually doing in school and would like to see grades return to the classroom. There are parents who are angry because their child is in the sixth grade and can’t spell basic words, and others who tell me their kids are running two to three years behind in reading and are not where they should be in math. There are parents who have told me they have asked repeatedly for their child to be tested for an IEP and were told that we don’t have IEP’s in Corbett because each student learns at their own pace.
Some parents fought, some gave up, some left, but none had positive feelings regarding the school that should have been teaching their child. Other parents, and grandparents, have told me that their child is now out of school and while they were trying to get their child to graduation, they felt they were constantly fighting the school when they needed help to put their child on the road to success. They were not given information needed to help them navigate challenging administrative decisions, or at least pointed in the direction they needed to go to get answers. Some have even hired attorneys, but I have to ask, is that really the way we want these parents to have to go?
What impact do you hope to have on the Board?
Victoria Purvine: Based on the research I have done, part of the School Board’s job is to listen to the concerns of the community and address the concerns in the following meeting. I have listened to parents and community members speak to the Board regarding many issues; the need to make cuts instead of continuing to spend beyond the budget, crowding of the parking lot, traffic snarls in front of the school, wanting microphones at the meetings so all can hear speakers, etc and these items are never brought up at the next meeting. These should be addressed, either with solutions or a chance to discuss with the community members what solutions they would like to see, and a timeline to get it implemented!
The research also states that while the usual time for speaking is three minutes, it is encouraged to have the person who is going over on time to sit down until all remaining people have spoken, and then have them come back up to finish their point. I realize time limits need to be imposed to keep meetings on track, but a little extra would go a long way to getting the community involved again in the school. I want to hear from the community. I want people to feel that when they show up, we do care, and we do want to help. I’d like to be able to bring changes so input from the community is welcome, not where the audience is told they can’t speak and will have to wait until the meetings are over. (Especially when there are fewer than ten people at the meetings!)
What new ideas might you bring to the position you are applying for?
Victoria Purvine: I would like to bring the idea that we should go back to what the Board is supposed to be doing. According to the Oregon School Boards Association the major responsibility of the board is to set policy. The Board then hires the Superintendent who puts the policies into practice. The policy manual that we have is very vague, and does not spell out steps that should be taken by the staff to notify parents of problems, put in writing the problems and the actions agreed upon by all parties involved and show a follow up.
I have had parents tell me their children were removed from the Corbett school without written notice saying there were problems, without written notice that the child was being removed, and without any plan to return the student to the school. Yet, if the parent wants to file any complaints, there are actually procedures (in writing) that need to be gone through starting in the classroom and working their way up to the School Board. These complaint forms are not given to the parent when verbal discussion is going on, and verbal complaints are not filed or noted against a staff member because parents are unaware they need to be in writing. I believe that both sides should have to follow the same process and procedures when difficulties arise.
Also, the job of the School Board is to set Goals and evaluate the progress towards those goals. To do this you would need a quantifiable set of goals that are easy to track and show that progress is being made. Goals like paying off the outstanding Flex fund accounts, having line item expenses available on line for anyone to pull up reports on, making sure all School Board minutes are on line within 10 days of being approved, all attachments included, including letters that are submitted for public record and those statements by community members who spoke at the meeting and what they had to say.
What are the strengths you have to bring to this position?
Victoria Purvine: Having worked with the Government for several years doing contracting, I have learned it is important to: double check information, have all information put in writing, get signed off on any paperwork before going ahead with a change so there are no misunderstandings later, get more than one bid on a project, if you can’t get information you can believe to go up to the next level for your facts, realize there can be a better way to do something, compromise and still be true to your beliefs. Its okay to say, “show me where it says that in writing”, and jotting down notes during a conversation and having all there initial the copies is a wise business practice that eliminates trouble later.
I have noticed that during meetings when some matters are brought up, the response has sometimes been, “Why? don’t you Trust…(various staff members names) ?” I realize this is a no-win question and serves the purpose of shutting a person down or changing the subject, but it is not productive or engaging in uninhibited dialogue. This goes against the idea of the OSBA that the Board is to engage the community in public education, rather having the exact opposite effect. I want to bring the public into the schools again, it makes for a stronger community.
What do you feel are the challenges facing the CSD and school board today and what would you like to see happen to address them?
Victoria Purvine: I think one of the big challenges facing the CSD and school board is the lack of communication between the Charter and in-District parents! We have no way of contacting the Charter side to discuss sports, Booster events, school board meetings, community forums that are put on by local citizens, talk about concerns we all have regarding where our children are in learning and goal setting, etc. We have taken TWO schools and put them into one building. The promises made to both sides that nothing would change, that we’d just be on opposite sides of the hallway have not panned out. Students who had friends in the Charter don’t share recess, lunch or chances to see each other and keep in touch. The sharing and joint working together towards a common goal that we had when it was in-district transfers has changed and animosity between the two schools has been aggravated by the Administrative attitude.
We are managing by crisis, making cuts and trimming days to keep all the staff employed instead of spreading the cost out over the largest section of the budget. The staff is whacked away until the school is operating at bare bones for maintenance and care of its largest physical asset, with a refusal to increase the classroom sizes by two to four kids repeated over and over. The attitude of continuing to grow no matter what the financial situation has put us in an untenable position where something must be done soon, and it’s going to hurt. Right now the economy has placed hardships on locals who haven’t gotten raises since the recession began and many have lost their jobs, or taken pay cuts to keep the jobs they had. We were told at the last budget meeting regarding the Charter that you can’t get blood from a turnip, but that realization doesn’t spill over to include the local, property-tax paying citizens.
To help our schools we need to stop the antagonism created between the Charter and the District parents by either: removing the Charter from our school, or stopping the rhetoric that comes from the top down that forces a divide. We need to get contact information with an all-inclusive, on-line directory so we can function as one school, sharing ideas, information and important school events that affect everyone. We are going to need to take a realistic look at the economy and make the cuts we need to make, well in advance and spread out the cost so personal budgets can be adjusted. If pay to play is going up, parents need to know NOW so they can budget. If AP exams are going to be made optional so parents will be carrying the costs, they need to be warned in advance so they can put money aside every month to have it saved. If we need to cut four to six days from school so we can have music and the staff we need to take care of the school, that needs to be decided so the school community can plan accordingly. If we make some cuts, show the community we are trying to do the right thing, I think there is a good possibility the community would support the schools with a small operating levy once the Grade School is paid off in 2013.
Victoria Purvine invites people to download her campaign sign to use on their cars.
Select this link to download the pdf to print.
Each candidate has been invited to participate and share their personal statements and answers to five questions. If you would like to see the list of candidates invited to participate and that are running for the CSD schoool board, please select here.