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Candidate Q&A: Fulton County Board of Education, District 5

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In the May 24 election, Johns Creek and Alpharetta voters will choose between Kimberly Ware and Kristin McCabe for the District 5 school board seat. The incumbent, Linda McCain, is not seeking re-election

Profile: Tell readers a little about yourself.

Ware: I am a Johns Creek mom who has been volunteering in our schools through my family's journey through Shakerag Elementary, River Trail Middle and Northview High. My daughter graduated from Northview in 2020 and my son is currently a junior there.

McCabe: I have been a resident of Johns Creek for the past 18 years. I earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of South Florida. My husband Dan and I have been active community members. He was a founding Johns Creek City Council member, and I've been engaged with Fulton County Schools for the past 15 years supporting our two daughters’ educational journey.


Question 1: What do you see as the greatest challenge to public school education? And what would be your plan(s) to address that issue? 

Ware: Currently, public schools focus on the student's ability to learn content specific topics and skills in a fixed amount of time.

Kimberly Ware

WARE

This produces graduates who can't advocate for themselves, don't know their own strengths and are not able to think critically. A way to address this would be to focus on whole child learning in which children are immersed in learning environments that foster a sense of community and encourage problem solving, goal setting, creativity, autonomy and self-accountability. This approach will help students develop a sense of belonging, an understanding of self and an awareness of their place in the world.

McCabe: The greatest challenge facing public school education is the significant learning loss that has occurred over the past two years during the pandemic and recovering that loss with the students.

Kristin McCabe

MCCABE

We currently have more than half of third grade students that are not reading at grade level. With regards to math, many of our students are not performing at grade level. It is time to focus on the foundations of education. We need to put our energy and resources into strategies we know work. This is not time for fads.

What the pandemic has done to our Fulton County students and students across the nation with regards to their social and developmental perspective is unknown. It is time to prioritize face-to-face instruction in a welcoming environment. We need common sense education for our students.

We need baseline testing to determine the student’s current skill and knowledge levels. Based on those findings we need to implement targeted interventions such as small group instruction, extended learning, expanded learning and tutoring with measurable results.


Question 2: Fulton County taxpayers contribute nearly 60 cents of every dollar spent by the Fulton County School System. That number is expected to increase in the next five years, despite declining enrollment systemwide. Do you believe the Fulton County School System has been a good financial steward of its revenue, and what, if any, actions would you take as a board member to improve financial efficiency?

Ware: Fulton County Schools has been a good financial steward of revenue. It has been hard at times for parents to see the value of big expenditures. One example of this is iReady, an adaptive online learning platform. As a board member, I would work to communicate why FCS invests funds in new (and existing) programs.

McCabe: I believe FCS has been a responsible fiduciary with our tax dollars as they have maintained one of the lowest millage rates in the metro area while remaining debt free. I do believe there is always room for improvement and as a new board member I would request an analysis of all our training and educational platforms to determine their cost effectiveness. I believe ineffective platforms should be discontinued which may result in cost savings.


Question 3: Politics are increasingly entering the classroom through legislation and external conversations. Do you believe there is a place for political debate on social issues in the classroom? Why or why not?

Ware: I feel classrooms should be safe spaces for students to grapple with all of the current issues of the day. Politics is definitely a current issue. Students deserve teachers who can remain neutral while ensuring the discussion remains age appropriate, and empathy, collaboration and critical thinking are practiced.

McCabe: As for politics in the classroom, at the elementary level I do not believe there is a need for political debate on social issues. At this age, students need to focus on the basic educational standards. As for middle and high school age students, I am for age-appropriate classroom discussion on social issues given they meet the educational standards. I believe these discussions should take place in the applicable class such as history or U.S. Government. Additionally, if classroom discussions do occur, I support and encourage all sides of the issue be presented and discussed neutrally.