2018 School Board Candidate Questionnaire Responses

Karitsa Mosley Jones


Candidate, School Board District 5

Responses submitted May 2, 2018 to UnifiEd via Google Forms. Responses are published here exactly as submitted without editing.

 

Question 1 – Racial & Socioeconomic Desegregation
As a school board member, I commit to working together with the Hamilton County Department of Education (HCDE) to develop a plan to end socioeconomic and racial segregation. Yes or No. If yes, how do you plan to accomplish this goal? If no, why not?

Yes. My plan to help in accomplishing this goal is to continue to work with my peers on the school board and HCDE to implement and provide any and all opportunities to diversify our schools in all ways including socioeconomically and racially. These measures have already began with the establishment at HCDE of the office of Equity and Chief Equity officer. My desire would be to continue these efforts and advocate for further ways to expand these efforts. Hamilton county is a prime location demographically to truly integrate schools. Research shows that integrated schools produce successful students in all facets of life. We can do that here. We have started the process. We just have to see it through. It boils down to being intentional in doing so and choosing to do not only what is morally right for our children but what is economically sound for our county.

Question 2 – Racial & Socioeconomic Desegregation
As a school board member, I commit to actively partnering with community members to demand the end of socioeconomic and racial segregation in our schools. Yes or No. If yes, how do you plan to accomplish this goal? If no, why not?

Yes. Ideally, we need to ensure that grassroots organizing and strategy efforts with community member inputs are put in place for full commitment towards implementation of integration in all Hamilton County Schools. I will work with community leaders, members, and school communities to ensure that their voices are heard and that equitable access is provided to all students despite their demographics. We need true equitable, economic mobility for everyone in Hamilton County. I would love to see the socioeconomic situations improve for the students that live in the communities I serve. There are so many people, young, old and in between in our city affected by the lack of upward economic mobility needed to make their lives better. When leaders face and address this issue with viable solutions and commitment, lives will drastically improve. When we address the disparity in economic mobility we will change the trajectory to an upward slope for social concerns impeding communities such as crime, lack of employment, poor healthcare and disparities in public education. These issues go hand in hand.

Question 3 – Supporting the People in Our Schools
As a school board member, I commit to supporting better relationships and engagement by working together with the schools in my district to ensure students and teachers have a voice in issues that matter to them. Yes or No. If yes, how do you plan to accomplish this goal? If no, why not?

Yes. I will continue to work with the schools in my district just as I have from the beginning to ensure that their voices are heard in the issues that matter to them. This has always been important to me to do so because what matters to them matters the most to me. I am transparent, accessible and accountable to the school communities in my district. They know that they can count on me to listen and help them get their issues addressed. I was elected to represent my community and the schools within it. I am advocate always in this role. I will host community meetings and listening parties as I have in the past and continue to make myself available to my constituents in the various ways that I am now. I believe that we are always a movement individually but when we come together we are forces to be reckoned with.

Question 4 – Supporting the People in Our Schools
As a school board member, I commit to working with central office to ensure teaching and student programs provide personalized support, especially to those with special needs and minority identities (like English-language learners and LGBTQ+ students). Yes or No. If yes, how do you plan to accomplish this goal? If no, why not?

Yes. I will work with the central office administration to support the student populations addressed above. It is important that the district continues to implement practices that will be culturally sensitive and responsive in meeting the needs of the students. This can be done in teaching and instruction as well as student activities, organizations and learning experiences. Best practices are being identified throughout our country to effectively address this through personalized learning and culturally responsive teaching. I will work to advocate for the use of the best practices in these measures that would be applicable for our students in Hamilton County.

Question 5 – Community Engagement & Empowerment
As a school board member, I commit to working with school leadership to provide creative, accessible avenues for parents and community members to support schools and children. Yes or No. If yes, how do you plan to accomplish this goal? If no, why not?

Yes. I will continue to advocate for the full implementation of the community schools model in all Hamilton county schools. I have advocated for these since I ran for school board in 2014. This academic year was the start as we have opened a model at Red Bank High and soon the schools in the opportunity zones will have them in place. As a social worker, it is always in the forefront of my mind to address the socioeconomic disparities of the populations I serve. I often say that our students have such prevalent academic issues due to the socioeconomic hardships that they face in their communities. I believe that once we address these, the academic issues will begin to decline. However, this is not just an HCDE issue. This is a Hamilton County and City of Chattanooga issue as well. It will take all of us to rectify the problem. I believe that HCDE as the educational system can do our part to aid in the efforts by addressing the WHOLE child ( which includes the family unit) by continuing to do the work towards the implementation of the Community Schools Models, first in our low income and low performing school neighborhoods in efforts to address both the social and academic problems present and then spreading it abroad.

Question 6 – Community Engagement & Empowerment
As a school board member, I commit to partnering with local organizations and businesses to support and provide resources in our schools. Yes or No. If yes, how do you plan to accomplish this goal? If no, why not?

Yes. I will continue to work with local and D5 community businesses, organizations and the faith community as they provide resources and supports to our schools. In my current term, I have been able to build relationships with local corporations and community organizations that have adopted the schools in D5 and contributed both financially and physically to the well-being of our students and schools to meet unmet needs. I will continue to build these relationships and secure support /resources for our schools and students.

Question 7 – Supporting the Whole Child
As a school board member, I commit to working with schools to ensure students’ mental and emotional health needs are supported. Yes or No. If yes, how do you plan to accomplish this goal? If no, why not?

Yes. I will work to implement policies and continue to advocate for resources to meet the needs of the WHOLE child ( i.e. more social workers, behavioral specialists, therapists and mental health professionals). This advocacy is innately in me. I have advocated on a daily basis for the past 13 years for children, adults and their families in an array of environments addressing this very topic. A lot of our kids face ACES and trauma in their day to day lives. It is important that we as a system have programs in place that utilize trauma informed model and practical restorative justice practices that are sensitive to the psychosocial health of our children.

Question 8 – Supporting the Whole Child
As a school board member, I commit to partnering with and supporting community organizations to ensure children can access mentoring, field trips, and early childhood education. Yes or No. If yes, how do you plan to accomplish this goal? If no, why not?

Yes. I will continue to be an advocate for all children to have access to any learning experience that they need to succeed. As it relates to early learning as it sets the foundation that is needed for kindergarten readiness. I will also work with other community organizations and governances that are able to fund early learning. I will also advocate and work to maintain and increase relationships with the business and college communities in efforts to provide the partnerships needed to expose our children to real world experiences and project based learning/field trip experiences.

Question 9 – Funding & Budgeting
As a school board member, I commit to prioritizing funds for capital expenses to make sure all school facilities are safe and healthy learning spaces, and ensuring there is a long-term plan to keep them that way. Yes or No. If yes, how do you plan to accomplish this goal? If no, why not?

Yes. Currently, we as a board have had several discussions on long range planning in a variety of areas. It is imperative that we sit down and take a look at ways in which we can improve our processes. Especially as it relates to capital expenses and facilities maintenance. The capital maintenance in the district has been back logged for so long. It is the current plan of the board to do some long range planning in this area to provide better, safer and healthier learning environments.

Question 10 – Funding & Budgeting
As a school board member, I commit to prioritizing funding to recruit, support, and keep the best teachers. Yes or No. If yes, how do you plan to accomplish this goal? If no, why not?

Yes. Other than our amazing students, Teachers are one of the best assets we have here in Hamilton County. If we want the best, brightest and high quality teachers here in Hamilton county the we have to be able to effectively recruit and retain them. They have to feel valued and supported. Morale is everything. They also have to know that we believe in their skillset and value. One of the many ways to show our teachers this is to pay them what they are worth, educationally and for their experience. It matters indefinitely.

Question 11- Supporting the Whole Child
As a school board member, I commit to ensuring all students have access to early childhood education programs so every child enters kindergarten ready to learn. Yes or No. If yes, how do you plan to accomplish this goal? If no, why not?

Yes. Only 40% of our children ages 3-4 in Hamilton county have access some form of early learning. We have to work to change that number because as a result, only 4 out 10 of them are ready to learn when they reach a HCDE kindergarten class. This has to change. I will continue to work with and support the efforts of the Chattanooga 2.0 Early Matters Coalition to ensure that our kids are prepared. In addition, I will advocate for the increase of PRE K classrooms in Hamilton County.

Question 12 – UnifiEd PACT for Public Education
As a school board member, I commit to working with community partners and HCDE to expand community schools throughout the county to provide holistic support to neighborhoods and communities. Yes or No. If yes, how do you plan to accomplish this goal? If no, why not?

Yes. By fostering and continuing to build upon the relationships already established in the various communities with their community schools. Schools thrive when they receive the support of the communities that they serve and make up. However, the communities cannot support the needs and efforts of the schools if they don’t know. It’s a two way street. We have to engage our community members and invite them to be a part of the solution. Meanwhile, our community has to intentionally become involved in our schools to help the common good. WE are always stronger working together.

Question 13 – UnifiEd PACT for Public Education
As a school board member, I commit to setting standards for our board and actively participating in a transparent self-assessment process. Yes or No. If yes, how do you plan to accomplish this goal? If no, why not?

Yes. I am open to participating in a self-assessment of the board and our standards. Self-evaluation and reflection is always a good thing. I struggle when the community feels that we as a school board aren’t transparent, because we are. I think traditionally for many years this may not have been the case, but times have changed.

Question 14 – UnifiEd PACT for Public Education
As a school board member, I commit to ensuring current school system funds are efficiently spent. Yes or No. If yes, how do you plan to accomplish this goal? If no, why not?

Yes. Throughout my entire term, I have worked to ensure that we are good stewards of our funds while always doing what is right by the students, teachers, and schools of Hamilton County. I will continue to work in this manner by using my voice and vote for efficient spending.

Question 15 – UnifiEd PACT for Public Education
As a school board member, I commit to working with HCDE to create a 5-year budget and strategic plan connecting money to improved student outcomes. Yes or No. If yes, how do you plan to accomplish this goal? If no, why not?

Yes. I am in full support of the board and executive cabinet of HCDE working to create and implementing long range budget and strategic planning. We have already began this process with our strategic planning efforts as of last fall. We have plans to begin long range budget planning (ex. 3-5 years) in the upcoming year or so. Discussions have taken place as to when and how this planning will start and what it will look like. I will continue to support these efforts.