Residents United for a Livable Emeryville (RULE), a public community activist group that works for Emeryville resident empowerment, interviewed all four candidates running for the Emery School Board in the November 4th election. Below, the Tattler presents the third in a four part series presenting the Emery School Board candidates participating in the RULE survey. The four will be highlighted in alphabetical order, running every other day in the Tattler (or thereabouts).
Emery School Board Candidate Donn Merriam
The voters are to pick from three of the four candidates running. Here are Donn Merriam's answers to the RULE survey:
1) What is your view of charter schools? How should the District respond to any applications it might receive to create a charter school within District boundaries?
For a district of Emeryville's size it wouldn't be prudent to entertain the idea of incorporating a charter school. The small size of our district provides us with a unique advantage that allows us to be flexible in meeting the future demands and the ability to integrate dynamic yet proven teaching methods.
2) What, in your view, is the primary mission of the District?
Everyone wants the best environment for educating the youth of Emeryville but it goes much deeper than that. The primary mission is to ensure all students receive a quality education. Education that goes beyond academics, it includes social and emotional aspects as well. The Board has a responsibility to make sure this occurs.
3) As an individual trustee, how would you want to interact with teachers? Would you want to meet with teachers as a group, individually, and if so, how frequently? Or would you primarily rely on the superintendent or public Board meetings to communicate with teachers?
Meeting with teachers would be flexible (one on one or in a group). Interaction would be facilitated by appropriate means but within the requirements of the bylaws of the Board.
4) What is the appropriate role of standardized tests? How would you use the scores? Should scores be used to evaluate the performance of administrators or teachers?
Standardized test should not be the sole means to gauge student progress. Working with teachers and the administration, a middle ground should be established in order to evaluate the student, teacher, and administration progress.
5) In recent years the District has fired or reduced the hours of some staff in favor of outsourcing school services such as the breakfast and lunch programs. When is it appropriate to outsource an existing school service? What factors should guide these decisions?
Reallocation of resources is always a difficult situation. All aspects must be considered when change may occur. In some cases it may behoove the district to consider an outside resource due to the district’s size. However great care would be taken in order to maintain a level of quality at or above its replacement.
6) What role should a Trustee play in District fund-raising from businesses, non-profits, and grant-making institutions?
It should be pursued within reason. If opportunities existed that would benefit the district, then it should be explored.
7) The District controls three properties. How should it allocate resources amongst these properties? Assuming the completion of the Emeryville Center of Community Life (ECCL) in 2016 and the use of the San Pablo Avenue site for K-12 instruction and administrative offices, what should the District do with the Anna Yates and Ralph Hawley sites?
Based on the possible increase in future enrollment due to our city’s growth, the existing sites could be utilized as expansion to meet those needs. Prior to that time, they could be used to generate income to the district in the form of rental or leasing options.
8) Should Emeryville schools receive contributions directly, or should a third party manage them?
The use of a third party entity to manage contributions would depend how efficient their services are (i.e., fees, contractual obligations, etc.). Or if it were not in the district's best interest, then an in-house approach would be more appropriate.