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Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Election 2018: Emery School Board Candidate Katy Brown

School Board Election 2018
Candidate Questionnaire

The Tattler presents the 2018 Candidates Questionnaire; School Board edition.  Five candidates are running for three seats, making this a very consequential election that will constitute a majority on the five member Board.  The order of presentation for this series was chosen randomly.  Only one candidate's answers will be posted on a given day but regular Tattler stories might be interspersed in the sequence of candidates and there might be more than a day between candidate postings.
Readers may use the search bar to see the candidate's answers as they are posted by typing in 'School Board 2018 Candidates Questionnaire' or the candidate's name; Katy Brown, Ken Bukowski, Brynnda Collins, Susan Donaldson or Sarah Nguyen.
We thank all the candidates offering their services to the benefit of our school district, the parents and children.

The election is on November 6th.

Katy Brown
Parent/Tax Accountant

Name the top three problems with EUSD right now and what are your suggestions for how to deal with them? 
1- Attracting and retaining excellent teachers - working at Emery has to be a great job, which means competitive compensation, providing the resources teachers need to do their jobs, and effective leadership.
2- Funding - we can't rely on the state to provide us everything we need. We should develop a fundraising plan that looks outside the student body and their families to support our schools. 
3- Student success - I would like to see more career training and community focus, rather than looking only at test scores. I think we should look for ways to partner with businesses in our community to offer internships and other training opportunities to students nearing graduation.

How do we know if a school superintendent is doing a good job?  Is there any way to measure it?  Are there objective components?
A superintendent's job can look different depending on the needs of the district. As with any job, clear goals and expectations need to be set by the board, and the superintendent needs to be given regular feedback on their progress toward goals, areas that need further development, and areas of success. All good performance goals are written to be measurable and objective. The school's overall health (academic, instructional, financial, etc) reflects whether the superintendent's performance goals are in line with the district's needs and whether the superintendent is performing at an acceptable level. There are many examples of guidelines for evaluating superintendent performance from organizations like The American Association of School Administrators.

Would you be willing to consider examining the idea of melding EUSD with Berkeley Unified if they would be amenable to that?  Why or why not.
I am always willing to consider reasonable and well thought out proposals for improvement, including this one, but from what I know now, I doubt that merging with Berkeley will be in the best interest of our students. As a small district, we have the opportunity and responsibility to create an educational program that best serves the students in our community. Becoming the small "problem" school in the larger context of Berkeley Unified does not seem likely to improve any of the issues we currently face. And from what I understand, Berkeley Unified has rejected this idea, so I would need more information to understand whether this is really a viable option. 

EUSD has had the worst teacher retention record of any district in the Bay Area for at least four straight years.  Former superintendent Rubio said that was a feature of his tenure, not a bug….a sign he was doing his job.  Do you agree that was needed and if so, was Superintendent Rubio the right person for the job?
High employee turnover is never a great sign, and I believe that people quit bosses, not jobs. I was never able to get to know Superintendent Rubio, because when we tried to schedule a phone call with him to discuss our daughter's experience at the school and our concerns about the ECCL not being ready when school started two years ago, he never returned our calls or emails. This was one of the major factors in our decision to un-enroll our daughter that year. I'm excited to work with and to get to know Dr. Scott as our new superintendent. It will be important for the board to use metrics to evaluate Dr. Scott's performance, and to make those criteria known to her early. 

Are you aware of EUSD’s academic ranking among Bay Area districts?  Has it been trending up or down? 
It's been pretty terrible for a long time. But we live here, and this is our school. Rather than continuing to complain, I am running for School Board to try to make a difference. Academic performance will always suffer when teachers and parents lack the resources and support they need for success.

Between parents, teachers or the administration (Superintendent, managers); who should play the leading role in general at EUSD and specifically in the formation of policy?  
Administration exists to support teachers in their jobs and to provide structure and resources, and it is generally administration's role to set policy. They can't do it alone, though: teachers are practitioners, uniquely positioned to know what their students need, and the extent of parent involvement often is the measure of a successful school. It is true that all three have to work together to create real improvements in student success. But none of them can achieve the school's goals unilaterally. Cooperation is the only way toward progress.

When was the last time you voted?  How would you describe your political views?
I am a mail-in voter, and I vote in every election. I am generally liberal on social issues and slightly more conservative on fiscal issues (because the money is rarely used how it was promised to be used when we vote), but I am not registered with any political party. 

How do you feel about School Resource Officers at ECCL? 
I think the police in Emeryville should know our students, should recognize them around town, and should develop positive relationships with our youth. I wish we had police officers who actually walked a beat, so we could all get to know them in a non-confrontational context. I bet a lot fewer negative interactions with police would take place if the police took the time to get to know the citizens they serve outside of their cars. Let's all see each other as people.

Have you ever attended a school board meeting in Emeryville? PTO meeting?  Met with district administration?  What involvement have you had with the school?  How familiar are you with its management?
Yes, I have been to board meetings and PTO meetings again this year since school has started. I have not had the opportunity to meet with district administration at any length, but I will make time to do that whether or not I am elected to the board. My husband and I have volunteered at the school and in our daughter's classroom many, many times throughout the years. A lot has changed in the past two years, so I'm still getting to know the newer teachers and management.

How much money do you plan to spend on your campaign?  Do you plan to fundraise?
At this time, I plan to spend less than $2,000 on the campaign. I have received some contributions from local stakeholders, including the Emery Teachers Association, but I do not plan to fundraise. I'm doing this only to try to make a difference at the school, so I don't have any long-term political plans or any need to get to know voters outside of our community. 

What is your first goal (or goals) when you take office?
I would like to take a deep dive into the financials. I am a nonprofit tax accountant, so I review and advise on financials and compliance for nonprofit organizations regularly, including several nonprofits within our city borders. I also advise on nonprofit board composition, fiduciary responsibility, governance, policies, and operations. While a public school board is different from a charitable organization, many of those principles hold true. I would like to look at where funding shortfalls are expected and how we can address them without trying to tap the funds of our student and parent community, many of whom qualify as low-income. I would like to understand what goals the board has set for Dr. Scott, and see where I can add value to the district's governance.


  1. Katy Brown seems like a smart and INDEPENDENT thinker for the school board. Just what we need I'd say.

  2. Thank you for printing my statement! Brian brought to my attention that the county has not received my ballot for every election since 2004, and I regret the error in my response to the question about my voting record. I appreciate your thoroughness in vetting my answers.
    Katy Brown

    1. You forgot that you forgot to vote?

  3. She is not in any political party because she's socially liberal and fiscally conservative. The Republican Party is too conservative and the Democratic Party is too liberal for her. She's somewhere to the right of Hillary Clinton. How's that make you feel about her Emeryville?
    Katy Brown for school board: because the Democratic Party is too liberal to join.