Elections for the school board representative for District 3 are scheduled for Tuesday, and incumbent Amy Kneessy and challenger Dean Paterakis want your vote. The Roar’s Millie Rosasco interviewed the candidates on Friday, and here’s what they had to say.
Millie Rosasco: The school board has discussed ending the sibling exemption clause for choice schools including West Shore. This clause guarantees admission to siblings of student chosen through the lottery system. How do you feel about the sibling clause?
Amy Kneessy: I support keeping siblings together as long as the sibling meets the sibling preference.
Dean Paterakis: I’m a supporter about that. I think that when a child gets into a school, the sibling should as well. If the siblings go to different schools, they don’t grow up together. They don’t see each other in school. Not only that but, a parent has to run from one to another. Not only do I support sibling preference at our current schools of choice, but if West Shore is succeeding so well, there should be more of them.
MR: Several Florida school districts have adopted a school uniform policy. How do you feel about uniforms or changes in the dress code?
AK: I would support a stricter dress code and some sort of school uniform. Not necessarily the uniforms you see in church schools, but definitely a more reformed dress code.
DP: I really believe in parents making decisions for their child. I’m not a big fan of schools doing that. I feel that it takes away authority form the parent. That being said, there must be a minimum standard when coming to school but still keeping the authority with the parent.
MR: How are you different from your opponent?
AK: How much time do you have? Well, I have over 20 years experience in education experience, and I’m certified in math, educational leadership (school administration) and special education.
DP: We’ve seen that there’s been a lot of what I call corruption of our schools — mis-spending of tax dollars. I feel I can do a better job at distributing budget. I want to hold people accountable. Students grow up being taught that they’re responsible for their actions and take punishments. We need to be good role models. To improve, we have to look at our mistakes. If we only focus on what we do well, we won’t get any better.
MR: What do you think is the biggest issue that needs to be addressed?
AK: Our biggest issue continues to be the budget and being able to maintain our current level of program despite decreasing revenue.
DP: I truly believe that education is no longer a priority in our school system. The big issue is the money is being spent paying for different school board workers. The money should go to shaping and influencing the students’ educational life. Our board has become a job bank and isn’t for education.
MR: What do you plan to keep in the school system and what do you plan to change?
AK: I want to keep all of our programs for the students. A lot of the funding we get from the state can only be spent on specific things, and I would like to see more flexibility.
DP: I would like to keep all the programs the students have — arts, music, sports — things that actually make the child whole and makes them well rounded. I tell people all the time that I would cut my salary to zero before I cut those programs. I also believe the security program can be cut without affecting our children’s security. We spend at least a half of million dollars on a program that the police department already does for us.
To find out more about the candidates visit their webistes.
Amy Kneessy: www.amykneessy.com
Dean Paterakis: www.deanforschools.com