Name as it appears on the ballot: Angela Millsaps
Full legal name, if different
Date of birth: March 12, 1964
Home address: 116 Pine Court Drive, Siler City, North Carolina
Mailing address, if different from home:
Occupation & employer: Director of Lay Ministries, First United Methodist Church
Home phone: 919-742-6116
Twitter handle, if applicable:
Chatham County Schools Board of Education Questionnaire
1. What do you believe are the most important issues facing the school system. If elected, what are your top three priorities in addressing those issues?
Having talked with many of my teacher friends and attending school board meetings regularly, I believe that the following important issues are facing public education this year: 1) being sure that all students have the opportunity to graduate with the best academic and social skills possible. These skills should carry them forward whether to college or a trade. 2) Finding creative and effective ways to work within the limits of monies and regulations placed on education by state and federal government. I believe that this can happen when we connect with local government and public sector resources to support our schools monetarily as well as with people power. 3) Teachers need to know that they are valued. Not only do they need to be supported monetarily but also as respected voices when decisions are being made (no matter the level of government) concerning the classroom. According to teachers that I have talked with they also need more support staff for electives (which includes the Arts); basic skills; teacher assistants to increase the opportunity for more individualized or small group studies in math, reading and science. (100% of our schools met or exceeded growth 2013-2014 but there is always room for more growth and success) Again, I believe connecting with all available resources and being creative with the funds that we have or gain in the future will allow us to improve each year in the support of our teachers. They have to be our priority in order for our students to continue to do well.
2. Chatham Park is on the way. Considering the implications this development has for the county’s population and, thus, its schools, how would you work as a school board member to prepare for the changes in store?
With both Chatham Park and the Siler City Megasite in our near future, I believe that the School Board has to continue to be forward thinkers. The Board should continue to be informed of the changes that are occurring through available demographic studies. They should continue to be an active participant in all long range planning committees. Continuing to be forward thinkers is important as they explore the many opportunities that growth and increased revenue will mean for our school system. In considering future sites for new schools they must considered the following aspects: 1) Sustainable growth; 2) building/land conditions of existing schools and their campuses; 3) Sustainable revenue; 4) Populations of existing schools and 5) Availability of suitable, sustainable land for a school campus.
3. North Carolina lawmakers approved teacher pay raises in 2014 that offered relatively little to veteran educators in the state. As a local school system leader, how do you work to recruit and retain some of the most experienced teachers for Chatham County Schools?
Chatham County took a big step this year with the help of our County Commissioners in the implementation of a district wide, locally funded incentive program for teachers. Because all of our schools met or exceeded growth in 2013-2014, all teachers will benefit. Again, I believe that we have to continue to let our teachers know that they are valued and find ways to express that whether monetarily or through other benefits and resources. We have to be sure that support staff is in place. Because state and federal funds are lacking as well as restrictive when available, we have to find creative and effective ways to work within those limitations and restrictions as well as find new sources of funding. Chatham Education Foundation and other foundations are a great place to start.
4. In 2014, Chatham County became the only county in the state to offer a district-wide, locally funded incentive program for teachers. If you support the program, explain how you maintain the local funds needed to offer the incentives. If you oppose the program, tell us what you believe is a better alternative.
I do support the district-wide, locally funded incentive program for teachers which was put into place this year. As mentioned in Question 3, I believe that we have to continue to let our teachers know that they are valued and find ways to express that whether monetarily or through other benefits and resources. Because state and federal funds are lacking as well as restrictive when available, we have to find creative and effective ways to work within those limitations and restrictions as well as find new sources of funding. Working with the County Commissioners in funding this program is imperative as well as looking to other resources such as foundations and other grant sources.
5. What in your record as a public official or other experience demonstrates your ability to be effective on the board? This might include career or community service; be specific about its relevance to this office.
I believe that each of the following volunteer experiences whether in the school system or through other organizations have equipped me with the knowledge and experiences needed to be an effective member of the School Board. My volunteer service in the schools and school system: Serving as PTA President (7 years in 2 schools); Parent Member of School Improvement Team (3 years at CMS); Classroom/school volunteer; Parent volunteer to several district level committees: Calendar Committee; Redistricting Committee when VCE was built; Principal Search Committee for 1st VCE principal; Governance & Leadership for AdvancED Accredidation; Regularly attend school board meetings; Attended the workshop on Family Engagement presented by Indistar while at Chatham Middle is in the process of implementing this tool to improve family engagement in the school. I am currently on the Board of Directors of Chatham Education Foundation and a Volunteer Chaplain at Chatham Hospital. I have been a member of the Siler City Lions Club for 25 years. In the Lions Club, I have served as Vice-President, President and Tail Twister. I also served two terms as Zone Chairman and Region Chairman for Lions District 31-G. I have helped to organize many of our service and fundraising efforts. As a Lion, I have worked closely with School Nurses providing vision screenings and with JM Leo Club on many service projects. In our community, I have served in the past as a Girl Scout leader (two years) and a Den mother/leader (five years) and Assistant Cub Master (one year) for Pack 924. I was a founding member and past secretary of the West Chatham Food Pantry Board.
As a Director of a Retirement Community in Sanford (14 years) and as Director of Lay Ministries at First United Methodist Church (now 6 years), I have had many responsibilities that I believe will be useful as a member of the School Board. In both careers, I was responsible for staff/volunteer training and supervision; building upkeep and maintenance; maintaining a set budget; marketing and public relations; and fundraising. Prior to becoming an employee at my church, I served on many committees including Finance and serving as a Trustee for three years. I was also the only woman on our Building Committee for our new building after our former church was lost in a fire. Over the last seven years, I have become familiar with over 50 agencies in Chatham County and the state and maintain a close relationship with many of them. Most of the agencies are child-related and also work with our Latino population. My relationships with the key members of these agencies have allowed me to find resources for the many people who come to our church requesting food, monies for utilities/rent and help to make life better for themselves and many times for their children.
6. How do you define yourself politically and how does your political philosophy show itself in your past achievements and present campaign platform?
School systems can benefit from the ideas and strategies of anyone who has as their best interest, the education of well-rounded and academically prepared students in order to be the best citizens possible. As a leader in my professional careers and volunteer service, I have always tried to hear both sides of any issue; ask the right questions; secure the best resources and then work with others to make the best decisions possible for all involved.
7. Spanish-speaking students present unique educational challenges to the district. Evaluate how the district is meeting the needs of these children. How could the district better meet their needs? What are the obstacles to these goals and how can they be surpassed?
I believe that the district is doing a good job of meeting the needs of our Spanish-speaking students with our ESL programs and the Dual Language Programs at Siler City Elementary, Chatham Middle, Jordan-Matthews and North Chatham. As with all classrooms, support staff is needed. We need to find ways to support the funding of more support staff. The bigger challenge for our schools has been communication with parents. The schools continue to try new ways to communicate with all parents no matter their native tongue. A friend of mine who is a leader in the Spanish- speaking community shared the following thoughts with me. Spanish-speaking parents want to learn the English language (not to lose their culture or native tongue) but to be able to communicate with their children and the community that surrounds them. He says that more and more they see this as a responsibility to their children. I believe that continuing to encourage and equip our parents - all parents- with the resources such as Chatham Literacy Council and other agencies will enable them to do all they can to be a part of their child's education is imperative.
8. Chatham County Schools has piloted a laptop program aimed at offering computers for high school students and teachers. Do you support or oppose the program and why? If you support the program, how do you open up the program to offer the technology to more students in the school system?
I do support the 1-to-1 Student Laptop Program which has been in place since 2009. The 1-to-1 program allows high schools who may not have computers or reliable computers to work on projects and research away from school. The program also allows them to have access in the classroom to websites for research when they are actively working or projects, experiments and other hands on lessons with their teacher and classmates. This year, the school system has 2,580 student laptops. When the High Schools received new Mac Airs this year, the former laptops were redistributed for use serving our students in grades K-8 to add additional laptop carts and classroom computers to their inventory. The per student ratio varies depending upon the grade level to ensure access to computers for online testing and assessment needs.
K-2 - 1 computer to 4 students
3-5 - 2 computers to 5 students
6-8 - 3 computers to 5 students
It seems that you can never have enough computers and laptops but our school system
is doing a great job with the supply and monies allotted for computers available.
this is an area where creative and effective use of money and outside resources can strengthen this program.