Karen Simon | Candidate Questionnaires | Indy Week
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Karen Simon 

Candidate for Wake County Board of Education District 7

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Name as it appears on the ballot: Karen Simon
Full legal name, if different:
Date of birth: January 16, 1963
Home address: 5801 Magellan Way, Apt. 106 Raleigh, NC 27612
Mailing address, if different from home:
Campaign Web site: www.karendsimon.com
Occupation & employer: North Carolina Governor's Crime Commission
Home phone: 919-571-2723
Work phone: 919-733-4564
Cell phone: 919-889-8487
E-mail: karensimon@karendsimon.com

1) What are the specific needs of your school district that you will fight for if election to the board?

Residents in district 7 need stable student assignments so students in the area will not have to worry about frequent moves to new schools.

2) What is there in your record as a public official or other experience that demonstrates your ability to be effective on the council? This might include career or community service; but please be specific about its relevance to this office.

My professional background with government management and budgets will be an asset to the school board, as well as my formal education in business administration management and public administration. This combination of experience and formal education has provided me with understanding the interdependence relationship between the private sector and public entities. I also understand and have the leadership skills, critical thinking abilities, the administrative knowledge, yet the humbleness and sensitivity toward people's needs to be the effective, successful public servant I think the people are looking for to be a school board member.

3) How do you define yourself politically and how does your political philosophy show itself in your past achievements and present campaign platform?

I define myself as a conservative liberal. I have the same morals and values as many Americans. I have the same hope and dreams for my children that they will grow up to be successful, productive citizens; and I raise them that way. I believe strongly in a good education system as evident with my completion of higher education. I believe in working hard and being a productive citizen, as I have. I am a military veteran with six years service to the military where I earned several awards. I believe in community engagement, as evident in my platform, which centers around Student-Teacher-Parent-Community Partnerships.

4) Identify a principled stand you might be willing to take if elected that you suspect might cost you some popularity points with voters.

I am willing to stand on my belief in maintaining healthy schools through the use of a diversity policy.

5. What's your position on the issue of "neighborhood" schools and abandoning, or changing, current assignment policies that seek to balance student populations in every school ("diversity")?

I believe the very concept of education avails itself to continuous improvement, so it is with an educational system. Based on a constant flow of new information, ideas, and models for learning environments; policies for the goal of achieving balance in schools for diversity purposes can always be reviewed to made better and still accomplish having diversity in every school.

6. To limit reassignments and busing distances, some local officials have advocated either splitting the Wake school district or else creating sub-districts with fixed boundaries within it. What's your reaction to these ideas?

Reassignments and busing distances should have provisions. Splitting Wake school district or creating sub-districts with fixed boundaries may create additional issues with balancing schools in Wake County Public School System. We need to partner with families, businesses, builders, and other governmental entities to come up with an innovative solution that will accomplish the goal of balanced schools, while still reducing reassignments and busing distances.

7. Wake County's graduation rate hovers around 80 percent, meaning that of the students entering high school, about one in five doesn't finish within five years. That's better than the state average, but it isn't great. Should the district be doing more for at-risk students in the earlier grades and if so, what?

Wake County has much success with helping at-risk students through the use of early educational programs like Smart Start, Headstart, and More at Four programs which give at risk children a boost to prepare for elementary school. Programs such as Save Our Students, Communities In Schools, and other afterschool programs prove to help at risk students starting in the earlier grades. These programs should continue to be funded in support of our at risk students.

8. Are new programs needed to help dropouts return and finish high school?

I am in support of a Second Chance program to help dropouts return and finish high school.

9. Does Wake County have enough schools and enough classrooms? If not, would you advocate speeding up the pace of new buildings and additions, even if tax hikes were required?

There are some Wake County Schools operating under capacity. Currently, there are enough schools and classrooms.

10. Year-round schools are one way the county's kept school taxes low. Should more schools be made (or built to be) year-round? Should students be assigned to attend them?

For growth and budget purposes, more schools should be built to be year-round. Students should be assigned to them.

11. Magnet schools are a key element of current diversity policies, but they're expensive—and outlying areas of the county wonder why they can't have them too. What changes, if any, do you support in the way magnets are used?

At the present time, I would not make any changes to Magnet schools.

12. Does every new high school need a football stadium? A theater? Are shared facilities an approach you'd support to save taxpayers money?

I would support shared facilities to save taxpayers money.

13. The Wake Education Partnership's recent report, "Suspending Disbelief," describes a 21st century school system—quite unlike anything that exists in the U.S. today—that would equip students to succeed in a global economy. The report calls for a longer school year and far-reaching improvements in curriculum and assessment, none of which would be free. What, if anything, would you take from this report if elected?

A 21st century school system is needed, whatever the cost, for our hope of our students being competitive with students from other countries in this 21st century.

14. What question(s) haven't we asked—and what's your answers?

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