District 6 Candidates

All responses received as of July 25, 2018 have been provided.  Below each question, you will find responses from each of the candidates.  Each response can be accessed by clicking on the candidates name.  Responses appear exactly as submitted; no editing was undertaken.  Candidates are listed in alphabetic order by last name.

 **UPDATE** As a result of the August 28th Primary Elections, the District 1 seat will be decided on the November General Election ballot.  Steve Cona and William Henry Person will remain on the ballot for that election.  We have removed Scott Hottenstein, Robert A Pechacek, Mitchell Smithey, and Kelso Tanner’s responses to reflect the updated candidates.  None of the responses have been changed.

1.  The Hillsborough County School District is the eighth-largest school district in the country and the 3rd largest in the state of Florida. The School District educates over 212,000 students. Tell us about your previous roles with public schools.  Please include if your role has been as an educator or as a parent.  What experience do you have that demonstrates success in leading such a large organization with a complicated budget?  What areas do you see where the District could be more cost efficient?

Karen Perez
My three children attended and graduated from Hillsborough County Schools and currently I have eight grandchildren that attend Hillsborough County Schools.  My family donates 168 backpacks and uniforms yearly for the school drive and have since my children started school.  I volunteered my time to all the schools that my children attended and always participated in The Great American Teach In.  I currently am CEO for Embracing Changes Center for Wellness, LLC and complete the budget for the Center and complete the payroll for employees.
Henry "Shake" Washington
Answer: My experience in Hillsborough County Public Schools expands over 42 years. My career started out as an assistant teacher, Physical education teacher at Turkey Junior High, King high school as driver education teacher, Head coach for girls and boys basketball along with JV coach and assistant business manager, coached varsity football and assistant principal at McLane junior high, Chamberlain High asst. principal for student affairs, Brandon High school assistant principal for administration, Principal at then new Middleton high school, area director for area 4 schools, and area leadership for area 4 schools, and area superintendent for area 4 schools managed 34 schools remained in position for 12 years until retired. Awards: King High Coach of the year (1979), Principal of year three consecutive years for the PTSA (1997-2000) at Chamberlain High School, Principal of the Year for CTA (1997-1998), and High school administrator of the year by the HCA (2000-2001), African American Sport Hero by Tampa Police Black History Program (2001).

Answer: With the understanding that the school district annually have a $3 billion budget. As an area superintendent, I managed a budget that contained 34 schools and while in the military as a first sergeant; annually, I managed a budget of $16 million.

Answer: Downsize all elements that are not essential to educating and supporting students and maintaining and supporting excellent teachers. Just to mention a few: (1) Decrease in size of top level management, (2) restructure vendor selection process; to ensure selection is cost effective and of high quality, and (3) Review the transportation for efficiency without impacting students negatively.

 

2.  If you were to evaluate the performance and state of Hillsborough County Public Schools (HCPS), what would be your focus and specifically what do you see as the top three priorities?

Karen Perez
Support and Challenge our Students, Provide Safe Schools and Support our Teachers.
Henry "Shake" Washington
Answer: The three areas are:
(a) Lack of experience in the top level administration
(b) Lack of progressive succession plan
(c) Lack of progressive salary scale for teachers

3.  How can the School Board, and specifically you, make the teachers and staff feel supported and valued?

Karen Perez
Providing the tools for the teachers and staff to ensure they have a balanced workload and placing wrap around services in the classroom to ensure a positive learning environment.
Henry "Shake" Washington
a. A clear effective communication system and proper protocol
b. Equity with school budgets and use resources effectively including school supplies

4.  Will you support a referendum to add funding to Hillsborough County Public Schools, and how will you reach out to voters to ensure their support?

Karen Perez
Yes, utilizing media outlets, community meets, community news letters.
Henry "Shake" Washington
Answer: I do support referendum; however, there must be a transparent and accountable process driven by the community. However, this takes time and the conversation with the entire community of Hillsborough County should be already started.

5.  The state legislature has not funded public schools adequately, with Florida ranked 41st in per pupil spending.   In addition, the legislature supports private school vouchers and has even diverted 50% of state construction funds to charter schools – even though only 11% of Florida students attend charters.  How can HCPS handle growing student enrollment – especially in the southern part of the county – given this environment? How do you think HCPS should handle our $3 billion capital deficit?

Karen Perez
A full audit of the current budget in order to review what ecclesial and non-ecclesial to ensure the budget is allocated properly.
Henry "Shake" Washington
a. Answer: Short term plan could possibly be to use the model of double sessions and/or provide transportation to nearby schools that have open seats.
b. Answer: Long term pass the referendum that will create additional funding to build new schools and/or grant charters for charter schools by non-profit organizations.
c. Answer; Address the budget deficit, annually: (1) Decrease operating cost, (2) Downsize top level management, and (30) find global ways of generating revenue to offset cost

6.  What can the School Board, and specifically you, do to encourage parent involvement in the schools?

Karen Perez
Changing the time of the Board Meeting to allow parents who work and do not have the ability to leave work time to attend the meetings.  Providing more educational opportunities for parents to engage with the child and the school district.  Making the classroom environment friendly for the parent.
Henry "Shake" Washington
Answer: Community schools should have PTSA meeting in community churches and recreation centers. Provide transportation for parents who do not own their vehicles such as car pool, bus fare, and host the event at convenient times. Also, PTSA meetings could be held on weekends at different part of day.

7.  Do you support the expansion of charter schools in Hillsborough County? What criteria will you use when considering the approval of new charter schools? How will you ensure that existing charter schools are providing the state-required fair and equitable high-quality education to a diverse student population including those with additional support needs?

Karen Perez
No due to taking away funding from the Public Schools which are currently in a deficit.
Henry "Shake" Washington
a. Answer: Yes, if they are of high quality and held to the same standard as traditional schools. There is a need for accountability and transparency. We need to improve the vetting process.
b. Answer; (1) must be non-profit organization, (2) certified teacher in core subject areas, (3) certified in ESE instruction area, (4) Principal certified through state PNP, and (5) have a progressive salary compatible to the traditional teachers in public schools
c. Answer: By assigning existing administration to a review team that have the authority and capacity to visit charter schools and make recommendations, if improvements are needed.

8.  Are you a member of the PTA?  If yes, please explain how you will work together with PTAs across the county to improve our schools and if no, please explain why?

Karen Perez
I was formally with the PTA when my children were in school currently I am not.
Henry "Shake" Washington
No, I am a former PTSA members. As a principal at chamberlain and Middleton High Schools, I approved the school internal budget to purchase PTSA membership for faculty members.

9.  As in many areas of life, and particularly our School Board, there are a wide variety of personalities and opinions. How will you work with other School Board Members to get your priorities accomplished? Please share what experience you have in working in this type of environment.

Karen Perez
As a social worker I have experience with Conflict Resolution and also conduct Leadership Realignment for companies experiencing conflict dynamics.
Henry "Shake" Washington
Answer: Working with other school members would be to appeal to the fact we are here to provide all students with the best education possible. As a principal you have to build relationship, respect each other, and be able to negotiate in a positive manner. If you put students first you cannot put teachers last.

Once we provide all students with a first class education, we can look at other complexities of the school district such as business models, which is very important to the future of the school district and communities they educate.

10. What do you see as the key to balancing the needs of the different constituent groups (administration, teachers, parents, community) in Hillsborough County Public Schools?  How will you approach this challenge?

Karen Perez
Communication.  The way to approach this challenge is Respect, building Trust and open dialogue.
Henry "Shake" Washington
Answer: All groups need to come together in order to fully educate all students and build strong communities. If you put students first, you cannot put teachers last. Once we provide all students with a first class education, we can look at other complexities of the school district such as the business models, which is very important to the future of the school district and communities they educate.