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District 833 School Board candidate: Patricia Driscoll

Name: Patricia Driscoll

Age: 64

City: Cottage Grove

Occupation: Retired elementary school principal

Family: Husband Patrick; daughters Pamela Brahm, Cyndi Driscoll and Katie Driscoll

Incumbent or challenger: Challenger

How do your skills or experience set you apart as a candidate?

No other candidate has 20 years experience teaching and 19 years experience as an elementary principal. I know what works in schools to close the achievement gaps. I have won awards for the reading achievement in my school when I was a principal. I can help the board write policies that put what is best for our students at the forefront and focus on continuous improvement. The board's role is to hold the administration accountable for the policies. When I look at our MCA test results, I see a significant decline in math, and no improvement in reading.

What do you believe the school board can do to narrow academic achievement gaps?

First, the board should revise the student behavior policies to require staff to evaluate student behavior and teach behavior skills. Second, the board needs to revise their attitude towards teachers. Teachers are the single most important element in the classroom. District 833 teachers should not be paid less than teachers in other districts. The board needs to raise teachers salaries so that we can attract, hire, and retain the best teachers. Third, the board should revise the staff evaluation policy and require scientific research based methods of performance assessment. Administrators need to be well trained in implementing this process so that they are consistent in their evaluations. Fourth, the board needs to revise the student assessment policy and require assessments that are valid, nationally normed and measure growth from fall to spring. Finally, the board needs to hold the administration accountable for implementing these policies.

Is the budget and school funding the biggest challenge facing the district?

At this time, I believe the budget is the biggest challenge facing the district. If we don't have the funds needed, we will not be able to improve instruction and learning to meet the needs of today's students.

Whether or not the referendum passes, I would ask the board to seek an outside comparison of the district's spending to other districts with similar demographics. I would ask for comparisons of each spending category and comparisons of MCA scores. This will give the board some perspective of where we are. Perhaps we are spending too much in one area and not enough in another.