Name as it appears on the ballot: Heather Losurdo
Party affiliation, if any: Non-Partisan Race
Campaign website: www.HeatherLosurdo.com
Occupation & Employer: Mom, Self
Years lived in NC: 3 in Raleigh, 5 in Charlotte
Given the current direction of the Wake County school system, would you say things are generally on the right course? If not, what are the specific, major changes you will advocate if elected?
Using my strong leadership and communication skills, I will advocate for a friendlier, more professional environment on the board and more transparency with the voters. I will continue to build relationships with all stakeholders.
In your district, please identity the priority needs as you see them.
District 3 needs a visionary leader that will actually listen to the people and represent them.
We need to Raise the Bar of Expectation for every child.
We must begin implementing programs that have data driven results which address the fiscal and educational issues we face
What in your record as a public official or other experience demonstrates your ability to be effective as a member of the school board? If you've identified specific issues above, what in your record has prepared you to be an effective advocate for them?
In my vast experience in management and leadership roles, in the U.S. Air Force, Small Business Banking, and many volunteer positions in PTAs, schools and as a mother of two girls, I have proven over and over again that I can effectively communicate, lead and rise above the status-quo to research and implement proven models of success.
How do you identify yourself to others in terms of your political philosophy? For example, do you tell people you're a conservative, a progressive, a libertarian, or what?
I believe that strong families and strong communities that are active in the education experience are vital to the success of our students. What matters is that I will bring innovative solutions, strong leadership and thoughtful communication to the table.
The Independent's mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle. If elected, how will your service in office help further that goal?
I will ensure that we continue to bring effective models of learning and teaching into every school. I will continue to be a part of ensuring that we have NO failing schools and that we do the best job we can for every child in Wake County. Each student that leaves our schools will be prepared for the 21st Century economy.
Please address the following major issues that are before the Wake school board:
How should the school board resolve the issue of neighborhood schools and diversity? Is there a need to balance the two, and if so, how should that be done? Does Superintendent Tata's "Blue Plan" do the job?
I believe children should go to school near their homes. It makes communities stronger. We have schools in Wake County that continue to receive national recognition and accolades, along with the resource-rich environment that exists in Wake County, ALL of our schools should be great. We must begin to unveil the reasons WHY we have failing schools and implement solutions that have proven, data-driven results.
Children who go to school near their homes are more likely to have a stronger support system. A sense of pride in ownership creates an environment that fosters more interaction between the school, the student, and the parent. We need to raise the bar of expectation for all of our students and all of our schools.
We live in a diverse community and in the year 2011, with all of the innovative models we can find across our country alone, there is absolutely NO reason children should be forced to ride a bus for any longer than they need to.
If the Blue Plan is adopted, is it important to you that diversity be achieved – as Mr. Tata proposes -- by reserving a substantial number of seats in high-achieving schools for kids coming from other, low-achieving neighborhoods? Or should proximity to a school be the overriding factor in student assignment even if results in some schools with high percentages of low-achieving students?
As a board member, I will be more concerned with WHY we continue to have schools with high percentages of low-achieving students and address that issue head on. There are many innovative models across our country that have proven success in addressing this concern. I will be a strong voice in implementing programs that are proven and have data driven results.
What additional programs or resources, if any, do you think are needed to address the needs of low-performing students and close the historic achievement gap between students from affluent and low-income families?
It is going to take leaders that are willing to rise above the status quo and look to research programs that are show huge gains and successes that address the achievement gap. Then implement those models in our system. The KIPP model and New Tech schools are two examples.
What's your view of the need for another school construction bond referendum in the next two years? If one is needed, should be about the same, bigger or smaller than the 2006 bond of $970 million.
I want to find the most efficient and effective way to plan and construct new schools. New schools are needed to handle the growth we continue to face in Wake County. A Bond may be necessary, but I without the full knowledge a sitting School Board member has on this issue, I will reserve judgement.
The current school board declined to seek additional revenues from the Wake County Commissioners even as the number of students in the school system grew. The result is a substantial drop in per-student funding from the county (on top of state funding cuts). Did you favor this approach? If elected, will you continue the policy? Or seek more money from the county?
As nice as it is (even in your own family) to have more funding, sometimes you have to learn to live within our means. I applaud the decision of the board and have been impressed with Superintendent Tata's resourceful thinking.
In the future if I believe we need more funding I would vote to request it but with an exact definition of what we are requesting the money for, the projected costs and benefits, and ensure that every dollar is spent wisely.
At the state level and in Wake County, some advocate for more charter schools and for tuition tax credits for private schools as a way of shaking up the public school system and creating more "competition" for students. Others say this approach undermines the public school system. In this debate, where do you stand?
Choice drives competition and competition demands innovation and improvement which drives success. If we all begin to look at it from that angle we would begin to embrace charter schools and even look at some of the successful models to find out why they are getting the results they are.
As you look forward, what major changes (e.g., longer school days, year-round schools, pedagogy changes) should be made to public education here and elsewhere in the United States to better prepare students for the world they'll live in? As a Wake school board member, how can you help in this regard?
First and foremost, we must calm the rhetoric and strengthen the relationship between the board and the community and between school and student.
Every child learns differently and I will work to ensure that we have different offerings across our entire community so that there is a place where every child can be successful and we can be confident when they graduate from our system that we have done the very best job we can preparing them for the future they will face.
We must raise the bar of expectation for every student.
We must implement innovative, results-oriented, data-driven solutions to our educational and fiscal challenges in Wake County.
To learn about other candidates' stances on the issues, read their 2011 Candidate Questionnaires.