Janice McDonald: Candidate for Cherry Creek Schools Board of Education, District B (unopposed)

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City of residence: Aurora

Occupation: Retired; current Cherry Creek school board member

Contact information: J2040m@aol.com

Why are you seeking this office?

I am seeking reelection because I believe in the vision and mission of the district. And I am proud of what has been accomplished the past four years … I want to ensure continued implementation of our new strategic plan, Cherry Creek Future Forward, which will ultimately improve learning and performance and provide an excellent and equitable academic experience for all students.

What makes you the best person for the job?

I have history with the district. I have been a parent (presently a grandparent), volunteer, an employee and, for the past four years, a school board member. My knowledge gained in all areas serves only to enhance my continued contribution to the board.

What, if anything, should be done to enhance security at district schools?

I am confident in the new strategic plan that is in place for CCSD. The plan encompasses operational excellence; in this area, the district is committed to providing support for the physical and psychological safety of our students and staff. We have invested in programs that ensure our students and staff feel safe and supported. Along with those programs, school-based and districtwide drills and trainings are held. We have reviewed and evaluated safety and security plans and protocols. We have provided an opportunity for input from our stakeholders. Numerous areas of services are in place to address and enhance security in the district.

What, if anything, should be done to better address the mental health needs of district students?

I support CCSD's strategic plan, which provides all schools with comprehensive mental health support based on the “three-two-one” model, which puts one full-time licensed mental health worker at every elementary school, two at every middle school and at least three at every high school. And all schools have one full-time nurse. I also believe that continued trainings concerning mandatory reporting are necessary for the well-being of our students. Many areas of mental health issues are not limited to school responses but, rather, the broader community. For this reason, CCSD partnering with community organizations that support student mental health is imperative.

What issue or issues must the school board make a bigger priority next year than it has in recent years?

It is vital that the BOE focuses on the budget. We are facing a $50 million deficit. Second, we must continue to address the root cause of our students of color having a higher rate of suspension. Also, the current efforts (workforce excellence and instructional excellence) must persist in closing the achievement gap and eradicating the predictability of achievement by race.

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