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Mavourene Robinson Survey Response

Corey Andrews posted this on Facebook on 3/10/18

Mavourene Robinson’s Responses to the BOE Candidate Questionnaire:
1. What experiences do you have that qualify you to serve on the Board of Education?
I am running the Board of Education, because Howard County constituents have the right to expect elected officials to make objective, impartial and equitable decisions without his/her personal preferences taking priority over what is best for our County. Having been an actively engaged parent for 7 years, 3 of which include HCPSS Policy and Committee representation, I have witnessed how much wider the divides/demands of one group at the expense of another (from every camp) are and how it ultimately has been detrimental to HCPSS overall.
I have extensive HCPSS policy and operational knowledge, as well as a better than average awareness of the data driven areas of improvement needed to help support HCPSS becoming a best in class public school system. Additionally, I bring industry experience that includes multi-million dollar budget management/accountability; successfully conducting operational assessments and process improvement to enhance outcomes; and a keen ability to creatively problem solve. Finally, throughout my 20+ year career I have been accountable for tracking budgets and justifying the return on investment in excess of tens of millions of dollars, before receiving additional funding. As the needs of our students, staff and County become more complex, business acumen is critically important at every level of government.
2. What role does a member of the Howard County Board of Education fill?
To serve the students, parents and staff through 1) asking questions, 2) considering ideas and opinions that are not their own, 3) challenging the status quo when it has become a hindrance to innovation/improvement, 4) offering problem solving ideas/options, in addition to complaints, and 5) engendering trust from the community through ethical leadership.
3. Have you ever attended a meeting of the Howard County Board of Education?
Yes, many as both a private parent/community member testifying ahead of Policy decisions and in my official capacity as a member of the Community Advisory Council (CAC).
4. Numerous officials have indicated that the Howard County government will be facing a few difficult years ahead in budgeting and finance. How do you propose the Board of Education address these challenges?
I am convinced that there are still operational efficiencies to be made for HCPSS that do not include putting the full burden on the shoulders of our teachers and support staff. To that end, as a taxpayer I would not want the County fully funding the HCPSS budget to the detriment of the other services of Howard County that have garnered us the award of Best Place to Live.
5. Based on the information available to you, briefly assess Dr. Martirano’s first year in office.
Dr. Martirano’s strength, in the short time that I have had to observe, is his ability to build relationships and his perceived willingness to tackle the toughest issues openly. I believe that having entered what was a woefully toxic situation, Dr. Martirano has done a stellar job availing himself to the public and to rebuilding the credibility and respect Howard County Public Schools had lost.
6. What does “equity” in education mean to you, and how should HCPSS achieve it?
Let me first state that the true definition of equity seems to have been lost in today’s political climate, and that is unfortunate for all of us. Equity is defined as impartial, freedom from bias or favoritism. When decisions are made out of emotion or fear and that do not meet the standard for being free from bias, they generally are not equitable.
To be clear, there is substantial history and data regarding minority and low-income HCPSS students that clearly show that there are programmatic needs that have gone woefully unmet. Those need to be addressed with action and resource allocation, not rhetoric, because to not do so will ultimately be negative for all of Howard County. However, that horrible history doesn’t warrant making unwise programmatic investments in misguided/unproven efforts to right wrongs, because doing so then unfairly penalizes students who just happen to be blessed enough to not be in low income families. As a BOE member, I will first seek community input, conduct personal research and look for programmatic outcome justification before supporting any demand being made under the guise of equity or for fear of the duress of being called bigot.
7. In specifics, how should the Board of Education address school overcrowding?
First, broad redistricting to deal with the immediate and severe overcrowding. Then to get Howard County off of the redistricting cycle as our County population grows, we must 1) work with County and State legislators to identify additional revenue resources, 2) demand that our legislators follow through on the promise of gambling dollars being set aside exclusively for education, 3) increase Developer support/funding requirements and limit the Developer “exceptions” that hinder HCPSS ability to stay within the safety guidelines for school capacity, and 4) identify capital funds or Developer partnerships/discounts to build “up” on existing newer school buildings to allow for expedient increased building capacity (i.e., River Hill, Centennial, Long Reach, Pointer’s Run, etc.) to accommodate development.
8. Briefly, what are your top three priorities if elected?
1) Identifying operational inefficiencies that are too quickly depleting/draining operational budget resources. As a member of the Operating Budget Review Committee, 2016 – current, I am convinced that there is still improvement to be made in this area.
2) Strengthening HCPSS BOE legislative advocacy and engagement at the County and State levels by harnessing the power of the voice of HCPSS parents and staff in the areas that directly impact our schools. Howard County’s voice and partnership in Annapolis, from the perspective of advocating for our schools must be a priority.
3) As much as possible, being the bridge between the community and HCPSS Teachers and Staff. In my personal experience as a mom, I have found that too often assumptions are made before there is real dialogue. Personally, I was guilty of that as the mom of an only child in his K – 2 years. The reality is that with few exceptions, there was no ill intent. During my tenure on the BOE, I will focus on enhancing dialogue, not merely information/data output, to move HCPSS partnership with parents forward.
Mavourene Robinson for Board of Education
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