Candidate Q&A

Oxford Public School District

School Board Election 2022

Our public education questionnaire was offered to school board candidates in the November 8 school board elections. Search below for responses from board districts that have opposing candidates. Unopposed candidates are not included.

District 1

Romana Reed

1.  What has been your involvement with the community and school district? Describe your leadership and volunteerism in the community. Did you or your children attend school in the district? Have you volunteered in or been employed by the school district?  True leadership requires persevering in the face of adversity. Volunteering gives us a window -a small one, but a window nonetheless – into the lives of others and the adversities they face, leaving us with invaluable lessons. As a board member that is why I choose to fight for the communities I serve within the district. Volunteerism grants me the opportunity to better understand how to amplify the voices of underserved populations. If we don’t understand what our diverse stakeholders are going through, how can we provide them with products and services that actually meet their needs. Yes, both of my kids successfully navigated through the Oxford Schools. No, I have never been employed with the school district. As a parent I volunteered throughout the time of my own children’s matriculation through the district, in all the capacity deemed necessary by their respective schools (PTO, parent volunteers for reading, lunch helper, etc.). My community service also extends to my sorority, Zeta Phi Beta and other community organizations I have been proud to serve; I served in many capacities over the years, some of which include but are not limited to president, vice president, secretary, and act. I am proud to serve and help usher in the next generation of leaders and community activists.
2.  Why do you want to serve on your school board?  Effective school board members contribute their unique talents while collaborating as a team with other board members and the superintendent. With children as the ultimate focus, school board members work together to accomplish the board goals in making new policies and revising policies. Each individual board member has an opportunity to share experience to benefit your community. Also you can represent different groups in the community and ensure that voices and concern are heard and have a voice in making educational decisions.
3.  Students from low-income households often need additional resources to achieve academic success. What should your school district do to ensure that all students are successful?  Students needing additional supports can get the needed help when school districts are open to continuous improvements. In our school district we are constantly looking at ways to improve. Our academic and behavioral support are emerging and thriving. We offer support with the budget to fund additional initiatives aimed at fighting the achievement gap. As a board member of 20 years, I have sat and voted to approve many programs needed to foster student success, whether that is additional personnel or funding for varied support programming.
4.  What strategies would you support to create a safer school environment?  What can your school district do to address cyberbullying, mental health, and physical safety?  At present we are already working hard to combat crisis and ensure safer school environments within our districts. I have sat and help pushed through the policies to get additional funding for SROs, help push to adopt a formidable school crisis plan, and have worked with the district equity task force to ensure ALL students felt seen and heard. Our district trains administrators and teachers yearly, and we support programming for social emotional learning. Approaches to prevent cyberbullying include direct programming to improve digital citizenship and social and emotional learning, providing mental health services for student affected by cyberbullying, explicit in cyberbullying in discipline policies. Our district has a bullying protocol and policy.
5.  What do you see as the most pressing infrastructure needs facing your district? PreK program fully functioning. A preK program for both students with and those without disabilities. Alternative program with a state of the art building and amenities.
6.  Mississippi school districts are funded by a mix of federal, state, and local funds. The state contributes to local school districts through the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP). MAEP is intended to fund teacher salaries, retirement and benefits, transportation costs, facility maintenance and utilities, special education and other programs, but it is underfunded statewide this year by $279-million. What role will you play in advocating for full funding of MAEP for your district?  I would support the full funding of MAEP by advocating and promoting a message to the community pushing our elected officials to do what is needed for public schools. I would speak on behalf of public schools giving examples of what could happen when schools are funded, within the greater community so all the local citizenry can take an active role in pushing the important agenda.
7.  Vouchers for private school tuition and online schools divert public funds away from public schools. Do you agree that tax dollars should be used for only public schools and not for non-public schools? Why or why not?  Yes. That is their designation. The money provided helps us make our schools enticing and better. Private schools are allowed to pick and choose who they serve, which can eliminate quite a few of the prevailing concerns for public schools (behavior issues, severe academic deficits, etc.).
8. In Mississippi, academic standards are set by the Mississippi Department of Education and local districts choose curricula from an MDE approved list. Do you trust educators in your district to teach using their professional judgement and training or should teaching be further regulated by school board policy or law? If you believe teaching should be further regulated, how so?  No. I trust educators to teach using their professional judgement and believe the function of the school board is to promote teacher creativity in conjunction with some accountability for getting it done.
9. Mississippi is experiencing a severe teacher shortage. What strategies will you support to recruit and retain high quality educators?  Provide targeted incentives for new and current teachers. Districts should provide targeted incentives to retain teachers and bring new teachers into the profession to build staff capacity and provide high quality in-person instruction. State and district leaders should direct funding and resources toward incentives for teaching in schools that have had longstanding challenges with resource inequities.

Ashley Wilkinson



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