Welty replies to the DFT

Duluth Federation of Teachers Screening Questions for School Board candidates

  1. What issues cause you to run for the school board and what are your strengths or qualifications? Public Education is the most important task of government.  If our schools failed to educate any generation of citizens the nation they populated would not be worth defending. I am a teacher by training, my children are enrolled in public schools. My love for public education has compelled me to run for the School Board time and time again. These convictions and my persistence are two strengths.  I have several other strengths including: Experience, Good humor, Industriousness, Prudence, Honesty, Fairness and a willingness to try new things.
  2. How do you feel about using public funds for private businesses to run or manage schools or services? Our privately owned bus service is excellent. We have had wonderful private sector contractors build our schools. We have excellent suppliers of educational materials in the private sector. We've gotten good legal advice from our independent attorneys. If the business sector can excel in running a public school and educate children successfully I have no objection to letting them operate.
  3. As a member of the school board what class size would you be committed to for children in:Grades K-5? I hope we can continue to keep our elementary class sizes at the current relatively low levels. Unfortunately, we have no other sources of revenue to further reduce class size. There have been powerful arguments made for reducing the class size at the senior high level (the Duluth Fire Marshall required us to reduce them at East High School for safety reasons) and it will be a challenge to fairly arbitrate between these competing interests.Grades 6-8?  See above Grades 9-12? See above
  4. What basic staffing, programs and resources should be available in each school building? Elementary (Specifically address all-day, everyday kindergarten): It would be easy to offer all day kindergarten if the legislature decided to fund this across the state. They have not done this of course.  It is fortunate that Duluth has funded all-day, everyday kindergarten for children with special needs. As we have no other sources of revenue it is unlikely that we will be willing to cut other school programs in order to fund all-day, everyday kindergarten across the District.Middle School: We should try to make our junior highs real "middle schools." I hope our staff can figure out ways to make this come true so that our students find the schools more kid friendly but unfortunately our staff can not expect additional funds to do this. IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND that our middle school staff has already gone the extra mile to provide extras for our 6-8 students.   I'm afraid that many of our teachers are at risk of burning out because of their Herculean efforts. Senior High: A challenge for Minnesota is to better mesh secondary education with post secondary education without pitting the two systems against each other for adequate financing. PSEO (post secondary ed options) is a threat to public schools just as AP (Advanced Placement) classes are a threat to Colleges. We have the STC (Secondary Technical Center) which is attempting to mesh its curriculum with community colleges but is sometimes at odds with its sister schools in Duluth. There should be more communication between these entities and staffing must be a part of their discussions.
  5. What is your position with regard to "prevailing wages" included in the bid specs on all new and remodel [sic] construction projects?    This is an issue of particular interest to the building trades. I have attended four AFL-CIO screening committees in the past and explained each time that I oppose "prevailing wages" on philosophical grounds. Recently, however, I have reconsidered my opposition to requiring local governments to demand that contractors pay "prevailing wages" to their workers. Paying prevailing wages no longer seems unreasonable to me.
  6. Please comment on employee contract negotiations in the school district, specifically addressing the concept of a public review of the contract prior to settlement. I was the original author of this proposal. I withdrew it towards the end of the latest round of contract negotiations because there was some question about whether it was a "fair labor practice." These concerns seem to have been laid to rest and I recently voted to make this the policy of the school board. I think it is important that with a ceiling on school spending the public be informed of the potential consequences to the existing program of any proposed contract.
  7. How do you think decisions should be made in the school district that affect curriculum, assessment, staffing and school management? In a word, collaboratively. Role of Teachers, Teachers are "The" professionals and should be consulted in most decision making. Role of Site Council I have come to view the Site Councils as the best decision making instrument for schools. Unfortunately, I'm afraid some people in the union have come to view site councils as a threat. I am looking for direction from the union on how to give sites more autonomy without undermining the union's preeminent interest in defending the contract. Role of School Board In a perfect world the School Board would merely affirm decisions made by the stakeholders of the district. As the public's watchdog, however, it is necessary for the Board to make sure that all parties have confidence that the decision making process has been fair, open and wise. Ideally the Board should only intervene to insure that this has, in fact, been the case.
  8. Do you have any other thoughts that you would like to share with us? Yes, I'd be honored to have the DFT's endorsement.