The following information is copied from the information that the candidates themselves submitted for VOTE411.org. All candidates were invited to submit their biographical information and to answer our questions.
Candidates may enter their information up until Election Day, May 18. Please urge candidates to provide information to voters, if they haven’t done so yet. We provide this service for free to candidates and voters.
Joshua Singleton has not yet responded. However, he has a statement on page M-44 of the Multnomah County Voters’ Pamphlet. He is a current member of the school board.
Sonya Mckensie, Community Engagement Coordinator. In addition to responding to our questions, she has a statement on page M-44 of the Multnomah County Voters’ Pamphlet. She is a current member of the school board.
Town Where You Live – Portland
Your Experience/Qualificatons, Prior Governmental Experience: Parkrose School Board Member, Current; Oregon School Board Association, Members of Color Caucus; National School Board Action Center, Board Member; Dress for Success, Board Member; East Metro STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) Partnership, Leadership Team
County – Multnomah
1. Even before COVID and the transition to online learning, school districts struggled with disparities in academic achievement. Educators fear even greater gaps upon their return to classrooms. What strategies will you consider to address these increased disparities?
Sonya Mckensie: Our priority is to bring students back to in person learning in a safe environment for both students and educators. Also, it is important to consider the additional support for students that will be needed to address mental health issues that have impacted students this past year. Third, I support the practice for teachers to consider evaluating where their students are academically as they return to in person instruction and to develop plans to bridge these gaps. A budget priority I support is schools accessing the federal dollars that can be used to provide opportunities for enrichment, credit recovery, 5th term summer school etc.
2. COVID has shown us the importance of family support in facilitating students’ education. How will you build on this understanding to increase the role of parents in decision making and promote parental involvement in schools?
Sonya Mckensie: Parkrose School District has done an excellent job first, by listening to the needs of their community and creating a network of connection, support /mentorship and resources for our students and their families. For example, because of our yearlong community engagement activities and listening sessions our district created a community liaison position at our elementary schools so that there was a bilingual district staff person that could support our bilingual families and students and answer questions and build community trust. At Parkrose we also have a culturally specific partnerships that support our teachers and staff to connect with our BIPOC families through mentorship, case management, community engagement and family support.
3. What is the impact of the pandemic on school budgets and spending priorities? How do you propose meeting these new challenges?
Sonya Mckensie: Parkrose made adjustments to their budget and allocations from the SSA (Student Success Act) in order to provide comprehensive distance learning for the 20-21 school, year. We continue to meet these challenges by prioritizing the needs of students, teachers and staff by providing safe, onsite hybrid and online instruction while also listening to parents and our community.
Elizabeth Durant has not yet responded. However, she has a statement on page M-45 of the Multnomah County Voters’ Pamphlet. She is a current member of the school board.