Laura Williams

Laura Williams: 2018 School Board Candidate Forum

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Thursday February 22, 2018

Laura Williams

3 year term

Education: Masters Education

Occupation: Spanish Teacher, World Language Curriculum Content Leader

Years as SB resident: 8 year

1. What skills and experiences uniquely qualify you for a position on the South Burlington School Board? (100 words)

I am a teacher so I bring a much needed teacher perspective to the board so I can help to bridge the gap between the school board and the education association. The relationship between the school board and the teachers should be a collaborative one so that as a district we can continue to provide excellent education to our students. I am also a taxpayer so I understand the need for a responsible budget and lastly I am a parent of a child who graduated last year and one who is a junior at SBHS this year.

2. What is your top priority for the district if elected? What steps must be taken for this to be accomplished? (150 words)

My priority is to rebuild the relationship between the South Burlington School Board and the South Burlington Education Association. Under the current board leadership the community has endured four years of strife. There was a strike four years ago and there has been a contract imposition for the past three years. The responsibility of the board is to create community, not foster resentment and distrust. My top priority will be to repair this relationship because our students need us to work together.

3. Do you support the proposed budget? Do you support the proposed capital improvement bond? What are your ideas in regard to managing future funding and spending for education on both the state and local level? (200 words)

I believe that the current proposed budget addresses the needs of the district. I also support the proposed capital improvement bond. The district has had to defer maintenance to all of the buildings over the years and the longer we wait the more expensive it will be. These are the buildings to where we send our children each day so yes, I support the bond.

In regard to future funding and spending for education, I am looking forward to thoughtful and substantive conversations with our legislators and our Governor on how we are going to fund our schools. Median income earners and low income earners share the burden of paying the most taxes. I believe we should examine how higher wage earners can share their fair share of the burden.

4. What are your thoughts on consolidation and/or redistricting for the districts’ schools? (100 words) 

I recognize that consolidation is a very emotional issue for communities because we all value our community school. As a board member, I believe it will be important to involve all of the stakeholders in these conversations. My overall concern will be to provide an equitable education to all of our students regardless of what or where the building is. 

5. How do you think the board should receive and act upon student, parent, and/or community input? (150 words)

We are all stakeholders in the South Burlington community and I believe we all should be heard. While it is within the board’s purview to make certain decisions, providing a forum for community input is important.  We want all of our citizens to feel comfortable and welcome here so if a complaint is brought to the board because students or citizens do not feel comfortable, it is up to all of us to work to change the situation that is creating the discomfort. 

6. What are your views on the processes used by the South Burlington School Board and the South Burlington Educators’ Association to negotiate employment contracts? What changes in the collective bargaining process would you support at the state or local level, if any? How will your own experience influence your work in this area?  (200 words)

A collaborative and respectful working relationship depends on the trust between both parties. Right now, under the current leadership of the board, there is not trust but rather distrust and a damaged relationship. This relationship needs to be healed before negotiations can begin. I support the collective bargaining process between the district, not the state, and the education association. To bargain with the state makes no sense as the state is not the employer. The district is the employer. 

7. Closing statement. (100 words)

I am running for the South Burlington School Board because I believe the board needs to change. We need a board that respects its teachers and is willing to be a trustworthy and respectful partner in the negotiations process rather than imposing a contract each year. A respectful process and relationship among all parties ensures we will retain the best and the brightest teachers possible which in turn will result in superior education for our students. It’s time for a change.