Tyler Samler

Tyler Samler: 2018 School Board Candidate Forum

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Thursday February 22, 2018

Tyler Samler

2 year term

Education: MA in Elementary Education and BA in Psychology from Johnson State College

Occupation: Teacher

Years as SB resident: 2

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

My background is in education. I work specifically with struggling learners and students who experience social/emotional challenges, and I often deal with difficult conversations and delicate situations. Helping people find compromise is a big part of what I do on a daily basis. Public education is one of my deepest and strongest values and working to improve upon it is the everyday focus of the work I do.

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

School board members should have an understanding of the modern business of education. The day to day work of teachers requires more expertise and determination than ever to be effective in providing instruction for all students - from our college bound students to the ever growing numbers of children who come from poverty or suffer from mental health challenges.

The environment in our district has been filled with continuous conflict. Impositions year after year and a recent strike have created barriers for collaboration. This has weakened resources in our community. The millions of dollars spent on South Burlington’s schools will not get the traction - nor returns - we hope for, if the people delivering the services are not supported. As a new board member, my top priority will be to rebuild relationships that have been damaged, and use our resources more effectively.

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 the proposed budget addresses district needs. I understand concerns with the 1.96% increase in taxes. As most of us will only lose $6.00 - $8.00 extra per month, this is an extremely modest increase.

I also support the bond. Deferred maintenance costs grow exponentially if action isn’t taken. The bond spreads the costs out in upcoming years, allowing jobs to get done so our buildings don’t become a money pit.   
I don’t believe recent proposals for state-wide contracts, nor income based revenues, are the best path forward. I think Vermont’s current formula for education funding doesn’t factor in the unique, more urban needs of a Chittenden County classroom. The range and depth of needs are more complex in our schools. I think we need to work together to push representatives to allow some flexibility so we can better address our needs.

While I thank Bridget Burkhardt and others who’ve worked on the budget, we need to improve upon our emotional economics. This will impact the yield of people working in schools. I believe a monetized view of education doesn’t account for the importance of relationships - all meaningful learning is built upon them. 

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

As the demographics of South Burlington continually change and our buildings age, we must continue to engage each other on how we organize our district to best support students. We must ensure equitable access to educational programming. Joining forces with Burlington’s football program was a great example of finding creative ways to keep costs down but still provide opportunities.  

The board should revisit this conversation regularly, and consider our needs in the capital improvement plan. I look forward to hearing more about the upkeep of our buildings when upcoming assessments at the high school and middle school are completed.

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

The policy governance model should provide clear and effective ways to receive input from a variety of sources, and interpret if the issues are in accordance with policies. For example, when a complaint about racial bias is made, the board should direct administration to make sure the policies around protecting students from racism are being followed and hold those administrators accountable.

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)

I believe that the process of collective bargaining in Vermont empowers workers and employers to look each other in the eye and work out a fair deal. However, South Burlington has had a lot of difficulty with the process, and collaboration hasn’t been successful. Aside from Burlington, where entire departments walked off the job mid-year due to systemic bullying of staff, Chittenden County school districts don’t have the issues we’re seeing in South Burlington. This year’s election is an opportunity to start over and set our community up for success. I want to work with the SBEA in the upcoming cycle, as it serves all of our mutual best interests. We need to work toward agreements to help our community heal by committing to stay at the table until agreement is reached and not resort to the use of impositions.  

7. Closing statement. (100 words)

I’m running because I believe a board should care more about the quality of education in the classrooms than the costs per equalized pupil. I believe in a board that has a higher estimate of a student’s worth. I believe in a board interested in having the best and brightest faculty preparing our young people for survival in the modern world. We need each other as partners in education - not as adversaries - so that we can heal and move forward.