Saline Board of Education Election 2022: Meet Laurie Saims

Image

Laurie Saims is running for the Saline Area Schools Board of Education in the Nov. 8 election. She is one of five candidates seeking two four-year positions on the board, joining Timothy Austin, Kristin Hoffman-Peavler, Sharene Rumohr and incumbent Michael McVey.

In the other race, Lauren Gold faces Amy Sontag.

Here's our Q & A with Laurie Saims.

LAURIE SAIMS

Biography

I am Laurie Saims and am running for the Saline Area Schools Board of Education on the Nov. 8th ballot. I have lived in Saline for 15 years and have children in the school district.

I was raised by a public educator and have a public educator sibling, putting me in a unique position of understanding the challenges that educators have thriving in the system of public education.

I am a Global Executive in STEAM, serving as the VP & Chief Information Security Officer for a Fortune 500 organization. My direct organization is located across North America, Europe, Middle East and Asia. I am responsible for a direct multi-million-dollar budget.

One of my strengths is bringing together differing groups of people/opinions while facilitating decisions based on shared benefit resolutions. This is directly applicable to a school board environment; ensuring that decisions are being made in the best interest for all students, staff and administrators.

Why are you running & why should voters choose you?

I support public education and public educators. I believe our children’s time at school is essential for development and growth as individuals; all children should feel safe and heard, while having access to educational opportunities that propel them into future successes.

I want to affect educational policy that will assist an entire community of learners. I will continually push for excellence by asking the tough questions and demanding thorough and transparent answers; ensuring Saline has sustained continued excellence in public education.

I am passionate about ensuring that our teachers and support staff are equitably compensated for their valuable positions. That educators have the necessary resources allowing them to excel in their jobs; and ensuring our children to have the greatest opportunities for growth and advancement.

I seek to ensure that Saline Area Schools provides robust career pathway programs, so every student can make a successful transition in pursuit of their life goals.

Projections show a continued decline in student population in the district. How should the district address this issue?

Through the conversations I have had and research I have performed, we have seen declines specifically at the Middle and High School levels of student populations. While a decline in a population at any level is concerning, there were school of choice students in the early elementary age group that were not accepted into the district for the current school year, due to increases in those specific populations. The projections, based on the class sizes at the early elementary level are indicating that the drop we have seen at the Middle and High School in the district will be "catching us up" through increased enrollment at the early elementary level.

What are your top priorities and why?

The district needs to continue to strive for the fair treatment, opportunity and advancement of all children; allowing students to achieve their highest level of academic and personal growth.

The utmost priority of the district should be student learning. Ensuring that every student is taught by skilled educators who provide effective and high-quality instruction. Educators need to be equipped with the necessary tools and training. This requires a careful dissection of district finances, to ensure we can attract and retain high-quality educators.

I will demand consistent and transparent communications, particularly with parents and families. I will focus on instilling community commitment toward student and district successes and barriers.

I will focus on fiscal responsibility. pushing for a review all financial processes; including streamlining and consolidating processes; and look for innovative ways to improve efficiencies and accountability in financial processes.

Were you satisfied with the way in which the district handled the pandemic? What changes would you have wanted to see?

The pandemic was unprecedented for not only the district but the nation as a whole. Many corporations, where remote work was a feasibility, kept their employees in their homes working remotely. This is not something that is sustainable in a K-12 learning environment. I was thankful that I was able to choose a fully in-person option for my children for the 2021-2022 school year; although I do know some families still felt uncomfortable with this option and were offered remote options, which worked for their situation. There were neighboring districts that still leaned into remote learning during this school year period and had our district done that, I would have been extremely frustrated. 

Do you support the Saline Area Schools bond proposal? Why or why not?

Yes, I am in favor of the bond and will be supporting the bond with my vote.

I have reviewed the fiscal details that are available related to the areas of funding the proposal will incur.

There are a diverse number of areas included, which are the following:

  • Infrastructure concerns that require upgrade
    Special needs children accessibility to playground equipment for equal opportunity for all students
  • STEAM classroom and facility enhancement (which are critical to create an environment where Saline Area Schools can be a leading district when compared to all other educational options for K-12; something as an Global Executive in STEAM I am incredibly passionate about)
  • Critical upgrades and enhancements for our Senior Citizens

While I understand that the veto of the bill would reduce my taxes further, I fully support the upgrades as outlined in the information I have reviewed.

Public schools have always played a role in socializing our children. At the same time, the debates over societal norms have never been more ardent. In these times, how should the district weigh its societal role against the rights of the parents who don't want some ideas instilled?

One concern is related to the lack of communication and transparency with parents related to what I will bucketize as “social issues’.

I do believe that school should be a safe place for all students and that children should be taught to be kind to each other.

I believe more open communication from the district with parents on this issue would create a better collaboration and build the trust parents need in order to feel comfortable with how their children are being treated within the schools.

What ideas do you have about school security?

I have fundamental concerns related to school security; however, this is not a district specific issue. The doors being locked and the requirement to be buzzed into the office area is something that provides me with additional comfort related to the security of our schools. It is also my understanding that the majority of classrooms have locked doors to both the interior and exterior of the building, as there is research that shows leaving the building and going into the community may be a better option that staying in the classroom. 

What should the district to defend children against discriminatory attitudes they face over race, sexual orientation, religion or other traits?

Discrimination and bullying needs to be a zero-tolerance policy. All children deserve to feel welcomed and heard in a public-school setting. No child wants to feel canceled, and all children want to be affirmed.

Saline High School students are scoring lower on college prep tests, a trend that started pre-COVID. What do you make of this trend?

I attended the BoE meeting on 9/13 and listened to the presentation from Kara Davis, Executive Director of Teaching and Learning for Saline Area Schools. Some of my key takeaways from her presentation were the following: the data presented was from 2019-2022 (including pre-pandemic stats).

Science was up significantly across grades 6, 8 and 11. Overall, K-3 was down slightly, but still above the rest of the state.
4th grade levels are above pre-pandemic levels 6th grade reading and writing are nearly at pre-pandemic levels, although math is down, but continuing to gain.
For our class of 2023 Seniors, math is down but we are seeing high gains in reading and writing.

I am certainly not saying there is not more work to do, but in many areas it feels like we are continuing to gain traction.

The length of board meetings has become an issue for administrators and engaged public meetings who want to stay abreast of happenings. How should board members conduct themselves in a way that manages business while respecting the time of already-stretched district administrators and employees?

The trustees that are sitting in the room need to be actively engaged in the meeting, there are oftentimes requests for motions and there is the need to ask more than once for someone to second the motion or approve. This adds unnecessary time to the length of meetings.

Are you happy with the direction of Saline Area Schools? Please explain your answer. 

Saline Area Schools (SAS) is a consistently high-performing school district, ranking 5th in the state of Michigan (Source: 2022 Niche Best School Districts). I am committed to supporting the continued success of SAS, through accelerating areas of strength while providing additional support in the areas in need of improvement.

I am concerned about the teacher shortages we are seeing, and I do not feel we have adequate plans in place to address this going forward. I also feel that teachers are required to have way more students in their classrooms, due to shortages, then should be allowed. This all comes down to the level of funding available within the district and how that funding is allocated, optimized, and ensures that the best possible outcome is achieved.

The Saline Area Schools Board of Education will need to consider an increase in pay for substitute teachers, who remain in short supply and specifically how to fund such an increase. There is currently an inability to attract enough substitutes, which in turn results in teachers being asked not to take off from work and to fill vacancies during their planning periods.

Finally, I am unaware of specific sustainability and Veterans community education that may be going on in the district, I see these as two critical areas for our children to receive education in going forward.

For years Saline was recognized as a destination district for families with students with special needs because of the district's commitment to inclusivity. In recent years parents have raised concerns about the practice of seclusion and restraint. Are you satisfied with the district's actions in this are? Do we need reform? Please tell us your thoughts.

I discussed this topic within interested members of the community to understand the issue.

I understand that concerned parents brought this item up with the district and board of education previously. I do not feel that an adequate response has been implemented in this area. Parents need to have an understanding and control over how their child is being treated, when in the classroom. The staff needs more support and education on alternative practices.

S&R is traumatic for all involved, students and staff. If it is used there needs to be an investigation as to why and a plan needs to be developed in order to eliminate future use. Students deserve to have a safe learning environment where their needs are met and continued use of the seclusion and restraint policy does not provide that environment.

I believe more open communication from the district with parents on this issue would create a better collaboration and build the trust parents need in order to feel comfortable with how their children are being treated within the schools. 

Links

https://www.facebook.com/saims4saline

I'm interested
I disagree with this
This is unverified
Spam
Offensive

Replies