Candidate Forum at City Hall
Published by the Anacortes American on October 16, 2019
Name: Miri Levi
Previous elected experience: Vice President of the Mt Baker Nurse Practitioner Association, Vice President of Island Birth Association, Chair and Cofounder of Berks Breastfeeding Coalition, and Treasurer of the New Jersey affiliate of the American College of Nurse Midwives.
Why are you running for this position?
I’m running for Anacortes School Board to help ASD do more for our children and families. As a board member, I’ll advocate for our children in every decision I make and give parents the open communication they crave. Our current methodologies do not serve all students, and our teachers deserve more support. I will bring a fresh perspective and ensure that our schools provide the best value to everyone.
I have three young kids and will be part of the community for many years. I’m a strong leader, and I enjoy debate and discussion prior to making a decision. I stand with Anacortes families and will be your advocate on the Anacortes School Board. I will put students and families first, demonstrate operational prowess, and be mindful of the perspective of Anacortes families.
What is your top priority if elected to the school board?
After bringing equity to ASD and finding the best replacement for our outgoing superintendent, my top priority is to create a safer and more respectful environment in our schools. The physical safety and emotional security of our children and teachers is essential to providing quality education to all students. In recent years, Anacortes students have experienced threats of violence, medical injuries, school bus accidents, bullying and other challenges that put our children at risk.
I can improve the ways we prevent emergencies and how we respond to situations that compromise children’s safety. As a healthcare executive, I have experience managing policies and safety protocols. I’m eager to use my skills to help safeguard our children.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing Anacortes schools?
In recent years, Anacortes schools have adopted a negative approach to parent inquiry. The first response to a problem is usually that it won’t be fixed. Parents face a complicated process of complaints and appeals for issues of concern, leading many families to feel like they have to fight for what their child needs. Leaders have a tendency to focus on the least they can do, but we have a moral imperative to do the most we can accomplish.
I’ll create a culture that welcomes parent and community involvement in problem solving. I will work alongside parents to improve our schools together. To shift towards positivity, we must elect school board leaders who enjoy problem solving in a team environment.
Anacortes School District has been focusing a lot on equity. What does equity mean to you and how do you think the district should approach it?
Equity means giving each of our students the opportunity to succeed, which requires a dynamic approach that gives everyone the same odds of success. Equity ensures fairness in our schools. I want every student to set and achieve the right goals for themselves. My experience working with underserved families and children with special needs has given me an in-depth understanding of what equity means to individual students and the way inequity affects a household. I have firsthand experience of what’s at stake if we miss the mark in our effort to achieve true equity in our schools.
Our equity policy should provide teachers with their preferred classroom enrichment, teaching tools, learning technologies, and administrative support, along with creating inclusive classrooms. We can implement many successful solutions in the classrooms, where our kids do their best learning. We do best when we include all of our students in the same educational system. As a school board member, I will put systems in place that help students overcome barriers and fulfill their potential for success.
How do you propose the promotion of social-emotional health within the school district?
Social-emotional health is essential to education and has a tremendous impact on who our children become. We have wonderful programs in our schools and we’ve received strong support for counselors. However, the school district is lacking in behavioral support for students at all grade levels. I would create a behavioral program to support students who need additional techniques to manage their behavior. This program would provide enhanced support for teachers, allowing them to focus on their classroom while ensuring that all students get the tools they need.
I’ll also examine the pressures that our students manage during the school year, such as the requirements for standardized testing. Many of these tests cause high levels of stress for our children and take a significant amount of school time throughout the year. I’ll look at our approach to standardized testing in the school district through a social-emotional lens, seeking positive change for our students and teachers.
The district has gone through a period of budget cuts. How do you plan to help it be fiscally responsible?
In order to ensure that we use our tax dollars responsibly, I would get involved in the budget process. I have attended school board meetings for two years, where I watched as current board members avoided looking closely at the budget and excused themselves from participating in budgeting decisions. If elected, I will review the details of the budget and use my expertise as a business leader to collaborate with school administration and find cost saving measures that preserve the programs at ASD with less expense.
Anacortes has programming that elevates our schools as a leader in Washington State. A fiscally responsible approach to education management will require many sacrifices, but we can’t afford to sacrifice our core values. I will find new solutions and additional funding opportunities for our community to avoid heart breaking losses such as the closure of the district Pre-K program.
What qualities do you hope to find in a new superintendent?
I will look for a superintendent who has direct experience, critical thinking skills, and a positive, willing attitude. The right person has a history of effective, efficient educational leadership. Our new superintendent should be an advocate for teachers who comes from a public school background. I will find a superintendent who fights to provide the learning experiences that our children need. We need a strong leader with financial experience and a manager who understands complex budgets. I hope to be able to consider qualified candidates from within our school district, as well as individuals from outside our community. I will identify a superintendent who values collaboration with parents, students, teachers, and community members.