Q&A

Andy Jones: Douglas County School Board candidate, District A

Posted

City or town of residence: Highlands Ranch
Occupation: Airline pilot
Campaign website/contact information: andy4schoolboard@gmail.com; andyforschoolboard.com

Why are you seeking this office?

I am running to strengthen the two most important contracts in the district: between the student and teacher, and the parents and the school. I want the best teachers to fulfill that contract with the highest levels of support and compensation. I also want the parents to feel like the school honors their choices and values.  

What makes you the best person for the job?

Unmatched leadership experience. Leadership skills honed during 30 years of military service, including three commands and five executive officer tours. A respected volunteer in the district for over 18 years, including vice chair of the District Accountability Committee and charter school board president. A serving dad with compassion and integrity.

What can be done to enhance security at district schools?

With 30 years of military and airline experience, I bring a never-seen level of security expertise to the board. The safety of our children in this school district is not a political game to play and the consequences of all stakeholders not coming together for real solutions are a risk I will never take. For a true discussion to take place we must be able to speak openly and honestly about every potential solution and that nothing should be off the table. A specific security plan should never be openly discussed, but I do have a detailed list of initiatives.

What can be done to better address the mental health needs of district students?

We have decreased the student-to-counselor ratio, but the metrics of successful deployment must be defined. Merely adding numbers will not ensure successfully addressing the myriad mental health and wellness issues that plague our society today. The crisis of teen suicide is bigger than we want to imagine, especially when we look at the issues under the surface. Societal, performance, parental and education pressures and their cumulative effects are more than some children have the capacity to cope with. As part of bringing additional mental health resources to bear, we must address resiliency issues with our children and help them to deal with the modern-day pressures.  

How has the proliferation of charter schools impacted the district?

Neighborhood and charter schools benefit from the values of innovation, autonomy and real parent engagement. Whether they choose a charter or neighborhood school, parents in this district have real school choices for their children, because of charter growth in the past 20 years. Many don’t remember the disaster that was year-round school due to population growth that outpaced the district’s ability to have seats for kids. With one of the more progressive charter laws in the country, parents and educators were allowed to relieve that stress on a cash-strapped district, creating what are now some of the highest performing schools in the district. 

What is your assessment of Thomas Tucker’s job performance since becoming superintendent last year?

Dr. Tucker joined the state’s third largest school district from out-of-state, and I am very sympathetic to the task he took on. I am careful about addressing performance when I haven’t had access to behind-the-scenes conversations. It seems clear that he (like any superintendent) needs a more authentic relationship with the board. Example, his evaluation contained not a single constructive bit of criticism or area to improve, yet there have been numerous key instances where this board overturned his staff’s recommendations during board meetings. What I’ve seen publicly, I think everyone could use a healthier work environment, including the superintendent. 

Would you be in favor of the reinstatement of a collective bargaining agreement between the district and the teachers’ union?

I would be the only sitting director who is an active union member. I know what poor labor/management relations look like and have experience in creating the highest levels of employee satisfaction. Improving the employee council, making it the voice of all district employees, is the fairest, most effective way to address employee concerns. 

What issue or issues must the school board make a bigger priority next year than it has in recent years?

Safety, student achievement and positive educational options for all students. This district cannot continue to suffer the board’s ideological swings experienced in the last decade. I will tirelessly work to unleash the potential of every employee and kid, and for the first time in a decade, bring a calm that our community truly desires.

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