Farmington Schools Candidate Q&A: Donald Walker

Farmington Voice sent questionnaires to Farmington Public Schools candidates running on November 3. Responses are being published in the order they are received. Read all of our election coverage here: farmingtonvoice.com/f2h-votes-2020/.

Donald Walker
Donald Walker (contributed)

Donald Walker (two-year term)

Farmington Public Schools trustees recently approved a diversity proclamation, with one trustee dissenting. Please share your thoughts about the proclamation.

Overall, I feel there is nothing wrong with the proclamation. It reflects the social climate in 2020.

My thoughts are: what will be the measures of accountability for the sections in the proclamation. Also the proclamation rightly speaks to people of color’s circumstances and experiences, but there are other marginalized and targeted groups that exist in FPS that are not spoken about directly. Some parts of the proclamation language are too specific and should be broadened or clarified so that it is clearly understood that no group or individual will be marginalized or made to feel excluded.

As it relates to accountability, you can find language similar to the proclamation within the 2018 Strategic Plan and on the FPS website that speaks in the same tone as this proclamation. If the district needed measures to address these same social issues in 2018 and continued to have high profiled negative incidents, what will change now? FPS lost two champions of diversity, equity and inclusion within the last year. Both persons were by reputation and conversation, highly qualified and committed to the students of FPS. How will this proclamation be different from the language already found in the strategic plan and the website if there are no accountability measures? If we don’t back up what is already in place since 2018, the efforts of the proclamation will just be words.

COVID-19 will impact the district’s budget, perhaps for years to come. What values, concerns, and priorities will you bring to the table when it comes time to make budget decisions?

As long a Covid-19 or anything else that threatens the safety and security of students impacts the district, my decisions begin in that space. Students cannot learn fully if they do not feel safe.

Parents will pull children from our district if they are not assured their children will be safe. After safety and security is addressed, curriculum and instruction is the priority. The curriculum must be regularly assessed for rigor, consistency, markers of effectiveness, and inclusiveness, to properly challenge all of our students. As a part of instruction or operations, addressing teacher salaries and professional development is critical. We have to make sure our teachers are whole, diverse, and professionally positioned to be the most highly qualified, certified professionals in the state. We have to be an attractive district to new talent and a district that pushes our talented teachers to new levels.

Trustees have had some challenging conversations among themselves and have listened to a great deal of public comment over the past few months. What would you bring to the table to improve board relationships? How will you ensure residents’ concerns are heard and addressed?

This has been a part of my platform since I began my campaign. I want to see 30-day responses to all public comment questions. We owe that to our community especially during challenge times. I will continue virtual coffee and conversations with residents, teachers, students, and any other identified stakeholders to hear concerns and to share what I can. When it is safe for face-to-face, these meetings will be held in person and virtually too. We have a talented video program at North Farmington. I would like to work with the students there and host a show to interview stakeholders and staff for the purpose of awareness, marketing, recruitment. I know there is a vehicle currently in place but with my professional experience there are some elements I would add.

Improving board relations starts with the ability to listen to understand. You must be able to hear a person’s concerns and acknowledge them. When people know you are listening and respecting their point of view they are more inclined to work with you. To be clear, respecting a point of view does not mean giving in or agreeing with it. I do believe in supporting people’s plans. I believe if a plan is on the table, make every effort to the success of the plan. If the plan does not work with appropriate modifications, then it is time to step aside for someone else’s plan and provide the same support. Respect, dignity and professionalism must be modeled at all times. Allow heated conversations to take place away from the public view. If you must, respectfully agree to disagree, submit it to a vote, and be unified in public.

 

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