Read more about David Bates at http://www.ycsfirstchoice.com/.
Aside from the budget, what are your two top priorities for the Ypsilanti schools?
The top priority needs to be to increase achievement for all students and to close the achievement gap for by supporting those students that are struggling so that they also can achieve at high levels. When we have a comprehensive strategy in place to address the needs of all learners other concerns like enrollment will take care of themselves. Parents want and deserve to have their children in the best schools possible. We need to fulfill our promise to the community to be the first choice for a great cradle to career education.
What ideas do you have for reducing students' out-of-school days (unexcused absences)?
I talked with a parent recently who told me that every day her daughter can hardly wait to get to school. As we increase our capacity to address the unique needs of every student, students, like this woman’s daughter, will experience greater success and they will be more inclined to attend and the problem with absenteeism will diminish. Another approach that will increase our success is to build stronger partnerships with our parents.
Staff morale has been an issue in the school district. How do you think the board should monitor and respond to staff morale issues, if at all? What ideas do you have for reducing staff turnover in the coming year?
Teachers want to have success, student’s want to have success. Providing teachers with the support they need to be successful, in a supportive, collegial environment will go a long way towards improving moral. We have great teachers and our teachers love our students and want them to be successful. We need to continue to provide the professional development and tools necessary for teachers to be able to meet the learning needs of our students.
Are you satisfied with the district’s openness and transparency to parents, employees, and community members/taxpayers? If yes, why? If no, what changes would you propose?
The district web site continues to improve as a way to communicate with parents and community members alike with information about the District’s goals and points of achievement. I would like to see the site become interactive with opportunities to complete surveys, provide feedback and ask questions. Board members are visiting every school and a lot of neighborhood associations to report out on what happened in year 1, “YCS 1.0” and those presentations have been well received.
Hindsight is perfect, but: whether you are an incumbent, or not: Name one decision that the YCS school board made in the last six months that you think was a very good decision; and name one decision that the school board made in the last six months that you wish had been decided differently.
Both of my considerations have to do with improving our communications with our community. I think that it has been a good approach to visit our schools and neighborhood associations with an update on the past year “YCS 1.0” and information about our direction moving forward. I do think that we need to redouble our efforts at communicating the great things that are happening in our district and I wish that we had hired someone with expertise in that area 6 months ago to guide that work.
Former board members from Willow Run, Ypsilanti Schools, or Ypsilanti Community Schools: When were you a former board member? Were you appointed or elected? What did you learn from your experience on the WR, YS, or YCS board that you think would be helpful on the board now?
I served on the School District of Ypsilanti Board of Education for two terms by election in 2006 and 2010. I was appointed to the Ypsilanti Community Schools by the WISD Board in 2012. It would not be possible in the space here to describe all the valuable lessons that I have learned in 8 years of service. School Board service entails so much activity that is not commonly observed by the public, from student discipline hearings to staff matters, advocating for public policy to forging relationships with community partners.
Above all else I have learned that every decision you make will have an affect on someone. You need to have a very clear sense of your responsibility and obligation to the whole community, not just your friends or your neighborhood. When you are faced with a difficult decision, you must do what is best for the children. It is the only defensible decision!
Assuming that you are elected, name one or two other board candidates that you would like to see serve beside you, and explain why.
I often tell people that there is a reason why there are 7 members on the Board of Education. A Board should represent a cross section of the community. In Ypsilanti that means diversity of race, gender, age, and socioeconomic circumstances. I would be proud to serve with any member who is present to represent the community in making decisions for the benefit of all children.
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