Geraldine Lewis

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Geraldine Lewis

1. What inspired you to run for elected office?

I have been a Zone 4 trustee for the past 4 1/2 years and the commitment I have toward public education has only increased over that time. My interest in seeing public education thrive in our district is my motivation for staying involved on the school board.

2. What unique qualifications would you bring to office that no one else could match?

I bring continuity and perspective to the school board that is vital at this time. With a new superintendent, I am the longest running trustee we have on the board. That experience is so valuable. I was involved in volunteer work in Sagle Elementary, SMS, and SHS. I am also a board member of Panhandle Alliance For Education. I see first-hand the importance of the entire community being supportive and engaged in our schools.

3. What are the most important issues facing the district? Why?

Over the past year, we established fivepriority areas in our long-range strategic plan. The first and foremost of those is academic success and high levels of learning for all students. This remains our highest goal and where all our decisions ultimately lead. We want every student to have access to excellent education, regardless of their personal situation. This year our focus is on raising math scores throughout the district.

4. How do you plan to address these issues?

In this district, we are committed to monitoring academic measures very closely. The superintendent reports to us frequently on student achievement across many metrics: reading indicators and third grade literacy assessments, ISAT scores in both English/language arts and math, graduation rates, to name a few. Providing professional development for all math teachers allows us to maximize the impact of learning in mathematics across all grade levels.

5. What are your thoughts on funding for school districts in Idaho, and do you feel levies and bonds are a solution to shortfalls? Why or why not?

Local support of education is critical in every school district. Every state has a similar dependence on local dollars. The difference for Idaho, is that we have only one tool to access that support, levies and/or bonds. Because of the way our state legislature has set up public school funding, 93 of 115 schools in our state rely on levies/bonds to supplement their budget. So yes, in Idaho, those are critical sources of funding.

6. There will be a question on the Nov. 5 ballot for LPOSD asking voters to approve making the current two-year, $25.4 million maintenance and operations supplemental levy permanent. Do you agree or disagree with the proposal and why?

We’ve had a maintenance and operations levy in place for 20 consecutive years. Much time and money is spent every two years to renew what is a critical part of our budget. This vote allows the community to stabilize that funding. We have small rural schools that come with added expense. We want to continue our extracurricular, CTE and AP programs and maintain excellent staff. This is all paid by the existing supplemental levy.

7. If elected, what legacy would you hope to create? Why?

If reelected, the question of leaving a personal legacy is not the issue. It is more a legacy that the students themselves leave — of being the best student they can be, of receiving a high-quality education, of setting exciting goals for their future. If that happens, then I have accomplished what I need to as a trustee.

8. How do you foresee your typical workday as an elected official?

The work of the board is to set vision and goals for the district, adopt policies that give the district direction, hire and evaluate the superintendent and adopt and oversee the annual budget. It is a huge responsibility and we meet twice a month to carry out those duties. We also have 12 unique schools in this district. As a trustee, I try to get into each school to get to know each school.

9. What do you most look forward to after you are elected?

I am looking forward to continuing the work I began over four years ago. That means seeing progress in each of our strategic priority areas: academic success, engaging with our community, recruit and retain excellent staff, fiscal responsibility and providing safe learning environments. I am also excited to see our new superintendent, Tom Albertson, succeed.

10. What’s the harshest criticism you expect to face on the campaign trail and how would you respond to such criticism?

I expect some voters to be concerned about the upcoming supplemental levy vote. However, it is a choice that each voter gets to make individually. Everyone gets one vote. A simple majority either way will settle the question for this district.

11. If you could only get one thing across to voters during your campaign, what would it be?

Voters — use your privilege to cast a vote. Your voice matters and your interest in your community is reflected in your commitment to vote in each election.

12. What question should every candidate be asked? What is your answer?

I would ask each candidate, “Will you be able to lead in a fair and equitable, non-biased, non-partisan manner?”

That is the duty of school board trustees. Our real obligation is to the students themselves.

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