WHNT News 19 sent five questions to Pam Hill and Carlos Mathews, who are running for Huntsville Board of Education District 5. Here are the answers, straight from the candidates.
1. What is the most pressing issue facing Huntsville City Schools?
Pamela Hill: The most pressing issue to me in HCS is a safe and student centered learning environment. All students must feel safe before they can mentally prepare to learn. To become college or career ready, students must have dedicated, appreciated, and professional educators to guide them along in their educational path.
Carlos Mathews: Last school year our professionals in the classroom spent too much time dealing with disruptive students. The Code of Conduct allowed disruptive students to easily return to the classroom after causing an issue. The new Behavior Learning Guide is a step in the right direction but must be implemented correctly to prevent a recurrence of last school years issues. Discipline starts at home so our schools need the parents help to make this year successful.
2. What is one practical, specific policy you would push to have implemented in your first year on the board?
Pamela Hill: I would seek to implement a policy that includes citizen comments in every televised school board meeting. Stakeholders’ comments have been excluded from school board meetings under the current administration. This has been to the detriment of all stakeholders.
Carlos Mathews: All citizen comments must be submitted forty eight hours before the board meeting. The submitted comments will be attached to the meeting agenda and stored for public record online. If a submitted comment violates the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act those comments will not be online for public view. Note the submission of comments forty eight hours before the board meeting is the sign up to speak at the board meeting during the citizen comments portion of the meeting.
3. What worries you most about Huntsville City Schools currently?
Pamela Hill: What currently worries me most about HCS is the inequality that is evident, but appears invisible to the central office administration. Although HCS states that they are the “best schools in the country,” there are major discrepancies in districts, schools, and staffing.
Carlos Mathews: The school system has provided students with a variety of academic options. Unfortunately not every student is academically prepared to take on the challenges of those options. As a school system we must make sure that their needs are met so they too will be able to take advantage of the options the system has provided.
4. What differentiates you from your opponent(s)?
Pamela Hill: I am passionate about HCS because I graduated from it, my children graduated from it, and this school year my granddaughter began Pre-K in it. I am a professional educator with five educational degrees, including one Bachelors, three Masters, and one Ed.S. in Teacher Leadership. I have valuable experience from the 19 years I have taught in HCS, including the last five years under Casey Wardynski’s leadership.
Carlos Mathews: My opponent is a one issue candidate that does not have a plan for improving Huntsville City Schools. My plan involves improving academic guidance for students, increasing professional development opportunities for educators, improve accountability from the boardroom to the classroom, improve student reading proficiency district wide and improve discipline in our schools.
5. What about you might surprise voters?
Pamela Hill: I grew up in only one house, and it was in District 5. The backyard was connected to Highlands Elementary School’s playground. While putting out campaign yard signs this month, I was allowed to walk through the house for the first time in 38 years.
Carlos Mathews: I have been a champion for parents and students long before running for the District 5 Board of Education seat. My efforts working with the Board of Education as a citizen have helped change policies and procedures that impact our students in a positive manner.