Jen on the Issues
Transparency Accountability Equity Fairness
Public Education: Public education is essential to the continuation of our democracy. It is necessary to produce future citizens who can work and lead. Issues such as funding and "grade card" measurement must be done right so all of our children have access to this public right. Community support of public education is essential to provide the facilities and resources our students need to succeed in the workforce of tomorrow. It is also important, that the school district shows transparency and accountability to the public, demonstrating not only the need but the measurements of success. I am proud to have been a vocal advocate on behalf of our District on issues like school funding, combatting CRT legislation, protecting LGBTQIA student and community rights, and maintaining local control of our schools.
Governance: I believe the public deserves a Board of Education to govern with transparency and integrity. With so much going on in our District, it is important to have a strong governance structure, not one that distracts from the important work of our teachers and students. During my term, the Board of Education has changed to a Student Outcome Focused Governance Model, which provides clear metrics for success and accountability.
Measurement of Student Achievement: What the State measures does not always correlate to the success of our students. The “Report Card” has known bias and does not account for the under-privilege of our students and those in other poor or urban districts. I will advocate for a better measurement tool to measure the academic success of all students fairly. I will also promote our District's Portrait of a Graduate, the Community's vision for what makes a CCS Graduate Successful.
Team CCS: The most important asset to effective public services are our employees. As the largest budget item, it is essential that CCS creates an inclusive work environment where all staff believe in and feel their value to the organization. This includes understanding their direct connection in and to the organizational strategic mission. If done correctly, a stronger workforce will develop, we will retain our talent, and our children will grow academically stronger because everyone is working from the same strategic framework.
Development & Housing
Housing: I support increasing affordable housing in our community. We have an extreme shortage of quality and safe affordable housing. Safe and affordable housing is absolutely critical for the success of our children academically. I am proud to work on initiatives that allows the District to become a partner in solving our housing crisis.
Development and Economic Incentives: Development is a necessity for continued growth and stability of our City, in both income and property tax, which supports the vital functions of government to protect and serve all of Central Ohio. Tax incentives, when used appropriately and in the best-interest of the entire community (with community benefits), are a legitimate and effective way to bring necessary development. With careful priory and full disclosure, the School District can see increased tax benefit to properties that would not otherwise be developed. Per Columbus City Code, the School Board does not get a vote in most incentive projects.
I support policies to ensure all people have access to quality and affordable healthcare. I oppose any effort to reduce or limit current health care programs provided by government, including the ACA, and am a strong proponent of ensuring affordable or no-cost health care for all. Kids with access to health care will be better students. I am proud that during my term, we have opened two new onsite health clinics and a stand-alone facility at Central Enrollment, partnering with Nationwide Children's Hospital and Primary One. We also improved our understanding of student health and community health care needs as a result of COVID-19.
I believe climate change is real and if not addressed, will impact future generations. As a large landowner and user of resources, it is important for the district to not only teach our children about environmental impact, but to also take action by examination of alternative energy sources and reduction of the carbon footprint, working to decrease waste, and adding to the tree canopy.
Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion
Regional Equity: All students in the district deserve access to the same educational opportunity no matter their zip code. Like society, our district has issues between those that have and those that have not. Ensuring all students have access to district programs, classes, and opportunity is essential. I am proud that during my term, we have made Equity a core value of the organization and have undergone equity reviews of programs, staffing models, and opportunities, including Equity Based Budgeting.
Disproportionate Discipline: It is important to continue to work on how discipline and rewards are administrated. Not only are programs for trauma informed care and social emotional wellness important for our staff to learn, but they also need to explore and receive tools on how to handle their own implicit bias. Working on both will help the district decrease disproportionate discipline of black boys, and help to interrupt the school-to-prison pipeline.
LGBTQIA+: As a Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion professional, I advocate for equality and inclusion of all people. School should be a safe and welcoming environment for all students and employees. While Ohio law does not offer a protected status for transgender individuals, it has been the policy of the Columbus Board of Education to protect gender identify or expression under CCS EEO Policy for both students and employees. I am fully supportive of this policy and will work to strengthen, clarify, and provide even more support for LGBTQIA+ individuals. I also believe we can improve conversations around this topic for both students and teachers, promoting a better educational/ working culture. During my term, I am proud that our District is a sponsor of the Columbus Stonewall Pride Parade and we have advocated on behalf of LGBTQIA+ students and community to protect their rights in the classroom, on the athletic field, and in the community.
Labor & Contracting
Collective Bargaining: I support Organized Labor. When a majority of employees chose to form or join a Union, I support that right to do so. Union employees have the right to collectively bargain in the public and private sector on issues outlined in the National Labor Relations Act and central to the employment relationship. I oppose "Right-to-Work" laws, which are an overt attempt to weaken Unions. I also believe employers should classify employees properly, only using 1099 Independent contractors are authorized by the law. I am proud that during my term, I have voted to increase salaries for our team by 15%, as well as offer new benefits and incentives to ensure we have a workforce that knows they are respected and valued.
Prevailing Wage: I support Ohio’s Prevailing Wage laws because ensuring a livable wage for our Ohio workforce protects and support our children in public schools. A “race to the bottom” outcome does nothing to protect Ohio’s workforce. The race down harms the working class of Ohio, directly impacting the fabric of our economic, social, and educational well-being as a State. I believe a workforce should be compensated for their skill, with a livable wage for the community where the work is being done. Prevailing wage leads to more financially secure families and better prepared public school students.
Public Contracts: Ensuring that contracts are awarded to not just the lowest bidder, but the best or “responsible bidder” is both good business and industry practice. It is important that the bidder demonstrate responsibility to wage, safety, and industry standards in the consideration of the contract. As a public official, it is important to me that we not only get the most cost effective bidder, but ones who will produce the most responsible product by meeting all industry, community, and ethical standards.
Project Labor Agreements: Project Labor Agreements, or Community Workforce Agreements, can be tools that benefit workforce, construction contractors, and communities when used appropriately. PLA’s can provide a tailored approach to meet the needs of a project, while establishing wages and benefits, timelines and schedules, and working condition and dispute resolution. This can make projects move faster, which can save money, especially for publically funded projects. I believe the use of PLAs are good for large-scale construction projects. Ensuring projects can move forward, on time and at budget, is essential to good construction management and use of public funds. For our schools, it means there are more funds to improve our physical learning environments to improve the academic success of our students for tomorrow’s workforce.