Maureen (Sis) Childs, 50 years old, Corbett, Oregon, Multnomah County.
About Maureen ( Sis ) Childs
Maureen Childs is the Principal and English Language Arts teacher at Arco Iris Spanish Immersion School in Beaverton, Oregon. She is a licensed teacher with a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. Her experience includes teaching Kindergarten/1st and 3rd/4th grade blended classrooms. She has served as site director for afterschool enrichment programs serving children from 1st to 5th grades. She’s dedicated to education and has served on the Corbett school board for more than 12 years, where she currently serves as board chairwoman.
Why are you running for Corbett School Board?
To maintain our program of excellence and keep Corbett School District stable. Throughout my term on the Corbett School Board, Corbett has faced diminishing funding. We have met these challenges head-on through innovative ways to provide revenue without cutting. This includes launching a District-endorsed charter school. The District and Charter have teamed together to provide one of the most sought after programs in the nations. This allowed us to grow, not cut. The board had the foresight to know this was the wisest path to provide the stability necessary to keep the District viable. If we had not chosen a path of growth, we would have already had to make catastrophic cuts that would eventually lead to the demise of Corbett School District. I will continue to support an administration that knows how to provide an incredible education for our kids, while living within our means. This is a complex job and one that takes experience.
What impact do you hope to have as a board member?
To continue to work hard on our already well-established priorities:
- Fostering School Community. Our schools’ continued achievements sustain a strong sense of community in Corbett and among our school families. People seek out Corbett and want to live here because of our excellent schools. This has a direct, positive effect on property values.
- Building Excellence. We have supported the continuous progress of our schools towards excellence; in 12 years we have experienced an unrivaled transformation into one of the best programs in the nation, recognized by parents and educators. Corbett enjoys educational outcomes other districts strive for. Our incomplete rates are at a seven year low. Like each of the past six years, they continue to go down. Our dropout rate is the lowest in the county and one of the lowest in the state. All measures of achievement such as state test scores, SAT scores, college entrance rates, state report cards, AND Special Education (SPED) state report cards point to a K-12 program that is producing prenominal achievement.
- Meeting Funding Challenges Head-on. We have attained academic excellence even in the face of diminishing funding and ever increasing costs. Although Corbett Schools face funding shortfalls, our District has made fewer cuts that affect student than the Districts that surround us. This is not an accident; it is proof of a District that lives within its means, just like to people of Corbett.
Your school board members are your decision-makers. I will continue to make decisions that foster school community, build excellence, and meet the challenges our diminished funding presents, all the while considering the bottom line: “What’s best for kids?”
What new ideas might you bring to the position you are applying for?
My experience tells me we need to keep going in the direction we’ve set forth. My new idea is to maintain what we’ve got and build on strategies that are working. First strategies in dealing with an ongoing budget crisis:
The superintendent offers the budget under the guidance of the board. Day to day decisions are made by the administration. It’s been the District’s experience that our superintendent has offered sound, innovative ideas to increase revenues. This has allowed us to keep our program in tact while living within our means. In fact, when our legislators came to meet the community and address challenges facing the District, they stated that a District endorsed charter school was an excellent idea. While cuts have been inevitable (12% this past year), we have not had to touch our classrooms. Had we not voted to renew the charter agreement, we would have voted to cut seven teachers and increase classroom sizes to between 37 to 45 students. This is when I ask myself “what’s best for kids?” There was no question in my mind that renewing the charter was the best thing to do for Corbett School District’s kids. It is my responsibility as a board member, to insure that our kids are provided a stellar education and I have done everything within my power to see that this has remained so by supporting our teachers and administration. Just like any business, we can try to cut our way to balancing our budget or increase revenue. I support the latter. Without revenue it’s clear what happens. The only choice is to offer less to our kids. Increased revenue is a better idea.
What are the strengths you bring to this position?
As an educator and administrator I have a unique perspective of the challenges and rewards that teachers and administrators face in providing a quality education for our kids. As a board member, I know and have experienced the weight my decisions have made on the community, the District, and especially the kids. As a volunteer, I understand the hours and the ownership one feels in their District when they give of their time and talents to make our District better. As a mother, and a soon to be grandmother (fourth generation Corbett kids), I understand the anxiety parents feel about how the school their child goes to will impact that child’s life. My experience includes:
- Volunteer Service: I have volunteered in our classrooms, as well as assisted in writing grants while serving on various school committees. I am also an active supporter of Corbett school athletics. I have an extensive and trusted community of friends and neighbors in Corbett that I rely on for insight and dialogue into solutions for our schools. Prior to becoming a member of the Board, I served on the District Budget Committee.
- School Board Experience: With 12 years of experience as a Board member, I have the insight, knowledge and understanding of board policies and procedures necessary to navigate the complexities the District faces. I am committed to helping our children and our schools succeed.
- Professional Educator: As an elementary language arts teacher and grade school principal, I also have an educator’s perspective. This experience provides invaluable insight as a board member. I have always brought this perspective to bear on my decisions.
What do you feel are the biggest challenges facing the CSD and the school board today and what would you like to see happen to address them?
The biggest challenges are threats to the District’s stability which includes budgetary and maintaining Corbett’s excellence. Board members must have experience to make the tough choices and tackle the challenges that face us in the next few years.
This has been a tough year. As a board, we have been asked to make some difficult choices. In fact, many people think we make cuts through choice. This is not true; none of these cuts are our choice. I know what’s best for kids is to provide them with a well-rounded, education that includes fully-funded sports, art and music programs. If I could implement “one fully-funded program” it would be to provide one! Since we don’t have that option, my priority is for kids not to feel the cuts. When they walk through the door of their school, they should not feel the effects. This means, if at all possible, not touching the classroom: keeping classroom sizes small and insuring the best teachers in the nation are teaching our kids. I will continue to support strategies that allow us to do this.
Tough choices are why Corbett’s citizens should exercise caution when making the important decision of choosing your school board. First, the job of board member is complex. There’s not just one factor to consider, there are often five or six interrelated ones. This requires experience. Some of our best school board members prepared for the job before hand by serving on the budget committee and attending school board meetings, long before they considered running. I would urge Corbett citizens to evaluate the level of preparation of all the candidates, especially those with no prior board experience.
In the end all the challenges we face must come down to us determining “what’s best for our kids?” Politics can distract and undermine our ability to reach our goals, so throughout my years on the Board I have remained committed to the wellbeing of our students. Our community’s concerns and ideas are paramount to our success, but we my always ask, “How will this work for our children?” My decisions have been and always will be based on the question, “What best for our kids?”
Each candidate has been invited to participate and share their personal statements and answers to five questions. If you would like to see the list of candidates invited to participate and that are running for the CSD schoool board, please select here.