Meet 2021 Board Candidate Carolyn Souser

How will you, as a Board member, impact the J-D schools and community?

I will impact the J-D school and community by not voting with a personal agenda.  As a J-D Board member, I will collaborate with other parents, students, and community members so I may have a deep understanding as to what is really needed in our district.  As a lifelong learner, it is important for me to be open-minded and take a realistic look at every aspect of the educational process.  Additionally, I will be bringing my teaching knowledge and experience to the board, which will add another viewpoint to discussions.

If elected, what would be the main goal of your agenda during your time as a Board member?

I believe a J-D BOE member should leave their personal agenda at home.  One should collaborate with every facet of the educational process and work as a team member on the Board in the best interests of the J-D community as a whole.  The mission statement and beliefs of the J-D BOE were established for just this reason.

Many areas in the school receive less attention than other areas, both financially and publicly.  Do you believe they should all be covered equally?  If so, how would you make sure all areas are covered equally?

I do not believe all areas should be covered equally.  Regrettably, as with most things in life, the challenge is to appropriately budget our time and resources with the needs of the community.  For example, if the Board had to choose between new technology and a new school roof, I would need to explore the pros and cons of both before coming to a decision.  Additionally, some areas are state funded by very specific state aid guidelines.  Therefore, by default they receive more money and attention.

Moving forward, how would you plan to make changes to our materials, classrooms, and other areas of the school?

I am of the understanding that significant changes are underway to provide large collaborative work spaces in the middle school as well as increased attention to our STEM program.  With that knowledge, I will ensure we continue to support that transition.

What do you believe is the most pressing issue facing the J-D district?

As a teacher, one of the biggest challenges I experienced was parental involvement, family factors, and student attitudes and behaviors.  Everyone should be working together to provide the best possible atmosphere and support system every student deserves.

Many community members likely want to hear your stance on pertinent issues right now.  What is your stance on the SRO position?  What about the budget shortfall and COVID-19 restrictions being lessened?

My stance on supporting the SRO comes from the J-D BOE mission statement and belief number five.  “A physically safe, socially and emotionally supportive, and educationally challenging environment that respects and values the diversity of our school community is essential to learning.”  The SRO embodies all of those items.  After reviewing the latest budget up for approval, I am unaware of a budget shortfall.  The budget is looking very good due in part from state aid.  Regarding COVID-19 restrictions, we as a community should be collectively following all state, county, and local guidelines.  Anything above and beyond that should be a personal decision.

What do you think of the position of student Board representative?

I think having a student Board representative is appropriate.  It is important to have someone representing the student body.  After all, isn’t that why we are here in the first place?

Do you believe administrators should have the final say over material published in the school newspaper, rather than students making the executive decisions?

I do not believe the school newspaper should be “muzzled.”  Unfortunately, not everyone has the maturity to self edit and publish appropriate material.  I do believe a teacher advisor is appropriate to avoid offensive language, derogatory symbolism, bullying, personal comments against others, and anything that would be considered inappropriate in today’s society.

What are you going to do to make sure students’ voices are heard?

This topic is very important to me.  When voting on the SRO, more than one current Board member cited published reports as to why they were voting the way they did.  They did not refer to the student survey.  Therefore, I am left to believe the survey was not important.  The student body should be heard and taken into account.  High school students are young adults, many of whom vote and should be treated as such.  I will advocate for a nonjudgmental student comment time during Board meetings.  Additionally, cross talk during community comment time should be eliminated.  I believe it squelches insightful thoughts from community members knowing their statement will be commented on during the meeting.  Comment time is just that, three minutes to voice your opinion, not a debate among community members.

Whose opinions (students, parents, or school officials) should carry the most weight in establishing school policies? Please rank them in order of value.

First and foremost are the students.  That is why the school system exists.  J-D BOE school belief number one states: “Students, family, school and community all share the responsibility for education,” meaning we are all equal.

All Board member articles 2021:

Carolyn Souser:

Jalal Zoghby:

Ruth Arena:

H. Bernard Alex:

Kelly Austin:

Emily Costello:

Lisa McKenney:

Isaiah Steinberg, '23
Isaiah Steinberg is a senior at J-DHS. He is the Standards Editor and News Editor for the RamPage. In his free time, he enjoys hanging out with friends, playing with his half-brother, or sleeping.