Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Six Questions for Amy Lhote

Amy Lhote is running for one of two seats in Region II, which represents Applewald, East Franklin, Kittanning Boro, Rayburn, Washington, West Franklin and Worthington.   We've also heard from Dr. Lobby and look forward to hearing the anwers to these same six questions from all of the other candidates. 

1. Since there seems to be quite a bit of negativity within the district, what do you feel is going right with ASD at this time?

I feel that the majority of our teachers are good teachers, and they are in the classroom for the right reason, to teach our children. We as a board need to listen to their ideas and concerns and provide them with the tools to do their job properly. I also believe that the community of Armstrong County has wonderful and caring people, we just don’t see eye to eye on the schools.

2. What are your ideas to improve student performance?

Once again, we need to listen to the teachers, see what the needs are in the classroom. I believe the budget is stretched way too far and the majority of our taxpayer money is being used to keep old buildings open and replication of services. I believe that our class offerings will increase when the district is “right-sized”. Our administrative staff has not been able to do the jobs they were hired for. They have been too involved in the closing and opening of buildings instead of using all of their expertise to improve educational offerings and evaluate what we are doing right and what we are doing wrong.

3. What is your biggest concern with ASD?

Without a doubt, the education of our students is paying the price for holding on to individual identities. According to The Pittsburgh Business Times, we are now ranked 352 out of 500 school districts in Pennsylvania. This is totally unacceptable our students are not getting what they need due to mismanagement of the district with a budget of 88 million. In the Hayes-Large study, it states that our high schools are incapable of teaching modern science. That study was completed in 2007, and no changes have been made. Putting band-aids on 3 buildings and adding gymnasiums and auditoriums, putting science classrooms on the second floor of a school without air-conditioning is not going to improve education.

4. What is your perspective of the referendum question that has been placed on the ballot?

I believe it is intentionally misleading and our manipulative school board will be able to interpret it anyway they would like to.

First of all, this mythical high school that has not even been discussed since the Charrette and should not be on a ballot. Secondly, if there was a second high school built, if you look at enrollment numbers and other school districts building high school now, this number is grossly over-priced. As a matter of fact, Penn Hills school district who has 5000 students is building a high school for 56 million dollars. How can ASD with 5500 students and with a fairly new high school (West Shamokin with 572 students), have an estimate of 155 million for the remaining secondary students? We can’t, it is another way the current school board members are trying to deceive the Armstrong County residents. It isn’t about education for them, it is only about identity.

5. What do you feel is the primary job of a school board?

I believe that the primary job of a school board is to make decisions based on recommendation of the administrative staff and factual data. It is imperative that there is planning for the future and that facts not emotions drive these decisions. I do not believe that the school board’s role is to micro-manage the school district. All decisions have to be made logically without favoritism, no matter what region you represent. A school board director is to represent all the children of Armstrong County, provide the best education possible while being fiscally responsible to the taxpayers.

6. What attributes, talents and abilities will you bring to our district?

I am a team player, I have worked with many groups, have chaired committees, and am a good listener and communicator. I am decisive, I have to make hard decisions on a day to day basis being a nurse practitioner, and base my decisions on facts. I am a leader, even in high school I was class president and have had leadership roles throughout my nursing career. I am also part owner of a small business and have to evaluate financial and personnel data on a daily basis.

I believe that leadership, decisiveness, financial experience, and being a team player are essential to being a school director.