Stewart-Hopkins’ priority: quick, safe return to school
Patricia Stewart-Hopkins is one of three candidates for the Clark County Board of Education’s 2nd District seat being vacated by Scott Hisle. She works is a professional counselor, teaches at Lindsey Wilson College and operates a business.
W.S.: Tell the readers a few basics about yourself.
P.S.: I am a mother, teacher, counselor and community volunteer. I serve as the regional director of program development for Mountain Comprehensive Care Center. I also teach for Lindsey Wilson College and help my husband run our family business. I have
a master’s degree in school and clinical counseling and a doctorate in counseling education and supervision.
W.S.: What makes you particularly well-qualified to serve on the Board of Education?
P.S.: My life and work experience has given me an understanding of what is necessary for students to learn and be prepared to live their best life. My work in leadership of coalitions, supporting families and collaborating with teachers gives me insight into the challenges we need to address as a board.
W.S.: Why do you think you’re the best candidate for the seat?
P.S.: I’m not afraid to speak up even if what I have to share is unpopular. I will continue to listen to you and give you a voice in the room where decisions are being made for your children. I will always advocate for decisions that meet the needs of children and teachers. My service will extend beyond voting in the boardroom. I’m doing work in our community now to promote
W.S.: What are your thoughts on students returning to in-person learning during the coronavirus pandemic? When should that happen, and what should be done to make them as safe as possible?
P.S.: We need to commit to a plan for the quickest and safest return to school. These decisions need to be guided by information that allows us to plan with the welfare of our community and the learning of every student in mind. I also support the decision to allow parents or grandparents to choose what learning the environment is best for their children during the pandemic.
W.S.: At a recent meeting, it was announced that the school budget for the current fiscal year is not balanced, in part because it was based on a tax rate that would have brought in 4 percent more revenue than the year before, but the board kept the tax rate the same as last year’s. As a result, severe budget cuts may be necessary. What should be cut to balance the budget, and should the board take the maximum tax rate next fiscal year?
P.S.: Items that are not proven to improve student learning need to be cut. This will reduce the budget deficit without negatively impacting education. The board should base the tax rate on current data with consideration to trends over the last five years. As my Gran (a retired teacher) always said, “A bird in hand is worth 10 in the bush.”
W.S.: What are your first and second priorities the school board should address this year?
P.S.: The quickest and safest return to school for students, staff and our community would be a priority. Keeping in mind that an allowance for change to this plan is necessary as circumstances change. We also need to support the needs of our preschool to reduce learning deficits that leave students unprepared for K-12. We can act now to reduce their need for costly intervention later.
W.S.: Why is public education important to you?
P.S.: The students that walk the halls of our schools will be the leaders of tomorrow. We have the responsibility to prepare them to serve the greater good. Like some of the students I care for, I could have fallen through the cracks. But I was nurtured and tutored, and then challenged to reach beyond what seemed possible. I have lived a life guided by compassion and service because of my public education.