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·"f.**'PublicEducation Fund






Urban League

every child. one voice:




The Jacksonville Public Education Fund, Save Duval Schools, Duval County PTA, Jacksonville Kids Coalition and Jacksonville Urban League are nonpartisan organizations. We do not support or endorse any specific candidate. Our goal is to educate the community and promote increased participation in school board elections. Candidate responses to all questions will be published verbatim on a special web site at www.schoolboard2012.org. While candidates are strongly encouraged to complete the questionnaire in its entirety, partial or non-participation will not prevent candidates from participating in subsequent public forums or other election-related events hosted by these organizations. The deadline for returning this survey is July 2. 2012. No responses will be accepted after this date and all responses will be published simultaneously to the web site subsequent to this date.

Candidate Name: School Board District: Campaign Web Site: Primary Campaign Contact Name:

Cheryl Grymes One www.cherylgrymes.com

Cheryl Grymes 904.860.0893

E-mail Address:cgrymes@cherylgrymes.cm Phone Number: ----------------------------------------










Candidate Biographical Information Please provide a short biographical summary of no more than 500 words that can be used on www.schoolboard2012.orgweb site and in other publications:
I am a Jacksonville native and I am passionate about our community and more passionate about public education. For over 25 years, I have seen our public schools from many perspectives and believe we need significant change and reform to assure a quality education for all children. I began my involvement as the mother of four daughters who graduated from public schools. I served as the County PTA President and was elected to the School Board in 1992 for two terms, where I served as Chairman and Vice-Chairman. As the Executive Director of the Alliance for World Class Education, I worked with top level business executives to assist with developing leaders and improving efficiency within the business operations of the district. I also helped transition the Alliance into the Jacksonville Public Education Fund. Currently, I am the V.P. of Development for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Florida, an organization that places caring adult mentors in the lives of children facing adversity. Over the past years, I have served on numerous boards and commissions. My current volunteer activities include the Jacksonville Chamber Education & Workforce Development Committee and the Education Practices Commission. I am a Community Coach through the Nonprofit Center and provide mentoring and resources to nonprofits within our community. My favorite volunteer activity is being with my Little Sister, Tamaria, through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. I am a proud graduate of Wolfson High School and received a B.S. in Communications from UNF and an Executive Nonprofit Management Certificate from Georgetown University. My husband, Warren, and I have four daughters, two sons and two grandsons.


Instructions Please answer each of the questions below. If you need additional space or wish to elaborate on your answers to one or more questions. please feel free to attach additional pages to this questionnaire. Please make sure, however, to identify the question to which you are responding by number so we can correctly align your responses with the proper question. You may respond by email, fax, or postal mail. Directions on how to do so are at the end of the survey document. Questions Overall 1. If you had to give the Duval County Public Schools a grade, how would you rate its current performance at educating a. High-performing students?







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b. Average students?






c. At-risk students?










2. In what respects do you think Duval County Public Schools are doing well in their mission to educate students in Jacksonville?
The district has done a good job of developing opportunities for our higher achieving students. By providing by IB, AICE, Early College programs along with Advanced Placement courses, these students are being challenged and earn college credit while in high school.


3. In what respects do you think DCPSneeds to improve significantly? What specific changes do you want to make in school district policies or programs to make these improvements?
Duval County public schools does a poor job of working with community partners who are making efforts to help both the schools and the students. Many resources are being directed the intervene schools, but without coordination or evaluation of the programs. These schools need to have an individual who documents all organizations working within the school and coordinate services to assure that they are providing the needed assistance to the students and their families. We must also insist on a welcoming environment to encourage parental and community involvement. All front office staff should be provided customer service training on an ongoing basis.

Strategic Plan Duval County Public Schools has a strategic plan approved by the school board in 2010 that guides the day-to-day management and activities of the superintendent. A copy of the strategic plan can he accessed at http://www.duvalschools.org/static/ aboutd cps/superin tend en t/stra tegie_plan. asp. For the following questions, please cite the strategy number and title (e.g. Strategy 1.A: Provide additional support for all low performing students in all schools). 4. On which specific strategy do you see as most critical for the district staff to focus in 2013?
Goal #1, Strategy 1.A 1- Increasing academic achievement should continue to be a priority with a focus on reading. According the 2010-11 school year data, we have three high schools with 15% or less 10th grade students & nine high schools with 37% or less 'l Oth grade students scoring a level 3 or higher on the reading FCA T. Somehow these students have reached high school without being able to read. We must provide reading strategies that begin in elementary schools and extend all the way through their education.


5. Which specific strategy or measurable would you propose revising or eliminating and what would you change about it?
Goal #1, Strategy 1.B 1 - Passing AP, IB AICE exam scores district wide. In 2010, the data shows that 21,370 AP exams were taken by students for a cost of $1,859,190 ($87 each). The number of exams passed were 5,353 for a total of $465,711. Investing almost $1.4 million in exams that do not yield results for the students or the district is of concern. We need to examine our current practice of placing students in Advanced Placement classes who are not prepared for the rigor of the curriculum or the tests.

Governance 6. Please provide a description of how you would differentiate between the governance responsibility of the school board and the management role of the superintendent.
School board members should fully understand, embrace and focus on governance. It is incumbent on them to participate in continuous training and peer monitoring to assure they stay within those bounds. Governance includes, but not limited to, setting policy, determining the rate of district taxes, establishing, eliminating or consolidating schools, setting enrollment boundaries and school year schedule. The School Board needs to recognize that their only employee is the Superintendent. Their most important responsibility is to provide him or her with clear direction, specific performance goals based on the strategic plan and an annual evaluation that is constructive and meaningful. In turn, the Superintendent is responsible for all operations and functions related to the Duval County public schools. These functions include, but are not limited to, personnel, school programs, transportation, finance, maintaining records and cooperating with other entities. He is responsible for the preparation of the annual budget and makes recommendations to the School Board for approval. He or she should work collaboratively with the board and be active in the community. His/her primary responsibility is to assure that the school system provides a quality education to all students in the public schools.


7. Describe in your decisions how you would balance the interests of your specific neighborhood school board district with the interests of the entire school system if they come into conflict.
Parochialism, which is illustrated by a Board member referring to "my" schoolsl "my" district or "my" school board seat, should be avoided. Florida Statutes state clearly that even though school board members are elected from residence areas, they shall represent the entire district. As a Board, we should establish our priority of needs of all of the schools in the district and focus on the needs in priority order. However, it will be important to revisit the needs on a regular basis to ascertain progress and if there should be a change in focus.

The Duval County School Board is currently engaged in a search for the next superintendent, who will replace retiring Superintendent Ed Pratt-Dannals in December 2012. 8. What do you consider the key qualifications the next superintendent possess in order to be most effective? should

Duval County needs a proven transformational leader who has the knowledge to make significant organizational changes, willingness to solicit input and suggestions from trusted advisors within our community and the knowledge and courage to do whatever it takes to provide quality education to all of our students. The Superintendent should understand organizational and leadership development and be willing to ask the top tier of leadership to resign and reapply for the positions of leadership. The Superintendent should surround his/herself with the best and brightest senior staff in order to create a culture of progressive thought and action that will spread to every employee in DCPS. In addition, he or she should recognize and understand the importance of community partners to the work of the schools and create a culture of collaboration rather than obstruction and defensiveness. He or she should also be able to work diplomatically with the Board to keep them focused on governance and refuse to let the Board members micro-manage and meddle in personnel matters.


9. The school board is in the process of developing a new formal evaluation instrument for the Superintendent. In addition to this annual evaluation, please describe how you would propose providing formative feedback to the next superintendent on his/her performance on an ongoing basis.
School Board members should be communicating regularly with the Superintendent as individuals. Each board member brings a different perspective and can be helpful to the Superintendent by sharing specific information and experiences. This kind of feedback should be intended to help him/her learn more about the community and use it as a tool for their individual and professional growth.

Financial Resources and Budgeting The Duval County School Board is responsible for adopting an annual budget that outlines expected expenses. A copy of current budget documents can be accessed at http://www.duvalschools.org/static/aboutdcps/departments/ budqet/budqetresources.asp. Please review these documents so that you can answer questions #10-12 as specifically as possible. 10. What specific areas of the district budget would you prioritize, particularly if additional resources became available?
We need to make sure that we fund art, music and physical education. Technology would also be a priority as we try to prepare our students for the 21st century workplace.


11. With revenues expected to continue to decline in the coming years, additional budget cuts are all but a certainty. What specific areas of the budget would you recommend reducing first?
We need to do what we can to hold our schools harmless from additional cuts. The school district has a large budget that is dedicated to business services. I believe there are opportunities for creating efficiency and cost savings within those departments. When I led the Alliance for World Class Education, we created a model of using private sector individuals in specific areas to review district operations and recommend changes. One of the task forces reviewed payroll and accounts payable administrative functions and provided recommendations that would generate at least $6 million annually in recurring cost savings or additional revenue that could be invested in the students and teachers. In addition, some employees from the centralized back office functions could be redirected to the schools to provide direct support I believe this is one of many opportunities to find dollars to send to our schools.

12. The school district generally maintains a carry-forward balance and reserve fund in its budgeting process, a portion of which is required by state law. How would you balance the maintaining of a reserve in excess of the state requirement and continuing to fund programs and services during tight fiscal times? It is a good business practice to have both a carry-forward balance and
reserve fund and should always be at the level required for state law. However, when educational needs for our students are being threatened, we must consider if there are reserves that can be used. We must also be careful to use one-time funding without thinking ahead and how to replace those dollars in the next year in order to maintain the services.


13. To ensure the district has adequate fiscal resources and avoids budget shortfalls in the future, what, if any, revenue sources should the school district pursue and on what timetable (e.g. increased local property or sales taxes, statewide tax increases, etc.)?
In order to solicit support for bond issues or additional taxpayer dollars, the school board will need some time to present a unified, governance body who is dedicated to do whatever it takes to create the best school system for our children. The goal would be to garner trust and confidence from the community. A campaign would need to be launched that will help the community understand how the current $1.7 billion budget is being used, what the new dollars would fund and how it will impact each constituency in the community. The plan should have specific, targeted projects for the dollars, how the funds will be managed and reporting requirements that are accessible and transparent to the public. This effort will take planning, design and coordination with other organizations such as the Chamber, Jacksonville Civic Council and the nonprofit community.

Community. Parent and External Relationships 14. How would you propose strengthening the relationships between parents, schools and community members?
The number one issue that needs to be addressed to strengthen our partnerships is a welcoming, user-friendly culture from the school to the district level. Parents and community members need to be greeted immediately and properly when they go into a school's front office. There should be a true customer service culture displayed by everyone in the school. The district needs to be more user-friendly and accessible for those who are looking for help. This would apply to the website, phone contacts or in-person visits.


15. How would you ensure that the school district remains transparent to the community in terms of student academic performance, financial management, school board meetings, public records and other areas?
The School Board is required to adhere to the Sunshine Laws that mandate public meetings in accessible facilities, all meetings noticed at least three days prior to the meeting, published meeting minutes, and no discussion among the Board members about any item that will come before the Board except at a public meeting. The requirements of the law create transparency which I do believe is very important. Although school district information is dispersed through their website, newsletters and information sent home with the students, I am sure there are other vehicles that can be used to assure more people have access to the information.

16. There are a number of external organizations that interact with and work to support the Duval County Public Schools, from the PTA to the Mayor's Office to local nonprofits. Please describe the ideal relationship with entities like these and how you may leverage their services to support students.
The needs are great for many children living in Duval County. According to the U.S. Census Bureau 2009 poverty estimates, 22.6% of children lived below the federal poverty level and 48% were low income. Structures have been put in place that could help our public school system become one of the best in the nation. However the School Board will need to be open to the assistance and not defensive about their perceived loss of authority. Over the years, the school district has been expected to provide students an education and ancillary services such as breakfast, lunch and dinner, clothing, before and after school childcare and family assistance. However, it is time for the school district to refocus on their core mission of educating children and work more collaboratively with their community partners to provide services for the students and their families. Many organizations such as United Way, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Communities in Schools, The Bridge, Take Stock in Children, Junior Achievement and YMCA work with the school district but not without challenges. Many experienced frustrations and some even quit rather than continue to beg the school district to work with them. It is time that the School Board acknowledge, embrace and support the work of the community partners and realize that the more those other organizations can do, the more the school district can focus on improving the academic achievement of the students.


Legislative & State Issues The actions and decisions of the Florida Legislature and State Board of Education have a significant impact on the education of Jacksonville students. 17. What law or policy passed in the past few years by the Florida Legislature or State Board of Education had the greatest positive impact on education in Jacksonville?
Former Senator Jim King pushed through legislation that changed the District Cost Differential (DCD) formula. The DCD was one of the most influential components in a complex formula that determines how much state education money will flow to local school districts. Since the formula was changed, Duval has received and additional $34.5 million.

18. What law or policy passed in the past few years by the Florida Legislature or State Board of Education had the greatest negative impact on education in Jacksonville?
In 2003, the Legislature passed laws to implement the class size reduction amendment to the Constitution was approved by the voters in 2002. What the voters didn't know was that the cost to implement the law was going to be more than $19 billion. Although attempts were made to amend the Legislation, the electorate voted it down. According to reports, from 2003 till early 2010, the state spent approximately $15.8 billion in order to help reduce class sizes through out the state. The Florida Department of Education reported that an additional $350 million was needed to meet class-size caps - including more classroom space and teachers. This cost took into account cuts to health, education and other state programs in order to eliminate a looming $3.2 billion state budget shortfall. This mandate continues to be a drain on the already declining revenue.


Major Policy Issues 19. What do you see as the advantages and/or disadvantages to using standardized testing data as a portion of a teacher's evaluation? It is difficult to judge a teacher's performance based on the standardized testing of their students. So many factors go into how well the students perform on the test, In addition, it would not be fair to compare students from one school against students from another. All of the 166 schools in this district are different - different neighborhoods, families and demographics. There may be some value in measuring the gains of a student from year to year. The disadvantage of using data as a portion of the teacher's evaluation would be that it might discourage teachers from wanting to teach in challenged schools.

20. Duval County currently operates magnet programs in more than 50 schools, including 13 dedicated magnet schools. How do the district's magnet programs positively and/or negatively impact overall student achievement in Jacksonville?
There is probably some validity to the idea that our academic high schools created "brain drain" from our neighborhood schools. Having four daughters who attended both neighborhood and magnet schools, there are some disadvantages to traveling out of your neighborhood for school. Neighborhood friendships are not developed and time spent traveling to and from school leaves little free time for the students. Not all of the magnet schools provide quality programs and an evaluation should be made on each program. Magnet schools were created for desegregation, not educational, purposes to balance the diversity of the schools. I believe most parents would favor returning to the neighborhood school concept.


21. What impact does out-of-district school choice-charter schools, tax-credit scholarships/vouchers, opportunity scholarships, and similar programshave on the success of students in Jacksonville?
Although parents should have the ability to chose what is best for their child, we should work towards our public schools being their first choice. Public education is essential to our democracy and we must maintain a free public schools. Tax credits, vouchers, charter schools and opportunity scholarships all drain funds from the public schools are do not require the same standards for teachers and testing that public schools have to adhere to. I believe if schools are going to receive public funds that must have the same requirements as our public schools. Many of these alternatives do not provide a quality education which hinders the future of the students' success.

22. Currently, the Florida Constitution limits class sizes to no more than 18 students in Grades K~3,22 students in Grades 4-8 and 25 students in Grades 9-12, as measured at the actual class level. From your perspective as a potential board member, is the impact of this measure positive or negative in the effective education of students and management of our district? Why?
Research shows that reducing class size in grades K-3 can improve student achievement, however, it needs to be 18 students or less to truly make an impact. This requires having enough classrooms and qualified teachers. Ironically, most the district's most challenged schools have the smallest class sizes. The quality & professional development of the teacher are much more of a factor in student performance than class size.


23. Currently, nearly 60 percent of high school graduates need remedial coursework before being eligible to take credit-bearing courses at Florida State College at Jacksonville. What would you propose to increase the number of students graduating college and career ready and reduce the numbers requiring remediation?
It is clear that we work to provide college and career ready students. To do this, we need effective teachers, innovative programs, and clear and consistent standards for what every students needs to know to be successful in the workplace or college. Classroom learning needs to be motivating and engaging for the students and they need to have exposure to a workplace environments. Some of the Career Academies provide workforce readiness opportunities and others are working to become better. At Big Brothers Big Sisters we provide workplace mentoring where a company partners with a school and the students are transported to the business site to meet with their mentors. Not only are they getting one-to-one mentoring, but they are being exposed to a professional work environment. We need to have more businesses provide opportunities for our students.

24. If you have children, what type of school do/did they attend? (mark all that apply)

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Public (inside Duval County) Public (outside Duval County) Private Charter Home Education Other: _


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