District 2 Candidate Scott Shine
Please Note: All information, photos, video and survey answers are provided from the candidate.
Candidate, District 2
Bio: Scott Shine, former City of Jacksonville Ethics Commissioner and business executive, stands for better schools, higher graduation rates, and stronger readiness for vocational training and college. A pro-citizen, pro-youth leader, Scott Shine served on the board of directors for the Youth Crisis Centers and as the Planning Director for the Nemours Children’s Clinic. Shine is a volunteer educator with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Scott Shine currently serves as a voting member of the Jacksonville Waterways Commission, where he has advocated a fiscal conservative agenda and pro-youth, pro-community agenda. Scott Shine’s leadership experience also includes management positions with Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Barnett Banks and the Bank of America. Shine, 54, lives in the beaches area with his wife of 20 years, Tibby Shine, and their son Jacob who attends Duval County Public School. Shine is an avid outdoorsman, certified USA Archery instructor, surfer and fisherman. “I will do everything I can to make our schools safe, accountable and provide the best education to students they possibly can.” — Scott Shine
1. If you had to give the Duval County Public Schools a grade, how would you rate its current performance at educating
High-performing students? A B C D F
Average students? A B C D F
At-risk students? A B C D F
Duval County Public Schools has a strategic plan approved by the school board in April 2013 that guides the day-to-day management and activities of the superintendent. A copy of the strategic plan can be accessed at http://www.duvalschools.org/Page/11436. When referencing the strategic plan, please cite the strategy number and title.
2. In what respects do you think Duval County Public Schools is doing well in its strategic plan? In what areas of the plan do you think Duval County Public Schools needs to improve significantly?
I believe DCPS is doing some excellent work in engaging the community (Goal #2). There is an impressive array of strategic partnerships that are making an impact where it is needed most: City Year, Teach for America, QEA, Cities in Schools, ATOSS and several others that are connecting gaps in our system and extending the reach of education beyond the school and classroom that address the challenges of many of our youth. What’s more, there are abundant opportunities with Student Advisory Councils, PTSAs and other outreach from the administration that allow local access to information and feedback from constituents. The issue is not just engaging the community but motivating citizens and leaders to “embrace” the importance of education. DCPS is working hard to communicate and make the public aware. We need to take it to the next level and “convince” people that their active involvement is critical.
I have made public records request from DCPS, as I have done from many different city and state agencies. I found that DCPS was the most responsive and professional in dealing with statutory public records request of any government organization I have experience with.
Where we need significant development in the strategic plan is with educator retention and development (Goal 1, Strategy 1.2). Educator retention continues to be a problem. Now that the economy is recovering and job alternatives for teachers will be expanding, I have substantial concerns that teacher retention may fall and entry to the profession may also contract. The result could be a “perfect storm” causing a debilitating teacher shortage. What’s more, teachers are most effective at their jobs when they have increasing levels of experience – hitting stride in five or more years on the job. Retention is mission critical. I am also concerned that we do not directly mention “job satisfaction” in the tactics as this is the essential measure of retaining educators. Statistical, longitudinal measurement of job satisfaction should be used to gage performance and be a larger part of leadership performance measures.
3. Please describe how you would differentiate between the governance responsibility of the school board and the management role of the superintendent.
The board needs to focus its efforts as the strategic policy making authority for the global organization. The board should set performance standards for the system and the superintendent and evaluate compliance with those standards. As is customary in a government environment, the board also has a more direct role in the approval of financial and contractual relationships. It is important that the board focus on hiring and retaining the best leadership in the system it can find. But, it is essential to empower leadership to do their job without board micromanagement. The role of the Superintendent is equivalent to the chief executive officer of the enterprise. His role is to execute on the strategic plan, the budget, and the favorable attainment of the performance measures established by the board. An effective board will hold the Superintendent responsible and accountable, but they will also facilitate and empower the Superintendent so that he/she may be successful.
4. At times school board members may encounter a situation where the interests of their specific district might conflict with what is best for the entire school system. What is your philosophy on this issue, and what would you do if confronted with such a situation?
I do not think there is ever a situation where one child should benefit simply because of where they live while other children will suffer because they live somewhere else. We have to consider what is best for the whole system and for the long term and have the political courage to do what is right and ethical.
5. The Duval County School Board appointed Superintendent Nikolai Vitti in November 2012. Please review the school board’s evaluation instrument at http://ow.ly/yignz. What areas would you highlight where the superintendent is excelling? Where is improvement needed?
Overall, I am impressed with Dr. Vitti’s proactive approach in introducing new initiatives and reorganization to bring increased success to student performance. He has also impressed me with his willingness to engage the community and is a highly visible and accessible Jacksonville leader. But to answer the question directly regarding his performance on the evaluative criteria would, from my point of view, be premature. The Superintendence’s performance should be carefully considered with intimate, first-hand knowledge of his conduct over the span of a year. I believe caution and respect are important traits a board member should show when making comments regarding the Superintendent.
Financial Resources and Budgeting
The Duval County School Board is responsible for adopting an annual budget. The most recent final budget can be viewed at http://duvalschools.org/Page/9540 and a recent presentation of the proposed 2014-15 budget can be viewed at http://www.slideshare.net/JaxPEF/042514-dcps-budget-preso.
6. What specific areas of the district budget would you prioritize, particularly if additional resources became available? If revenues continue to be flat or decline, what specific areas would you recommend reducing first?
An issue that needs to be dealt with is the aging facility and infrastructure with our schools. My understanding is that the average age of structures in the system is 57 years old. In cases, the long term pro-forma has become a situation where we are paying more for repairs than replacement or renovation cost. This issue would be a priority, as any decision to use bond money may be best made quickly while we are still in a low interest rate environment.
With additional revenue, investment in student-focused technology systems would be one consideration. Also, investment in professional development of school leaders – mainly principals, assistant & vice principals should be a major consideration. Investment in programs for the recruitment and development of STEM teachers would also bring us in alignment with expected growth in job opportunities for youth.
7. 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.)?
With the current tax base tied to spending and property ownership, tax revenue should increase incrementally with growth in development and associated population. But, it is important to consider that economics are not always “stable,” while the demand for public services is somewhat inversely related to economic activity. I think an important issue to consider is how to stabilize and diversify the tax base so we do not see the contraction like the one we just saw with the economic downturn. We often talk about taxes without any consideration to the return we get on our tax investment and we argue about taxes being too high or too low in a somewhat arbitrary manner. Taxes should be assessed according to the value added and the appropriateness of the associated service being part of the public sector. We should also consider the level of tax burden on the public relative to measures such as the percent of taxes relative to local “gross domestic product,” etc.
Additionally, I believe funding is an important strategic issue to discuss because Duval is unique as compared to many of the surrounding counties in that we have a disproportionate share of students who originate from low socioeconomic households. This is addressed to some degree with Title One funding, but we should also consider a broader level of state-based funding to apply to schools in the urban core. Simply increasing Duval property tax rates may have a further detrimental effect on the local economy and school system as it may create more flight to neighboring counties. The biggest factor in school choice is often the choice of county of residence. Diversification of tax base is an important strategic direction.
Community, Parent and External Relationships
8. What would you do to improve communication and strengthen your relationships between the schools and parents and community members, especially when a new program or policy is being introduced?
There is a new world of communication. It’s gotten easier in some ways, harder in others. Some studies show the average person receives over 1500 “promotional” messages a day. The question is, how do you get people’s attention? First, is to not over-communicate. If you have a constant stream of information that is of little interest or not directly relevant to the reader, they will start blocking the message out. So, when we communicate, it needs to be important and relevant. Next consideration is the method of communication. There are small, engaged groups like SAC that are easy to reach – take it to them first as their work often is communicated through neighborhoods. My district includes three independent municipal authorities – direct and regular communication with the elected officials there is important to their engagement and communication to the broader community. Additionally, communication through mailings to parents, press releases, and social media may be appropriate given the situation.
As for the issue of “new” programs, particularly where potential controversy may erupt – this is a place to take special care in communication and let parents and leaders know about potential changes as the policy is forming. People do not want to find out about challenging news after it has already gone through the process. Keeping people engaged with “new” or changing situations will ultimately help gain acceptance and buy-in from the public. Last, a School Board Representative is just that – a representative – when the phone rings, you need to pick it up and be willing to talk to members of the community. If you are not willing to talk to the public – any and all – you should not take the job.
9. Conditions for children outside the classroom such as crime, homelessness, lack of parent involvement or other factors can affect a student’s academic achievement. There are a number of external organizations that interact with and work to support Duval County Public Schools to help reduce the impact of these issues. What do you see as the ideal role/relationship between the school district and these efforts so that children are prepared to succeed?
Groups like ATOSS, City Year, and other mentoring programs are critical to any significant improvement in system-wide graduation and readiness measures. First, you have to consider that many schools, particularly those in the southside and beaches areas are realizing good student performance including many above average schools (VAM). What’s more, there are many students on a path to success. The biggest gains we can realize in the global organization are keeping at risk children in the system and shepherding them through to success. DCPS’s role should have many aspects. 1. Developing an effective system to identify and refer students to these programs in a timely manner. 2. A plan and system in place to bring those students back into the mainstream environment with support to keep them on track. 3. DCPS assisting with funding these programs. 4. Working with state agencies and the legislature to provide additional funding and resources to these groups and the global effort (moving there with SB 850 – 2014, requires plan and provides appropriation). Overall, we must become more committed to a larger role in the concept of the “whole child” and realize we need new and more ambitious methods to address this problem. To get there, we are going to continue to move further from “big box education” to more one-on-one and that middle ground between home environment and school.
Major Policy Issues
10. In the 2014-15 school year, schools across the state will implement new English language arts and mathematics standards called the Florida Standards. These standards are closely aligned with Common Core State Standards adopted by states throughout the country. What is your view of the new Florida Standards? How well do you feel that the new standards have been implemented in Duval County Public Schools and communicated to teachers and parents?
I believe it is important to have a set of standards that we can fairly compare across county lines and across state lines. Without a uniform standard, we have no statistically valid understanding of how our student performance compares to other states. In fact, we may be producing much better results than we know but non-uniform research methods don’t tell an accurate story. What’s more, a recent JPEF study found that 89% of respondents agree that uniform standards would be beneficial. I believe it is hard to assess DCPS effectiveness in communicating the new standards, as the general public, teachers and parents have seen so many changes in testing standards and misinformation about the standards that they may have become unreceptive to genuine listening. That said, I believe we did an adequate job of communicating, but should realize this is not a normal messaging environment, and increased and more direct methods of communication may have been appropriate. Regarding implementation of the standards, I think that it is hard to assess as we are still in testing and will not use these directly in performance evaluations for the first few cycles. I support not using it for educator/school performance until we have a baseline of data. Last, we have been changing our testing standards too often and this has caused stress and morale problems with our teachers, students and parents. We need to set and refine our standards and stick with a model for the long run (testing standards originate from Tallahassee and lobbying efforts on the part of the school board and others are the method to change the testing environment issue).
11. To measure the student performance against the Florida Standards, the state will replace the FCAT 2.0 with a new standardized assessment in spring 2015. In addition, the state Legislature has approved a revised school grading formula to go into effect that spring. What are the biggest challenges of the new system? How should the district respond to the changes?
The biggest challenge with the implementation of the new standard is the loss of our current baseline of performance and the transition period to refine the standard. We are going to have to deal with that as the change should bring us to a greater good. In addition, I think more should be done, on a local school level, to provide a “weighted” performance measure that uses a multivariate predictive model that minimizes the biases in school performance (going beyond VAM Scores). The most predictive measure of school success is related to socio economics (ECF 2012). I am concerned that our current models may be missing the effort and excellence of educators in economically challenged locations. The district’s charge is to effectively implement the standards – but I would agree with the current position of not applying these scores to teacher performance in the first cycles.
12. What is your view of the discipline-related initiatives that the district has undertaken in the last year? What is the role of the school board in ensuring a positive school climate and culture throughout the district?
Changes supporting more “equity” in discipline practices, where it results in schools being more consistent across the system, is a positive improvement. “Restorative Justice” is another enhancement that I support. The increased use of “progressive discipline” appears to curtail the number of in/out of school suspensions and may be one of the most valuable refinements. Overall, I see the reform as positive change that should result in enhancements in student success.
Overall, the system needs to continue its path of keeping children in school and do our best to avoid a simply punitive based system that may be emotionally scarring and derail learning and forward progress. Corrective actions should be driven by a goal of gaining compliance and personal reform so negative behaviors are not repeated. I support the DCPS initiatives around ATOSS and efforts to see increased use of civil citations to keep children in a learning environment where this can be accomplished while maintaining overall safety and security of schools. Setting and keeping to high expectations for conduct – discipline – will create a “culture” of discipline. We need to be clear what the expectations are and consistent on their application and work toward a “culture” of discipline in the school system.
13. Duval County has a complex school choice environment: There are numerous magnet schools and new public school models such as single-gender classrooms and K-6 elementary schools, as well as 9,000 students attending charter schools in Duval County. What is your view of the current school choice environment and how does it impact student achievement? How should the district respond to the impact of charter expansion?
I believe school choice is a positive initiative in our school system. I believe we have to consider that school choice is inevitable and has been present in the system for decades. Parents can move to an adjoining county, home school or chose a private school. DCPS needs to compete, and a part of competing is providing school choice in the form of magnet schools, special assignment and the recent proposal to have choice of any public school where capacity allows. This not only can benefit parents in transportation and child care areas, but it allows families and students to have a sense of ownership around the school they select. Choice can allow students to be in schools with extended family members or other persons that are part of their support group. What’s more, it can provide access to new and different school environment that will expand learning and performance. Choice is injecting diversity of methods, ideas and people in the system – that results in innovation – we need new ideas and this is a place to create them. Magnets and other forms of delivery that offer specialization of curriculum, offer the opportunity to provide an educational program that is specific to needs, interest and ability – Specialization of school curriculum particularly in middle and high school is a desirable strategic direction. Charter schools are generally a positive part of choice. They often offer unique programs like STEM and many are reaching out to at-risk youth and filling a gap public schools are not reaching (Lone Star, KIPP, etc.). There are concerns with charter schools not being on a “level playing field” with public schools and that local school boards lack some level of oversight. I think these are issues to be addressed, and improvements in these areas can strengthen the effectiveness of the charter offering. School diversity and specialization is the new wave of education – parents and students will make that choice with or without us – we need to accommodate what our citizens seek in public education.
14. Over the past couple of years, Duval County Public Schools have expanded opportunities for families to enroll their children in Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten programs at select elementary schools. What role do you feel the Public School system should play in promoting and expanding quality pre-kindergarten programs within public school?
Pre-K programs have been shown to positively affect early learning through various studies. An important strategic approach is to use Pre-K offerings as way to bridge the gap in communities that have a disproportionate number of students who do not perform at grade level. Early intervention offers the opportunity to bring both parents and students into the “culture of learning,” making for an easier transition to the primary school years. Further, these students show learning benefit and advancement more quickly. DCPS already provides an extensive offering of Pre-K programs and their continued success should be supported.
15. Duval County Public Schools has grouped Raines, Ribault and Jackson high schools and 33 feeder pattern elementary and middle schools under a new Duval Transformation Office. These schools will benefit from the Quality Education for All Fund, a philanthropic investment of $50 million of private funding. The goal of this effort is to improve the pipeline of great teachers and leaders in Duval County Public Schools, especially at the 36 Transformation schools. Do you support these efforts? In your view, what else should the district do to support the high-needs schools within the Transformation region?
I support the efforts of the QEA initiative, and I believe it plays into one of our most important needs – the recruitment, placement and retention of higly effective educators in transformation schools. While this is an excellent program, it has a limited time span at present. So, we need to consider a medium and long range plan and associated tactics to deal with this problem. Economic incentives alone will not solve the problems of teacher retention. Global problems with morale and job satisfaction will likely be center-stage in reasons teachers will leave the system – particularly in the transformational schools. To get these answers, we need to do more routine data collection about why we lose teachers. What’s more, what are the characteristics of those who have longevity and success? Keeping teachers satisfied with their work is one dimension, but a new way to look at this problem is find the personality type, demeanor and background that can be successful for the long-term. Recruit, appropriately train and support these educators and positive changes in retention may be the result. Financial incentives are a positive tool in recruitment and rewarding teachers – longevity and retention goals must add focus on job satisfaction and the emotional rewards of teaching.
16. Career and technical education is an important component of the school district’s programming. In your opinion, what should be Duval County Public Schools’ biggest focus when it comes to career and technical education?
Career and technical training should be a growing and significant part of the DCPS offering. It should be focused on training programs that relate directly to the jobs that are available today and are anticipated to be available in the future. So, the offerings should be based on economic projections of job types, growth and need: diversity among the spectrum of jobs. We also should consider the strategic direction of the city and region and look at programs that match: aviation, technology, shipping, transportation, healthcare, construction trades, etc. We should also focus heavily on providing education in “life skills” consistent with the concept of “educate the whole child.” What’s more, we need to develop vocational class offerings with input from the business leaders who will be hiring these students. Building programs and training students specifically for needs in the business community can provide a direct pipeline for students into jobs (DCPS and Vystar currently have a program like this that can serve as a model: Vystar Academy of Business & Finance). But, this all needs to be held in perspective knowing that 9 out of 10 jobs today require training in addition to a high school diploma. We are becoming a nation and world economy where education is not a “terminal” venture but a lifelong reality.
17. What is your view of the role of technology in preparing Duval County students for the future? Should Duval County Public Schools increase the use of technology in classrooms, and if so, how should it be funded? How big of a priority should it be?
Use of technology in the classroom is essential for many reasons – it expands the tools to educate, kids are heavy technology users and it is a part of their “frame of reference,” and it will be a common component in the next level of education (vocational or college). Funding technology equipment should use a mechanism that is relative to the life of the equipment. Specifically, if bond monies are used to fund technology, the maturity of the bond should be no longer than the expected life of the equipment. Technology is now totally woven into the fabric of the workplace and higher learning. It is of vital importance to preparedness. In addition, technological solutions can have a profound positive effect on helping children with learning disabilities and physical disabilities. This is often apparent in students who have impairments in using a writing instrument or Dyslexia/Dysgraphia.
18. If you have children, what type of school do/did they attend?
(mark all that apply)
__X__ Public (inside Duval County)
____ Public (outside Duval County)
____ Home Education