Red Maryland Candidate Survey: Scott Shaffer for Anne Arundel County Board of Education, District 6
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As a former senior advisor to County Executive Laura Neuman, I analyzed the school system’s operating and capital (construction) budgets, as well as the state of Maryland’s education funding formulas.
2016-Present: Maryland Council on Open Data (appointed by Gov. Larry Hogan)
2014-2015: Anne Arundel County Workforce Development Board (appointed by County Executive Laura Neuman)
2013-2014: Anne Arundel County Economist, Senior Advisor for Budget/Fiscal Policy to County Executive Laura Neuman
2010-2014: Republican State Central Committee of Anne Arundel County (D30 Member and Vice-Chairman 2012-2013)
2014: Laura Neuman for Anne Arundel County Executive
2010: Eric Grannon for Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney
2000: George W. Bush for U.S. President
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Why are you running for office?
I am running for office because the transition to an elected school board offers the opportunity to finally have a Board of Education which is responsive to parents, students, and taxpayers. I believe many of the issues facing our school system can be solved by reallocating its existing budget, but that too few of our prior board members have understood the budget well enough to find these efficiencies. My prior experience examining the school system’s operating and capital budgets gives me a unique perspective. As both a product of AACPS and parent to two current AACPS students, I want to continue its record of strong academic performance while making sure the administration is making the best use of county and state tax dollars.
Who do you consider your political role model, and why?
Former Delegate Herb McMillan. He was a good steward of taxpayer dollars. For every proposal, he cut through the politics and asked two simple questions: 1) How much does it cost? and, 2) Does the benefit justify that cost?
What is your favorite book about politics and policy, and why?
The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency, by Chris Whipple. It shows that success is determined by good organizational skills and processes. Having a good candidate/elected official and the right policies isn’t enough.
What is your favorite book about education, and why?
The Anne Arundel County Board of Education Handbook. It clearly defines the roles and responsibilities of the office I’m seeking.
What will be your top priority on the Board of Education?
Clearing the school construction backlog.
What is the biggest issue facing your county schools?
Aging/failing school facilities and infrastructure.
What is your position on the Kirwan Commission recommendations?
The Kirwan Commission recommendations were made in a vacuum, without budget constraints or solutions for how they should be funded. The recommendations need to be prioritized and phased in over time. Requiring a $6,000 per family tax increase to implement everything at once is a non-starter. Particularly when over half that increase goes to salary increases instead of items that would actually improve academic outcomes.
What are the three biggest issues facing Maryland schools?
1. School construction backlog / aging facilities and infrastructure.
2. Scheduling (Starting school after Labor Day, and improving school start times).
3. A budget process which is more of a dog-and-pony show than a true needs-based analysis.
Have you read your county schools curriculum? If so, which parts do you like and which parts do you dislike?
Too many subjects, like Maryland History, are left out or insufficiently covered.
What is your position on school spending?
Merely throwing more money at schools doesn’t fix the inherent problems. Maryland is already one of the top states in per pupil education funding. Baltimore City is the 3rd best funded school system in the nation. We don’t need to be #1 in spending. We need to make far more efficient use of the tax dollars that are already being spent.
Please identify the three areas which you believe should be prioritized when it comes to school funding
New School Construction
What is your position on teacher tenure?
Teacher pay should be based on performance, like the private sector, and not merely a function of how long they’ve taught. Tenure favors those who do the bare minimum (and don’t rock the boat) over those who would seek out more innovative teaching methods. Younger teachers are often far more effective at connecting with students, and shouldn’t be punished for their age.
What is your position on standardized testing?
Standardized testing can be an effective tool in measuring school performance and improvement. However, we shouldn’t let schools game the system by “teaching to the test” and avoid teaching topics that won’t be tested.
What is your position on classroom size?
AACPS has too much administrative bloat. We could reduce the student:teacher ratio by reallocating half of the Central Office staff to classroom/teaching positions.
Do you believe the Board of Education should have taxation authority?