Schools are the backbone of our community and I am proud to have implemented the neighborhood school concept during my time as Clay County's Superintendent. We must engage all stakeholders, including employees, parents, and business and faith-based leaders, in order for our schools and community to thrive.
Now, more than ever, public education is facing challenges unlike any we have seen before. From safety and security to curriculum, employee relations, including salaries and health insurance, and school choice, school districts must be prepared to adapt and meet the demands of today's parent.
As Clay County's School Superintendent, Ann Wiggins effectively guided the school district through eight years of growth and expansion. Ann brings the experience needed to deal with the projected cuts in revenue and the planned growth in Clay County as the outer beltway is completed.
Here are Ann's positions on some of the most pressing issues:
We must ensure our students and staff have a safe, secure learning environment. Dedicated School Resource Officers (SROs) must remain at all of our public schools. In addition to the presence of SROs, we must focus on the physical safety of our school campuses including cameras, fences and barriers, and secure front office facilities. District staff must also provide support services to address mental health issues in our most at-risk students.
The Clay County School District has struggled to resolve our ongoing issue with health insurance. The district must work towards either going out to bid for a new provider, or going self-insured as other school districts have done, in order to keep costs to acceptable levels for staff. We must work to improve teacher and support staff salaries to come more in line with regional standards. None of us went into education for the money but we must be able to provide basic benefits to support our families.
Students and parents should be provided choices in how best to customize their education plan. Not every student will go to college so it is important that we expand Career and Technical Education programs, as well as Naval Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps, to all high schools. As Superintendent, Ann launched Clay County's first career academy. In addition, specialty programs such as Montessori and performing arts should be expanded throughout all regions of the county.
Constantly changing curriculum, whether at the state or local level, is detrimental to both students and educators. We must allow our teachers to teach and trust in their experience and training. We must also minimize testing so that our teachers do not feel forced to teach to a test. Additionally, Ann Wiggins does not support Common Core and believes local communities should be able to chose their own curriculum.
Ann believes the School District must always be fiscally conservative with the budget, never forgetting that it is your tax payer dollars at work. As the outer beltway continues to move through Clay County, our School District must be making long-term plans for how we will handle the coming growth (including new schools south of Green Cove Springs and a Junior High for Fleming Island).
We must continue to partner with business and faith-based leaders throughout our community to support the work going on inside the classroom. During her tenure as Superintendent, Ann created and launched the Clay County Education Foundation. We must continue to involve parents in the education process and we must make the school district accessible to all parents and guardians.
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