Read our exclusive Q&A with Orange County School Board Chair candidate Nancy Robbinson.
What is the single biggest challenge facing OCPS?
School safety. The School Board has spent $20 million in recent years to fortify its facilities and will be approving an additional $11 million this budget cycle to continue to do more. The School Board is also spending nearly $5 million on 51 new mental-health professionals that will provide more programs and support for our students’ mental-health needs. Also, OCPS' police continue to work with the nine local law-enforcement jurisdictions in Orange County to ensure our campuses are secure.
What is the best way for the district to address school safety?
The district should continue to receive suggestions of safety and security measures from students, parents, teachers and community members and have them vetted by OCPS police. The district should also distribute as much information as quickly as possible to all stakeholders regarding school-safety information, utilizing every means of communication available (social media, OCPS App, email, Connect Orange, print news, TV/radio, town hall meetings) to ensure stakeholders know what is taking place on our school campuses.
How should OCPS handle the issue of school overcrowding?
OCPS is building new relief schools as fast as possible through the funding from the half-cent sales tax and impact fees. … Growth in Orange County has been overwhelming and is projected to stay steady. ... In severe cases, I believe temporary rezoning may be necessary to handle overcrowding until relief schools can be built.
How would you improve communication between the School Board and Orange County?
Orange County government currently has a provision in its charter that states the BOCC and School Board will meet annually, in a public venue, to discuss issues of importance to both groups. Unfortunately, this has not taken place, because the leadership of BOCC didn’t make it a priority. As School Board chair, I plan to meet on a regular basis with the county mayor, as well as other municipality mayors, to discuss issues of mutual concern and will insist that the two groups meet annually as called for in the BOCC charter.
What do you want to accomplish as School Board chair?
I will continue to ensure we have a safe and secure working and learning environment by continuing to harden our campuses and offering more mental-health services. I want to increase preschool offerings to more of our most vulnerable students; more career technical offerings to ensure graduates are ready for the workforce, and more school choice options to meet individual student’s needs. I want to support our teachers with adequate resources and decreased workloads. And I want to foster a common-sense approach to accountability supporting families personal decisions regarding standardized testing.
Why are you running for Orange County School Board chair?
I am passionate about public education and the need for the school district to offer a high-quality education experience for every student to reach their full potential. I have been proudly serving on the Orange County School Board representing District 6 for the past 10 years, and this experience has prepared me to take the helm and lead as School Board chair. My extensive knowledge of the school district will enable me to help create a smooth transition for the changing School Board, which will have four of the eight members new after this election cycle.