WJCC School Board Roberts District Q&A: Petra Nadal

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petra nadal verticalWYDaily sent an identical questionnaire to each candidate running for the Roberts District seat on the Williamsburg-James City County School Board.

Petra Nadal faces James Beers, both newcomers, in this race. Nadal’s answers are unedited and presented below.

The election takes place Nov. 3.

Read a completed questionnaire from Beers here.

1. What do you feel are the three major issues facing the school district right now? What are your ideas on how to address those issues?

Effective planning for future schools, which includes where to put it, the cost including all the misc. that seems to come along after the fact etc. That all children are given a fair chance of a bright future and given the information and then the tools needed to reach their goals. Reading and reading comprehension must go hand in hand. We say reading is important, but do we do everything we can to help the children succeed? Are we passing our children on to the next level, maybe not yet comprehending what they are reading, which would be setting them up to fail. And I strongly believe that we need to bring teachers, students and Parents back together. The old-fashioned way. To sit and talk and actually communicate. I truly believe, and have heard from many parents, that losing face-time between parents and students has hurt the relationship between the schools and the families.

2. Population data suggests that WJCC will need a fourth middle school to accommodate students in the coming years. What do you think of the school division’s plan to build a new middle school on the campus of James Blair Middle School? Would you support the project’s progress in future budgets?

I am not ready yet to support an additional middle school at this time.  We need to take steps to improve the decision making process.  More data and research needs to go into this, before we sign away valuable tax payer’s money. The School Administration needs to analyze the fully loaded costs.

Why were they predisposed to the James Blair Site and not willing to look at and/or hear alternatives? That is probably one of the worst decisions they made. The traffic alone, will have a major impact on the school. I have heard very little positive from the majority of the citizens. It is not too late.

3. The WJCC school division budget for FY 2016 was $4 million short of the amount it requested from the City of Williamsburg and James City County. What budget items would you want to ensure are fully funded and not cut back if WJCC schools faces a similar budget situation in FY 2017?

Education professionals all agree, that the single most important factor in improving student performance is the acquisition of excellent teachers.  We need to determine and implement cost savings opportunities in non-academic areas, joint with county and city funding partners. Such savings are required to bring per pupil costs in line with competitors in our local area and to fund core initiatives relating to teacher compensation and program development.

4. The WJCC school board has discussed starting the school day later for middle and high school students. Do you support later start times for these students? Why or why not?

I support later start times for Middle School and especially HS Students. It has been proven that they need more sleep and barely function before 9 am.  It wouldn’t really interfere with after school programs or sports, as most don’t start before 4 pm anyway. Other districts and schools around the country have switched to later start times and found it has helped the students considerably. We need to do what is best for our students.

5. Which school improvement projects do you think need to be priority items for the school division? Why?

[Editor’s Note: Ms. Nadal did not answer this question.]

6. Talk about the achievement gap in WJCC Schools. Are the current strategies to close the gap working? Why or why not? What are your ideas to help progress in this area? 

[Editor’s Note: Ms. Nadal did not answer this question.]

7. How would you describe the working relationship between the school board and the Board of Supervisors? What can the school board do to improve or enhance this relationship?

After attending this past budget meeting between the School Board and the BOS, I must say, the entire back and forth, left something to be desired. They need better coordination between the 2, to be able to analyze options. It seemed that the SB’s budget was pretty thorough, but the BOS kept go back and forth on a lot of items. I sat there wondering if they really understood the issue.

8. How well do you feel the school board members work together? What do you feel you can bring to the school board’s dynamic?

I feel that the SB members worked together well, most of the time. But the majority of them, didn’t ask enough questions and didn’t always appreciate when another member wanted more facts or questioned how the issue was being handled or whether it should go forward as is.  Having worked in many other places and many different jobs, I hope to help bring a varied perspective to the board. Also, as a mother, who had to deal with many of the same issues that parents are dealing with today.