Name: Paul Day
Biography: Paul Day is a former U.S. Navy sailor and a retired Virginia Beach Police Officer. For the last decade, he has worked as a school resource officer, security officer, and substitute teacher in Virginia Beach schools.
1. Why should residents elect you to the School Board?
I am a retired Virginia Beach Police officer who has also served as a Resource Officer, security officer and substitute teacher for the past 10 years in many of our elementary, middle and high schools throughout our great city.
My knowledge of the school culture – as well as the teachers, support staff, custodians, food service workers, bus drivers and students themselves – is from first-hand, one-on-one experiences. I have seen what works and what doesn’t’t. Teachers, support staff, food service workers, custodians, parents have voiced their frustrations, and with a unified school board, we can resolve these concerns.
2. What would you do to improve school security?
School safety is paramount not only in Virginia Beach but the nation as a whole.
My experiences in law enforcement and the schools provide me with a unique insight into potential problems and solutions. Two examples: For years, uniformed officers have helped protect the adults and children in our middle and high schools. I believe it is time to include retired officers in our elementary schools. These are the children most vulnerable in a crisis situation. Over time, we can utilize experienced, retired officers in our middle and high schools as well to provide uninterrupted security when Resource Officers are diverted due to training, leave, court appearance etc. We currently have inconsistent, confusing and often-changing safety procedures from school to school. For example, each school uses its own “phrase” or “name” to alert all staff to a potential security breach. Teachers have told me that, due to changes, they don’t even know the current code. Like our first alert responders, the code should be the same across the board. A code such as “Lockdown!” could be a good start instead of “Mr. Wilson call the office.” Every visitor, parent teacher, and volunteer should immediately understand a potential crisis exists and find a safe place – no matter what school they are visiting. Why complicate such an important procedure? We have access control Panels that Are installed in most or all the schools however these access control panels are only being utilized in some schools. The school administration recently formed a (blue ribbon) committee to explore are strengths and areas where we need improvement. The committee discovered nothing that we weren’t already aware of involving security in our schools.
3. How would you invest in technology and improve its applications in your schools?
Over the past thirty years, VBCPS has progressed from DOS computers in a lab to Chromebooks for every student. Through creative grants from government and business grants, every student has equal access to learning materials both on and off campus. We can meet the needs by continuing this course, however my other concerns are the improvements needed in both the software programs and inability for teachers to monitor the students’ activities. Teachers were assured that students would not be able to engage in non-academic activities on the computers. Students immediately learned how to access movies, social and inappropriate websites, and communicate with each other for sharing test answers, “Googling” test answers, plagiarizing papers, and chatting. Instead of the students being disciplined for their defiance, teachers are admonished for not having control over their classrooms. Like the Chromebooks, cell phone use has become a serious problem. While some schools and teachers have managed to create an acceptable level of electronic compliance, we need across-the-board policies that are upheld by staff and administration.
4. What are the most challenging aspects of being a teacher in your community? How would you support your teachers through these challenges?
Teachers at all grade levels have shared their frustration about challenges to maintaining a safe environment that promotes both positive social and academic learning. Most relate to discipline: how disruptive students are not disciplined, and how teachers are disciplined. Teachers care about their students and know that a child’s disruption and/or inattention is due to other external events. When the administration does not support a teacher’s request for intervention, it fails the child, the teacher, and every student in that class. Students respond to structure, and teachers desire to focus on student learning, not preserving their jobs. There are solutions. Students in Florida said on a newscast that they feel much safer with the increase in security and discipline. I am already working with other new candidates for School Board to examine why these discrepancies exist, and we are researching alternatives to create a safe, yet positive learning environment. Our administrators need access to contemporary, value-driven assessments and procedures that create results instead of hierarchies. They too struggle with the politics of public education that create this unstable environment. The resources already exist to make these changes. Teachers have other legitimate concerns, and I will address them throughout the campaign. Equally, other candidates and I also want to consult with administrators, chiefs, parents, and the many other stakeholders and decision makers. They will be heard.
5. What would you do to better support your vulnerable students? For example, those who live in poverty.
Virginia Beach Public schools have many programs in place for vulnerable students and for those who live in poverty. Virginia Beach City Public Schools provide temporary assistance for needy families (TANF). General Relief, and Auxiliary Grant. You can go to Virginia Beach City Public Schools website and research the different programs.
6. What are your top three budget priorities?
- School safety
- Teacher’s pay (compression)
- New construction