2018 Primary election results

Mavourene Robinson

Mavourene Robinson
  • Non-Partisan
  • Age: 46
  • Residence: Columbia

About Mavourene Robinson

Education

B.A., Business Studies, Fairleigh Dickinson University Master’s Degree Candidate, Strategic Leadership, The King’s University

Background

Mavourene Robinson brings a wealth of knowledge about Howard County Public School policies, as well as the Federal mandates impacting local level school governance, outcomes and funding. Mavourene has more than twenty years of experience in the areas of Strategic Planning, Employee Relations, Recruiting/Talent Acquisition & Risk Management, Program Design, Diversity & Inclusion Program Design, Contract and Vendor Management, Cost Control and Performance Improvement for international and multi-billion dollar organizations. She been an actively engaged Howard County parent, serving as River Hill Village Board Director; Chair, River Hill Village Development Committee; PTA Community Service Chair; Community Advisory Council (CAC) Vice Chair & Policy Representative; Operating Budget Committee member; Elementary School Reading Circle Volunteer and Room Mom.

Questionnaire

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1
School safety
With rising concern over school safety, should county police officers or sheriff's deputies be assigned to all public schools, along with additional screening methods, such as metal detectors, student pat-downs and clear backpacks?
Robinson: As a resident of Howard County, we are extremely fortunate to have great schools, committed parents and great School Resource Officers (SRO). To that end, I am only speaking about Howard County Public Schools. Our safety and risk needs have internal (i.e., providing adequate support and mediation for students and enhancing the role of SROs, enhance background investigations for Substitute Teachers, etc.) and external (access to school buildings) considerations to be explored. I do not support having sheriff’s deputies, metal detectors or student pat-downs in our schools. The climate of a school directly contributes to the level of risk, and there is still too much that we have yet to consider/implement to support troubled students, before creating a quasi-criminal culture that will disproportionately criminalize special education and minority students.
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2
Crowding
Is the county school system's program to reduce crowded schools through redistricting an effective method given projected shifts in population growth, housing development plans?
Robinson: HCPSS’ only immediate option to reduce overcrowding at the most negatively impacted schools is redistricting, to ensure that the thousands of students affected receive an equitable education. However, we must remember that the severe overcrowding didn’t begin with HCPSS, but is a product of County-level development decisions. Therefore, to continue to depend upon redistricting is unreasonable and unsustainable. Going forward the County must implement and show commitment to smart growth, through developer limitations, improved APFO regulations and putting the community ahead of special interests. Growth at the expense of the quality of life and the quality of education that makes HoCo a community of choice will backfire.
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3
Budget
Superintendent Michael Martirano has shifted budget priorities and is proposing to eliminate a world language program that's in place at eight (of 41) Howard County elementary schools and his budget might require increasing class sizes, by one student, in several middle and high schools. He would like to increase the number of social workers — at a pace of three per year — to help students struggling with mental health issues. Are these prudent choices?
Robinson: I have served as the Community Advisory Council (CAC) representative on the Operating Budget Review Committee for the Board of Education and Superintendent 2-years, and I know the details of the budget and the student performance outcomes for the Elementary School Model and the aforementioned world language program. So, while it was not the popular choice to dismantle, it was the wise and most equitable choice. I vehemently oppose increasing class size for ANY reason, because there isn’t any reliable national research that does not indicate a direct and negative impact on students and teachers when class sizes are increased. Regarding the increased staffing of social workers, I agree with the idea, because HoCo schools are experiencing mental-health and trauma induced needs across all student groups. However, social work is only a one-dimensional aspect of addressing the needs. Therefore, I will and have been advocating for performance measures and data-driven staffing plans to address the need for additional Certified Special Education Teachers, Behavioral Specialists, Trauma-Care Specialists, and Psychologists in addition to Social Workers.
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4
Health care costs
The system's health fund has been in the red for several years — the deficit projected at $50 million by this summer — and Mr. Martirano has requested one-time funds from the county to start to pay down the deficit. But higher health insurance rates are also in the cards; this is one apparent sticking point in the ongoing union contract talks. How do you believe this problem should be addressed?
Robinson: The union(s) and school system are still in negotiations. As a Human Resources professional, who held the Senior Professional Human Resources (SPHR) designation for sixteen-years, I consider public ridicule and backseat driving that is based upon rumor detrimental to on-going negotiations. The bottom line is that absent each side conceding in something, our children and staff will be the ones dealing with the negative impact of the current and growing deficit. The current deficit is now publicly known to have been largely caused by wasteful spending in the past (before Dr. Martirano). As your Board of Education member, I will focus on 1) pursuing legislative funding remedies to address the rapidly increasing and diverse student enrollment of HCPSS, 2) working with the Superintendent to implement industry recognized best practices for spending oversight and resource allocation, and 3) seeking organizational efficiencies - not arbitrary cuts, that ensure that our bidding, contracts and procurement on the Operation and Capital budgets are not used as proverbial jackpots of gold by all entities doing business with HCPSS.
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5
Achievement gap
How would you evaluate HCPS' efforts to reduce achievement gaps between students of different races and backgrounds? Does more need to be done?
Robinson: More work absolutely needs to be done, because HCPSS’ PARCC outcomes have consistently shown that a full 45% - 55% of our students are not meeting expectations in Math and English proficiency. I will evaluate each program’s effectiveness by its measurable impact relevant to each student group. I will support funding for programs only if the performance measures/student outcomes show improvements. I also believe that the BOE has to effectively address the unique needs of immigrant, FARMS and Special Education students and consider national models of success for these student groups. Finally, where parents are not involved, I would like to see specific focus on community integration programs/models that engender parent/school partnerships and that support parents who want their children to succeed, but need a little mentoring to do so. If we continue to do things the way that we always have, the gap will increase and the negative results on our community and economy (regardless of socio-economic level or zip code) will be severe.
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6
Foose
Did the school board act appropriately in agreeing to pay former superintendent Renee Foose more than $1.6 million in salary and benefits to persuade her to resign?
Robinson: Unfortunately, yes because to not do so would have cost HCPSS more in litigation. However, this goes back to addressing employment contract terms at the onset and having the courage and legal basis/language to cancel employment contracts. If termination terms/definitions “for cause” covering the performance and leadership issues that have been publicly debated regarding Dr. Foose were included, our community could have avoided the $1.6million loss to the Operating Budget. My recommendation is not limited to Dr. Foose, but in every Superintendent contract situation, it is the Board’s responsibility to ensure that poor performance and/or issues of cause are not rewarded with contract buy-outs. Moreover, despite the very real concerns expressed and growing in the community, Dr. Foose’s contract was renewed. As a Board Member I will not be opposed to having some oversight/accountability before a Board is able to renew a contract if a similar situation occurs in the future.
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7
Martirano
How would you grade Mr. Martirano's performance and his reorganization of the central office?
Robinson: It is too soon and unfair to grade, because I will consider Dr. Martirano’s performance based upon data/outcomes and any measurable student impact(s), in direct relation to the reassignments and the corresponding costs associated with the Administration Teams salaries.
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