Lakewood OH

Westlake BOE candidate responses – Carol Winter

(Editor’s note: At West Life’s Sept. 29 Candidates Forum for the seven Westlake Board of Education hopefuls running for three seats. Audience members were asked to submit written questions. Time limitations prevented most of the those questions from being asked, so West Life submitted six of the questions to the candidates and offered to publish each candidate’s  unedited answers on West Life’s website.)

Candidate: Carol Winter

What is your first priority – the taxpayers or the students?

Advocating for our students’ education and watching out for the taxpayers are not two competing, mutually exclusive priorities.

As a board member and representative of the community, my job is to carry out my duties on the Westlake board of education in accordance with our policies. Westlake Board of Education policy BA-R states that: “The Board’s first and foremost responsibility is to be the trustee for the education of its students, within the financial parameters determined by its taxpayers.”

Yes, I am passionate about offering the best education possible for all Westlake students. I have a record as a board member of leading efforts to reach out to our community members – residents and business owners, parents and non-parents, retirees and private school families alike – to learn how they define “excellence” and what they want in an educational program for Westlake students.

Yet, Westlake community members desire this excellence “at an exceptional value.” My board leadership has also resulted in our district remaining in the bottom quarter for school taxes in the county and the district’s continued focus on finding cost savings in all aspects of our operations. Westlake’s bond rating puts the district in the top 4% of ALL Ohio school districts and the combination of the district’s high quality educational program and financial stability were cited as factors in American Greetings relocating their headquarters here in Westlake.

What is your opinion about merit pay for teachers and how would merit be determined?

As a board of education member, I have and will continue to carry out my legal responsibilities according to the Ohio Revised Code regarding teacher contracts.

In designing a pay structure that includes merit we must ensure that it will withstand legal scrutiny

, continue to attract the best and brightest teachers, and be fair to both the teachers and taxpayers. School districts that are in the process now of revamping their pay schedules to incorporate performance standards into determining pay, are looking at a combination of including teacher evaluation by principals and supervisors, test scores, input from parents and students. Determining the right weight to give each factor that will affect teacher pay, will require the board to research the current data on successful systems of merit pay and engage all stakeholders in the discussion.

Have you attended many school board meetings in recent months? Have you attended many school activities, such as band concerts, school plays, etc., in recent months?

Since being sworn in to office in Jan. 2008 I have attended every board of education meeting to date. I also regularly attended board of education meetings prior to winning my seat on the board. I have been and will continue to be an active volunteer at my daughter’s school, Parkside, as well as at programs throughout the entire district. When my son attended Westlake schools from 2001 through his graduation from WHS in 2006, I also was an active volunteer and took leadership positions in the PTA and Westlake Parent Connection, while also regularly attending band concerts, sporting events, open houses, conferences, and other school activities. As a board of education member, I feel that it is my duty to show my support for and attend as many school events and programs as possible.


One questioner said when she worked at a polling location in Parma two years ago, she noticed teachers leaving school to hold signs for the ballot issue. Would you agree to a plan where citizens could monitor political activity in the schools in the weeks leading up to a school levy vote?

I don’t believe that this is an issue for our school district. However, I am always supportive of measures that our board of elections can take to ensure that the campaign rules are being followed.


What is your position on House Bill 136, which would create a limited number of scholarships for students to attend nonpublic schools, for which eligibility would be based on family income. (Scholarships would be funded by deducting amounts from the state education aid provided to the student’s public school district.)

House Bill 136 will have a negative effect on the Westlake City School budget and therefore I do not support it. House Bill 136 would provide private school vouchers for K – 12 students statewide. These vouchers would be expanded into every school district regardless of how well the public schools perform and eligibility would be based upon very generous household income guidelines that allow families that make up to $95,000 to qualify for a voucher. While Westlake is a district that continues to perform in the top 5% of school districts in the state of Ohio, H.B. 136 would allow folks who have access to our high quality public schools take locally raised money to be used at private schools. However, private schools, unlike public schools, will still be able deny access to students who apply. Under H.B. 136, for every student who qualifies for a voucher, the state will fund $479 (the amount that Westlake currently receives per pupil from the state. Private schools currently receive $1000 from the state) while Westlake’s local dollars spent on the voucher will be over $5

000 per pupil.

What is the best attribute of the Westlake City Schools?

The best attribute of the Westlake City Schools is the overall quality of our educators – the women and men working with our students on a daily basis. As community leaders across the world know, the quality of any education system will not exceed the quality of the teachers who not only develop the strong academic program desired by our community, but also interact with and influence our students daily.




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