Voters’ Guide: Omaha Public Schools Board of Education

The League of Women Voters of Greater Omaha contacts candidates during each election cycle and invites them to participate in the print and online editions of the Voters’ Guide. Candidates provide their biographical information and their positions on selected issues. Candidates are aware in advance that the biographies and answers will be printed exactly as submitted without edits for content, spelling, punctuation or grammar.

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Candidates for Omaha Public School Board of Education, Subdistrict 2

Marlon Brewer (D):  No response received.

Marque A. Snow (D):  http://snowforops.com.  Current Public Office, dates held: Omaha Public Schools Board of Education 2013-Present  President- Omaha Public Schools Board of Education January 2018 – Present.      Past Public Office, dates held: Vice President- Omaha Public Schools Board of Education February 2017 – December 2017. Education: University of South Dakota -Political Science & History.  Volunteer experience: The 100 Black Men of Omaha – Mentoring Reach & Rise Mentoring – Mentoring

Omaha Public School Board of Education, Subdistrict 2, Candidates’ Responses

If elected, what two things do you hope to have accomplished by the end of your first year?

Marlon Brewer:  No response received.

Marque A. Snow: If re-elected, I will continue to work on our retirement pension plan to find a solution within the first year. I also plan to expand our dual language program in OPS to North Omaha and re-align the OPS Strategic Plan to help guide our new Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Logan.

How can schools use technology to create better equity and educational outcomes?

Marlon Brewer:  No response received.

Marque A. Snow: Schools are currently using technology to increase better equity as well as educating students on how to use these tools safely and efficiency to compete in the global society. Two years ago, my colleagues and I created our first K-12 virtual school to meet the needs of our students outside of the classroom.

What can be done to ensure the safety of students and teachers in our schools?

Marlon Brewer:  No response received.

Marque A. Snow: In 2014, my colleagues and I put up a $421 million bond to increase the safety of our students and faculty. The community voted 2-1 for the 2014 bond to put in storm shelters, upgrade security measures, as well as fire and life safety mechanisms. In March of 2018, my colleagues and I voted to put another bond for $410 million to reduce the number of portables and deal with our capacity issue at many of our schools. I continue to work with my colleagues from various districts on best practices.

Omaha Public School Board of Education, Subdistrict 4

Shavonna Holman (D):  http://holmanforops.com.  Current Public Office, dates held: Omaha Public Schools Board of Education, Subdistrict 4 January 2018-current.  Past Public Office, dates held: None.  Education: BS in Education, University of Nebraska-Omaha MS in Education, University of Nebraska-Omaha  MS in Educational Administration, University of Nebraska-Omaha Doctorate of Education, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  Military experience: None.  Volunteer experience: Open Door Mission Salvation Army.

If elected, what two things do you hope to have accomplished by the end of your first year?

Shavonna Holman:  1. Recruitment and retention of teachers /administrators.  2. Increased efforts in providing alternative education programming/opportunities for the underachieving, high ability learner.

How can schools use technology to create better equity and educational outcomes?

Shavonna Holman:  When current, quality technology is available, all students are provided an equitable learning opportunity, as long as teachers have been properly trained to use and implement such technology. Technology can be the one thing which circumvents all barriers, shrinking equity and accessibility gaps, while transforming learning. It can personalized to meet the needs of today’s K-12 diverse learner. It can be used to reach and teach students virtually, who may not be physically able to attend class.

What can be done to ensure the safety of students and teachers in our schools?

Shavonna Holman:  A district safety/crisis plan should be followed and practiced consistently so that if an emergency were to arise, both students and staff are fully prepared to follow the protocols in place as is they were second nature. Moreover, all schools should either have a district security guard or SRO who are trained to handle such emergencies. All buildings should be secured with having only one entry access point for visitors, who can be seen by the secretary prior to buzzer entrance.

Candidates for Omaha Public School Board of Education, Subdistrict 6

Jeff Jezewski (R):  http://jeffjforops.com.  Education: UNO, BSBA with major in Accounting.  Volunteer experience: Sienna Francis House, YMCA youth sports.

Nancy Kratky (R):  Current Public Office, dates held: None.  Past Public Office, dates held: Metro Area Boards of Education 1994-2008.  Past president twice.  Education: Bachelors and Masters from UNO.  Military experience: None.  Volunteer experience: Salvation Army Auxiliary Board, Phi Delta Kappa, Citizens Advisory Board-OPS 19592018, NE Mental Health Planning and Education Committee, Technical  High Renovation Committee.

Omaha Public School Board of Education, Subdistrict 6, Candidates’ Responses

If elected, what two things do you hope to have accomplished by the end of your first year?

Jeff Jezewski: My overall emphasis will be to help the Board focus on OPS’s mission which states:  OPS prepares all students to excel in college, career, and life.  More specifically, I will use my 30 years of real world business experience and finance background to help OPS address its daunting unfunded pension liability.

Nancy Kratky: 1. Ability of others to easily reach TAC building staff and get satisfactory information in a shorter period of time.  Cutting staff over and over does not necessarily produce  good results.  2. We have a serious problem with language usage in our test scores, student papers and conversation.  This problem continues to grow daily.  I will address this at every opportunity.  Textbooks are not doing an adequate job.  Supplemental materials and greater focus is necessary.

How can schools use technology to create better equity and educational outcomes?

Jeff Jezewski: There is no silver bullet when it comes to eliminating the achievement gap.  Certainly, we should utilize all the tools available to address the issue.  And technology is one of those tools.  We do need to make certain that any ‘new’ approaches or techniques deployed are based on sound research and do not cause confusion or distraction for our teaching professionals.  I will work tirelessly to eliminate the achievement gap.

Nancy Kratky: We have whiteboards vs. blackboards. 1-1 ratio of computers and grade level sharing. Instructors presentations can be seen by all.  Student learning by access to apps, virtual learning, tablets and e-books. Websites provide the rapid-changing information vs. use of multiple, expensive textbooks for STEM, making the purchase cost effective. In many instances we allow computers to be used for homework assignments. Finally, familiarity of technology and the application of it is essential today.

What can be done to ensure the safety of students and teachers in our schools?

Jeff Jezewski: The safety of our kids is of utmost priority.  OPS should plan, practice, and be prepared to execute its plans to protect our kids.  However, I do not believe our teachers should be armed.  Our teachers should teach.  If additional security in our buildings is necessary then OPS will devote additional resources without impacting teaching in the classroom.

Nancy Kratky: Safety is always paramount in our ever-changing environment. Schools provide security entrances/ exits and parking lot cameras and alarm systems. Disguised personnel, police officers and school resource officers are now the norm. Finally, management of student traffic flow within the building and at the exits is used. In addition to keyed entries, drug sniffing dogs may be used. We monitor the trimming of trees and shrubs and provide specific terrorism training and drills for students and staff.

Omaha Public School Board of Education, Subdistrict 8

Kimara Z. Snipe (D): No response received.

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