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*UPDATED October 2022 to reflect Primary Election Candidates*


The 100,000 students enrolled in Pinellas County Schools represent not only the future generation but also our future workforce.  School board elections are important to not only students and parents, but are also critical to our local businesses and economy.  Strong schools have strong economic impact, and school board elections matter.  In addition to making prudent decisions on behalf of our current community, the school board and education system have a resounding impact on businesses looking to relocate to the St. Petersburg area.

The following questions were gathered from the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce's Education Committee and Public Policy Council.  Questions were submitted to all candidates.

The primary election will be held on August 23, 2022.  ALL registered voters are able to vote in this election, regardless of party affiliation.  For School Board races, if no candidate wins the majority of the vote in the race - 50% plus one vote, the two candidates receiving the most votes will be in a runoff on the November 8 General Election ballot.

For additional voting information including sample ballots and precinct information, please refer to the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections website.

District 3 - At Large


1. What is the main reason you are running for Pinellas County School Board and what is the first issue you would address upon election?

I am running for school board because I believe in healthy children, strong families, and engaged communities. Six generations of my family live in Pinellas County, my mother was an educator in Pinellas County Schools (PCS) for 37 years. I attended K-12 in PCS, and my husband and I have three young children currently enrolled in the district.
I am a graduate of Lakewood High School (Center for Advanced Technology). I earned both my Doctorate (Ph.D.) in Social Work with a focus on community intervention and a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I also hold a Master of Business Administration (MBA) and Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Business Administration from Florida A&M University. I am an experienced educator, a dedicated community advocate, and a proven leader.

As a leader, I bring a systems level viewpoint and a cradle-to-career outlook to the School Board. As the former Director of Thrive by Five Pinellas I worked with system leaders across the county to ensure an equitable and accessible early childhood system. I have served as a college professor for over a decade and excel in classroom facilitation, inclusive pedagogy, and faculty development. I believe that education is the basis for social mobility and generational advancement. As a Pinellas County resident, I want to ensure an educated workforce as the future of our community and the opportunity for every student to thrive.
I am an inclusive and equity-centered community practitioner with over 20 years of experience engaging in work with children and families, nonprofit organizations, business leaders, and community stakeholders. My work has crossed multiple disciplines including child welfare, public health, business, philanthropy, and education. I have an in-depth understanding of community engagement at all levels with culturally diverse populations.

My big picture vision for serving on the School Board is preparing students to enter the K-12 educational system; providing a safe, quality, equitable learning environment for all students; and ensuring access to diverse post-secondary pathways (e.g., workforce development, higher education, and vocational training). Upon election, an issue of focus would be addressing inequities in our district (e.g., the achievement gap). I would:
1. Focus on student-centered learning tailored to specific student and school needs.
2. Advocate for a reciprocal sharing of information, clear feedback loops, and continued opportunities for input from school stakeholders.
3. Seek to implement clear dashboards, data driven programming, and equitable resource allocation to ensure that every child has access to a quality education.

a. What data has been collected to know that issue should be prioritized?

PCS’s Strategic Plan includes a focus on equity with excellence for all. The district’s equity initiatives cover hiring and professional development; ESSA gaps; EL, ESE, SES resource needs; and ensuring equity in resource allocation across the district. One aspect of equity includes the Bridging the Gap Plan which was created to close the achievement gap between Black students and their peers. Improvement has been shown in some of the key goal areas, while inequities still exist in several. More information about the plan and data can be found at


2. What can Pinellas County do better in terms of recruiting and retaining talented staff, with a particular focus on lack of workforce housing?

To recruit and retain teachers and school personnel, Pinellas County Schools must elevate the voices of those in our school communities. The district must:
• Support teachers and school personnel in their professions to provide excellence for our students.
• Ensure safety, adequate mental and physical health options, pay parity, flexibility, and a transparent understanding of state legislation's impact on district decisions (e.g., raises, curriculum, etc.).
• Providing resources and wraparound supports.
• Bring systems leaders, funders, and community partners to the table to find innovative ways to augment district resources.
One incentive for teacher/ school personnel recruitment would be related to housing. PCS is one of the largest landowners in Pinellas County and could offer affordable housing in partnership with municipal support.
As the Vice Chair of the South St. Peterburg CRA, Citizens Advisory Committee I know how deeply the issue of affordable housing impacts the Pinellas community. I would advocate on behalf of families, students, teachers, and staff to ensure that their voices are heard as a part of the systemic effects of the recent escalation and crisis in the Florida housing market. The School Board can analyze school demographics data (e.g., homeless students stats), and similar surveys can be done for school personnel to better understand home ownership/ rental burden. The district can partner with other systems leaders to find ways to offer school staff housing incentives, rental vouchers, housing tax breaks, etc. We can ask the questions about % of AMI for housing and have a better idea of the challenges faced by those in our district.

3. In your opinion, how can the business community best partner with the school district to support teachers and students in Pinellas County?

Some of the greatest challenges that threaten our economy as it relates to schools are housing burden, pay disparity, food insecurity, teacher and school personnel shortage, inadequate mental health services, job safety and flexibility, and the lack of accessible wrap-around services for families.

The most important and critical challenge that threatens our economy is the barriers to accessing and participating in the economy and reaching one’s potential. I believe that there are many different structural, educational, and political barriers that prevent individuals from fully achieving economic stability and accessing wealth that could impact generational poverty.

During my tenure as the Manager and Community Facilitator for the Grow Smarter Initiative, through the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce, I facilitated the multi-sector work of 90+ organizations towards equitable economic growth for the city of St. Petersburg. In this role, I listened to and worked with citizens, community organizations, businesses, and government agencies to better understand what equitable economic growth meant for each sector and for the community, as well as created spaces for discussion and collaborative problem solving to reduce economic inequity and its barriers.

The business community must assess the structural and political barriers to participation in the economy for those who struggle attain a living wage and ultimately (generational) wealth. The more people can access economic success, the brighter and more vital our economy will continue to be. This includes promoting and supporting technical and trade skills in schools, supporting magnet programs that will help bridge students to higher paying STEAM jobs in universities, nurturing entrepreneurship, and financial management among young people to increase wealth generation and financial stability into adulthood and beyond, and providing family friendly workplaces.

In my former role as the Director of Thrive by Five Pinellas, I established Family Friendly Pinellas. Family Friendly workplaces can attract and retain employees by focusing on their needs and the needs of their families. The Family Friendly Business Award® is a designation for Pinellas County businesses with workplace practices that support families. Business leaders understand that adopting family friendly policies can lead to a strong balanced workforce with lasting impact such as “increasing completion of postsecondary education; raising labor force participation; increasing workforce productivity; and helping businesses attract and retain talent.”

We will continue to attract businesses and workforce talent to the area by having strong educational institutions and working in collaboration with higher ed and training programs to ensure strong pipelines into growing industries that pay a living wage. If employees cannot afford to live where they work, we won’t be able to retain them for long. We must go beyond traditional models of economic development and look to equitable economic growth opportunities. When we can attract well-paying firms to the area and hire from within the community to not only provide a living wage, but high earning salaries we can raise the economic vitality of the community as a whole.

4. How would you work with the current district budget as well as engage with the community to examine the opportunity to implement more technical training in high schools?

My vision for providing a quality public education revolves around involving the full community, because without community voice and buy-in, the work to better Pinellas County will not continue. Collaborative partnership with school stakeholders, community and system leaders, businesses, and elected officials across Pinellas can ensure a quality, equitable, and safe public education system for all.
Balancing a budget is never an easy task and will call for creativity to adapt to the needs of school personnel in today’s economy. The district may have to re-evaluate contracts and bring some efforts in-house to ensure that funds are maximized, investigate organizational efficiency (e.g., overtime cost), leverage community partnerships/ get funders and business community involved, lobby the legislature for additional funds, etc.
When residents and citizens have an improved quality of life, they are more likely to participate in the local economy and increase economic development opportunities for the community. Preparing young people for the future with tools like career readiness courses and technical training, ensuring that all students have access to quality public education, providing accessible housing and a living wage, and enriching and supporting community engagement at all ages are ways to balance our quality of life with continued economic development and ensure the future of Pinellas County.



1.  What is the main reason you are running for Pinellas County School Board and what is the first issue you would address upon election? What data has been collected to know that issue should be prioritized?

I am running for Pinellas county school board so that I can be a voice for parents, students, teachers and staff. I do not believe these groups are properly represented based on the overall conversations I have had with the people in our community. The majority of the members on our school board are current or retired educators. We need members who not only have children in our school system, but also possess a professional, business background to to give more diverse viewpoints and experience on our school board. The 1st issue I will address will be restoring public comment to the recording and live stream of our meetings to restore our 1st amendment rights as overwhelmingly requested by our community.

2.  What can Pinellas County do better in terms of recruiting and retaining talented staff, with a particular focus on lack of workforce housing?

Our teachers and staff deserve a higher pay raise that is equal to the rate of inflation. This will counteract the need for work force housing. We also need to incentivize our teachers & staff to stay employed in our school system. This will increase morale, employment longevity, encourage other teachers to join our school system, etc. It will also increase the morale, will encourage the young people in our classrooms to want to become the teachers of our future.

3.  In your opinion, how can the business community best partner with the school district to support teachers and students in Pinellas County?

Business partnerships where a local business will adopt a school and work with that school to help assist with the financial and resource deficits of this particular school. The needs will be evaluated in each basis between that business and that school. When schools and businesses have a partnership this benefits the entire community. Businesses can also partner with a school that has a particular technical or trade program that relates to their business for internships, training and material needs. Mentoring. Businesses should encourage their employees to mentor students at local schools by giving them paid leave during these mentor hours. This has historically been a successful program and needs to be encouraged and expanded.

4. How would you work with the current district budget as well as engage with the community to examine the opportunity to implement more technical training in high schools?

We most definitely need to promote these programs and encourage our young people to consider technical training & trade programs that are available in our high schools. This needs to be done earlier on in middle school as young people are considering which schools to attend. We should have local businesses that relate to these technical trainings give our young people tours, speaking engagements, etc. that show what potential incomes and recession proof jobs are available that do not require a 4 year degree. Our technical and trade jobs are the backbone of this country and should be more widely promoted in the community so all families can have access to these free available programs. As we see the increased desire and enrollment in these programs, we will then allocate funds to expanding them so they are more widely available to all students in our county. ALL of our children deserve equal access to all opportunities in Pinellas county schools.

District 6 - Single Member


1. What is the main reason you are running for Pinellas County School Board and what is the first issue you would address upon election? What data has been collected to know that issue should be prioritized?

I am running for the District 6 seat on the Pinellas County School Board as the father of four children currently enrolled in Pinellas County Schools. I am fully invested in public education. I believe in a strong public education system where we not only educate our children, but we prepare them for life after graduation. The students in our classroom right now are the next generation of our community and everyone in our community benefits when our public education system produces well rounded and successful individuals. The biggest issue currently facing Pinellas County Schools is teacher and support staff recruitment and retention. According to the Pinellas County Schools Job Board, with less than a week before school is starting, Pinellas County has 178 vacant instructional positions and 210 vacant non-instructional positions. In addition to those numbers, as of July 18th, we were short an additional 65 bus drivers. School is starting in three days on August 10th. Thousands of our students will be entering classrooms with long term substitutes or packed into overcrowded classrooms.

2.  What can Pinellas County do better in terms of recruiting and retaining talented staff, with a particular focus on lack of workforce housing?

As mentioned above, recruitment and retention is a paramount concern right now. We cannot ignore the fact that Florida is in the bottom seven nationally in terms of average teacher pay. The school board can work to find efficiencies in the budget and redirect funds into the classroom, but realistically any large movement in terms of teacher pay will require a legislative effort. Our new superintendent, Kevin Hendrick, has started an initiative to improve the climate and culture within our schools. Coupled with below average pay, our teachers and support staff feel undervalued and disrespected. This initiative seeks to return appreciation for our teachers and support professionals. The district needs to return the voices to our teachers and staff and let them know that the board and school administration have their backs.

The housing market and rent prices in Pinellas County are through the roof. I’ve spoken with numerous teachers that cannot afford to live in the district. Many are working second jobs to merely carve out an existence in the county. Couple that with fact that our support professionals make significantly less and you can see why we are facing this critical shortage. Pinellas County Schools is one of the biggest land holders in Pinellas County. The YMCA and middle school partnership project in north St Pete recently broke ground, with anticipated school start date of August 2024. This partnership not only adds a middle school to our education system, but integrates the land for community use. We have the ability to replicate this process and provide affordable housing for teachers and support staff directly on school board property. It’s a way to add value to our teacher and support positions without reliance on the legislature.

3.  In your opinion, how can the business community best partner with the school district to support teachers and students in Pinellas County?

I am a Florida native, local small business owner, and chemical engineer with a degree from the University of South Florida. I spent the past 15 years working on water treatment and process separation equipment in power plants, refineries, and other industrial facilities. I have worked both with and for numerous Fortune 500 companies. The best way to partner our business community with the school system is by electing school board members with experience and expertise in business. I have experience from conceptual process design to project management and business ownership. I am committed to not only actively seek out business partnerships, but to advocate that the school board, and administration get in touch with our local businesses and find ways to work together. Career and technical education programs are not only a terrific way to set our students up for success, but also enhance our community as a whole. Partnering with our local businesses to ensure our career and technical programs provide the skills and knowledge required to be successful after graduation is beneficial to our students and our local economy by providing a skilled and knowledgeable workforce.

4.  How would you work with the current district budget as well as engage with the community to examine the opportunity to implement more technical training in high schools?

Members of our local business community are the most knowledgeable to the needs of our community in terms of career and technical programs. We should work with our local businesses to provide career and technical programs that fill needs within our community. Only about half of our students go on to college. We need to make sure we are meeting the needs of all our students by setting them up for success in life after graduation. We currently have a number of career and technical programs within our schools. We should make sure that the current programs align with the needs and requirements of our local businesses. We need to expand access to more schools around the county as well as destigmatize labor. Our students that go into career and technical programs are not lesser than the students going off to college. We need to make sure that students are guided to the roles that they enjoy and not feel pressured into seeking degrees. As our local business leaders know, people that have gone through career and technical programs often go on to achieve great success in life.


STEPHANIE MEYER - no response

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