Kelly Carmichael Booz says experience matters, as the former Alexandria School Board member has thrown her hat in the ring to reclaim her former District B seat.
“I don’t think we can afford as a school district after this last year-and-a-half to have a board that doesn’t have experience coming to the table,” Booz told ALXnow in an interview. “If I’m elected and if the Alexandria citizens from District B support me, I can start on day one running with and understanding of the process.”
Booz, who served on the Board from 2012-2015, lost her reelection. For her day job, she’s the director of two digital learning sites for the American Federation of Teachers, producing professional development and lesson content to 1.8 million educators around the country.
“During the pandemic, I also started thinking about running because I saw lots of conversations happening with the School Board in trying to get students and schools reopened,” she said. “I mean, this was a challenge. This was a no-win situation.”
Booz said she also struggled last year by working at home with her husband and two children. She says that she essentially became a virtual class assistant for her daughter’s second grade class at Douglas MacArthur Elementary School, even going so far as to train the now-retired teacher how to operate Zoom. She also paid for her daughter to learn in a pod with other second grade girls and for her son to attend kindergarten at a daycare center in the city.
“I bring being a mother to the table,” she said. “I bring the experience of totally understanding how difficult and challenging it was to do virtual learning at home. I bring the experience of understanding the whole digital landscape, because it’s what I do for a living. And, you know, I think combined with my experience of serving on the School Board, I’m in a good position to really help make sure that we’re focused on learning, recovery, and social and emotional recovery.”
The pool of District B candidates is a little crowded. Booz faces six other candidates for the three open slots: Deborah Ash, Ashley Simpson Baird, Tammy S. Ignacio, PreeAnn Johnson, Bridget Shea Westfall and Ricardo Roberts.
Booz says Alexandria City Public Schools should have opened sooner to full-time instruction than on August 24 this year.
“I would say it took me at least year-and-a-half to really understanding the ACPS process,” Booz said, recalling how long it took for her to get used to the position after being elected in 2012. “I can’t imagine serving during a pandemic. That said, we’ve seen countless examples across the country where schools were able to get some more younger children back into schools successfully.”
Critical of superintendent
“He’s a nice guy, and his heart is absolutely in the right place for our community,” Booz said of Hutchings. “I think he’s had an impossible job. There are things that I have agreed with what he’s done, there’s things that I have did not agree with what he what he has done, or I would have liked to have seen some better communication happening.”
Booz said Hutchings brought the community together for the renaming efforts — and that she wished the same level of communication was made last year regarding the pandemic.
“(Hutchings) had these kind of sprint cycles and would basically say that, ‘We’re going to put something in place and we’re not gonna even revisit this conversation for another four weeks or five weeks,'” Booz said.
Booz is also against the colocation of affordable housing on school grounds.
“Housing does not belong on school property,” she said. “I would never support that, even if it’s housing for teachers. If we need to find some other location for teachers, let’s do it, but not on school property.”
Booz also supports having school resource officers in ACPS.
“When you have three head principals of three large schools saying that we need SROs in our schools, you’ve got to listen to your leadership,” she said. “We hire them for a reason. You gotta trust your leaders. If they’re saying we need it, then I need to trust that they’re saying that we need it.”
Booz and all of the other candidates running for the School Board will appear at 7 p.m. on Wednesday in a virtual candidate forum.
Election day is Tuesday, November 2.
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