Steve McConnell is running for re-election to the Bellevue School District School Board (position 1). His response to our questionnaire is below.
For more information about Steve McConnell:
|What was the light-bulb moment that made you decide you wanted to run for school board (election or re-election)?|
|I have two kids, one in the gifted category and one in the special needs category. I originally ran because I felt like neither of my kids was being served as well as they should be. After four years on the board, and feeling like our district has made a lot of progress, I feel like I still have the ability to help move the district forward. In other words, the job isn’t quite done and I would like to keep working on it.|
|What work or other experiences can you point to that qualifies you for the position?|
|I’ve spent my 30-year career in the software industry, which gives me good insight into where many parents are coming from in our tech-intensive community, as well as insight into what our graduates will need to succeed in the 21st century. I’ve worked with hundreds of software-intensive companies over the years that have given me good insights into how organizations work. I’ve found that these insights translate pretty well to a school district, although of course some adaptations are needed.
The past four years on the school board, I have served as Vice President one year and President two years. I feel that I have contributed good leadership to our board, and I have been honored that the rest of the board has agreed by electing me to these positions.
|What are your ties to the community and how do you give back to it?|
|I have called Bellevue home for 30 years. My sister and her family live here, and so does my mother. I’ve also owned and operated a business in Bellevue for almost 20 years, so I have many ties to the local community.
I have given back to my community through volunteering at my kids’ schools, participation in organizations like Bellevue Rotary, and for the past four years by serving on the Bellevue school board.
|Tell us one big thing you think your school district does well that helps improve outcomes for students.|
|Our district’s college prep program is one of the leading college prep programs in the country, especially our approach to AP classes. At the time our district opened AP classes to all students, with no prerequisites, that was a revolutionary idea, and it has paid off very well for our students. Because we were an early adopter of AP classes, we have been able to refine our approach to teaching AP for a long time. As a result our students’ participation rates in AP are exceptional, and our students’ pass rates on AP exams are almost unprecedented.|
|Tell us one big thing you think your school district needs to do to help improve student learning.|
|The biggest programmatic weakness in our district in my opinion is special education. Our district has been so intensively college focused for so long that I believe special education has not gotten the emphasis or prioritization that the students need to be fully supported.
Special education was one of the main reasons I decided to run for the board originally in 2011, and progress over the last four years has been slower than I would have liked. Perhaps more than any other area our slow progress in special education has been an illustration of the fact that one board member by himself or herself can only do so much, and the real key to success is working quietly and effectively to bring other board members along.
My first couple of years on the board, the board as a whole just didn’t see special ed as a priority. Over time, with me continuing to raise awareness where I could, with support from our new superintendent, and with lots of involvement from our Special Needs PTA, the board developed an awareness of the need for increased focus on special education and we’ve begun to make progress.
Although progress has been slower than I would have liked, we have made some progress. For example, we now have a cabinet level position in charge of special education. We have replaced most of the special education leadership staff. We have added about 25 certificated special education teachers across the district. So we haven’t been standing still; we just aren’t done yet.
I would like the opportunity to serve another term on the board so that I can see some of these changes through to completion.