School board candidate for District 8: Nick Sakhnovsky
This is part of a series on all the school board candidates. To see all the candidates and learn more about them, click here. Nick Sakhnovsky is running in the August 24 primary against incumbent Jennifer Gottlieb and newcomer Susan Madori. Neither one has responded to our questions, though both have been contacted at least twice. District 8 is a county-wide position.
Nick Sakhnovsky became a certified teacher in 1981, later receiving his law degree from the University of Florida and his degree in educational leadership from FAU and master’s in library science from FSU. His service includes years of teaching, being education director at South Bay Correctional Facility, where his program equipped individuals for a productive return to society. Nick is currently a literacy coordinator, and has worked for the Broward County Library since 2002. He is a lifelong South Floridian.
He chaired the Facilities Task Force for Broward schools, endorsing numerous reforms to the way the district does business. In addition, he has led school support groups and helped lead school advisory councils at two of his son’s schools, Harbordale and Nova Middle. Nick has also been an officer at both area advisory and district advisory levels. Nick has also worked for the federal government under the Department of Commerce, Department of State and Department of Transportation.
“I am running for the School Board because I feel its leadership has failed to provide adequate basic education, enrichment programs and enough teachers year after year after year,” said Sakhnovsky. “This election is about accountability and consequences for the current sorry state of affairs in our school district. When teachers are laid off and valuable enrichment programs are cut while money is spent recklessly for cafeterias and buildings and layers of administrators, the leadership has lost its way.”
Campaign finance reports: http://browardsoe.org/CFElectionFilings.aspx?elect_id=89&office_id=335&cand_id=1325
1) In under 200 words, why are you running for the School Board?
I am running for the School Board because I feel its leadership has failed to provide adequate basic education, enrichment programs and enough teachers year after year after year. It is time to stop talking about putting our kids first, and actually doing it!
I want to provide a middle ground for Broward voters to express their dissatisfaction of the school leadership, to provide someone who isn’t afraid to speak out for fear of losing financial supporters.
I have the background and the ability to lead this school system to a better place. This election is about accountability and consequences for the current sorry state of affairs in our school district. When teachers are laid off and valuable enrichment programs are cut while money is spent recklessly for cafeterias and buildings and layers of administrators, the leadership has lost its way.
2) If you could, what would you change and why? How would you fund it?
From day one, I will continue my work to reform school board and administrative processes top-to-bottom to bring real openness and sunshine, including ethics and disclosure rules with real teeth and penalties, and actually involving parents and teachers in the budget process instead of using them as a rubber stamp. This will restore public trust and lead to appropriate funding for education as a result of that trust. The steps to do this are not financial, but a matter of willingness on the part of the school board and the district to do what is right for the people of Broward.
3) What are your past, and current affiliations, with any school board committee, council, group, PAC, association or any other possible roles within the school system? Who appointed you to those positions? How long?
In each case I was elected – not appointed — to represent a constituent group, such as parents or area schools.
President, Nova Middle School Parent/Teacher/Student Association, 2009-2010; Vice president, 2010-2011
Vice President, Nova High School Parent/Teacher/Student Association, 2010-2011
Chair, Nova Middle School Advisory Council, 2009-2010
Parliamentarian, Nova Middle School Advisory Forum, 2008-2009
Member, Nova Middle School Advisory Council, 2008-2009
Chair, District Facilities Task Force, 2008-2010
Vice Chair, District Facilities Task Force, 2007-2008
Recording Secretary, 2006-2007; Member since 2004
• Led facilities task force reviews of school plans and projections, with additional recommendations to the School Board of Broward County, including recommending thesending excess relocatable classrooms for use in Haiti and reforming the district’s contractor selection process
Member, Broward County Schools District Advisory Council, 2004-2008, 2010
• Legislative representative of district’s south central area and south area
• District Advisory Communications Chair, 2006-2007; Recording Secretary, 2007-2008
• Participant, Broward Days, Florida Legislature, 2006 and 2007
• District Advisory Representative, Advertising in Schools Committee, 2006-2007
• Vice Chair, South Central District Advisory Committee, 2006-2007
President, Harbordale School Association, 2004-2006; Parliamentarian, 2003-2004
• Led community effort for replacement school at current site
4) How long have you lived in Broward County? Did you go to school here? Where, if any, do your children go to school?
I am a lifelong south Floridian; moved to Broward from Dade in 1987. Son has attend Broward Schools since kindergarten; currently going in to 8th grade at Nova Middle School in Davie.
5) The budget crisis in Broward schools has been a big issue in the community. Have you read the upcoming budget? Past budgets? What is your financial background to review these documents accurately?
Yes – I am Florida certified in educational leadership on my educator certificate, and have an educational specialist degree in educational leadership from FAU. I have taken a number of courses in this area, and as a School Advisory Council chair at my son’s middle school and co-chair at his elementary school, and being on the Facilities Task Force for 6 years (2 as chair), I have become familiar with individual school as well as the district’s budget over many years.
6) How would you address the cuts being made in the Broward district? What would you keep, and what would you cut? Any pet projects? Why?
No pet projects, although investment must be made at the middle school level to help reduce the high school dropout rate. The budgetary/funding crisis has been brought on by years of opaque decision making in the construction process, a failure to work with Tallahassee resulting in a huge local tax burden, and misallocation of cuts burdening individual schools and front line staff instead of creating district-wide efficiencies in administration, transportation, and other services.
7) How would you work to alleviate problems with the Broward Teacher’s Union which has been extremely vocal in its displeasure with the current school board? How would you work to get past the mediation of issues?
School leaders, teachers, community members and parents should sit down together this year, in a professional working relationship, to propose solutions right here in Broward so we are not imposed upon by Tallahassee. In fact, everyone wants high quality, reasonably paid professionals in the classroom, and I think all groups working together would include work portfolios and parental engagement as part of accountability. In our incredibly diverse teaching and student environments, one-shot test scores are easy, but not realistic or fair, to use as the only pay-for-performance measure.
8) The Broward Sheriff’s Office is also looking at budget cuts, which could get rid of some school resource officers. How would you continue to look at addressing parent’s concerns about safety in our public schools?
Parents and volunteers of all ages, after appropriate background checks, need to be infused into school life on a regular basis. More adult eyes and supervision is the way to assure a safe school environment, in conjunction with fostering a sense of self-worth and self-reliance among students.
9) What priority do you put on what is considered extras (anything non-FCAT related generally)? How would you look to fund it?
It is not realistic from an educational perspective to consider “anything non-FCAT” as “extra.” The FCAT is the “extra.” Art, music, PE, and other electives help keep students engaged and in school. They are not “extras.”
10) How would you reach out into the community to build creative ideas to educate students while working with local businesses?
As they have been in the School Advisory Councils I have been involved with, businesses respond to real,local outreach and a sense of being valued. Individual school SACs are responsible for doing this effectively.
11) What is your perspective on the various boundary issues, such as Cooper City, and other concerns about overbuilding while schools on the east have more space? What is your stance on boundary concerns and their impacts on communities?
The district leadership promised a comprehensive approach to this two years and has not been forthcoming. This is the only method which will produce equitable results, following a transparent, open and frank community-based discussion and analysis of alternatives.
12) Do you support the constitutional amendment in the November ballot that would relax class-size rules, allowing schools to base class size as a school wide average instead of strict per classroom numbers? No.
13) What companies have made donations to your campaign? None.
14) What are your qualifications to help meet the educational needs of the students of Broward County in the 21st Century?
I have vast experience in the classroom, as a school leader and as an educational director.
I am a community activist who especially cares about the kids, the teachers and the quality of the Broward County School system. I have extensive experience in human relations, presentations, administration, team building, communications, and service delivery.
I chaired the Facilities Task Force for Broward schools, endorsing numerous reforms to the way the district does business. In addition I led school support groups and helped lead school advisory councils at two of his son’s schools, Harbordale and Nova Middle. I have also been an officer at both area advisory and district advisory levels. My volunteerism spans over eight years and hundreds of hours.
I became a certified teacher in 1981, and has degrees in government, law, library science, and educational leadership. I have been a professional educator in many settings, and is Florida-certified in a number of areas, including social studies, gifted and educational leadership.
I was Education Director of the South Bay Correctional Facility for 1,200 maximum security inmates, with the focus on providing vocational and GED skills to improve their chances for success after release. In addition to other administrative work, I have taught in both Miami-Dade and Broward schools.
I worked for the federal government under the Department of Commerce, Department of State and Department of Transportation.
I work today as literacy coordinator at Broward’s African-American Research Library, and received my master of science in library and information studies in 2009.
I am experienced in a variety of environments, including planning, education, transportation, community affairs, law and information.
15) Obviously residents in Broward have grave concerns about ethics violations. How can you assure us of your morals, ethics and genuine interest in the school board? How will you continue to address this issue with constituents?
My eight year record of volunteerism is consistent and strong in this regard. I wrote a strong op-ed piece for the Sun-Sentinelo on October 1, 2009, outlining many improvements to contract processes, none have which have yet been implemented.
16) What do you think should be the school system’s focus over the next four years?
We need to get our act together and work collaboratively between educators, administrators, and parents in order to provide leadership in Tallahassee. Otherwise, unsatisfactory programs and methods will be imposed upon us by the state. This district must lead, not follow.
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- School Board Candidate District 4: Penny Madden
- School Board Candidate District 4: Robert Mayersohn
- School Board Candidate District 6: Melvin “Doc” Propis
- School Board Candidate District 6: Lynn Simon
Short URL: https://browardnetonline.com/?p=9048
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