Julie Brenning

District 7 Candidate: Julie Brenning

Candidate Questions and Answers

Affiliations

Do you currently hold another public office?

No

Do you have any affiliations with the Albuquerque Public Schools?

No

Availability

Are you available to attend board meetings on the first and third Wednesday nights of the month at 5:00 p.m. and special board meetings at additional times?

Yes

Additionally, there are five board committees that mostly meet once a month at 7:30 a.m., 3:00 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 4:00 p.m., or 5:00 p.m. Are you available to attend all committee meetings? Board committees are committees of the whole, which means that all board members attend all committee meetings.

Yes

Periodically, the board must meet during daytime hours for board meetings, budget hearings, and luncheons. Are you available during daytime hours for these activities?

Yes

In addition to regularly scheduled meetings, the board minimally requires approximately 20-25 hours a week in reading, researching, miscellaneous meetings, school visits, telephone calls, and e-mail correspondence; many board members spend much more time than that. Can your schedule accommodate the extra time involved in serving as a member of the Board of Education?

Yes


Experience

Answers should be brief and concise.

Why do you want to be a board member for Albuquerque Public Schools?

I believe I have the right combination of character and professional experience to bring our community together to solve the challenges we face in this district. I am a mother to three children, two of whom are school-aged and have special needs. I am also a dynamic leader and the only candidate for district 7 who has worked professionally on solving real challenges in our APS schools and community. I created a new school evaluative system that will be implemented this year which critiques and provides improvements to 40 of our APS schools. I worked in our APS high schools, creating a new curriculum focused on employment and education readiness skills. I also bring my unique work experiences in the NM State Legislature, our Bernalillo County Commission and our APS schools to ensure quality education for all of our students in this district. 

What is your interest in education?

It is through education that we secure equality and can achieve the American dream. Regardless of one’s parents or circumstances, through education, every child can achieve a better life. Quality education in APS is foundational to positive socio-economic outcomes to include public safety, employment and maintaining our democratic freedoms. My fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Pray, changed my life. She taught me to love to read. Armed with books and a desire to learn, I went on to receive a bachelor of science in Political Science and a masters degree in Asian Studies. I am fully dedicated to ensure that my three children - two of whom are school-aged - get the best education possible. I am committed to ensuring a quality education for all of our students in this district because it is the lever that will lift up our community and secure our children’s futures.

In what ways will you support the mission and vision of the district?

APS Mission Statement: The Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education in collaboration with the superintendent and staff will work together and in partnership with families and the community in a systematic way to ensure that all students succeed. 

There are four ways I plan to support the mission and vision of the district:

  1. I will work as a collaborative member of the Board Team. I will strive to work effectively with each of my colleagues on the Board, respecting their positions and clearly articulating mine.
  2. I will work in collaboration with the superintendent. I will ensure a thorough evaluation to hire a superintendent who is a dynamic, committed leader with the appropriate professional background.
  3. I will work in partnership with families and the community. I commit to do better in our communications, active collaboration and transparent decision making with parents, families, and community leaders.
  4. I commit to ensure a quality education for all of our students, no matter their aptitude or socioeconomic status. I will use evidence-based best practices to implement policies that will help all of our students succeed.

How will you work with the superintendent?

I will look for these three characteristics when hiring, firing and evaluating  our APS Superintendent: 

  1. Dynamic leadership. I want a leader who is willing to admit to challenges we face and be willing to make innovative and effective decisions that will improve this district. I want a brave, courageous but also caring leader who will do what is best for our students, even if that means making tough decisions. I will collaborate with the superintendent to drive and enact innovative solutions.
  2. Decisions based on best practice. I want a Superintendent who is willing to implement policy and make decisions based on evidence, data and best practices. There are examples of school districts that have ‘turned around’ and we need to implement these same best practices. I will support evidence and data based decisions.
  3. Anti-corruption measures. One of the main duties of the superintendent is oversight of APS management. The Superintendent needs to have a systemic process in place for fiscal accountability to prevent corruption in this district. I will hold the superintendent to this standard.

What is your past and current involvement with Albuquerque Public Schools?

I am the only candidate for School Board district 7 that has worked professionally in our APS schools. I have worked in two capacities: as a community program specialist and as a consultant, hired to create a new evaluation system for our APS community schools.

In my first role, I created a new, comprehensive curriculum for high school students to help prepare them for employment and education. This program includes job preparedness, financial literacy and other self-reliance skills and lessons. I worked in our downtown high schools and this program is currently being implemented in several of our APS high schools.

In my second role, I created a new evaluation system that critiques and provides improvements to 40 of our APS schools. This evaluation system will be implemented this year in 2021. This system is an effective way of showing the need for training and realistic improvement. It includes how schools interact with families and the community, quality care for students, and programs that aim to improve academic success.

What should be the relationship between the superintendent and Board of Education?

The Superintendent and Board of Education should collaborate to achieve positive outcomes for our students. The School Board creates a vision and sets policy and academic achievement goals for the entire district. The Superintendent implements these policies, creating timelines and plans for how the goals will be achieved. For example, one of my top priorities will be to increase our literacy rates amongst our young students. My policy plan includes early intervention, mentoring and community leadership. The Superintendent will then outline the specifics on the intervention programs, how the mentoring will happen, and the personnel assigned to this goal. He/She will then measure the outcomes of the literacy rates and implementation of the policies for our students. The School Board will assess the overall outcomes of the goals and change policy if improvements are needed. 

What qualities and skills would you bring to the Board of Education?

I am an effective policy analyst. One of the most important duties of a School Board member is to create effective policy. I am the only candidate for district 7 with professional policy experience. I have worked on solving real challenges in our community, such as effective evaluation of our schools, public safety and behavioral health. I will bring my unique work experiences in the NM State Legislature, our Bernalillo County Commission and APS Community Schools to ensure quality education for all of our students in this ditrict.

I am committed to the continual improvement of our schools. I am the only candidate for district 7 who has worked in our APS schools. I created a new evaluative system that will be implemented this year that critiques and provides improvements to 40 of our APS schools. This evaluation system serves to drastically improve the professional practices of our community schools.

I am a dynamic leader. I am the only candidate for district 7 who has professionally worked in collaborative leadership for our schools. I have chaired committees that included many different community leaders, I have solved problems in our community and I am successful in bringing stakeholders around the table. I am committed to hearing the voices of our teachers, administrators, families, staff and community to solve the challenges we face.

What school or community volunteer activities have you participated in related to the community?

I am actively involved in local civics education and activism. I am the President of the NE Heights Neighborhood Engagement Project. This project, which is nonpartisan, seeks to educate the community on civics, local policy and how citizens can become more involved in our local community.

I am an active member of my Church community. In this capacity, I serve our young people, teaching lessons and providing support. I have also served our community at large, including our refugee population.

How do you plan to work with constituents?

I am committed to collaborative leadership and transparent decision making with my constituents. I know what it takes to be a committed public servant as I have worked personally and directly with our local elected officials on the Bernalillo County Commission and our NM State Legislature. I am dedicated to professional and top quality public service as I commit to:

a. hold regular, bi-monthly community forums and listening sessions;
b. hold regular, open office hours throughout the week;
c. answer all constituent concerns in a timely and thorough manner; and
d. bring your ideas, concerns and constructive feedback directly to the board; hearing you, responding to you and fulfilling the needs of all my constituents.

What do you see as opportunities and challenges to the district?

This district community is resilient, strong and filled with talent and potential. Our opportunities lie in our wonderful diversity, our ability to care for one another as New Mexicans and our ability to adapt to difficult situations.  

We are challenged by the socioeconomic conditions and childhood experiences happening in our community. This year, it is projected that 67% of our APS students will live in poverty. That presents very real barriers to learning, literacy and school attendance. NM has the highest rate of adverse childhood experiences (ACES) in the nation. These experiences, such as drug use and neglect in the home, are a significant barrier to the likelihood of academic success for our students.

To address these challenges, I plan to establish task forces that will work with our community, legislators and our APS leadership to implement and adapt best practices and policies that get to the root of them. I will also work with the Superintendent to establish high standards of academic excellence. As a community working together, we can address our challenges and help our students reach their potential.

What do you think is the best way for the district to accomplish the district’s goals?

  • Albuquerque Public Schools will provide equitable access and opportunity in a safe and supportive environment that addresses the individual needs of students.
  • Albuquerque Public Schools will align the work of schools and departments and create a system of high-quality accountability for instruction, social, emotional and physical health and safety.
  • Albuquerque Public Schools will create a clear direction for efficient and effective operations to better serve students and improve staff morale.
  • Albuquerque Public Schools will improve all modes of communications to better inform and engage the Albuquerque community invested in public education.

I believe the district can move toward accomplishing these district goals by having the Superintendent report regularly and frequently to the Board on the measurable accomplishment of specific objectives related to each of these four broad goals. I believe the Board should incorporate those objectives as part of an annual plan and assess his progress on that plan regularly. Specifically, I will focus on these policy principles to accomplish the four goals: 

  1. I support finding solutions to every student and every school's unique needs, challenges, and opportunities. I will focus on creating better innovation in our schools to ensure equitable access and opportunity for every student.
  2. I will create a system of high-quality accountability in this district. Accountability and transparency are essential to effective public policy. I will support quality training of administration and staff that centers on improvement, anti-bullying and student growth.
  3. I will create a clear direction to better serve our students. One of my main duties as your next School Board member is to create a vision and district-wide policies to achieve that goal. My vision for this district is to work together as a community, overcome barriers to learning and ensure that every student can achieve academically.  
  4. I will inform and engage with the community. I am committed to hearing your voices, having open community forums, office hours and systems in place for your engagement. I will listen and take your ideas to the board.  

If elected, how will you work with the current board?

I am honored to have the endorsement of outgoing School Board President, Dr. Dave Peercy. I also have the endorsement of sitting board members Barbara Petersen, Yolanda Cordova-Montoya and Elizabeth Armijo. I look forward to working with them as we create a vision together and jointly find solutions to the problems we face. I will add my talents as a policy analyst and community leader to their unique experiences and talents. We will work together and leverage each other’s strengths, to maximize  the opportunity for positive student outcomes in this district.  

 

School Board Candidate Questionnaire for District 7 from The Paper