Real Issues – IX

I hear it often as I interact throughout the District; morale is low among our teachers as we start another school year. Whether it revolves around a lack of preparedness for a “gap year” in math, textbook materials for the classrooms, micro-managing at all levels, the impact of the ERP, education in a box or on a screen, teachers being asked to read a script with “fidelity”, or the sacrifice of gains in the lower quartile over proficiency, all of these practices have an impact at the classroom level. Test driven education has taken a toll on the profession, and we know the number of potential educators in our universities is on a downward trend. We see shortages of teachers in classrooms throughout the state.

Top down management has had an impact on how administrators interact with their teachers and support staff. When this happens, creativity and initiative give way to compliance. Compliance has a way of cheating the inspiration out of motivation, building a dream, or going the extra mile. Looking at the developmental needs of many of our children is another casualty of compliance.

We must have a culture and climate supporting the most important relationship in the district: the teachers’ interaction with the students. The Board is not going to take the place of the Superintendent who will lead operations in the schools, but the Board can help improve morale by recognizing the need, focusing on fiscal and policy solutions, promoting our employees’ abilities to work with our students, and limiting the distractions of the Board we have seen in the past year. Let’s get a better School Board on November 6th!

Political advertising paid for and approved by Joe Stokes for School Board District 4 non-partisan.


Real Issues – Part VIII

The more we learn about the “ERP” system, also called “People Soft,” the more concerned we have become since the first of July. The program’s functions within the District have been in the news due to a recent Bradenton Herald article about payroll problems.  A great deal of blame has been occurring, while our employees wonder if the paycheck they are receiving is correct. All of us can imagine the concern this has caused, and we have learned we are having problems with purchase orders and other everyday functions.

“Trust is the foundation of leadership,” as John Maxwell emphasizes. Can our employees and you as a taxpayer be comfortable with our leadership on the Board? Can our employees and you as a taxpayer comprehend a cost overrun from $9 million dollars to $19 million dollars, and the program still does not work? “Trust” is required for an effective Board to make decisions and solve problems. It is time for a better School Board in Manatee County, and solving this issue is going to require individuals who can be trusted because they are not worried about who to blame.   

On November 6th, elect Joe Stokes for the Manatee County School Board. Let’s get a better School Board.                                                   

Real Issues – Part VII

John Maxwell’s “21 Irrefutable Laws” refers to the Law of Influence as an important leadership skill. INFLUENCE is not due to a title, special training, being connected, or using a position to bolster self or gain privilege in an organization. Creating influence is based on respect and trust. Creating influence serves others and does not draw attention to self, ego, or the “look at all I have done” persona. Influence really helps lift others, shares the credit for success, and puts the organizational goals in first place; in this case, your School Board, deserves a chance at becoming a team.

As voters look at the up-coming November 6th election, which candidate has a chance to have influence on the Board? Which candidate has a chance to work with the other Board members in a collaborative, productive, and respectful way for the benefit of students, employees, and greater community? Respectfully, the answer to those questions is found in electing only one remaining candidate: let’s make a change to “Create a Better School Board” in Manatee County.

Elect Joe Stokes on November 6th to Create a Better School Board!

Political Advertising paid for and approved by Joe Stokes for School Board District 4

A Note from Joe

Thank you!

As we enter the period before the general election, we couldn’t have made it without you! The voters (24,029) took the time in a primary election to exercise the greatest of our constitutional rights: voting, we salute you. The donors and volunteers of time, effort, money, and sacrifice walked, talked, and provided funds and energy to get the message to the community. We appreciate you so much!

Moving Ahead…

Some of you are wondering, what is next? We keep going! Simply, lead with integrity, quality communication, knowledge of our district needs, and work with other Board members to insure the safety of students and employees. Select a superintendent and adhere to fiscal responsibility. My opponent has referenced “three opponents were targeting me” in the election held, Tuesday, August 28, 2018. Must be an illusion of self-importance. I am in the race for the students, employees, community, and the opportunity to serve on the School Board with admirable members. Service for me is not about self. November 6th will soon be here, and WE have a chance to improve the leadership on the School Board of Manatee County.

The Real Issues – Part VI

August 28th is not far away, and candidates in many of the races are waiting with anticipation to see if they win their race outright or continue to the November election later in the fall. As a School Board candidate in District 4, I have had plenty of competition, yet I am convinced my expertise, character, experiences as a servant leader, and knowledge of the issues in the district (and education in general) allow me to say voters will not regret voting for me.

Our community members, employees, and students deserve a Board working together—without the continued negativity and lack of civility eroding trust and transparency in our community. I have had individuals tell me, “You are making the ‘politically powerful and connected’ a bit worried.” To be honest, that is not why I am a candidate. I am a candidate to serve. This will occur by keeping schools safe, assisting in the process to find a great superintendent, working with the Board members to attract and retain great employees, and supporting fiscal policies creating order, competence, and oversight. Never have I served and created drama. To understand who supports our grassroots effort and to the see the transparency I have brought to this campaign, we invite a review of our donor lists and campaign filing information.

If elected…..

  • We need to select a new Board Chair.
  • We need to detail in specific terms how we are going to communicate to the public and employees as a Board. Operations belong to the Superintendent.
  • We need less “I” and more “we” about the Board’s successes.
  • We need to listen to the frustrated public.
  • We need answers to the tune of how did the ERP go from 9 million to 19 million.
  • We want to accelerate the search for the Superintendent. (The election is over.)
  • We need to assess the start of school from every department, celebrate success and work on any shortcomings.
  • We need updates on Capital Projects for all to see.
  • We need the oversight committees to join us to become an “A” district.

If you donated, called, waved a sign, said “I am for you.”, made a FB comment, encouraged me, wore a shirt, read my comments about the issues, attended a meet/greet, prayed, told a friend to vote, put a sign in your yard, and believed I can make a difference, I humbly say, thank you. Let’s turnout on the 28th of August!


The Real Issues — Part V

Money. Donations. Transparency.

One issue mentioned in almost every forum, debate or interview relates to our financial
picture as a district. The process for developing the budget and making the decisions
public are going on now, and I have spent some time previously writing about the topic.
A campaign has a “money side” getting attention as for our District 4 race. We posted a
big thank you to our donors a couple of weeks ago, and I am very glad to report we now
have about 140 donors (way to go Treasurer Minnie King) to the campaign.
Unbelievable for a school board race in a few months!!! For interested consumers of
campaign details, we invite you to review the donations for the candidates in our race. I
had a person say to me, “You are really grassroots, and your donor list supports it.”
Look at the percentages of local donors: most are the people who live in our county and
we are proud to say grassroots are deep roots. We all know individuals who are
suspicious of the impact of donors and decision making; they sometimes say “Who do
you know, who do you owe,” so we encourage you to take a look. We are so thankful for
our supporters who are willing to give!

……………… be continued