“Consensus building” may sound like a cliché for a candidate to say during a campaign, but not for Ian Vincent, candidate for Charlotte County School Board. Take for example how Vincent talks about his opponent, Bill Weller. Rather than trashing him, Vincent avoids talking about Weller. “It’s not about what is wrong with my opponent, but what is right with me,” says Vincent.
Consensus is needed because, “No one acts alone. There are five people on the board, and the majority rules”, Vincent says. However, Vincent says that consensus must extend beyond the board and include the “administrators, principals, teachers and the community”.
Vincent says that the school board needs to expand the communication to the public because there is a lack of connection between the voters and the school system. Attendance at school board meetings is low, with “about 15 of the same people that attend meetings.
A reason why the school board is not connecting with voters, Vincent sees, is many voters are not familiar with how school systems operate in Florida. Coming from states where many school districts are small, “the biggest issue to decide is if a student should be expelled,” say Vincent. “The schools are the second biggest employer in Charlotte county and has a budget of more than $200 million.”
Another reason schools don’t connect, Vincent says, is that some voters simply don’t have children in the school system, and they feel that they have already paid for the school systems “back home”.
To help get the word out about Vincent wants to see a weekly column in a local newspaper about the what the schools are doing, “The county (government) has a local column in the paper. The schools should, too”, Vincent says. Another outlet could be local radio. Vincent believes that a local news radio show would be willing to have school representatives make guest appearances to talk about the schools. And another avenue to getting the word out is social networks such as FaceBook, says Vincent.
Vincent believes that students should be allowed to work at their own pace, and is a fan of gifted education programs. Recalling when he was in school, he wished his classes had flexibility, “I was bored. The class was working on fractions and I was already doing algebra”, Vincent says. The problem is find a way to not hold kids back without losing the lower level kid.
As the operating director of an environmental consulting firm, Vincent believes that his expertise as a managing a small business will find savings in the budget that could “reap big dividends”.
Vincent has been active in educational and environmental issues. He is a mentor, soccer coach and serves on the Charlotte Local Education Foundation. He also has served on several citizen advisory committees, working on development and planning issues in Charlotte County. Vincent graduated from University of Kentucky, majoring in resource and conservation management. Married for 13 years, has 2 daughters in elementary school. His website is http://www.electianvincent.com/.