Karen Rose

Karen Rose

SARASOTA — Karen Rose’s career in education has taken her from teacher to principal to director of the county’s middle schools.

She’s hoping this year to add School Board member to her resume.

Rose is running for the District 2 seat, currently held by longtime Board Member Caroline Zucker, against David Graham. The nonpartisan race will be decided in the Aug. 18 primary.

Rose lost a close election in District 4 to Shirley Brown in 2018. From the loss, she said she learned that elections aren’t all about the office being sought, noting that most of the conversations she had with voters weren’t about students.

The loss also increased her passion to get on the board to continue serving them.

If elected, she’d be taking office as the district is working its way through reopening schools shut for months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Safety in schools is always important, she said, because students need to feel safe in order to learn. But it’s not enough to make the schools safe, she said — they have to be perceived as safe, and right now, with rising COVID-19 case numbers, they’re not, she said.

That means the district needs to develop high-quality distance learning, she said.

The system implemented to complete the prior school year was put together “in a New York second and worked extraordinarily well for that,” she said, but “I know the quality you can provide.”

She has had heavy involvement in STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — education, which includes a lot of online learning, she said.

The district should build on the prior system with community and parental input, she said.

Two of her priorities would be to ensure teachers are paid a livable wage, with all the support and resources they need, and that they’re respected as professionals by including them in decision-making.

“When you bring teachers to the table, they can accomplish the world,” Rose said.

She lauded the process by which the new superintendent was chosen and said she thinks it means returning the focus to the students.

One of the first conversations she said she had with the prior superintendent was about educating them, but from the moment the superintendent he replaced left, “we never discussed children again.”

“I am extraordinarily confident that that’s a blip in the road,” she said.

She would like to increase access to mental health services in the schools and build more partnerships for early learning to help address the fact that a third of students aren’t reading at grade level. Only 27% of special needs students are, she said.

There’s already a gap for some children when they get to kindergarten, she said, which is a problem the district needs to get in front of.

It’s doable with community support, she said.

“Everybody wants to help our public schools,” she said.

Her campaign website is ElectKarenRose.com.

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