Candidate questionnaire: JoAnn Orischak

info@islandpacket.comOctober 23, 2012 

Name: Josephine Ann (JoAnn) Orischak

Age: 48

Office: Beaufort County Board of Education, District 11

Number of years living in the area you seek to represent: 9 years

Family: Husband David Adam Orischak; daughter Alexandra, 19; son Adam, 17; son Andrew, 13

Education: Bachelor of Science in elementary education from West Chester University of Pennsylvania

Current occupation/employer: Part-time with Starbucks

Employment, military and volunteer history: PC Concepts, Philadelphia, software applications instructor and course development; Beaufort County School District, kindergarten through second grade teacher; founder/chairwoman of Parents of the Academically Talented of Hilton Head; co-chairwoman of Gifted and Talented Education Supporters; Hilton Head Island Middle School School Improvement Council secretary; Hilton Head Baseball Association; Hilton Head Island High School baseball; American Legion Post 185 baseball

Please list all public offices to which you've been elected, when and where: None

Please list any unsuccessful candidates for public office and when: None

Other prior political and government experience: None

Key endorsements you've received: County Councilman Brian Flewelling, state Rep. Andy Patrick

Contributions: No campaign contributions or expenditures reported as of Oct. 12.

Expenditures: No campaign contributions or expenditures reported as of Oct. 12.

Highest contributor: No campaign contributions or expenditures reported as of Oct. 12.

Why should people vote for you? What separates you from your opponent?

With three children who have attended our Hilton Head cluster schools, and background as a Beaufort County teacher, I am able to draw upon first-hand experience in understanding the workings of our schools. I'd like to put that experience as a teacher and mother of children attending our schools to work as a board member. Additionally, I worked collaboratively with parents and educators in forming a gifted and talented advocacy group out of Hilton Head. As chairwoman, I organized informational meetings that included local and national speakers on topics pertaining to gifted education. I was able to rally parents interested in seeing improved academic offerings for students.

What are the three most important issues you would address if elected? How?

  • Performance, compensation and accountability: Priorities include hiring the right superintendent, clearly defining goals and objectives for (the) superintendent and district staff, measuring performance, and holding superintendent and district staff accountable. We want to avoid a repeat of the past five years. The board seated in 2007 hired the outgoing superintendent. They made her the third-highest paid superintendent in South Carolina. The results: The district never rose above an average district rating. Above-average compensation should yield above average results.

  • Board reform: Establishing improved communication between board representatives and their constituents is my goal for board reform. Proposed solutions include providing timely board minutes to the public, creating a log illustrating representatives' votes on all matters of importance, editing the board's governance manual to include policy revisions, and researching the possibility of term limits for Beaufort County board members.

  • Additionally, support for board committee structure would allow representatives to capitalize on their individual strengths, narrow the focus of each representative, and as a result, provide more in-depth analyses of matters for discussion.

  • Student achievement: District report-card ratings reflect student achievement. While Beaufort County has not achieved a district report card rating above average for many years, there are 13 other school districts in South Carolina with demographics similar to Beaufort County's who are achieving good or excellent ratings. Our goal as a board should be to determine what sets those other school districts apart and allows them to surpass Beaufort County School District in student achievement. A new superintendent's vision for our district can mean the difference between an average and an excellent report card rating.

  • Let's first begin by competing at the state level in elevating student performance, and then set our sights higher in competing on the national stage.

    What other issues do you see as important?

    There are so many, but here are a few:

  • School choice

  • Support for charter schools

  • The promotion of trade/occupational training for students identified as candidates

  • Greater participation of our board regarding principals' performance

  • Bus safety

  • What specific steps will you take to make government more open and accessible to the public?

    I would like to see our board take more formal votes on topics for discussion that illustrate their positions. It is critical for constituents to see where their representatives stand on matters on an ongoing basis. When elected, I would immediately suggest more board votes, have them documented by the board secretary, and include a running tally as an addendum to board minutes posted publicly.

    Have you ever been convicted of a crime (felony), been disciplined by a professional licensing board or organization or had an ethics violation filed against you? If so, please give the details. No.

    Have you ever filed for bankruptcy, been delinquent on your federal, state or local taxes? If so, please give the details. No.

    Are there any personal details about yourself that voters would be interested in knowing? Not at this time.

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