Kurnov Wants Sarasota Schools Focused on Outcomes

Todays News

School Board candidate Lauren Kurnov grew up attending public schools in the region. Now holding a Doctorate in Education, she hopes now to pay a role in continuing a level of excellence and encourage improvement.

“What we really need to be focused on is career readiness academic success, supporting teachers and doing everything we can to create best outcomes for students,” she said. “We need to be focused on educational outcomes.”

There’s been criticism of the district in recent years on a decline in third-grade reading levels in Sarasota schools, and while Kurnov said it’s important to remember the impact of COVID-19 in disrupting classroom practice the last two years, it’s also critical the district improve that metric. She sees addresses wages, which in turn will help solve a teacher shortage, will help put more teachers in classrooms. That will allow schools to reduce class sizes and ensure students see more individual instruction so they can catch up and read at grade level.

She’s now seeking an open District 4 seat on the board; incumbent Shirley Brown is not seeking re-election.

While Kurnov said she’s committed running a positive campaign, her website makes reference to the outrage expressed by a conservative group of voters at School Board meetings. “Lauren is committed to running a positive, no-nonsense campaign that focuses solely on the success of our schools, not on fighting a proxy battle in a culture war,” the site states.

Kurnov has raised more than $180,000 for her campaign, more than any other candidate running for Sarasota County School Board this cycle to date. Opponent Robyn Marinelli has raised over $61,000.

Asked about Marinelli, Kurnov leans on her own background, which she said stands in contrast to any other candidate running for one of three seats on the board.

“I am uniquely qualified as parent and educator,” she said, noting her own children attend Sarasota public schools. “It’s important to have someone in the room who has a real vested interest. Not only do I bring expertise to board meetings, but I’m a parent with kids in the public school system.”

Kurnov moved her family back to her home county seven years ago when she took a job as assistant vice president and director of Student Success at University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee. She later worked for New College in its Office of Outreach and Inclusive Excellence and Student Affairs. She earned her doctorate in from USF last year.

Asked about the nature of recent meetings, she said it’s important to hear from all members of the public and that she would not want severe limits on citizen comments.

“We certainly need to be making sure parents have a seat at the table to have any of their concerns addressed,” she said. “We certainly need to make sure the business of the school district gets accomplished. These are business meetings need to be productive.”

Asked about charter schools, Kurnov said her test for approving new schools would offer something truly differentiated from traditional schools and that will provide an enhancement to what already exists in the community.

She wants the district focused on student success, and has concerns about recently passed bills like a parental rights law called the “don’t say gay” bill by critics. “The language is vague in that bill,” she said “If there is this desire to be implemented, there will need to be more guidance. But this really is a distraction from the real educational aspect when we need to make sure we’re focused on getting students caught up from COVID learning loss.”

 

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