Candidate Feature – District 7 incumbent Christine Moore
Christine Moore is a political institution in Apopka. Over the last two election cycles, she has been a campaign manager and consultant for mayoral and city commission elections, and for the past eight years has been on the Orange County Public School Board representing District 7 which includes all of Apopka. The two-term incumbent is running for a third term against Isadora Dean, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Laura Rounds – all first-time candidates.
And its her experience and diversity of qualifications that Moore points to in separating herself from her opponents.
“Being a member of the school board is not like being the president of a union or being a principal. It’s more like being a CEO. You wear a lot of hats and a diversity of experience is important. I have a well-rounded background in education, music, business and politics. I am board certified from the Florida School Boards Association. I have overseen the construction of a dozen new schools. I understand the position and know which issues are regulated by the state and those which fall under the purview of the district. I have extensive work with budgets. I graduated at the top of my class in music education from the University of Michigan. I have extensive business experience in real estate investments and consulting. I have been active in numerous community service organizations and served on three Orange County boards. I’m currently on the United Arts Board and the Mayor’s Committee on Child Abuse. I’ve had my own company, and I have a lot of experience on the political side in navigating things with elected officials. A broad background is good. It’s how you are effective on the School Board.”
In today’s political climate, incumbency, political experience and being a part of the system is looked at as a liability by some. Certainly in Apopka, incumbents have not fared well in the past few years, but Moore cannot deny she is the establishment candidate in this race. She leads in name recognition, fundraising, and has been endorsed by the West Orange Political Alliance, Orlando Board of Realtors, Central Florida Hotel and Lodging Association, Associated Builders and Contractors, BusinessFORCE, Conservative Ministers of Central Florida, OCPS Board Chairman Bill Sublette and other board members, teachers and local officials.
However Moore embraces the idea of being a part of the system and thinks its necessary in order to function successfully.
“Before you run you should clearly know the system. I know how to work within it to get things done. You have to understand the deck of cards you have. Now there’s times when you don’t like the deck and there are ways to deal with that too, once you understand the job description. Tallahassee controls a lot of the policies. A couple of my opponents… if you read their entire platform… they should be running for the Legislature. They don’t really understand the job description.”
“Clearly you’re an advocate. You do a lot of constituent service. If someone has a problem, I always tell them to send me an email and I’ll forward it to the right person and follow up.”
Moore has received several emails from her constituents and heard the frustrations of local parents on an issue you may not expect to be on the forefront – recess. Moore understands their concerns and says it is an ongoing issue at the school board and legislative levels.
“I’m for recess. We’re all for recess. The recess moms came to us a little over a year ago and they have a valid point. Everything is about school grades. And the principals are concerned because the Legislature ties school grades to salaries… so what was happening was they were working these kids from the minute they got to school until they left. There was no recess and the kids need recess. So the Board went back through area superintendents and asked them to have recess on every day except Wednesday. This particular group (of parents) has particular language that they want, so we’re going to have a work session to work out the details.”
For some teachers and principals, the Marzano Teacher Evaluations has become a challenge that Moore would like to do something about, but she thinks lobbying Tallahassee will be the better strategy to effect change.
“The state passed a law four or five years ago that teachers had to be evaluated. It’s too heavy handed in some respects, but it’s state law… so the issue is you have to go back to Tallahassee and lobby against it. There are all these best practices that Robert Marzano, an education expert, put in place… but he never envisioned it to be used to rate a teacher. He meant it to be best practices, so now we have scoring and evaluations based on it. The state has required too many of these Marzano Best Practices and its overwhelming… too much too fast. And that’s where you hear angst.”
Despite the larger issues of a massive OCPS budget, Moore is conscious of the families and of the demographics of District 7.
We pass a budget, but we don’t set a millage rate, so all of our funding goes through Tallahassee and comes back on a “per-student” basis. It’s nearly a four billion dollar budget, and you have to work with other municipalities, you have to lobby and all sorts of things like that, but you also have to keep in mind this district has a high degree of poverty…so when you’re representing the parents and students of District 7, you really have to have the mindset that you are the mother bear for a lot of families that don’t have the ability, time or where-with-all to advocate. Zellwood got rebuilt, Wheatley got rebuilt. Lovell got rebuilt. Dream Lake is 75% free or reduced lunch. I’m an advocate for these families and I take that seriously.”