Karen Keys-Gamarra: Why I’m running again to be at-large school board member

By Karen Keys-Gamarra:

It’s that time again in Fairfax County when every local elected official will be on the ballot.  This ballot that covers elections from supervisors to the Soil and Water Conservation District board is expansive and contains more parties than a chess board has pieces, but each office is essential to the process of democracy.

I’m Karen Keys-Gamarra, one of your at-large school board members, and I have cherished every opportunity to speak to Fairfax Dems.  These past few months have been full of school board work sessions, meetings with advocates and citizens, committee meetings and other such duties.  Now that we are nearing the finish line of the endorsement process, I want you to know that I cherish the opportunity to serve our community as an at-large school board member.

Back in 2017, just after the special election that put me on the school board, I hit the ground running toward progress for our school system.  I was on the board about 40 days when I was asked to second the motion to change the name of Stuart High School to Justice High School. The opportunity to speak (see karen4fairfaxkids.com to view the video) toward that motion is a moment that still gives me chills.

Since that time, I’ve learned a lot and taken action at every opportunity. In the past 1 ½ years I have initiated and/or supported such actions as:

  • Presented a motion to amend the opioid curriculum to make sure our students understand the dangers of casual drug use of any kind including the use of marijuana, new levels of potency and its impact on addiction leading to opioid use.
  • Sponsored a budget amendment to provide more behavior intervention teachers to improve the experience of our special education students
  • Sponsored a budget amendment to reduce discipline referrals and increase restorative efforts.
  • Sponsored a budget amendment to maintain Title I funding for our high poverty schools.
  • Sponsored a motion to address disparities in advanced academics by increasing access for all students (study in progress).
  • Focused on anti-bullying efforts and greater understanding of cyber bullying.
  • Focused on Title IX processes to assure parents and students that sexual misconduct will not be tolerated in our schools.

I have participated extensively in budget meetings with the school board and the board of supervisors, supported climate change initiatives, and fought for a balanced budget that provides competitive salaries for our staff and helps to reduce class sizes.

I want every Democrat to know that I take this job very seriously and have focused not so much on the campaign as I have on doing a job that recognizes and honors our community.

I’m proud to have endorsements from across our county, from Rep. Gerry Connolly to Supervisory Board Chair Sharon Bulova, and the Fairfax Education Association, and others.  What I really want you to know is that the investment of your vote in 2017 was something that I hold in high esteem.

I took the actions summarized herein because you believed in me and I wanted to earn that trust with every step and effort I took as a school board member.  I hope I have your vote in the endorsement process so that we can continue the work, together as a community,

Karen Keys-Gamarra  is an at-large member of the Fairfax County School Board and is running for re-election in the  November 5 general election. She is also seeking the endorsement of the Fairfax County Democratic Committee, which will be decided at FCDC’s May 21 meeting.