2017 Italy ISD School Board Candidate Questionnaire: Cortney Owen Janek


Tell a little bit about yourself (current work, education, experience, background).

My name is Cortney Owen Janek and I have lived in Italy my entire life. I have a Master’s Degree in Physical Therapy from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, making me a licensed Physical Therapist. I have been a stay at home mom for many years, also helping with my husband’s business.

What ties do you have to the Italy school district (i.e. children enrolled, family employed, former student)?

I have been married to my husband, Dennis Janek, for 19 years. We have 2 children. Emily is a 7th grader at Italy Jr. High and Landry is a 4th grader at Stafford Elementary. Both my husband and I attended Italy schools our entire lives.

Why are you seeking a seat on the school board?

I am seeking to continue my seat on the school board hoping to be a voice for all of the students.

What qualifications or experience do you possess that voters should consider?

I believe I possess the ability to listen and communicate clearly, while bringing an open mind, positive ideas and original viewpoints to the table.

What do you consider your primary responsibility as a school board member?

My responsibility as a school board member is to be a constructive piece of the group of advisors surrounding the superintendent.

What do you consider the most important issue facing our school district today?

In my opinion, the most important issue facing our school district today is to try to embrace our small school value, while continuing to evolve and improve the way we challenge and reach every single, unique student.

What do you consider the most positive and negative aspect of being a member of the school board?

Since being on the school board, I have learned the most negative aspect is having to be a part of tough decisions that affect so many lives. Conversely, it makes me feel good knowing I make those decisions with an informed mind and prayerful heart.

What do you think should be the top priorities of the school board after this election?

After this election, the school board needs to move forward with its support of the administration in striving to make our schools a safe haven for our students while they learn about life and become ready for the next phase of their lives after Italy High School.

Are there any policy changes you would seek to implement at the school district? If yes, which ones and why?

I don’t believe it is my job as a school board member to seek to make policy changes. I am, however, perfectly comfortable expressing my opinions to those we trust to set the policies for our students.

What community services have you given the school district or community in the past?

I served several years on the Stafford PTO as well as serving as an IYAA basketball coach for both of my daughters. I am currently serving on the school board since October 2016.

Explain your position on hiring non-certified teachers.

It is my belief that we should always hire certified teachers. I come to this conclusion out of experience. I was hired right out of college as a non-certified teacher. I was not prepared for the job ahead of me. It was not a good decision for myself or my students. But, I am also aware that there could be very good teachers out there, on the path to getting certified. So, a one rule fits all might not be the best choice in every situation.

How would you maintain a healthy balance between education and athletics?

The balance between education and athletics is an interesting one to me. Education should always come first, and athletics should be a privilege. Those students representing us in any extracurricular activity should do so with the best behavior, effort, and sportsmanship in any contest. Anything less is unacceptable. Participating in athletics should instill discipline, teamwork and work ethic. These qualities are vital for success on the field, in the classroom and in life.

Title IX laws pertain to all state funded districts. How do you feel the Italy ISD performs in this area?

In regards to Title IX, I think our girls are afforded many opportunities to be successful. I do believe that it is important to continue to make every effort to provide the girls’ programs with knowledgeable leadership at all levels.

What ideas or changes would you like to see to continue to improve school discipline?

Discipline starts at home. It is important to have a plan in place that is implemented at all levels. Students and parents should know what to expect and should work with teachers and administrators, rather than against them. When a student has exhausted his/her chances, he/she should be removed so that the other students are able to learn without distractions.

What ideas do you have to keep the budget trim?

Since a budget is fluid, it is important to always keep it in mind as decisions are being made. Our challenge right now is to keep a healthy cushion as we wade through the unknowns that arise in the building process.

What positive changes within the infrastructure of our schools might be made to retain and/or attract quality teachers to educate our children?

The new bond project/improvements is a great start to retain and attract quality teachers, as well as our District of Innovation plans. A competitive pay scale, positive work environment, and support from administrators and parents would also go a long way.

In what ways can the district’s school board be more open to listen to teachers and parents about their concerns?

The new school board email accounts have been a beneficial communication tool. Parents and teachers need to know we are open to listen and can be trusted to pass on information, while being sensitive to their privacy.

What incentives, if any, do you think should be implemented to motivate students to improve their performance in the classroom?

I like the opportunity to earn exemption from finals. It is an important motivator. It teaches students to work as they go to earn a reward in the end. It also improves our average daily attendance.