Erika Booth1. Who you are – a little bit about you, your family, your past, and how it has brought you to where you are now 

I was born and raised in Kissimmee and graduated from St. Cloud High School in 1995. Currently, I am an educator in Osceola Schools, which is where I’ve spent most of my 20+ year career. My husband of 19 years Ricky, and I, live in St. Cloud and have 3 children – Nellie (17), Natalie (16), and Thomas (11).

2. Past accomplishments – some information about your education, work experiences, volunteer situations, causes you have joined, and memberships to clubs and organizations you have a part of 

I have two Bachelor’s Degrees from the University of Florida, a Master of Arts degree in Elementary Education from the University of Central Florida, and completed the Education Leadership program at Stetson University.

The majority of my professional career has been in the classroom as an educator, and I have spent several years working for a local not-for-profit, Community Vision, as project manager for the Youth Leadership Osceola and Project OPEN programs, serving at-risk youth and adults in the community. I also served as the Business Partners in Education Specialist for the Osceola School District engaging local businesses in volunteerism.

I was awarded Teacher of the Year honors at two of my previous schools

2014 Top 10 Finalist for the Osceola County School District Teacher of the Year

Leadership Osceola graduate, Class of 2015

2018 Kissimmee/Osceola Chamber of Commerce’s Young Professionals Tomorrow’s Leaders Today Award

2019 Spectrum News 13 A+ Teacher recognition

2021 Osceola County Woman Warrior

I have also served as a State Women’s Leadership Committee Board Member for the Florida Farm Bureau, Bookmark Buddies Mentor, volunteer member of the Silver Spurs Riding Club, and member of PEO Philanthropic Organization.

3. Why you are running – what motivated you to run for the school board? Why do you think you can make a difference by being on the board? 

First and foremost I am a mom, a parent of 3 children in our schools, and an Osceola educator with more than 20 years of experience. My passion is education and as your next School Board member my focus will always be on doing what is best for our kids.

Academic success should be the top priority of a School Board member. To achieve success our kids need a safe in-person environment supported with high quality professional educators and support staff, involved parents, and an engaged community.

4. What your positions are on the following: 

* Teacher and professional support staff pay 

Teachers and support staff make education happen every day in Osceola. We must continue to invest as much as we can into their salaries, benefits, and professional development. I am committed to keeping our administrative cost low and urging the State to increase funding for veteran teachers, new teachers, and all our support staff.

* CRT 

Critical Race Theory should not be taught in Osceola Schools. As an educator I care deeply for my students and work to lead by example for them so that they may show respect and compassion to all their peers. I commend School Board Member Bass for setting up the Osceola Curriculum Review Committee so parents and staff have a place to bring forward questionable material.

* COVID-19 management 

Our students learn best in-person and I support a parent’s right to choose whether their child will wear a mask. The past 2 years have been a difficult time for School District leadership, school administrators, educators, support staff, parents, and students. Our goal as a School Board should be to return to pre-pandemic norms while providing teachers and students a safe and healthy learning environment.

* Addressing school growth – facilities –  

I support limiting growth in Osceola. Our ability to accommodate new students should be an important factor in whether or not new residential development can take place. During my career as an educator I have had the rare opportunity to open 5 new schools. I know the challenges that come with designing, staffing, and managing a brand new school.

* Attracting more teachers 

I have witnessed a decline in respect for professional educators, an increase in job-related stresses, and a decrease in compensation during my 20+ year career. I look forward to leading efforts within our community to ensure teachers feel valued and morale within our schools is high.

* Technology needs in schools – will we be prepared if another “pandemic-level” event takes place again – God forbid! 

Our District’s one-to-one technology plan has been an strong addition to learning. With more technology available we now need to focus on increasing our tech support staff within our schools. Our students need to interact with technology to be ready for 21st century careers. However, we cannot become over reliant on technology. Mental health and social, emotional, and educational growth depend on having a high-quality educator in the classroom.

* Increasing performance in schools – increasing graduation rate, post-high school education participation – trade schools – education pipelines – etc. 

Academic success is the goal of an educator. Graduation doesn’t just happen in 12th grade, it is the product of years of education. Early learning leads to success in kindergarten, elementary success leads to success in middle and high school. I support increasing early learning and outside educational development opportunities. When students meet their educational goals in elementary they go on to graduate. 

I also support a parent’s right to choose where their child goes to school. We know that a student has a better chance of achieving their highest potential when they are in the right environment.

Post-secondary opportunities for graduating seniors should be tailored to the student’s abilities and interests, and align with our community’s needs. We need to continue to expand trade certifications and improve assistance to our highest academic achievers as they seek acceptance into our nation’s most prestigious colleges, universities, and military academies.

* SRO’s in schools 

Safety is a top priority. I fully support having a law enforcement officer in each and every school. Our local law enforcement agencies have been great partners and I look forward to continuing and enhancing our School Board’s relationship.

* Additional comments and goals you have  

One of a School Board member’s main responsibilities is approving the District’s budget. If we are going to reach our goals we must be fiscally responsible. I will take my stewardship of taxpayer dollars seriously and work to make certain that Osceola County School District remains financially healthy – now and into the future.