Hi, I'm Prescott Cowles
and I'm running for Alachua County School Board in District 5.
Why I'm Running
My name is Prescott Cowles, and I’m running for School Board of Alachua County because I understand the obstacles that impact the learning and working conditions in our public schools. I’ve proven that I can turn input into meaningful action to address these concerns. I led the district’s covid response and worked with every school to keep their students and staff safe. I have worked to connect problems to solutions across our school district.
I know the problems that our schools still face firsthand, and I’m ready to work on solutions so that our public schools can not just survive, but thrive.
I care deeply about this district because this is my home and these are my students. I grew up here, a proud Talbot Tiger, Lincoln Terrier, and Eastside Ram and for my entire life, my parents taught me the value of public education and what it means to serve others.
I went to the University of South Florida to study science education and stayed there in Tampa to teach 7th and 8th-grade science at a Title I middle school. I moved back home to Alachua County to serve the community that raised me, and when our schools reopened in Fall 2020, I helped where I was needed until I was called to step up during a time of crisis and lead a new COVID Response Team.
Leading the COVID Reponse Team
In that role, I saw firsthand the massive disconnect between what happens in the District office and the real experience in schools.
For months, I had seen bus drivers come to School Board meetings to beg for the basic supplies they needed to be safe, in tears because their two colleagues in transportation died from COVID that fall, and still they got no support.
Our first step in turning around the COVID Response was to simply listen to the people who were begging for help so that we could start connecting them with solutions. I first talked to bus drivers, then administrators in transportation, finance, and our warehouse. By making them a priority, we found that 40,000 KN-95 masks had been sitting on the warehouse shelves - right next door to transportation - and the bus drivers weren’t getting any because of administrators’ failures to communicate. Within the week, we worked to package and deliver these masks - not just to every bus driver, but for every employee in the entire district.
For the first time, they were finally protected because they were listened to. We saved lives.
Because of our commitment to go into our schools and truly listen to what people needed, we were able to turn their input into action, connect their problems with solutions. I built a new COVID Dashboard to communicate more transparently with families; partnered with the Health Department and UF to stand up vaccine clinics for our staff and students; worked with principals and nurses to streamline our case reporting so they could get hours of their lives back and spend more time taking care our students; I formed a teacher advisory committee so that our educational experts actually had a seat at the table in how decisions were made.
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We fought every day to build new partnerships and fix the broken systems that put people at risk, because every person in those schools deserves the dignity of being heard and protected. It was not easy, but change rarely is.
There is no “going back to normal” for our public education system after the COVID pandemic.
The last two years have forced change into every aspect of our lives, suddenly and dramatically, but going backwards is not an option, and standing still is not enough. Our school district still faces monumental challenges - from leadership in Tallahassee that is determined to destroy public education to the systemic inequities that have persisted in our county for generations - and the collective trauma of the pandemic just underscores the need for urgency.
Right now, our educators are being driven out of our schools because of intentional attacks from lawmakers and the apathy of elected leaders.
Many of those that are leaving are my friends and colleagues, my former teachers who shaped my education, because they have reached a breaking point, and it’s so hard to see a light at the end of the tunnel. They need a champion with the endurance to push forward meaningful changes that restore and reinforce their dignity as professionals and keep high-quality teachers in the classrooms with the students who need them.
I am running because I believe that our community deserves leaders who make the input of those that they serve a priority instead of an afterthought. We need leaders who are paying attention to what really happens in our public schools every day, who will respond with action and urgency, and who are not complacent with kicking the can down the road when things get hard. Donate to the campaign
We need leaders who will stand strong in their commitment to provide safe and inclusive classrooms where every child can learn, who won’t rest until our educators have the resources and support they need and the compensation that they deserve, who won’t who won’t back down in the face of threats from Tallahassee, and who will fight to protect public education from profit-seekers and their politicians.
Let's Build Up Alachua County Schools Together
I have so much hope for this community, because I have seen the problems that we can solve when we come together.
I believe there is so much good work that can be done if we elect School Board members that understand our schools and will work as hard as the students, the families, and the educators they serve. I know that overcoming the challenges that our school district faces will be incredibly difficult, but it is entirely possible and it is absolutely necessary.
This is a new era in public education, and I know that I am the new generation of leadership with the endurance to withstand the attacks and still push our district forward. Again, my name is Prescott Cowles and I’m running for Alachua County School Board District 5. I truly believe that with your support, we can make real progress together.