After years as a volunteer for Fairfax County public schools and a career as a professional marketer, Tammy Kaufax decided late last year it was time to run for the Fairfax County School Board’s Lee District magisterial seat. Her goal, she said, is to build on the quality public education the county is known for.
“I really believe our kids are receiving an excellent education and I want that to be available to all students in the county. I do have a passion for this and would be really honored to serve,” Kaufax said.
“When we heard that [current Lee District school board member] Brad Center wasn’t going to run again, one of my friends said, ‘You should try that,’ and I believe I’m ready.”
Kaufax has served on the county Child Care Advisory Council since 2001 and the Lee District Budget Advisory Council for the past two years. Kaufax’s two children have attended Bush Hill Elementary School, Springfield Estates Elementary School and Mark Twain Middle School, where she served in various PTA capacities, including Cultural Chair with two schools for nine years. Kaufax remains active on the Edison High School PTA where her son will be a junior. Her daughter will enter Mark Twain this fall.
Other activities include membership on the Superintendant’s Business and Community Advisory Council and the Advanced Academic Programs Committee for the county school system from 2010 to the present.
Kaufax is a member the Fairfax Citizens for Better Schools, the Arts Council of Fairfax, the Brookland-Bush Hill Civic Association, and in the past volunteered as a wish granter for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. She also teaches yoga to her daughter’s soccer team
Kaufax is from Johnstown, Penn., the daughter of second generation immigrants and the first in her family to attend college. She has a B.A. in political science with a minor in business from Pennsylvania State University.
In addition to operating her own marketing and consulting firm, Altamat Marketing Solutions, Kaufax has worked in the marketing and membership arenas for the American Association of Museums, the American Society of Internal Medicine and the National Apartment Association. She has been a consultant with Zero to Three, a national, multidisciplinary organization that supports the healthy development and well-being of children during the first three years of life.
Kaufax sees a connection between a strong educational system and local economic prosperity.
“Schools are the number one issue as to why businesses choose to relocate here,” she said, adding that’s why residents who don’t have children should support excellent public education as well.
In the Lee district, Kaufax wants to see “a further reduction” in the minority achievement gap, and improve early childhood education. In the Lee district and other areas of Fairfax County, where dozens of foreign languages are spoken at home, she’s concerned that children start school without basic language skills in both English and their native tongue.
Kaufax is in favor of expanding the Neighborhood School Readiness Teams(NSRT) and other early childhood development programs to promote the social and emotional skills that aid in a young student’s learning process. NSRT partners parents with school personnel to help kids transition from home and child care to school.
She is a “big proponent” of smaller class sizes, as the budget will allow, she said, especially for younger children.
Equity in the school system is another of her concerns. “I want to make sure successful pilot programs are carried out to all schools that would benefit,” Kaufax said.
Kaufax supports honors courses for students that might not be yet ready for advanced placement courses, but are interested in more than basic studies.
Kaufax also believes she has the budget skills necessary to guide the school system, having last worked as assistant vice president of membership and marketing for the Independent Insurance Agents Association of America. She believes transparency and accountability on the budget are important.
“I think the school system has to maintain a collaborative and trusting relationship with the (Fairfax County) Board of Supervisors.”
The involuntary transfer of students due to discipline problems should be a policy of “last resort,” Kaufax believes.
“I really believe children should learn from their mistakes and not be shamed by them,” she said. “I would like other alternatives to be considered prior to transfer, such as community service to match the infraction or loss of privileges.”
A student’s identification is tied to their school and to transfer a child “is often hurtful,” Kaufax said. She added she believes school suspension makes it difficult for students to keep up with course work.
She supports the disciplinary reforms the county school board made in June in response to parents’ complaints about what they viewed as overly harsh transfer and suspension procedures. Kaufax would also like to see parents brought into the disciplinary process as soon as any student infraction occurs.
Kaufax is conducting her campaign door-to-door, holding neighborhood coffee gatherings, and building on the relationships she established over the years as a PTA member and working alongside her husband, Alan, as “Team Mom” when he coached sports. She is also meeting with local school principals, teachers and PTAs.
This is Kaufax’s first run for public office. She is running unopposed and has been endorsed by current Lee District Board Member Brad Center and Lee District Supervisor Jeff McKay. Kaufax has lived in the Lee District for more than 20 years.