Where They Stand: Bill Jones, Edinburgh School Board

Bill Jones

What are the three biggest issues facing your school district? How will you address them?

Teacher turnover at the elementary school, funding for teacher raises and bullying. The first two issues are tied together. Turnover is the result of not having the funding for raises, and raises are tied to how students perform on state-mandated testing. Bullying is a lot different in the social media age. It used to just happen at school and now it can happen anytime and anywhere. Students need to be educated about the impact of their words.

What is the most important thing you can do as a school board member to improve student achievement?

Lift the spirits of the teachers so that children can learn better. Improve teacher morale. Help them be happy with their jobs.

Do you favor adding any academic, sports or extracurricular programs, facilities or facility upgrades? Why or why not? What curriculum changes would you suggest?

No, the superintendent has done a good job with upgrades to the facilities. Supports improvements so long as the money is there for them. Doesn’t have any recommendations for curriculum changes, would have to look into them first.

If funding became so tight that programs would need to be cut, how would you decide? What would be a priority?

Would have to cut the least effective programs. Hard to imagine it would be sports. The school needs all the ones that it has.

Do you favor selling naming rights to parts of schools, classrooms, scoreboards or buildings?

It would be good. Wherever the money goes would be fine so long as it helps the school system.

What, if any, policies should be in place to accept advertising dollars? Who should be involved in approving the contracts

Would want to make sure advertising doesn’t include products students should avoid, such as alcohol, tobacco or guns. School board should be responsible for giving approval along with the superintendent.

If area businesses are willing to give schools thousands of dollars, why is the money being spent on athletics? Why is that the top priority? Couldn’t the advertisements still be displayed on a sports facility with the money going to academic or other programs?

Money goes to the sports programs because that is typically where the naming rights or advertising is being displayed. Money needs to go where the contract states it will, but would be in favor of negotiating contracts that give the school more leeway over spending the funds.

What facility improvements, such as turf, outdoor labs, remodeling, expansions or new buildings does your school district need? How will they be paid for?

The district has everything it needs.

You are in charge of evaluating the district’s superintendent. What does your superintendent need to show to earn a positive evaluation?

The superintendent needs to show good leadership skills, be firm with decisions, be friendly with people and be a good communicator.

The number of students on free and reduced-price lunch from low-income families has been rising. What can your district do to ensure all students receive the kind of resources and help they need to be able to succeed?

The number of low-income students in Edinburgh is high. Educating parents about what help is out there is important. Need to have an open door policy with talking to teachers and administration about these issues.

The number of National Merit Scholars has been viewed as a measure of a school district’s achievement. Do you agree? What do you think the school district can do to get more students into this program?

We have good students and teachers, and yes, this is a good measurement. The school needs to continue to hire quality teachers, and the teachers need to push the children to succeed.

How well is your school district preparing students for college? What more would you like to see offered, or what should be changed?

Doesn’t know what the percentage of students are going to college. Assumes it is high. An after-school tutoring program would be beneficial to students, but would need to involve volunteers for it to be affordable.

How well do you believe your school district is preparing students for technical careers, including manufacturing, computer programing and nursing, which has been identified as a priority? What do you believe could be done better?

Isn’t sure. Knows that nursing is a common career choice for many local students. Student surveys should be done.

Most schools across the county give students devices, such as laptops and tablets, to use. Do you believe these devices are needed in the classroom? Why or why not? And how should schools measure the effectiveness of these devices to see how they are helping students learn?

The devices are good, so long as they are being used only for educational purposes.

School security has become more of a focus in recent years. Do you believe schools are safe enough? What else should be done to make them secure?

The proper measures are being taken given the funding the school district has. Doesn’t believe the schools would need an armed officer or guard.

Local public schools have been losing more students to private schools through the state’s voucher program. How can public schools remain competitive to retain and attract students?

Doesn’t believe Edinburgh is losing many students because of the voucher program. Hiring and keeping quality teachers is what the school needs to do. If teachers are happy, the students will be taught well.

What have you done to prepare for the job of a school board member? Have you attended school board meetings, requested documentation or met with any officials, educators or parents? What specific steps have you taken?

Attended a class in Center Grove from the election board covering the responsibilities of being an elected official. Has attended school board meetings, met with the teachers union and is planning to meet with the superintendent.

While parents play a huge role in a child’s physical wellness, children spend a large part of their day at school. What is your school district doing, or should it be doing, to ensure that children and employees have opportunities to get part of the recommended amount of physical activity during the school day? Do the current policies and nutrition offerings support healthy choices, even when it comes to concession stands, fundraising items and vending machines?

The school district shouldn’t be taking away opportunities for physical activity from students. Last year, the middle school as a whole had bad grades in a subject, and instead of having a free period on Fridays for activities, the students were made to have another study time to catch up. Exercise is essential for students. Is important for food in the school to be healthy. Isn’t sure what the rules are for fundraising, but junk food isn’t a problem with concessions.

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Jacob Tellers is a reporter at the Daily Journal. He can be reached at jtellers@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2702.