Where They Stand: Curtis Rooks, Edinburgh School Board

Curtis Rooks

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

The three issues facing the district are improving test scores, addressing the student decline and retaining qualified teachers. The school board needs to rely on the administration to make sure it is doing all it can to help improve those scores. Isn’t sure what is causing the drop in enrollment this year. The school is down 37 students, but that could be attributed to parents moving or other issues. Officials also need to look at why the school has lost several good teachers. Is pay an issue or are there other factors? Has more questions than answers at this point.

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

The most important thing a school board member can do is listen to the concerns of parents and teachers and work to address them.

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

Doesn’t have any changes he would recommend to the curriculum. Feels that the school district has all the programs the students need.

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

The school board would need to rely on input from the community, teachers and staff to determine what its funding priorities should be. Choice should also be made on what will have the least impact.

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

Is in favor of it. School budgets are tight, so any extra funding that can be generated is crucial.

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

Guidelines should be set up on what types of advertising is permissible. A community committee could be made to create that.

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?

The school district should have the say in how advertising funds are best used. Doesn’t have to be tied to athletics and could go into the general fund instead. Also depends on how the contracts are set up with the advertisers and what they are requesting the money be spent on.

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

No new ones are needed as the school has recently made many necessary improvements.

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

Would want to see how well the superintendent works with teachers, staff and parents. Would also tie evaluation into how well the school district is doing overall.

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?

Should look at what community organization the school can partner with to assist these students.

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?

Doesn’t agree that the number of National Merit Scholars is a good measure of achievement. The school’s job is to give students the opportunities to succeed and encourage them to take advantage of that.

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

Students are as prepared as well as they can be for college. The district is doing everything it can at this point.

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?

The district is doing a good job. Juniors and seniors at the high school have the opportunity to take technical courses and do vocational training in Columbus. What could be improved is communication about student needs between the board and the teachers.

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?

Yes, the technology age is here. In order to be successful you have to give students the tools they need to achieve their goals. Student grades can be a measure of the effectiveness of these devices.

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?

Steps should be taken to make sure schools are safe, but schools shouldn’t be turned into fortresses either. The school is still a community school and should have a hometown feel. Doesn’t think any changes are necessary for student safety.

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?

Competing for students can be a challenge when private schools can offer more in regards to athletics and other programs. The district should make sure its academic opportunities are good for students.

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?

Has political experience from being on the Edinburgh Town Council for seven years. Had worked for the Edinburgh School Corp. for nearly 30 years. Retired as the director of facilities and transportation. Has also attended school board meetings.

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?

Often sees kids out at recess. Assumes they are getting the right amount of exercise. Employees have time during lunch or planning periods for exercise if they need it. School lunches should be required to meet the necessary standards. Isn’t concerned with concession stands being healthy as that food is mostly geared toward adults.

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