What are the three biggest issues facing your school district? How will you address them?
Need to be concerned about adequate funding to administer programs. Been at statehouse, talking with lawmakers about school funding formula. Center Grove is one of the schools that receives the least amount per student. Need to keep up with growth in the community, which requires working with administration to determine if we have enough classroom space, teachers, staff. Need to work to provide educational opportunities while being fiscally responsible.
What is the most important thing you can do as a school board member to improve student achievement?
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Support the administrative team and the teachers to provide information and tools to give students the best possible education. Key word is support.
Do you favor adding any academic, sports or extracurricular programs, facilities or facility upgrades? Why or why not? What curriculum changes would you suggest?
Is not the board’s responsibility to add or change curriculum. The staff and administration bring suggested changes to school board. Not aware of any particular changes. Center Grove is involved in building a new student activity center to make room for classes or extracurricular programs. Each of the buildings is currently doing or has recently completed projects to bring them up to date, with safety and some additional classrooms to meet increased enrollment.
If funding became so tight that programs would need to be cut, how would you decide? What would be a priority?
Those decisions would be left to administration, who would bring them to the board. Would take a lot of soul searching and research and presenting data to make difficult decisions.
Do you favor selling naming rights to parts of schools, classrooms, scoreboards or buildings?
Does favor naming rights. Thinks public education is in a situation where we need to collaborate with people in our community. Those individuals often realize the school district could use some help. Need to be in sync with mission of school district and appropriate for a school setting.
What, if any, policies should be in place to accept advertising dollars? Who should be involved in approving the contracts?
Center Grove has a procedure for accepting naming rights. Those suggestions and ideas from someone who wants to name building or room must come from administration to the board.
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?
Believes that the phrase “too much focus on athletics” is inaccurate. Public sometimes forgets there are positive attributes to athletics in developing a well-rounded student, including cooperation, time management, etc. Saying more money is spent on athletics is inaccurate. Band, flag teams will be able to use the student activity center, and we are completing an addition to Center Grove High School for the music department.
What facility improvements, such as turf, outdoor labs, remodeling, expansions or new buildings does your school district need? How will they be paid for?
We are in the process of doing the student activity center, which is being paid for without going into debt that raises the tax rate. Have made some improvements in elementary and middle schools, such as carpeting or small additions of classrooms, to handle increased enrollment.
You are in charge of evaluating the district’s superintendent. What does your superintendent need to show to earn a positive evaluation?
A superintendent must have the proper credentials to become the leader of a school district. Must have a clear vision of what that school district does or where they are headed. Must have empathy, great communication skills and great listening skills.
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?
Particularly in elementary schools it is up to teachers to be cognizant of any child who does not have resources to pay for lunch, to make that known and be taken care of. Do not want anyone to go without a lunch. Schools welcome any information they need about children and go from there with addressing the needs.
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 believe schools should be measured on that. Is a tendency for public to compare schools for those numbers. But need to encourage students to enroll in classes that challenge them, stay cognizant of college requirements in their chosen field. Teachers assist them if needed.
How well is your school district preparing students for college? What more would you like to see offered, or what should be changed?
Center Grove does a good job of preparing students for admission to college. A lot of this is kudos to guidance counselors, collaboration with parents and students in preparing them for a career path. Is responsibility of student to make sure to have the correct courses to get into college and know what they need to take.
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?
Center Grove has one of the greatest attributes with Central Nine. Students and counselors should collaborate on choices. Students should take advantage of field trips to get information about areas of curriculum they might be interested in. Use the opportunity to talk to the teachers, ask questions, be observant and see what is interesting. Variety of opportunities available at Central Nine. Also offer internships and options for students who don’t pursue four-year degrees.
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?
Believes in our current educational environment, the devices are needed. Doesn’t work well if part of class has them and others don’t. The devices can be controlled by teacher. Students should be careful about what they post online, because those go with them, such as when applying for positions after graduation. Devices are needed, and if used properly, are a great asset. Measuring effectiveness is up to teachers and counselors, track data and determine how effective they are. Bottom line is no student should not have one because of financial reasons, and that is a good reason for school to provide them.
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?
Center Grove does have a police force. Not only do they provide security, work with us on traffic control, help with activities, present programs to elementary students about safety and what they should do at school. So many breaches of security across nation in last several weeks. At most schools, visitors must buzz in; some schools require you to surrender your drivers license. Some require you provide data, take photo and wear it. Sad situation, but it is what is, and Center Grove is doing a good job of securing buildings.
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?
Every parent wants the right to make a choice on where they send their child. In years past, sent child to school district where you live. Are more charter schools now, religious schools, give parents more choice. We have to continue to provide quality education, be cognizant of needs of students. If something is missing and causes them to go elsewhere, we need to know about that.
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?
Gets feedback from community. Has a listening ear. Tenure in Center Grove is lengthy. Always open to communication with parents. Emails. What we do is on our website. School board meetings are on TV.
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?
Physical education classes very important from kindergarten through high school. Physical education teachers are cognizant of the importance of fitness. Programs and activities align with those activities. Work on strengthening upper body skills, coordination. School lunch programs guided by federal law. Many schools have done away with soda machines, and snack machines, keeping in line with nutritious value. Some students bring their lunches, we can’t control that. Have removed some access of soda machines and snack machines. Only certain part of day those are available.
Construction is set to begin soon on a $10 million student activity center. Do you believe this facility is needed? Why or why not?
As a former athletic administrator at Center Grove High School, was in charge of scheduling facilities throughout campus. The area has no community center, YMCA, etc. for our students. We became the spot for youth programs, community programs. Is very much needed. Will be open to all levels, some scheduling will be done based on what is in season. Gives us more opportunity to schedule other school facilities to be used.
The cost of the student activity center is just below the threshold in state law for requiring a public vote. Should the public have had a right to vote on this project? Why or why not?
The public did have a vote. Was a remonstrance. Worked hard to inform public of why it was needed. Always open to show people what facilities are like and how they are used.
Enrollment, especially at the elementary level, continues to grow and exceed projections. What steps does Center Grove need to take to address that growth? How should that be paid for?
Had a significant number of kids enroll this fall that we did not expect. Had to hire additional teachers, made some shifting in elementary schools to try to make class sizes appropriate. Demographers tell us not to expect a lot of growth, but if growth like this year happens again, will need to look down the road at another elementary school, which would probably necessitate a referendum. Very cognizant of ratio of students to teachers in classroom. Have had situations where number is not what want so we have instructional assistants help teachers there.
Center Grove has been buying homes near the high school as they become available for future growth needs, and has already spent at least $300,000, with plans to buy at least three more homes. Do you agree with this practice? Why or why not?
Thinks it is forward thinking and being visionary. When you have property that surrounds you, is wise to take a look at it. Are becoming landlocked, especially at the high school. Are going to need places to expand into in the future. Perhaps a subject has a satellite building. Is visionary trying to stay ahead of what might happen.
Teachers, principals and administrators are not to engage in interviews with the media unless the school communications director has arranged and supervises the interview. In some cases, interviews with people ranging from the superintendent to teachers are delayed for days, weeks or months or school employees have been discouraged from contacting the local media directly when they want to tell their stories from the classroom. Why is this the best practice? Should it be changed?
We hire a communications person to handle a lot of promotion of the school district. Does interview faculty or individuals. Could get into situation where might have different points of view from community or school member. Is an opportunity for there to be some concern about what will happen, such as if a board member says we should do this or that. Then have issue where don’t agree. Nothing wrong with that, but sometimes is best not to do that. Communications person is biggest thing we have done. Superintendent and others sometimes have more information to share than a board member does, such as things going on in his office board is not aware of at that time.