Reporters Tom Lange and Magen Kritsch interviewed candidates for Franklin school board on a wide range of issues. Use these pages as a guide in your voting decision.
ABOUT THE CANDIDATE
Name: Bryan Wertz
Family: Wife, Carrie; children, Caleb and Hailey
Employment: Global director of oncology clinical trials operations for Worldwide Clinical Trials
Education: Graduated from Franklin Community High School and Indiana State University
Previous political experience: None
ABOUT THE OFFICE
Franklin school board
Term: Four years
Duties: Developing policies, approving the annual budget, setting salaries for all employees and hiring and evaluating the superintendent.
Total school board members: Five
Pay: $2,000 per year
What are the three biggest issues facing your school district? How will you address them?
Was a member of the task force that created the strategic plan. Believes in the new mission and vision, to create a world-class learning environment and inspire students to be great. Sees how hard teachers and staff work, and wants to make sure the school board would enable them to create a first-class learning environment for individual student growth by ensuring they have the tools and resources they need. One the greatest challenges is making the most of every dollar. Business operations and strategic planning background will help him guide the school district through complicated financial situations, to fund today’s activities while planning for the future.
What is the most important thing you can do as a school board member to improve student achievement?
Ensure the teachers and staff have the tools and resources to educate children.
Do you favor adding any academic, sports or extracurricular programs? Why or why not? What curriculum changes would you suggest?
Believes that sports and music are important to the education of children. Would trust and empower educators to come up with the best curriculum for kids. Supports adding clubs.
If funding became so tight that programs would need to be cut, how would you decide? What would be a priority?
Would look at other ways to generate revenue before any programs would be cut. The high school has an amazing performing arts facility and state-of-the-art natatorium that could help bring in more money by maximizing external revenue. Would evaluate with educators' input on what is working, what is not working and balance that with the cost of the programs and come up with a comprehensive plan.
Administrators across the county say that the number of students dropping out of schools is an issue that must be addressed. What methods would you propose to keep students in school or bring back students who have dropped out?
Focused on individual student growth. Students learn in different ways, school board members need to come up with ways to engage the students who have left school or are considering leaving. Need to work with parents or guardians, as well as counselors and teachers, to reach every student possible.
Do you favor selling naming rights to parts of schools, classrooms, scoreboards or buildings? What, if any, policies should be in place to accept advertising dollars? Who should be involved in approving the contracts?
Thinks that is a creative way to bring revenue into the schools. If local businesses get something out of it and the schools do, too, then it is a decent option. Would have to consult with the administration on what makes sense for schools. The school board would need to be sensitive to administration and teachers to come up with the best policy.
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?
Yes. The money should be funneled into non-discretionary programs.
What facility improvements, such as turf, outdoor labs,remodeling, expansions or new buildings does your school district need?
Thinks Franklin has some amazing facilities and some older elementary schools that will require maintenance. Doesn't see any new major building projects in the future.
Schools want to recruit students in order to collect the most money from the state. Should schools recruit students? If so, how should this be accomplished? Should money be spent on advertisements, public relations employees or consultants or Web sites?
Franklin should create a school district that students want to come to. Believes teachers and administrators will create the environment that students want to come to.
Property tax caps are making it difficult for districts to replace buses, upgrade buildings and technology, and in some cases pay down their debt. What is the biggest problem your district faces because of property tax caps, and what ideas do you have to solve them?
Schools are required by law to pay debt and have safe transportation. Need to consider every option. The process will take some time with input from teachers, administrators and the community to come up with the best option.
You are in charge of evaluating the district's superintendent. What does your superintendent need to show to earn a positive evaluation?
Thinks Dr. David Clendening is one of the finest superintendents in the state. He has a passion for students and education, and he is accountable to the school board and takes that very seriously. Wants him to continue implementing the 2013-2019 strategic plan.
School districts are spending more money and time developing online courses, and many of them mimic courses that have already been developed elsewhere. Should your school district continue to develop more online courses? Why or why not?
Technology will play a greater role in education in the future. Online classes are not a substitute for the classroom but offer another option. Many colleges do offer online classes that the school district needs to prepare students for that education environment.
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/help they need to be able to succeed?
The community has struggling families. Schools need to create a safe, fostering environment for those children and ensure that they have the resources, even if they can't afford it.
The school district has been discussing a long-term plan for its debt and financial shortfalls. What do you think needs to be done? What cuts can be made? When should this decision be made?
This is one of the biggest challenges the school district is facing in the coming years. The solution will be a collective conversation that will require deep analysis. There are no easy solutions, they are all trade-off conversations that will take six to nine months to determine.