Reporter Tom Lange interviewed candidates for Center Grove school board on a wide range of issues. Use these pages as a guide in your voting decision.
ABOUT THE CANDIDATE
Name: Carol Tumey
Employment: Adjunct education professor at Franklin College
Family: Husband, Dale
Education: Graduated from Leavenworth High School, Franklin College and Indiana University
Previous political experience: Has been a member of the Center Grove school board since 2008
ABOUT THE OFFICE
Center Grove school board
Race: Three candidates are running for two open at-large seats.
Duties: The candidates who are elected will work with the board’s other three members to approve academic policies and course changes, approve the school district’s budget and evaluate the superintendent.
Term: Four years
Pay: $2,000 per year, plus $50 per meeting
What are the three biggest issues facing your school district? How will you address them?
The implementation of the new teacher evaluation requirements is one of the big issues, and the school board is now beginning to implement the process. A committee of administrators and teachers formed the evaluation themselves, as opposed to the state model that other districts have selected. Second, there's a fiscal concern right now with money from the state not always meeting the school district's expectations. Communication and collaboration is third. One of the strategic planning committees is focused on communication. The school board has made an effort to communicate with all of the community, and there are a lot of strategies that have been put together to continue to build trust.
What is the most important thing you can do as a school board member to improve student achievement?
Can gather data, see what the scores show and then react with a plan.
Do you favor adding any academic, sports or extracurricular programs? Why or why not? What curriculum changes would you suggest?
Believes that the school board needs to prepare students to compete in a global society. The school board needs to add courses in world language and some additional Advanced Placement courses that would help prepare our students. The Central Nine Career Center has a wide variety of classes that appeal to students who don’t want to go to a traditional college.
If funding became so tight that programs would need to be cut, how would you decide? What would be a priority?
Center Grove went through this three or four years ago. The school district did a lot of communication and collaboration, and tried to prioritize what would be cut. The school board considered teachers, salaries and benefits, in no particular order. If cuts were needed again the school board would have similar forums and public meetings to gather opinions, and then it will be up to the administration and the school board to put together a 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?
Center Grove is doing one of the best possible things now in trying to get students into the alternative academy. They’ve been able to double the size of classes recently. Thinks the school board needs to keep an open mind with parents and work with them as well as guidance counselors. The school board needs to find out what the reason is for students dropping out – illness, home situation, lack of interest – and then address those issues.
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?
The school board should be involved in approving any contracts. Recently Center Grove has accepted money from businesses and companies for naming rights to the football facilities, and there will be advertisements in other facilities too. The school board has a naming rights policy, and they would have the ultimate approval for those naming rights. But the school district needs to be careful not to get to the point that every classroom is being named, and has to be strategic in the selection. Ten years ago the school board wasn’t in the same financial situation and the school district probably wouldn’t have been as open and receptive to naming rights as they are now.
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?
When an individual gives money and they earmark it, then with reasonable concern, the donor’s wishes should be honored. If an individual gives unrestricted funds to the school district, giving them the choice of how to spend the money, that’s different.
What facility improvements, such as turf, outdoor labs, remodeling, expansions or new buildings does your school district need?
The football field's artificial turf needs to be replaced. It’s 12 years old and one of the first with artificial turf in the area. The school board is working on ways to get the turf replaced so that it will be at no cost to taxpayers.
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 websites?
As a public school, Center Grove is dedicated to accepting all students, but the school district shouldn't necessarily be recruiting students. “Public education is the right of each child in our country.” The school district does have to spend a certain amount of money on communication, such as a newsletter and if the district needs someone who can build a website.
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?
The caps limit the amount of money the school board receives. The best way to circumvent that is to meet with legislators and explain the situation that Center Grove is in.
You are hiring/in charge of evaluating the district's superintendent. What qualities are you looking for in your school's leader/what does your superintendent need to show to earn a positive evaluation?
Collaboration, communication, openness, building trust, being visible, pro-Center Grove. Should have an eye for making Center Grove the best corporation it can be.
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?
Online learning is certainly here. If the school district finds a course that is being used elsewhere then there may be a way to better adapt it for Center Grove students, and teachers can develop their own courses as well.
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 school district provides breakfast for those students. The school board has a reduced cost for book rental and needs to communicate with those students and parents about the needs they have. Parents could be out of work, or there could be students who are homeless. The school board tried to meet those needs by providing housing and clothing for those students.
The school recently entered into a contract with a company for a new video scoreboard on the athletic field, and is considering selling naming rights to school facilities, including the athletic field. What involvement do you believe the school board should have on this issue? What safeguards should be put into place?
The scoreboard was installed as a money-maker for the athletic department. The signage is divided into sections, and advertisements are sold within the community. The school board gave approval for the scoreboard.
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?
Center Grove is fortunate this year to have more National Merit Scholars than the school district has had since 2000. “National Merit Scholars is a very high barometer for the school’s success.” Success is also measured in other ways, including arts and athletics programs.