A Daily Journal reporter interviewed candidates for Clark-Pleasant school board on a wide range of issues. Use these pages as a guide in your voting decision.
ABOUT THE CANDIDATE
Name: Duane T. ‘Tom’ Hogue
Family: Effie, adult daughter
Work experience: Retired from Clark-Pleasant in 2007, high school teacher for 35 years, evening instructor for Central Nine Career Center and adjunct faculty member for Ivy Tech State College
Education: Graduated from Whiteland Community High School, bachelor’s degree from Ball State University, master’s degrees from Ball State University
Political experience: Previous applicant to school board after a member resigned
ABOUT THE OFFICE
Term: Four years
Duties: Developing policies, adopting the annual budget, determining salaries for all employees and hiring and evaluating the district’s superintendent.
Area district represents: Entire Clark-Pleasant school district
Who votes: All voters in the school district
Pay: $2,000 per year
What are the three biggest issues facing your school district? How will you address them?
The largest issue is finances, such as paying back the bond. One step that’s being taken would restructure the loans to lower interest rates. Doesn't believe that will take care of everything. Could see if running the administrative expenses could be reduced, or if district could spend less for the same services. Not sure if maintenance could be privatized or if that is feasible, but should be looked at. One of the next biggest issues is that roughly 17 percent of graduates are not college bound. Students that are not going to college need to have vocational classes for further training. Would see what can be done, especially with rising costs of college. Has heard more and more college graduates cannot find jobs. Another issue is that too many times the public has gone to school board meetings and their voices have been ignored. The board should not ignore the public, but rather listen to them. If the board then decides to make some kind of decision and go in some other direction, then the public deserves a clear explanation.
What is the most important thing you can do as a school board member to improve student achievement?
Make sure to have the necessary courses available. Thinks faculty are doing an excellent job making sure courses are available. Would like to see more exploration-type courses and internship-type courses. That gives students an idea of what to expect in their future careers before they start heading there. Knows someone who was going to get a teaching degree but decided not to after spending three and half years in school. An internship program at the high school level would give students a lot of knowledge of what a future career is really like.
Do you favor adding any academic, sports or extracurricular programs? Why or why not? What curriculum changes would you suggest?
When adding courses, there are multiple issues to consider. The need has to be there. There is a need for more career and vocational choices. Then have to consider how to pay for it. Spending has to be justified with the current budget. Would try to add more career and vocational options for students, that would be his number one priority, to help those students who aren’t going on to college or future training.
If funding became so tight that programs would need to be cut, how would you decide? What would be a priority?
Cuts have to be made somewhere. Would look at extracurricular areas before any educational areas. Could consider charging students to participate in activities. Doesn't think that’s a good idea if it can be avoided, but education is the priority.
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?
The alternative school allows students who need or want to come back to have an opportunity to finish their degrees while working at their own level. Students could have their own requirements so that their lives outside of school mesh with the education requirements in school and they can slow that down and still graduate by taking online courses.
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?
Yes. To bring in additional funding, that’s definitely an area that needs to be looked at. Anything that would help with funding of any programs should be looked at and approved by the board, athletic directors and building principals. Advertising should be in good taste with the overall objective consistent with school district. Would not accept smoking for example. Policies should include how the advertising would affect the community.
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?
Most money is spent on athletics because the businesses want their names where it can be seen by hundreds of people. That's the purpose. Could be funneled to education, not just athletics, but then how do businesses justify the expense when it’s not seen by as many people. They want it where it can be seen, and that’s a ball game. Thinks the money could go partly to academics so long as the sponsors knew where their money was going.
What facility improvements, such as turf, outdoor labs, remodeling, expansions or new buildings does your school district need?
Believes the current buildings are in pretty good shape. Buildings aren't the issue. The issue is money for additional teachers. Doesn't think the school district needs any facility improvements at the present time.
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?
Advertising for students, that form of recruitment, cannot be justified with the spending of tax dollars to bring in students. The academic record speaks for itself. Parents know they have a choice and will look at academic performance and what they deem necessary for their students. Would want high academic standards, graduation rates, Advanced Placement courses. All contribute to attracting students and even athletics play a part. Has seen advertisements for school districts. Thinks some investigation would be in order, would have to bring in enough students and money to justify the expense.
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? (Clark-Pleasant, Franklin, Edinburgh)
Biggest problem paying back the debt for new buildings, upgrades and remodeling in prior years before tax caps become an issue. The school board is lowering the interest rates on those loans. Refinancing could save $500,000, and that’s a significant amount to save. Would see if other ideas are feasible, such as school calendars with 185 days or 180 days for students. Is a possibility to lengthen school days and shorten the number of days to save on transportation costs. The buses would not be operating those additional days. Would be an idea to explore.
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?
No. 1 is honestly reaching out to students and parents. Should look at overall integrity of the person and how qualified that person is. Must be articulate and communicate ideas well to the public and board. Thinks superintendent needs to be able to show that the resources the board allocates are being utilized with positive results.
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?
Thinks online courses are a benefit and here to stay, but in conjunction with and not replacing traditional classroom instruction. Some students struggle and need more time outside the school day. The board should set aside additional funding for technology, such as iPads for students that could be purchased by grants or other funding sources. Businesses can donate. If the online course doesn’t exist, school should write its own online course. Wants to make sure students get the same quality. The district can’t ignore the benefits of students interacting with each other, but if the students could somehow learn online or study what might not be available, plan on additional courses, or get dual credit, then by all means the district should offer those courses. Could help reduce the cost of education for students and their parents.
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?
With supplies, students can't always afford all their needs. The district could look at getting those supplies through donations or procurements with bulk rates. Would be last resort. Problem should ease up when the economy turns around. Parents could get jobs or get higher-paying jobs, and a lot of the issue of need will resolve itself over time. Money could be set aside for school supplies but not if district can’t afford it. Must look at where money comes from, and if there’s a need, must look at spending carefully.
Currently, the school district has an interim superintendent. The school board is in charge of hiring the superintendent. When do you want to get a new leader in place? Is it important for the school board to move quickly on this issue?
Not sure that time is an issue. Quality and character and finding the right person who can handle the job are the issues. Have temporary leader who can handle the job, so the board can take as much time as needed to find right person. Need to move timely but not necessarily quickly. Qualities of the individual are the important issue prior to selecting a new person.
What qualities are most important to you in a candidate for a new superintendent?
Honesty and integrity. Should not be coming to Whiteland as a stepping stone to another corporation or using Clark-Pleasant as a training ground.