Reporters Bailey Loosemore and Joseph S. Pete interviewed candidates for NHJ school board on a wide range of issues. Use these pages as a guide in your voting decision.
ABOUT THE CANDIDATE
Who: Edward Harvey
Employment: General contractor
Education: Graduate of Indian Creek High School
Political experience: Served on Nineveh-Hensley-Jackson school board for eight years
Seat pursued: At large
ABOUT THE OFFICE
NHJ school board
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: Two candidates are seeking the Nineveh Township seat. Candidates running for that seat have to live within the township. The other three candidates are running for two at-large seats, which represent the entire district. No more than one at-large member can be from the same township however, so Nineveh Township resident Greg Waltz will automatically take office no matter how many votes he gets since the other two at-large candidates are both from Jackson Township.
Total board members: Five
Who votes: All voters in the school district vote for the at-large seats, but only Nineveh Township residents can vote for the Nineveh Township seat.
Pay: $2,000 per year
What are the three biggest issues facing your school district? How will you address them?
Evaluations of teachers, principals and superintendents is the biggest issue. District must improve assessment scores countywide in math and English. Would like to see N-H-J's scores improve to top three in the county at least. Would like to make sure schools give students every opportunity to learn and to improve test scores and assessments. More technology and more dollars in the classrooms would raise test scores. Students must have every tool. Scores assess those kids.
What is the most important thing you can do as a school board member to improve student achievement?
Working closely with the superintendent and his initiatives and providing the funding for teachers to implement the curriculum is what the board should do.
Do you favor adding any academic, sports or extracurricular programs? Why or why not? What curriculum changes would you suggest?
Athletics are in good shape. Doesn't see any advantages to adding anything now. Would like to challenge academically gifted and talented students with more Advanced Placement classes and maybe another foreign language, such as French or German or an expanded Spanish curriculum. Favors financial literary classes as part of business curriculum. Students should be taught to use a checkbook, because thinks they pull out credit cards and don't know financial literacy.
If funding became so tight that programs would need to be cut, how would you decide? What would be a priority?
Choices must be made on a need-to basis. Luckily, in the past, school was able to still go ahead with those programs. Need to know amount of students participating and go from there. Thinks must keep everything district has got now.
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?
Wish he had the answer to that. Feels quality education starts at home with parents' supervision and involvement with students. Must convince students that jobs and opportunities are difficult to get without education. The district is starting an alternative school. Schools must do their best on a one-on-one basis to encourage kids to stay in school.
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?
Before approving naming rights for anyone, he would consider whether it's advantageous to the school corporation. The school board should have sole accountability on that decision. Getting enough school funding is hard enough, would be open to any idea for outside funding or vendors. Believes a policy should always be in place to protect the school and taxpayers. The decision should be up to school board with direction and input from the superintendent
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?
Doesn't necessarily believe the money must be spent on athletics. Favors a balance. Doesn't see any reason why the money couldn't be split 50-50 if the need arises. Shame that it's come to that but schools could use the money though. Pepsi is selling at athletics events, supporting scholarship funds.
What facility improvements, such as turf, outdoor labs,remodeling, expansions or new buildings does your school district need?
School district just put a new roof on the high school. Work is planned at the middle school and elementary school, including work to boilers, the heating and cooling system and re-tiling the pool. School buildings always need improvements, but officials must prioritize those needs based on funding and the burden 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?
Inadvertently, parochial or private schools advertise and there's no reason why public schools couldn't do it. Likes the school website and word of mouth about how N-H-J is a best value and best buy. Might be necessary to draw kids and people into school districts. Thinks school could spend a limited amount to promote or draw kids in. Schools must offer the curriculum that parents and children want. Could support spending a small portion of general fund on advertising.
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?
Funding issues go back to recruiting students and promoting the school corporation, increasing housing starts and the tax base with businesses. Wants to bring new businesses to town, to generate tax dollars and help make up for shortfalls. Doesn't know answer to that question.
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?
Has to fit our needs with the curriculum that students are wanting and needing. Must fit the students and the school, and be a good value for both.
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 the school board does a pretty good job now with some online courses for students labs and so on without adding anything or doing anything different. Has not been on board this past year, is not fully privy to what online courses are now offered.
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?
Schools offer breakfast and lunch for kids who aren't getting breakfast at home. They have to come in early, but as far as trying to eliminate the difficulties those students face in that situation, there's free and reduced meals the state and federal government offers. Community must be advocates for students' needs. Wishes he had the answer, but the school can only do so much.
Did you support the plan to spend $26 million on a new 500-student elementary school and renovations and expansions to the high school and intermediate school? Will this plan come back to voters again? Why or why not?
Yes, he did support it. The issue will not come back. There are other issues and the community spoke loud and clear, and voted it down by a 3-1 margin in a referendum.