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: Howard L. Young
Family: Wife Donna, adult daughter
Work experience: Farmer
Education: Graduated from Flat Rock High School in Shelby County
Political experience: Member of Clark-Pleasant school board for 34 years
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?
Clark-Pleasant is a growing district. Has had ups and downs, but enrollment is picking up and schools are getting more students. District has had to build buildings to keep up. When the students show up, schools have to educate them. Should put kids first in all decisions. Must keep tax rate as level as possible. Must be efficient. As long as the district puts kids first, things will work out.
What is the most important thing you can do as a school board member to improve student achievement?
Must hire a superintendent who runs the school well and works with the school board. The board hires the superintendent, and that person runs the school and keeps the harmony in the school. Is really important to have a superintendent that people can work with. That's the biggest job of school board, to work with the superintendent and avoid micromanaging.
Do you favor adding any academic, sports or extracurricular programs? Why or why not? What curriculum changes would you suggest?
Whenever administrators come up to the board with a proposal, the board tries to deal with that situation. The superintendent should make decisions about programs, including for sports and academics. Thinks district has a good curriculum but would consider recommendations.
If funding became so tight that programs would need to be cut, how would you decide? What would be a priority?
The superintendent and business manager are the two most important people, and they’ve done a really good job. Would listen and would take their recommendations.
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 takes care of a lot of that work. Would work closely with the academy and Central Nine Career Center or the vocational school. Those students have to realize they need an education. Once they do, alternative school makes sense for quite a few kids who go through there now. Students need to know when they drop out that they can come back to get the credits they need.
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?
Knows businesses want advertising to get their names in front of people, but it has to be a financially good situation for the school district before he would vote for it. The board has to have requirements of what will be accepted. Can't be something that would distract from education. Would listen to superintendent’s recommendation. Knows that when hospital, for example, donates money, they want to have their name somewhere that people see it. Has mixed feelings. Would have to go through 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?
Businesses designate where the money goes. Whatever the businesses or donors designate, the gifts are put in that category, whatever that category is.
What facility improvements, such as turf, outdoor labs, remodeling, expansions or new buildings does your school district need?
Are always little things that need to be done, but the administration is on top of it. Business manager decides if the school district has the funds and where they need to go. Not aware of any needs right now; would have look at economic feasibly of any project. Right now school buildings are in decent shape, but the schools will have to redistrict some kids from overcrowded facilities. That’s not popular but is needed because of elementary crowding.
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?
Board members have talked about recruiting students, but the board has to be careful. If the school district starts taking students, can’t say schools won’t take them before the 7th grade, for example. School districts can’t discriminate and have to accept them all. Clark-Pleasant has overcrowding in elementary schools, so the school district must look at where to draw the line and look at the future. Doesn’t think schools should spend taxpayer dollars on those expenses.
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)
Clark-Pleasant's biggest problem is the tax-increment financing districts, or TIF districts, of Greenwood. That’s money the school district should be getting for education. Is a touchy subject, and TIF districts have the law behind them, but they keep funds that should be coming to the school district, and the schools have had to deal with the impacts. The superintendent and business manager tell the board how the school district is doing financially, and that's what the board works from. The board must know what financial limitations and expectations the schools have.
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?
Clark-Pleasant is looking to hire a superintendent. Expects superintendent to handle many duties, such as asking Greenwood to watch how it spends TIF dollars. A superintendent has to run the schools — education and facilities. He has to be a leader first, and also a counselor. That person has to have the qualities that will improve the school system education-wise. Is a big job. A superintendent must listen to what the school board wants. If he’s not listening, he’s not doing his job.
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?
The school does a little bit of this now. Online courses should be considered, but they cost money and the school has to watch spending.
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 have to keep records. State tells the schools what they have to provide to students in certain income brackets. School board doesn't get into what those students are supposed to get but should make sure the necessary funding is in place.
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?
Goal is to have a new superintendent by the next school year. The school board is in no hurry about the search. The board probably won't advertise the position until the end of the year. The interim superintendent can serve until the end of summer 2013. Is important to work together. Must find someone who works well with the school board.
What qualities are most important to you in a candidate for a new superintendent?
Has to be a people person. Background and ethics means a lot. Thinks superintendent won't be named until spring 2013, but he is just one of five members. Leadership, personality, people person will narrow the search down a lot.