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: Kristine M. Ott
Family: Husband, Brad; children, Katie, Jonathan and Joseph
Education: Graduated from Franklin Community High School and Indiana 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?
The balanced calendar. At this point, doesn't see a reason to change to a balanced calendar, no data has shown that it is beneficial to students. Would have to learn more about finances. Wants to explore the issues and see what happens in the future, but doesn't feel like she can make an educated statement now. Graduation and getting kids to finish school. Parent involvement is big in having students follow through. The high school has a great program, Finish Strong, that helps students come back and finish school after dropping out. Would support that program and getting teachers what they need.
What is the most important thing you can do as a school board member to improve student achievement?
Support the teachers and staff in their jobs and give them the resources as much as possible with the financial issues.
Do you favor adding any academic, sports or extracurricular programs? Why or why not? What curriculum changes would you suggest?
Has no curriculum changes at this point. Doesn't know enough about curriculum yet, but plans to learn about it and the needs of the schools. Has children in all three schools, and they seem to be doing well and have plenty to choose from.
If funding became so tight that programs would need to be cut, how would you decide? What would be a priority?
Would poll the teachers and staff and see what cuts they feel would hurt the least. Still wants to provide the best education for the children and provide the most activities, but with the finances that is hard to do.
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?
Likes the Finish Strong program. Communication between the parents, students and school is important to stress how important a high school diploma is for the future.
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?
Doesn't think that there is anything wrong with that for athletics. Doesn't know what policies should be in place. Advertising and naming rights should be done on an as-needed basis as companies are interested. The school board and the athletics director should be involved. Maybe the school district should have a public committee as well.
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?
Certainly it should be going to academic programs. The money could be split up evenly on an as-needed basis. Athletics have their admission fees to off-set their needs a bit.
What facility improvements, such as turf, outdoor labs,remodeling, expansions or new buildings does your school district need?
At this point, doesn't know enough about each building. From the outside it looks like the district has everything it needs, but is sure there will be needs 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?
Would say no to recruiting students. If the school district is strong enough, students will come. The community needs to have businesses that make people want to move here and put their children in the schools.
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?
Doesn't know all financial issues yet. The capital fund and transportation fund were the ones that were going to be impacted by that. One solution would be to increase revenue in schools. Is not really sure how that would work, but would be willing to look at any and all options to see what would be best for taxpayers and students.
You are in charge of evaluating the district's superintendent. What does your superintendent need to show to earn a positive evaluation?
District has a really good superintendent right now. He is a good leader. Honesty, integrity, open-mindedness. Especially now with all the financial issues, the school board needs to be open-minded with what can be done. Thinks he is doing the best he can in a rough financial time and keeping everyone positive.
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?
Schools should use courses that are already out there. Online courses would help with the graduation rate. Students could take the course from home. If there isn't a course out there that meets the need of students, then developing one may be an option.
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?
Thinks the summer Feed and Read program is a great program. Schools should have a relationship with families.
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?
No decision should be made quickly. Any cuts that would have to be made could have long-term effects. Would be open to look at all available options.