Archive for Friday, March 16, 2001

School board candidates answer questions

March 16, 2001

Candidates for Baldwin School Board were asked the following questions by The Signal early in the campaign. Here are their responses.

Name: Lonnie Broers

Address: 1410 6th

Age: 53 DOB 7/15/47

Occupation: Contractor

Family: Wife, Connie; daughter, Laini; son, Hans.

1). What issues would you like to see the school board address?

A. I feel Baldwin City USD 348's most pressing issue at this time is the need for additional facilities in order to reduce the over crowding in several of our buildings.

B. The school board has currently begun to develop a long-range plan to enable us to foresee future needs and initiate a proactive means of meeting these needs. I would like to see the school board address the continuation of this long-range plan as an on going process.

C. I feel one issue that will become more prominent in the near future is the shortage of quality teachers, administrators and all other staff. The school board needs to address new and innovative ways to attract and retain quality staff.

D. The school board needs to review and address the issues of reducing the use of alcohol and illegal drugs by students in our school district.

2). How do you think the board should plan for immediate and future facility needs, such as additional classroom space?

After working with the Strategic Planning Committee and the Facilities Committee, I feel I have a good understanding of some of our district's needs. I shared one idea from the Facilities Committee, (that of a new fifth/sixth grade building adjacent to the existing Jr. High building) with the school board during the Jan. meeting. Other options to address immediate needs may include temporary modular or mobile classrooms. The school board must consider the solutions from more than one aspect, as with all issues, I am keeping an open mind and want to entertain all possible solutions before making a final decision.

3). Do you have any concerns about the district's budget?

One concern I have is that the school board will utilize those funds we control, in a responsible way that will best benefit all in our district, and will not be influenced or persuaded by our emotions or special interest groups. Most of the school district budget will be spent on predetermined expenses such as salaries, facilities, transportation, etc. The school board has actual control over only a small portion of the annual budget and I feel it is important that this should be used for the optimal benefit of all district students.

4). Why are you running for this position, and what qualifications do you have for the position?

During my last term, I supported several changes that I feel have helped the school board be more responsive to patrons, staff and students, and improved its interaction with many entities in our community. I will continue to support changes that will benefit future improvement in that direction.

I have worked on several committees and attended numerous local, regional and state meetings over the last four years and from that interaction, I have learned important and essential information. I want to use much of this information to make more improvements in our school district. With the pending need for construction of new facilities in our district, I feel my background in construction will be an asset to the school board.

5). Additional comments:

I want Baldwin City USD 348 to be a school that everyone in this and surrounding communities will be proud of and know as the best. Not only the best in facilities and quality of staff or athletics, but the best in fulfilling our mission of "providing our students with the opportunity to learn skills, acquire knowledge and pursue excellence" in each of their endeavors.

Name: Blaine Cone

Address: 1224 N. 150 Rd.

Baldwin City, KS 66006

Age: 8/14/58 - 42

Education: Business Degree

Occupation: Accounting Manager

Family: spouse, George; son, Brandon; daughter, Amanda.

1. What issues would you like to see the school board address?

I would like to see the school board continue to follow up on utility

bills and in finding ways to save while keeping the environment for the

teachers and students comfortable. To address the issue of having enough up to date, grade level appropriate text books available to all students within the district.

2). How do you think the board should plan for immediate and future facility needs, such as additional classroom space?

It is probable that the Baldwin Elementary School has grown to the size where it needs to be divided and another school built. In doing so most people I have spoken to have stated that they would like to see the sixth graders returned to the elementary school. This would help alleviate the over crowding in the Baldwin Junior High and could be accomplished with minor changes to Marion Springs and Vinland Elementary Schools.

3). Do you have any concerns about the district's budget?

In conjunction with the answer to questions #1 and #2, the prospect of financing such projects is a large issue. The budget as it is drafted and updated needs to address these issues. The school district does have access to LOB funds that could be utilized. Without reviewing the budget in depth I am not sure what funds are in place to cover the cost of temporary fixes, such as portable classrooms at Baldwin Elementary or if need be at Baldwin Junior High. Or what is in reserve to address the cost of land or the cost of construction.

4). Why are you running for this position, and what qualifications do you have for the position?

Being a member of the School Board has been a goal of mine for several years. Until now, other factors of my life have prevented me from

dedicating the time necessary to be a School Board Member. I would bring to the School Board my experience as a business woman, having worked in the accounting field for more than 25 years with experience including everything from the military (US Navy), to construction, to the fuel business. Since my children started attending Marion Springs Elementary, I was very active in the C.S.O. holding several offices including president, co-president and vice president. Growing up in an educational family (my father was a high school English and drama teacher and my mother a high school counselor), I have an understanding of issues as how a teacher might look at them and as how a parent might look at them. In addition, having lived in the country and in the city, I have an understanding to the unique issues for both of these areas.

5). Additional comments:

As a member of the School Board I would strive to make decisions that are the best for the entire school district all the while keeping in mind the community schools that make the Baldwin area special.

Name: Charles (Chip) Hornberger, Jr.

Address: 933 N. 500 Rd.

Age: 47 years old DOB 7/6/1953

Education: Baldwin High grad 1971. Attended school in Baldwin District all my life.

Occupation: Dairy Farmer

Family: Wife: Jan (BHS graduate) Son: Clint (senior at BHS).

1. What issues would you like to see the school board address?

I think that facilities will be one of the biggest issues addressed. The growth in Baldwin isn't going to stop. I would also like to address the curriculum, making sure all students are prepared for life after high school, be it higher education or vocation.

2. How do you think the board should plan for immediate and future facility needs, such as additional classroom space?

I feel there are several options. One for immediate need would be portable classrooms, not a preferred choice, but if need for space is immediate, you have to put students somewhere, but not for long term. As far as long term, I feel a committee should be formed from all over the district to study the long-term needs of the district.

3. Do you have any concerns about the district's budget? Explain

Of course. As a taxpayer I'm concerned with the budget. Not being real familiar with the budget, I want to see tax dollars spent wisely.

4. Why are you running for this position, and what qualifications do you have for the position?

I have always tried to take an active interest in the community and wanted to see good representation on the school board. I served on the facilities committee before the high school was built. I served on the curriculum committee. I also have 12 years of experience of having a student at USD 348. I have also served on numerous boards with farm organizations.

Name: Jay Pratt

Address: 772 N. 500 Rd.

Age: 39

Education: Graduate of Baldwin High School 1980; attended Baker University fall of 1980. Currently enrolled at JCCC to graduate in the spring of 2000 and transfer to

Baker or Washburn University and pursue a degree in Education or Mathematics.

Occupation: rancher and student

Family: Wife, Ann; daughters, Heather, Katlyn, Lexie; son, Jon.

1). What issues would you like to see the school board address?

I do not have a preconceived agenda that I want to push. I think the past boards have done an admirable job of representing their constituents and maintaining the framework that benefits all the students of USD 348. I'd like to follow their example and give a voice to the voters of the districts.

2). How do you think the board should plan for immediate and future facility needs, such as additional classroom space?

Without knowing the exact details of what the consultants recommended it is difficult to be specific, but in general I think it is important to ensure that each of the attendance centers has an effective learning environment. I think that every practical attempt should be made to keep our classrooms from being overcrowded.

3). Do you have any concerns about the district's budget?

Though the business of education can be very expensive, I have never believed that just throwing money at a situation is always the best course of action. Therefore, I feel that any proposed additional expenditure would need to have adequate justification, as well as patron support.

4). Why are you running for this position, and what qualifications do you have for the position?

As a father of three young children who attend Marion Springs Elementary, I am deeply interested in the issues that will affect the quality of education they will receive. Having attended school in this district from kindergarten to high school graduation, and being a member of this community for most of my life, gives me a good perspective of what the patrons expect from their school board members.

Name: Ed Schulte

Address: 618 E. 1714 Rd.

Education: BA and MS Kearney State College, Kearney, Neb.; Ph.D., KU

Occupation: Director of Rehab Services, Midwest Health, Topeka

Family: Spouse: Ronda; children, Erin, Jenna, Brett

1). What issues would you like to see the school board address?

Issues the school board need to continue to address include long range planning for facilities to match future growth in the community, ongoing strengthening of curriculum and academic offerings, support for teacher training and skill development and appropriate salary enhancement and recruitment to maintain a high quality teaching, administrative and support staff. I believe we have made positive strides forward in each of these areas, and need to continue to be open and communicate with members of the community to represent the best interests of our kids and patrons.

2). How do you think the board should plan for immediate and future facility needs, such as additional classroom space?

The board should plan for future facility needs by carefully studying all aspects of future projections and using professional sources to help identify building/site alternatives that best fit these projections. The issues then are the truly important ones: how can we best meet the instructional needs of kids and staff, what should our schools look like regarding grade combinations and numbers of kids per site, what is a responsible level of funding to expect from our community to support schools we can be proud of. All of these issues are important to address and to really hear what the community has to say before we make decisions that will affect us all for years to come. In other words, we need to get a clear picture of where we are going so that we can make smart decisions as to short-term needs, rather than redoing projects or not getting the most bang for our buck.

The short-term plans for facility needs should be consistent with where we want to be in the future. While the board an brainstorm as to possible alternatives, we really need input from the people who work in these settings day to day in order to arrive at best short-term solutions. Staff, students and parents can put up with some level of inconvenience if they know what and when a solution would be coming for the future. Additional classroom space for learning and safety of our schools need to be the priority as we continue our growth.

3). Do you have any concerns about the district's budget?

The primary concern I have regarding the district budget is related to state and federal funding of schools. I feel on a local level we really do try to do a good job on behalf of the kids and their needs, support of staff and responsibility to the local patrons. On the state level, my feeling is that we should be moving to implementation of a 1/2 cent sales tax to support education in the state. The reason is that the current state funding formula has resulted in less than a 1% annual increase in funding on average since the early 90s. As a result of multiple tax cuts over the last several years, there is no room in the state general fund to support any meaningful increase in funding for education programs. For the last ten years, school districts have faced either shrinking funds or an increase by means of a local option budget in order to try to keep pace. On a state level this seems to be an abdication of legislative responsibility for providing leadership for Kansas schools. Further, this level of funding is both inadequate and inconsistent in that every year the legislature has to reenter the political debate s to how much if any increase there will be for education. I really think our government officials need to commit to a goal of funding for education similar to what was put together for the multi-year transportation program in Kansas, and identify a funding source to support this important goal area.

My concern with the local budget that relates to Federal funding includes Federal support to cover the cost of federal mandates, and flexibility of funding for educational programs to insure wise use of tax dollars. For example, federal mandates for special education programs are currently funded at about 1/3 of the cost, resulting in an ever increasing pull on local budgets to support these programs. While I fully support the needs of our kids needing special services, mandated federal rules should be followed by full federal funding of programs. Similarly, federal programs need to be flexible enough to insure that we get our fair share of funds back to our state, and that funds come directly back to local boards who can best allocate those funds to meet school needs.

4). Why are you running for this position, and what qualifications do you have for the position?

I am running for this school board position because I believe I have some skills that are of use to the community by serving on the board. I feel I have personally benefited greatly from public education, and am passionate about doing whatever I can to create a positive experience for kids. We chose to move our family to this community largely because of the great support for education we saw here, and this is one way I can work to continue to build on that important aspect of living in the Baldwin City community.

5). Additional comments:

My additional comments are that we continue to need the support of the community to make certain our schools and educational system are something we can all be proud of. The USD 348 School Board and Administration are currently undertaking long-range planning so that we can: 1) Have facilities, staff and programs that best meet the needs of kids and the growth of our community; and 2) Plan so that we get the most from the tax dollars this area provides to support education. Finally, I would ask that patrons from the area let our legislators , both state and federal, know how important education is in the overall scheme of things. I firmly believe that our kids are worth more than the current two cents on every federal tax dollar spent by Washington, and that education in Kansas is enough of a priority to require a long-range funding program from the state. It's up to each of us to let this message be heard.

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