Archive for Friday, March 25, 2011

School board forum answers: Chad Christie

March 25, 2011

Position #3 Candidates

Chad Christie

Knowing the current budget position and potential future reductions, would you support or oppose reopening the Vinland and/or Marion Springs schools at this time, and why?

No, I would not support reopening either grade school. I am a lifetime member of this community and I have had family members attend Marion Springs so this is a sentimental matter for me but we cannot afford an “emotional” decision we have to start make business and financial decisions. The only reason the schools were ever closed was for financial/business reasons and I support and stand behind the closing decision as I think it was a tough decision but the fairest and most equitable decision for our whole district and a financial necessity considering our current budget and with the continuation of more talk about additional financial cuts.

If elected, what will be your top three objectives, and why?

A: Financial & Budgeting Issues----------we have to get our financial matters in order or our next consolidation maybe with a different district.

B: Leadership with Vision----we have to start being proactive with a plan rather than reactive and going from crisis to crisis with what appears to be nothing more than a 90 day plan.

C: Repairs and Maintenance on our Facilities. Our school district has approved several new facilities over the past 40 years and it is our responsibility to keep these properties up in good repair so they can have a useful life of 75-100 yrs. Lack of maintenance will shorten the useful life of these properties or make for major repairs down the road, either way a significant cost to our district. General maintenance or repairs are a big part of having a good pride factor and we have been a proud community and district but I don’t see it today. Our facilities maybe older but clean, well maintained older facilities still can project pride and a good work and learning environment. Even our newer facilities need more cleaning and maintenance and again, we need to show our pride by taking care

of our property. We don’t have to be new or fancy but we do need to be clean and well maintained

properties.

In a time with so many negatives within our school district, (job losses, budget cuts, closing of schools, etc.), how can you promote a more positive climate as a board member?

I don’t agree with several of our past decisions or actions but truthfully, we all need to draw a line in the sand as of 7/1/11 and basically realize we cannot change the past. We draw a line and start out fresh on 7/1/11. From this point forward, we have to start making better decisions and I suggest we do this by better overall planning and management. We have to become a proactive school district rather than a reactive district. We need to lay out a plan with the facts as we know them and modify the plan

as we go. This plan needs to be reviewed frequently and have 1,3 and 10 yrs goals/plans. We have to quit planning 90 days at a time. We need to ask our professional staff to give us the options, note what they think are our best options and then we the board vote on the information and facts as presented at the time.

Sports and extracurricular activities are viewed by many as part of a well rounded educational experience. With the strain on the districts budget, at what point would you consider cutting the funding on these activities?

I very much agree that sports and extracurricular activities are an important part of a well rounded education and I plan to support the funding of them. I think the day we cut curriculum, sports or extracurricular activities is the day we cut or hurt our students’ education and I am not willing to do this. I will support cutting other things such as administrative positions/expenses prior to these items. Education or curriculum is number one in my book and then sports and extracurricular is the next priority as part of these student well rounded educational experience that I think they need and deserve.

In your opinion, what is the goal of public education (K-12)?

Obviously, we have a wide range of students and there is a wide range in their interests, skills and abilities. The state is going to fund our schools, right or wrong, enough or not enough but the bottom line is that this is all the money we have to operate on. We have to take this funding and put it into the real goal or mission of our school----get the money in the classrooms and/or related activities that enhance our students education (sports and extra curricular activities). We as a school need to offer curriculum that meets the needs and goals for all students----college and professional bound students, trade school bound students and yes, the local students who choose to stay in this community and get into the work force right out of high school. We have excelled at this practice in the past as we have many graduates with all kinds of success that attribute much of their success to this community and school. We have a proud past and I still believe we have a bright future. Our goal with public education in Baldwin City is to prepare people for their next level.

Do you believe that the current board and administration is performing their duties at an acceptable level, why or why not?

Acceptable Level. I am not going to dwell on the past. I want to focus on the future. I think I have already mentioned that I want our district to become more proactive rather than reactive and in short, we need to get more direction from our professional staff. Education is their area of expertise and they are the hired professional here. We as a board need to listen to their suggestions and direction and vote for the best option at the time with the info we are given.

What other issues, besides the budgetary concerns, do you feel need to be addressed? Please explain.

A: Student Leakage----Students going out of district. I believe we have approximately 60

Students that have left our local district to go elsewhere. At approximately $4,000/student

this is very costly to our district or approx $240,000/yr. We have cut expenses a lot and will be cutting more but wouldn’t it be great if we could work on the income side of the equation as well. This “leakage” is costing us a lot of money and the three primary reasons for leakage seem to be:

1: Curriculum-----student want more challenging/college degree prep classes.

2: Sports-----students are leaving our district for sports

3: Bullying-----students are leaving our district for our “bullying problems”.

B: Repairs and Maintenance of Buildings & Facilities:

Our community has always backed every bond issue/building, right or wrong. We owe it to our community to take better care in terms of repairs and maintenance on these buildings and facilities. In my opinion, it is going to be a long time before we promote another bond issue to this community and we need to start taking much better care of our current facilities as we need to extend the useful life on these properties. Currently, I think the repairs and maintenance is inadequate and this will cost us deeply in the long run.

Describe your personal and professional experiences that you feel make you the most qualified candidate for the USD #348 School Board?

I am a lifetime, fourth generation citizen of this community and in addition to this, have two children in school here at Baldwin and I attend many school functions. My son is in 6th grade and my daughter is a sophomore. We attend a lot of sporting and extra curricular activites and consider it a real privilege to be a part of the school activities. I have also attending over half the school board meetings for the past year to stay informed and I now have an interest in participating in the leadership and direction of our school district. At work, I work with the top management people down to the entry level people that have just started. We all work together as a team and we like the schools are mostly union employees and we like the schools have constant financial pressures that make us all cut positions, consolidate work, and in short we are all doing more with less. These are just the facts of a “bad economy” and like our teachers, most of us are smart enough to appreciate the jobs and opportunities that we have and we will take on the extra work and responsibilities as the job has to be done and it is a matter of doing what is right and having pride in yourself and your business or school.

Assume that you have been elected to the school board and the district is faced with needing to make an additional cut to its budget. The school board is given the following 6 categories to make those cuts, list the categories in the order in which you would look to make those cuts (1 – the 1st category you would cut, 6 – the last category you would cut):

6 Teachers

3 Sports/Extra-curricular Activities

2 Support Staff

5 Curriculum

1 Administration

4 Maintenance/Repairs

What are your thoughts on the district adopting a “shop local” policy, in which the district would look locally for goods and services whenever possible? If adopted, what percent advantage would you give an in district merchant over an out of district merchant? %

Absolutely. Our local businesses employ people in our community, pay our property taxes and generate an overall local economy for us. We definitely want to shop locally and I would like to see this as a motion and policy in our district. I would support our local businesses even if we paid a 5% premium.

Comments

Julie Craig 3 years, 7 months ago

With Baker University and Johnson County classes available, plus online options, I'm not sure why there is a need to add college level classes at the High School. Why not earn credits toward a bachelor's degree instead of "prepping" with a high school class? This is not a priority in the wake of a budget crisis.

Also, what are the numbers of out of district kids transferring in to go to BHS? The door swings both ways.

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Nathaniel Johnson 3 years, 7 months ago

I think GreatGazoo makes a very good point. We have the benefit of having several colleges that offer classes that give real college credit as opposed to AP standing. I have heard that AP classes are being disallowed for some majors because they simply didn't teach the material thoroughly enough for the student to be successful in the major. This is also a great place for service organizations to step in and offer scholarships for these classes as they will certainly not be free. I believe that the education model for the college bound high-school student is changing and this is certainly one of the ways to ease high school students into college level classes.

I would also like to thank Mr. Christie for identifying just how crucial maintenance is. As he very correctly points out, deferring maintenance starts compounding costs when not addressed. It makes fiscal good sense to fix problems as they occur rather than waiting till they cascade into even more problems.

Nathaniel Johnson gruyere.emmentaler@gmail.com

-Nathaniel Johnson

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