1. Why are you running for the Spring Hill school board?
I have lived in the district for 24 years and I have been serving on the Spring Hill Board of Education for 16 years. I taught Physics, Applied Physics and Applied Biology & Chemistry at Spring Hill High School and I believe it is important to have a teacher's perspective on the board.
2. What are your top three priorities?
3. What are your concrete strategies to achieve these priorities, & what financial resources are needed to accomplish these goals?
- Continue to effectively manage our rapid growth while increasing student achievement.
- Continue to responsibly manage the budget. Even through the recession and our unprecedented growth, we have still managed to reduce the local mill levy for ten consecutive years! The second longest streak in the state of Kansas.
- Continue to work on teacher retention. When I was teaching in Spring Hill the teacher turnover rate was unbelievable. We were like a farm club for Blue Valley & Olathe, hiring fantastic young teachers who would get a little experience here and then go to a neighboring district to complete their careers. That is not happening anymore and we need to continue to bring in and retain the best & brightest teachers.
A board members primary responsibilities are to oversee the superintendent, the budget, and district policies. I believe my priorities are in line with the superintendent and I intend to continue to work with him to achieve those goals. The Kansas funding formula must be fixed and fully funded and I will continue to press our legislature to do the right thing.
4. What makes you uniquely qualified for this position?
I am a former Spring Hill teacher and I have been serving on this board for 16 years. Over those years I have attended many NSBA & KASB training events & conferences. I have been involved in decisions that have placed Spring Hill on the forefront of technology and made our schools a desirable place to attend and work in and I have been involved in the passage of our previous two bond issues that position us to responsibly manage the growth that is coming.
5. Tell us something you’ve done recently that makes you proud.
I am very proud of the work we did to pass our most recent bond issue - the largest in Spring Hill History - and we did so without raising the mill levy.
This bond issue expands the high school, brings all of our high school athletic facilities together on the high school site, adds a new elementary school, and a new middle school. I'm extremely proud of the way we have been able to navigate the funding challenges Kansas schools have been faced with while continuing to lower the mill levy for ten consecutive years - an achievement matched only by one other district in the entire state!
6. Are you running as a change agent? If so, what do you hope to change?
No. I am proud of the accomplishments of our district over the 16 years I have been a board member. I believe the district is going in the right direction and hope to continue to be a part of our success. We have a new superintendent that is taking us in a new direction by encouraging teachers to be innovative when they teach and giving them the freedom to be creative. That doesn't mean that I don't believe we can improve, we are always looking for innovations and opportunities to make the district better but in a district that is performing well I worry about people coming in with a personal agenda to make radical changes without researching how they would impact our district. Everything we do is carefully thought out and studied because our kids don't get a second chance if it doesn't work.
7. Is the economy in Kansas a concern to you?
If so, why?
When the Governor passed his tax cuts he eliminated a huge source of revenue that funded schools with the belief that it would stimulate the economy and bring in other revenue to fill the gap. It did not work and the result has been a net loss to our district of millions of dollars that could have gone to adding teachers and programs for our students.
8. What is the most critical issue you will face should you be elected?
Managing growth without compromising quality or raising taxes.
9. What is your stand on tax abatements?
I think there are times when tax abatements make sense but each situation is different and should be evaluated individually.
10. What is your primary source for information
I get information from a variety of sources. As a board member I get regular updates from our Superintendent & Budget director. I receive updates from the National School Boards Association & the Kansas Association of School Boards on news & legislation related to education. I attend conferences related to school boards and education, and of course, I hear from community members about things impacting their kids in our district.
11. What is your position on school funding in Kansas? (i.e. do you believe it is adequate? equitable?)
School funding in Kansas is neither adequate nor equitable. Spring Hill is a perfect example of the inequities in funding as we have been adding students at a higher percentage than most school districts in the country, yet our funding has not increased. As a result our funding per pupil decreases each time we add a new student while districts who are losing students get an increase. The Kansas Supreme Court has ruled for years that school funding is inadequate and legislative studies have supported that. Overall funding for schools has increased but has not even kept up with inflation since 2008.
12. In your opinion what is the biggest issue facing Kansas public education today?
There are many threats to public education in Kansas today. Funding is the big one and may be exacerbated by a strong push for vouchers and the "school choice" movement. There is also an active and deliberate smear campaign to suggest (falsely) that public schools in Kansas are not performing as well as private schools. This continued false narrative threatens to undermine and eventually de-fund and privatize our schools, taking the control out of the hands of citizens and into the hands of profiteers.
13. What is your stand on the transgender bathroom issue?
The Spring Hill School District has a policy that adequately addresses this.
14. If cuts were necessary in your district where would you recommend they come from?
We have been cutting in one form or another for at least the last 16 years. Each time we face a budget challenge we have found ways to increase efficiencies or utilize creative funding mechanisms to meet the challenge. Our budget director is arguably the best in the state at understanding & maximizing the complicated state funding formulas. If it were determined that cuts were necessary, this board and administration would do a careful analysis to determine what we could cut with the least impact on our students.
15. Where would you like to see additional financial investment directed in your district?
Teacher & Paraprofessional salaries.
16. How would you work to foster innovation in public education?
As a board member I am always looking for examples of innovation, and as a board we frequently discuss them, but in my opinion the best way to foster innovation is to provide our highly skilled teachers the resources, the freedom and the confidence to be innovative in their classrooms.
17. Do you believe Kansas has a spending problem?
Not when it comes to public schools. The Kansas Supreme Court has ruled for years that school funding is inadequate and legislative studies have supported that. When the legislature has commissioned studies to see if we can improve efficiency in our public schools, time and again the studies reveal that Kansas schools are NOT wasteful, to the contrary these studies show just how effective Kansas schools are at getting the most out of the funding they are provided
. Overall funding for schools has increased but has not even kept up with inflation. Kansas has a revenue problem that no longer supports the necessary spending required for good quality essential services.
18. What role does the federal government play in public education?
This country has a long tradition of recognizing that our position as the world leader begins with a well educated population. Education is a right and all kids should be provided the opportunity to receive a world class education regardless of what state they live in. The federal government has a duty to ensure that states are meeting that charge, but should not be in the business of dictating curriculum. The establishment of specific curriculum and teaching methods should be left to local boards of education who are accountable to the citizens directly affected by their policies.
19. Are you familiar with the Children's Initiative Fund
Yes, it has been an outstanding program for the children of Kansas.
Would you pledge to help defend this fund from securitization in the future?
YES!!! Governor Brownback's attempt to dismantle this fund to fill the hole he created in the Kansas budget was disgraceful and I applaud the legislators that did not allow that to happen.