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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Board candidates offer variety of opinions

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Steven and Nancy Withers discuss the school board candidates while Lisa Watler, the executive director of the Chamber of Commerce, picks up questions for the candidates. Melinda Quasius Photo.
Potential members of the Clay Community Schools Board of Trustees faced a sampling of the pressure and pointed questions they would get from the community if elected during a political forum Wednesday night at the Clay County 4-H Fairgrounds.

Nine of the ten candidates attended the forum, with Cody Barnard not being able to come due to classroom commitments.

The crowd was asked to write questions for the candidates, which were then read by moderator Mike Petersen.

Candidates were asked questions about the largest issues facing the school corporation; safety and security, the building renovation project, graduation rates and the budget.

After making a comment that she did not believe school shootings would occur in Clay County, and the money set aside for security would be better spent on drivers education because of the frequency of fatal teenage accidents, Barbra Nicoson fielded several questions about school security.

Nicoson said she feels current procedures are keeping those in the buildings safe, and schools shootings are rare.

"We hear about it because the media plays it up," she said.

Later in the discussion, she added that adding security is never a bad thing, but questioned if it the best thing to do with the limited funds available.

Leo Southworth, a former Marine, said he felt guns on school property were an issue for the sheriff's or police departments.

Current board member Dottie King, the only incumbent running for re-election, said victims of school shootings all believe it could never happen to them in their community.

She said it would be "negligent" for the corporation to not do everything possible to secure the schools, even if it was not a perfect solution.

Former board member Forest Buell added that he believes the best way of securing schools is educating the students to respect their schools and community.

Along with the issue of security, the building renovation project brought several different opinions, especially concerning an idea to combine East Side and Meridian Elementary Schools.

After researching state educational information, Tina Heffner said she felt consolidating schools should be looked at more closely, including consolidating other schools in the corporation.

Southworth said, "They are good schools in bad buildings," and recommends closing both of the schools, especially because of the lack of Americans with Disabilities Act compliance in Meridian.

Holly Neil was asked, even though she lives in the Jackson Township portion of the county, if she could vote the way Meridian and East Side parents felt was best.

Neil replied, "If it's what the taxpayers want, I'll vote for it."

Discussion of consolidating elementary schools led to the topic of graduation rates.

King said, because Meridian and East Side are close-knit, small schools, they are succeeding in test scores and meeting requirements. The middle school is where retention becomes a problem and test scores decline.

"When kids fail a class or fall behind, at North Clay, they move on through It's a cycle, and when kids are discouraged and feel dumb, they drop out," King said.

She added more remediation opportunities at earlier levels would provide students a chance to catch up with their classmates before they fall into the cycle.

Southworth said, from his family's experience, the lack of available teachers has had an adverse affect on graduation rates.

"There are not enough teachers, and there is not enough money to have more teachers," he said.

Sherry Seward said she would like to see more community volunteers in the classrooms, offering more personal, one-on-one work with the students.

"The community could then come together, knowing they can make a difference," she said, and the crowd replied with applause.

Heffner said parents need to take more responsibility, and encouraged the corporation to look at removing inclusion for special needs students if it was legal.

Heffner volunteered in the special services department for several years, and felt the teachers spent too much time outside of the classroom and not working one-on-one with students.

Jennifer Kaebler and Michael Maccarone were both present, but only made statements as to why they were running for positions on the board.

The primary elections will take place on May 6, but early voting has already begun.

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Media plays up school shootings??? YIKES.

-- Posted by madmom61 on Thu, Apr 17, 2008, at 8:30 AM

Well let's see, From the above article, Barbra is backpeddling on the security issue. Leo, "the former Marine" what does that have to do with anything as to reference to the current debates going on. He is disabled not from being a marine, I don't get it. And to his comment about Meridian's lack of compliance with the ADA, WHY DO YOU THINK THEY WANT TO RENOVATE THE SCHOOL, DUH!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Forrest didn't seem to get anything done many moons ago what is he trying to get done now, lord knows you don't want to put him on a time limit for his comments especially when he has pages worth of comments or his feathers will get ruffled like he did at one of the board meetings on the renovation project. So if you want the school board meetings to last all night, go ahead and elect him. Come on people get with the program.

-- Posted by kibbemi on Thu, Apr 17, 2008, at 9:56 AM

I was somewhat disappointed in only having an hour with the candidates, but I guess it is better than nothing at all. I think the people who deserve to be voted in definitely stood out. I will be voting for the candidate in district 2 who is for the renovation project and did an excellent job of conveying her ideas last night. I hope voters in the other districts will do the same. The future of many children hangs in the balance with this election.

-- Posted by cubbiefan on Thu, Apr 17, 2008, at 10:09 AM

I can't believe one of the candidates used the word "dumb" to describe the students!!!!!!!!!!!!

I hear the head boys and girl's coaching positions are open at Northview and the selection committee will be three board members and the two atheletic directors. I hope this doesn't mean the board has already decided who "they" will hire?

-- Posted by happysix on Thu, Apr 17, 2008, at 5:25 PM

The word Dumb was used to descibe a feeling not students in general.

And how can coaching positions already be decided when the new board has not even been put in place yet? Go vote and put people on there that will make the decisions you want enacted!

-- Posted by madmom61 on Fri, Apr 18, 2008, at 7:18 AM

You are taking what Dottie King said completely out of context. She in no way called kids dumb. She said that they might feel dumb if they fell behind academically. We as parents need to monitor our children and work hand in hand with the teachers to insure they are getting the most well-rounded education possible. It is time for parents to take more responsibility and stop blaming the school administration and teachers.

-- Posted by cubbiefan on Fri, Apr 18, 2008, at 9:43 AM

Amen, Cubbiefan, Amen!!!

-- Posted by Bigpappy on Fri, Apr 18, 2008, at 8:53 PM

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