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Candidates discuss role of school board

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

School board candidates for District 1 (from left) Tina Heffner, Kevin Kumpf and Ted Paris introduce themselves at the beginning of the School Board Forum Tuesday evening at the Clay County YMCA. [Order this photo]
The Clay County Chamber of Commerce hosted a Clay Community Schools board of trustees candidate forum Tuesday, Oct. 23, at 6:30 p.m., at the Brazil YMCA.

Chamber President Justin Campbell moderated the forum and asked questions submitted from local citizens.

Present at the forum were District 1 candidates Tina Heffner, Kevin Kumpf and Ted Paris, District 2 candidate Gary Rickert, District 3 candidate Tom Reberger and District 4 candidates Forrest Buell, Fred Froderman and Jason Moon. Absent from the forum was District 2 candidate Jennifer Kaelber and District 3 candidate Tammy Beasley.

The first question posed by Campbell was "Describe your view of the school board and the superintendent. What is your ideal relationship between the two?"

Kumpf said "The school board should be making decisions that are more widespread through the school. The school board should rely on the superintendent to know everything that is going on. The superintendent should be informative to them and give the school board the information they need to get things done and make decisions."

Kumpf also stated that the school board should not micromanage, stating, "Everyone has a job to do and if that person isn't doing the job, then they probably need to be replaced or things need to change."

Paris said he thinks the superintendent should be like a CEO of a company and the school board should be there to support the superintendent.

Rickert agreed with Paris, saying the school board tries to run the superintendent and all of their departments and doesn't allow those who are hired to do their jobs properly.

"We've got to let people do their jobs," Rickert said, "and if they're not doing their jobs, we need to replace them. The school board needs to take care of the every day business as far as policies and money. That's what the school board's job is."

Reberger believes the superintendent of the schools should be the educational leader of the community.

"People who work under that superintendent should likewise be leaders of the community," Reberger said. "They should lead the educational process and they should be allowed to do that the best they know how."

Buell chose to address the possibilities that the school corporation has if they were to divide into two separate school districts with two different school boards, emphasizing the importance of keeping students the first priority.

Froderman said the superintendent should be a leader of the educational system in the community, and the school board's job is to support and encourage that superintendent. Froderman said, "There are a lot of difficult decisions that have to be made by the superintendent and we have to support them as much as possible, but at the same time, we should hold them accountable."

Moon believes the superintendent should be the face of the school corporation and that the school board needs to have a good relationship with the superintendent.

Heffner said she believes the school board should be representative of the community, and that they need to have a good relationship with the superintendent.

"The superintendent is like a CEO in a business sense," Heffner said, "so it's vital that the school board has a good relationship with the superintendent because they do the hiring of the superintendent."

Campbell then asked the candidates about their experience with complex budgets, and how they would work with a complex budget in the schools.

Paris said he's worked and analyzed complex budgets in both his personal and professional lives.

"You just have to analyze it, work with it, see if it's feasible and easy to be done," Paris said.

Rickert focused on responsibility to the community concerning the school board budget, saying that, "When you're working for the people, you're responsible for how the money is spent. It's not our money, it belongs to the taxpayers, and we are responsible for it."

Reberger explained the complexity of multiple departments and budgets within the corporation and the importance of making them work together.

"All of those budgets interact," Reberger said. "You have to strategically see how they're working together and see, based on state mandates, where you have money to use and where you don't have money to use. Just because you have a dollar in your pocket, doesn't mean you have to spend it."

Buell said he hasn't had much experience with complex budgets but that the money spent in the schools should be all focused on the good of the students.

Froderman cited running his business' budget and working with his church's budget as a church elder as giving him experience in working with and maintaining budgets.

Moon believes his experience in maintaining a household budget can help him analyze the school corporation's budget. Moon also knows the school corporation hires professionals to work with the budgets.

"I understand that budgets are important, and we hire people to take care of those things and we trust those people," Moon said.

Heffner said, during the past four years she's been on the school board, she's worked to understand the budget to the best of her ability, but she, too, trust those hired to work with the budget in the corporation to do their job properly.

"There's a responsibility and stewardship within the corporation," Heffner said, "when we're working with the taxpayers money. School board members need to know how the money is used."

Editor's Note: The completion of the Tuesday school board forum will appear in the Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012, issue of The Brazil Times.

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Thank goodness there are new and very competent opponents to the current school board. I think we should all be ready for a change and after reading all of the letters to the editor from Mr. Buell, I do believe he should definitely be replaced.

-- Posted by luvmylife9295 on Tue, Oct 23, 2012, at 10:54 PM

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