Editor's note:Kirkwood-Webster Groves Patch sent the following questions to each of the four candidates for the Kirkwood School District Board of Education. Friday we ran responses from E.J. Miller and Monday we ran responses from Scott Stream.
Candidates are running for three open spots on the school board. Board members serve three-year overlapping terms with two or three members elected each year. The election is April 5.
Please provide a brief description of your educational and professional background.
Treasurer, Kirkwood Public Library Board of Trustees; Senior Vice President, Commercial Lender at Bank of America (23 years); Six Sigma Greenbelt Certified; Earned CPA in 1994; Boy Scout Merit Badge Counselor; Graduate of University of Michigan; Graduate Certificate in Management, University of Maryland.
How long have you lived in the district?
If you would like to, feel free to provide a brief description of your family and where your children attend, or attended, school?
Son Paul is a Kirkwood High School sophomore who plays lacrosse and is an Eagle Scout candidate. Wife Laura is a former librarian, freelance writer and previously served as Vice President and President of the North Kirkwood Middle School PTO.
Please provide a brief summary of your reasons for running.
Serving on the board is an opportunity to give back to a community and school system that has served my family well. Although pleased with the education my son has received, I am concerned about the financial condition of the district.
Continuing, unsustainable multi-million dollar operating deficits have the potential to jeopardize class sizes, our ability to attract and retain the best teachers, and the quality of education in our school system with a corresponding ripple effect on our property values and way of life. While asking the community to support increased funding may be part of the solution, taxpayers need to feel that their funds are well managed.
I believe that my background in finance and experience as treasurer on the Kirkwood Public Library Board allow me to bring a different perspective and financial discipline to the table. In addition, I have lived in four other states as an adult and have seen how other communities operate. This exposure to other regions provides additional diversity to our board. I look forward to making significant contributions to our CHILDREN, SCHOOLS and COMMUNITY.
What role do you think the Kirkwood Board of Education should play in the community?
Clearly a community's high quality school system is a focal point and anchor of stability. Having moved here from an underperforming school district, I understand first hand the consequences of poor decisions and mismanagement by elected officials. I hope to bring the financial discipline necessary to avoid falling into this trap.
What do you currently see as the biggest issue facing the district?
Bringing fiscal responsibility back to the district. Rather than focus on closing the ongoing operating deficit, the incumbents unanimously decided that taking on more debt was a priority for the district. Voters subsequently voted no to building a swimming pool and turf on ball fields.
I hope to correct the disconnect between the board and the voters. Getting our financial house in order is a top priority, not adding luxury items that do not directly impact the classroom and only benefit a few students. To put it simply, if I lost my job, my primary objective would be to replace lost income and cutting non-essential costs, not taking on more debt.
Assume you win the election. What single thing do you want to accomplish during your term on the board?
Restore funding to Parents as Teachers. Due to state budget cuts, our program lost about half of its funding. This valuable service touches more families than any school in our district and through screenings and home visits, parent educators and families are able to catch developmental challenges at a young age and begin interventions and therapies before children enter our schools. Other districts see the value in this program and fully funded it rather than embark on big spending programs with little impact on the classroom.
Ensuring our children are prepared for the 21st century. We must continue to challenge our children in the core areas of math, science, engineering, English, social studies and foreign languages. I applaud the district's initiative to add Chinese to our language offerings, the large selection of Advanced Placement classes and the innovative Project Lead the Way engineering program.