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Kirkwood Board of Education Candidate Q and A: Heidi Meckes

Kirkwood Board of Education candidate Heidi Meckes responds to several questions from Kirkwood-Webster Groves Patch.

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. In the past week, we have profiled , and .

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.

Attended Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL; Graduated 1982 from Illinois State University with a B.S. in Accounting and B.A. in Economics.

I have over 25 years of  financial experience as a certified public accountant. My last full time professional experience was as Chief Financial Officer for Mercantile Mortgage. Before that I was Controller for the Illinois Department of Revenue where I participated in streamlining the agency. On a part-time basis, I have worked with a small engineering firm to establish policies, procedures and financial systems. 

How long have you lived in the district?

My family and I have lived in the Kirkwood School District since 1996.

If you would like to, feel free to provide a brief description of your family and where your children attend, or attended, school?

My husband, Dan, and I have been married for 23 years. Our oldest daughter, Justine, graduated from Kirkwood High School in 2008 and is attending Saint Louis University. Our youngest daughter, Adrienne, attends Kirkwood High School and will graduate in 2013.

Please provide a brief summary of your reasons for running.

I am running for a school board position, because I am passionate about this district and the children who attend school in the Kirkwood School District (KSD).  I want to actively participate in ensuring that every child in the KSD is successful.  What I mean by success is that every child will have learned the skills they need to not only compete but thrive wherever they find themselves after graduation. For some children it might be an Ivy League college, for others a trade school. No matter where our children end up after graduation they need to be prepared by receiving a world class education.

I believe my experience, both professionally and as a longtime volunteer in the Kirkwood School District, will enhance the makeup of the Board and provide fresh ideas.  I have served in many areas in the Kirkwood School District and parented a child through every grade level. This means I have seen many facets of the KSD and how it operates. It also means I have a good understanding of the commitment, and hours, it takes to be an effective board member.

What role do you think the Kirkwood Board of Education should play in the community?

The Board, which is made up of community members, must communicate clearly that its role is to advocate  for continued district improvement and for all children attending Kirkwood schools. The board of education is responsible for making certain that our children are educated well. I believe the board should keep the community informed of how the district is doing in that regard. There is no question that a good school district provides stability to a community and enhances community life. The board plays a large role in ensuring the district remains strong.

In addition, the board must actively listen to, and represent, the entire community and understand what it is the community desires for the education of its children, without regard to any narrow special interests. A board that is in touch with community wide concerns and values will serve the students and district well and promote trust.

The Kirkwood School District is a great school district. During the time I have lived in the district, it has shown improvement across all measures of student success.  We have fantastic teachers and administrators and are blessed with a community that values education. The Kirkwood School District of today owes much to the commitment of the current and previous boards to our children and community.

What do you currently see as the biggest issue facing the district?

The need for constant improvements in education and the financial challenges the district face cannot be treated as separate issues, but are the big issue facing the district. The way children are educated is constantly changing as more effective ways of teaching are developed and more is known about how children learn. Many of my generation learned by repetition and memorization. This no longer provides the skills our children need to succeed in a fast paced, information rich world. To meet the challenges of constant change and increasing expectations, we need to continue to hire great teachers, maintain small classes, provide adequate learning facilities and improve individualized instruction.

This must all be done in the context of financial challenges. State revenue will continue to decrease, while local revenue will likely remain stagnant. Every dollar spent must be carefully examined to make certain that every dollar spent contributes to student success. The board must continue to seek taxpayer input and clearly explain how the district is doing more with less. At all times the needs of the children in the Kirkwood School District must come first.

Assume you win the election. What single thing do you want to accomplish during your term on the Board?

I would like to see improved communication with the community in two areas: 1) student achievement results and 2) the operation of district finances and how taxpayer dollars are spent.

My skills and experience will support this effort very well, in particular the communication of financial information and results.

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