Archive for Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Candidate Q and A: Tonganoxie school board

March 30, 2005

Editor's note: The Mirror staff posed the following questions to candidates for Tonganoxie City Council and school board who have opposition in Tuesday's election.
Polls are open on Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

TONGANOXIE SCHOOL BOARD

Bob DeHoff
15628 238th St.
Age: 43
Occupation: manufacturing engineer

What do you want the school board to accomplish in the next four years?

With the passing of the bond issue, the building project is one of the more important items for the school board to address. The school board and the administration need to make sure that the district ends up with the facilities that were expected at the election. The completed facilities need to fit with our educational goals, in addition to being completed within budget and of the quality expected.

As a result of "No Child Left Behind," the state legislature and state board of education will be passing and changing laws and regulations to meet the criteria. The school board will need to understand the laws and regulations and make the appropriate policy and procedural changes that are needed to meet those requirements.

The most important job of the school board is always seeing that the youth of the district are receiving the best education possible. The school board needs to continue to oversee the continual updating and improvement of the curriculum. Also, the school board needs to maintain an environment of high expectations for the administrators, staff and all students.

Should the school district sell or continue to own the portion of its 80 acres that won't be used for the new middle school?

Unless the right situation presented itself, it would not be a good idea to sell any of the property at this time. At the expected growth of our district, the current building program should serve us very well for 12 to 15 years. With the continued rise in the cost of land, it would be very beneficial for the school district to already have land available (if unforeseen circumstances or opportunity presents itself).

What are the Tonganoxie school district's strengths? And what are its weaknesses?

I believe one of the stronger aspects of the Tonganoxie school district is its teachers and administrators. As a whole, they are a very dedicated group of individuals. They have the passion and the desire to see that all of our students are successful, academically and socially. They have also been very dedicated to the continual updating and improvement of the curriculum that is delivered to our students.
The Tonganoxie community is one of the strengths of the school district. Families of our students have always been very involved in the student's education. We also have a very involved business community that is always there to support the programs and students of our school district.
As with many organizations, communication is an area that could always see an improvement. Internal and external communication is such a vital part of running an efficient school district. All parties involved should continually be aware of areas they could improve. Not only what is communicated but how it is communicated as well.

Are the district's expenditures on extracurricular and co-curricular activities -- such as athletics, debate, music and cheerleading -- adequate?

Extracurricular and co-curricular activities are a very important addition to a well-balanced education. The extracurricular and co-curricular activities that are in place should be adequately funded. In most cases, I believe that the school district adequately funds these programs without spending more than necessary.

Brian Huseman
15265 222nd St.
Age: 44
Occupation: veterinarian (Industrial Veterinary Medicine)

What do you want to the school board to accomplish in the next four years?

1) Complete the building project using the available funds from the bond issue and plan for the continued growth of the district's student population. The district needs to complete the buildings as they were presented to the voters. This will become increasingly difficult as oil and steel prices increase. The longer it takes to complete the project, the more expensive the buildings will become or the smaller or less buildings the district will be able to build. At the same time, we must plan for the continued growth of the district's student population as the population expansion continues westward from Kansas City and as a turnpike exchange at Tonganoxie is discussed. There is no doubt in my mind that the district will continue to grow and we must plan for this event.

2) Insuring that our students testing competence is high for the "No child left behind" program. This program could have a major impact on our school district if our students do not do well because they could transfer from our school with their funds.

3) Making the best use of school funds from the state of Kansas. While the board does not have a say in what they receive from the state, they do have the responsibility of administering the state money in a wise method. Unfortunately, much of that money is already earmarked when it comes to the school district. Thus it is up to the board to decide how to fund programs and which ones will be funded.

Should the school district sell or continue to own the portion of its 80 acres that won't be used for the new middle school?

The district should hold onto this ground as this property will not decrease in value. While it may not all be used at this time, I am sure that the district will need to expand again in the next 10 years or so. At that time, the unused portion will either be a logical spot for another building addition or can be sold or traded for a different property in a better location. If it is sold later, the price received at that time should be more than now.

What are the Tonganoxie school district's strengths? And what are its weaknesses?

The strength of our district starts with our students and our educational staff. Together with the strong support of district patrons, there is a strong foundation for our district. Our administrators and staff work closely together. We provide many strong extracurricular activities for our students and Tonganoxie is known for these activities. Being close to KU and KCKCC is advantageous as this allows students to take advanced classes at these locations. Inadequate funding is a weakness of our district and probably for most schools in Kansas. Schools are reliant upon state funding, however much of the money is already earmarked and therefore does not help basic education. Inadequate funding leads to lower salaries for staff, increased class sizes which do not allow teachers to teach to individual students, and other issues.

Are the district's expenditures on extracurricular and co-curricular activities -- such as athletics, debate, music and cheerleading -- adequate?

The district is spending adequately on extracurricular activities. The district provides a good balance of activities for the students. As a parent with students involved in athletics, debate, band and school plays to name a few activities, I have not felt that the nominal fees we have had to pay have been a burden. There are always instances where one would wish that someone would pay for activities but this is not realistic. The school provides teachers/sponsors, transportation, and a place to hold activities. We as parents must do our part as well to help offset costs.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.