Tonganoxie USD 464 candidate questionnaire: Gene Becker
ELECTION RACE: Tonganoxie USD 464 School Board Position 3 against Michelle “Shelly” McGhee. Becker currently is serving in the at-large, or Position 7, spot, but opted to run in his district after Leana Leslie opted not to seek another term.
OCCUPATION: Retired commercial carpenter, nuclear power technician (Navy), full-time grandpa
LIVED IN TONGANOXIE: 37 years
What made you decide to run for office?
After serving on the board for four years and learning all of the ins and outs of the school board process, I would like to contribute more to USD 464. Hard decisions have to be made and I will always make the side of the constituents and the students of USD 464 foremost in my decisions.
What special qualifications would you bring to this office?
Having 31 years of commercial building and maintenance experience has given me a lot of insight, especially with the building of the new school. My three sons and two of my daughters-in-law graduated from Tonganoxie, so that has given me the prospective of the parent side of the process. I came to the position with an open mind to make well thought out decisions.
What are the three most important issues facing the school district and how would you address them?
The school system, being the largest employer in the State of Kansas, has a tremendous burden of providing a quality education for our students with limited resources. Since being on the board, USD 464 has had a modest general mill levy increase, but has had a bond level increase. The challenge to the future board is how to supply that education now and in the future with decreasing funds from the state. The obvious answer is to decrease spending, but the real question is where to do so. I personally believe that classroom education is the core of providing our students with the tools to succeed in life. The board will have to implement the changes through diligent thought, research, and compromise.
My feeling for the second priority is how we are going to pay for all the scheduled maintenance on the existing structures in the district. Patrons cannot afford to build new buildings if the district doesn’t keep the old buildings in repair. The building are in fair repair, but roof top units, roofs, hall tiles, etc. are all very expensive items. How to fund these maintenance type of items with the block grant will be very difficult.
Thirdly, curriculum is what will help determine if our students are successful in life. Research, fact based, proven teaching and learning habits are necessary. Many people believe all we need are the three R’s, but in our highly technical society, we have to supply the means to think, resolve and implement the solutions for our everyday problems.