Editor’s note: The Urbana Daily Citizen surveyed candidates for the Graham Local Schools Board of Education. Six candidates are running for three seats, including Toni Kite, Leslie Maurice, Alan Mitchell, incumbent Ryan Pine, Brittany Todd and David Uhl. The Daily Citizen is printing the survey reports from the candidates in alphabetical order of the candidates’ names for six publication days. Answers for each question were limited to 100 words or less and some have been edited to conform.
My name is Alan Mitchell and I am running for the Graham Local School Board of Education. I have lived in the district my entire life. My early education took place at Westville Schools and then I finished with the graduating class of 1959 at Graham High School. All five of my children were educated in the district.
I am currently retired after serving at Grimes-Honeywell over the span of 34 years, in a variety of roles including assembly, production, purchasing and marketing. My career experiences, stands to serve this community and its children.
My commitment as a candidate and potential board member remains resolute.
1. What type of tax increase do you favor, if any, to address the district’s recurring operating money challenges?
Having looked at the five year forecast, which currently shows the district with a $5,300,000.00 balance, I wouldn’t suggest any tax levies at this time.
2. What caused the current financial problems, in your opinion?
Based on the above number, I am not sure that we have a financial problem at all; however, I do believe that money has been spent unwisely over the past two years.
3. What expenses would you prefer to reduce with or without any additional taxes being proposed?
I would look very hard at some of the administrative salaries. Some of these salaries are much higher than when I previously served on the board from 2009-2015. As an example, Bob Hoover, then treasurer, earned an annual salary of $54,600.00. The current treasurer is paid well in excess of $100,000, plus benefits, which are probably an additional $25,000-$30,000. That one position is an example of a significant spending shift.
4. What’s the top strength of Graham Local Schools?
This is an easy answer: the employees.
5. What is the top weakness of Graham?
The controlling body, the Board of Education and the then Superintendent, have not always made the best decision for the good of the students. The decision to not bus high school students was one of the worst decisions the Graham Board made. We have transited kids from their houses for decades. Now, the past two years, the Board didn’t choose to do that. There is never a good reason to put our students in harm’s way. Recently, the Board reversed that decision when the monies became available to reinstate transportation for the high school. The lack of transparency and accountability in this matter is a serious weakness. This, in turn, made the request for a levy questionable.