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.
I have 15 years of business experience with Select Sires Inc., where I am director of communications. I have an agricultural education degree from The Ohio State University and have completed graduate level courses at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. Through my work, I have created and implemented long-term strategic goals, maintained a budget and have had the opportunity to lead a team to achieve set objectives. I am running for school board because I care about our community and about the school, its teachers and its students. I want to see Graham thrive well into the future.
1. What type of tax increase do you favor, if any, to address the district’s recurring operating money challenges?
My priority has been and always will be student and teacher success. A major responsibility of the board of education is to create a strategic plan and set the course for the district. It is the responsibility of the board of education to dutifully assess what is needed and how much is needed to achieve the goals that have been set as well as to explain this need to the community. As for the type of tax, I think that it would depend on how much is needed to achieve the goals and continue to see student and teacher success.
2. What caused the current financial problems, in your opinion?
I think that going over 25 years without a tax increase (not including what was approved for the new schools) is a huge source of the financial problems. The state requirements change, curriculum changes and what is expected from students and teachers has changed. Remember 25 years ago and how much the cost of gas alone has changed? I think that it would be hard for any business or individual to run on the same budget for over 25 years.
3. What expenses would you prefer to reduce with or without any additional taxes being proposed?
Board members have to think long-term and look at all operational areas, not just one, and make a plan for years down the road. Bottom line is, I want to support teacher and student success. 80-85 percent of the budget is personnel costs. For the organization to be successful, we must support people and protect student success. Graham also already runs on a very lean budget and is deficit spending. The school cuts and reduces costs whenever and wherever possible, while trying to maintain the level of education that our community deserves.
4. What’s the top strength of Graham Local Schools?
Our staff! I think that our teachers, our staff and our administrators all want to see our students succeed. As a parent I have been nothing short of impressed with how innovative our teachers can be to ensure student success. I have had conversations with several teachers and have attended talks that they have hosted. Hearing what they do with the little they have is astonishing! They should all be commended and as a board member I want to make sure that they have the resources they need to do their jobs to reach maximum potential!
5. What is the top weakness of Graham?
Community involvement is something I think could be improved upon. There are many great things going on at our schools – STEM designations, National Green Schools award, improved test scores, community service requirements, professional development and leadership training. It is an exciting time at Graham, and while there is still room for improvement, I think the general support and involvement from the community is not as present as it should be. I have talked to staff members and teachers; the pessimism around the Graham community saddens and affects our teachers and our students! Our community should be proud of our schools.