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 Antonia Kite, but everyone calls me Toni. I graduated from Graham in 1992 and am married to Rob Kite. Our two older daughters are Graham graduates; our youngest is a freshman. I worked/volunteered at Graham for 7+ years and have served the community in Girl Scouts, 4-H, and youth soccer. It is also my privilege to be a member of the Leadership Champaign County Steering Committee. Currently, I am Assistant Director of Real Estate in the county auditor’s office. I am passionate about helping our children. I am a good listener with an open mind.
1. What type of tax increase do you favor, if any, to address the district’s recurring operating money challenges?
At this time we need to listen to our community. Voters have turned down an earned income tax levy four times. I would dedicate my time to researching and studying all aspects of our district’s financial position. It would be a priority for me as a board member to communicate with the community about all factors that have contributed to our financial challenges. We must then work to find realistic solutions.
2. What caused the current financial problems, in your opinion?
I plan to listen and learn all I can about the district’s current financial problems. As a board member, working with the superintendent and treasurer is a top priority. Together we must identify all possibilities for funding and consider in detail the pros and cons of each. Like many people I talk to in the community, we want to understand how the decisions are made to spend funds and that they are spent in the best possible way.
3. What expenses would you prefer to reduce with or without any additional taxes being proposed?
Academics are our number one priority. It is our duty as a community and school district to provide an education to our students. Our teachers need the time and the resources to teach the core subjects. Just as we all do at home, we should put everything we spend money on a list and then start prioritizing while always keeping our academics number one. Our students need our teachers to work as a team for them just as our administration and community needs to work as a team to support our children and their teachers.
4. What’s the top strength of Graham Local Schools?
The top strength of Graham is the entire staff that works with our children every day. It is the smiling bus driver who transports all our students safely to school; the aide who helps a child learn to tie her shoes or learn his spelling words; the teacher who never gives up teaching the same lesson 5 different ways until EVERYONE GETS IT; the secretary who knows every student’s name; the cafeteria worker who makes all students feel welcome even when they don’t have their money; and the custodian who keeps the building clean and safe. Our staff is amazing!
5. What is the top weakness of Graham?
One important area we need to work on is communication. Administrators, board members, and staff must understand community attitudes, perceptions, and expectations for the schools. I have learned from community members I have met with and Graham residents who pass through my office that we must listen to each other and discuss all options. It is critical for board members to gain community support so that solid decisions can be made. I want to work as a link between the public and the school district.