CCSC school board candidates
Published on 10/15/2022
If you’ve ever walked up to the ballot box, read the names of school board candidates and thought "Should I vote for any of these people? I don’t know enough", this column is for you. Early voting begins October 12, and there are five of the candidates, all independents, competing for three spots on CCSC’s school board. (Don’t vote straight ticket if you want to vote for school board candidates!)
Our schools are centers of our community, educating the kids and offering cultural events such as sports, theater, and music. Furthermore, forty-three percent of Hoosier property tax dollars go to schools. Your vote for qualified candidates helps steer the corporation educationally and financially.
Here are your candidates:
• Kathleen A Brown serves presently as CCSC school board member and her children graduated from CHS. She’s also operations manager at the Carnegie Museum of Montgomery County and vice president of the parks and recreation board, In the past she’s volunteered with the United Way local chapter, and the Montgomery County Leadership Academy. She’s experienced in non-profit management, budgeting, financial management, recruiting and hiring — major barriers for schools at present — as well as strategic planning and human resources.
Brown sees three major issues in post-pandemic school success: learning loss and mental health, teacher recruitment and retention, and college/career preparedness of our student. In the next few years, she believes students will need extra support to overcome the stress of the pandemic.
“I believe that while it is the school board’s duty to set policy and provide financial and curricular oversight, this is not done by micromanaging either the administration or teaching staff. I believe in hiring good people and letting them do their jobs,” told Vote411.org.
• Bobby Horton teaches at Wabash College, serves on the board of the Boys & Girls Club of Montgomery County and is president/coach for Montgomery County United Soccer Club. He’s volunteered in classrooms, as a swim coach, and taught as a substitute during the pandemic. His eldest graduated from CHS last spring, and he has two other children in Crawfordsville schools.
Horton too recognizes that mental health, teacher retention and recruitment are crucial issues for CCSC. Additionally, he believes the corporation needs to address school safety, the location of a new administrative building and the configuration of elementary buildings.
“If elected, I will listen carefully to the concerns of all constituents and will consider different perspectives before making a judgment. I will also keep in mind that my belief or position is not the only reasonable one to hold. I always remind myself that good, smart people could and do disagree with me on many things. As such, I try to listen more than I talk and inquire more than I claim,” he told Vote411.org.
• Kent Minnette became CCSC board trustee in 2016 because of his legal expertise and experience in school issues. Two of his four children have graduated from CHS with his youngest two attending CMS and CHS.
Minnette says that the board has three goals. First, provide an outstanding education for any student, in spite of the fact that many students are growing up with challenges. A large number of students in the city are classified as “free and reduced lunch,” a designation that indicates their household face more hurdles than most. He knows such students need school staff devoted to student success and that school boards face a challenge in maintaining a culture where teachers hang onto their love of teaching so they can inspire a love of learning.
Minnette also recognizes that in the past schools often pressed all students to be college-bound, missing the mark when it comes to students whose interests are vocational. He supports an ecosystem that recognizes some students will go into the workforce and need employability skills and vocational training.
One acute issue that Minnette believes CCSC faces is its placement in the Sagamore Conference. Presently, Lebanon, Brownsburg and other conference schools have exploded in size and resources so that smaller schools can no longer compete.
• J. Monte Thompson has owned J.M. Thompson Insurance and raised children in CCSC. Two sons have graduated for CCSC and one daughter is a junior. He has served on the boards of Sugar Creek Players, MUFFY and the Mary Ludwig Free Clinic among other state and local organizations. He’s an active member of Traders Point Christian Church.
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Thompson believes the most important issues are providing the best education possible, equipping teachers with training, tools and resources, including compensation so that CCSC doesn’t lose teachers to other districts and industries.
Thompson says that his “varied experiences as a local business owner for 30 years and as a volunteer have equipped me to gather and process information and opinions from differing perspectives and make intelligent and informed decisions. As a parent, I understand that kids are different and have different learning styles. We need to support and equip our teachers to best reach all of the children in our system.”
• Dawn D. Watt is a parent, youth group leader, coach, foster parent and attendee of school board meetings. Two of her children graduated from CCSC and two more are still attending.
Watt believes the board needs to build more connection between buildings, increase safety and give our schools a small town feel. She is hearing about a “lack of discipline when students disrespect staff, a lack of communication between buildings, a lack of communication between staff and parents in some buildings.”
Watt wants voters to know that she is “family centered. As a wife of 24 years and a mother of four sons who have or are now going through our school system, I’m connected and concerned with our schools. I’m also community minded, as in where can I help and what can I do to serve not only my school district but my town. The needs of students and staff are my top priority, their education and safety are my concern.”
For a deep dive into the candidates, visit Vote411.org to find about the candidates’, education, what experiences and skills qualify them for school board, what each believes are the most important issues facing the corporation are. They share what concerns they are hearing, how and they’d help balance the budget while meeting needs of students.