I have a passion for learning and working to continually improve the quality of government. I retired from the Department of Defense with over 35 years of service and from the Army Reserve with over 30 years of service to include over three and half years on active duty after Sept 11, 2001.
I graduated from a public high school in Indianapolis on a non-college track with a concentration in fine arts and commercial carpentry. I enlisted in the Army after high school and attended college on the GI Bill. I earned a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University, a Master’s in Public Administration, and a Master’s in Strategic Studies from the Army.
I’ve taught at Ivy Tech and served on their business advisory board. I was also an instructor in IU’s continuing studies program. I served as a volunteer with Indianapolis Public Schools where I supported a variety of successful improvement projects.
2) Describe a recent accomplishment in your professional life.
I became interested in supporting the schools upon learning more about the need for the referendum. I studied the issues associated with funding, debt, and declining enrollments. I volunteered to serve on the schools strategic planning committee. I also volunteered to support the Regional Opportunity Initiative Ready Schools strategies. These strategies include building partnerships with regional businesses to help prepare our students for the better jobs and careers.
To address declining enrollments and affordable housing issues and increase economic opportunities, I volunteered to serve on the County Redevelopment Commission and coordinated efforts to complete a county-wide income survey. Survey results indicated that we are eligible for over $100,000 in grants. We are expected to receive a $40,000 grant to fund development of an economic development strategy. Good plans developed with community input, support, and guidance, will explain in detail what needs to be done, when, how, and by whom.
3) How do you view the duties of being a School Board member?
The leadership in Brown County Schools along with community support represents one of the greatest assets we have in our county. I will continue to support this success and collaborate within the county and with regional partners and businesses to support our students in achieving their education and career goals. The quality of our schools are major considerations for families that choose to remain or move to our county.
In addition to representing citizens and supporting the superintendent, school board members have a position on the Area Plan Commission as well as the County and Town Redevelopment Commissions. Slowing and reversing the downward trend in enrollments, increasing our tax base, providing competitive salaries, maintaining desirable student-teacher ratios, and preventing school closures requires school board member leadership and advocacy for comprehensive planning and effective execution of the plans. Community support for education is the best investment we can make in our future.
4) What are the primary challenges for Brown County schools?
The schools are not immune to the problems of the larger community and must continue to provide a safe, caring and inspiring learning environment for our students. The decline in enrollments and changes in state funding and administrative policies are additional challenges that can have significant impacts on local decisions.
In addition to state funding which is linked to enrollment and can change, local schools are also funded by local property and income tax. Along with the downward trend in school enrollments, the county is also projected to lose population. A loss in population can lead to a lower tax base which can require higher taxes on fewer citizens – many of which are on fixed incomes.
On the bright side, we have been projected to have available jobs for skilled workers in our region. Expansion of broadband and community support for effective planning can lead to increased economic benefits for all our citizens.
5) We recently passed a referendum to support the school system. How effective has this referendum been and will this be a recurring requirement?
The revenue from the referendum is achieving the stated goals of “supporting current and new school programs, recruiting and retaining teachers and paying general bills.”
Depending on many variables that impact funding and economic development that are outside the control of the schools, it is possible that a referendum may be a recurring requirement to maintain the quality and number of our schools.
I do plan to continue to advocate for comprehensive and economic planning. I am also planning on working to develop an understanding of school debt and funding and assessing the effect of state and county tax policies on the school’s budgets. I will write occasional articles in the Brown County Democrat to share what I learn. If another referendum is needed, the Superintendent and Board Members have a responsibility to demonstrate they performed their due diligence in ensuring the right balance of quality and cost.