The Gardner News sent questions to candidates running for school board.

Candidates
Board Member – Position 4 (4 Year Term) : Wes Rains, Lana Sutton
Board Member – Position 5 (4 Year Term) D: Rob Shippy (Incumbent), Write in candidate, Dustin Martin
Board Member – Position 6 (4 Year Term) Shawn Carlisle, Brad Chandler (Incumbent)
Additional information is available at jocoelection.org.
All candidates answered submitted questions. Questions and answers are below.
BOE meetings currently do not allow flexibility for public comment or input. Do you support open dialog – within reason and subject to statutory allowances – between patrons and BOE members at meetings? How would you change the current process to encourage public input?
Dustin Martin – Yes, I support open dialog. It’s important that the BOE and the families that are represented by the BOE have open communication. Time should be allowed during BOE meetings for citizens to address the BOE with any compliments or concerns they may have. If elected I would like to work with members of the board to make this happen.
Rob Shippy – BOE meetings do have a public input section currently. The items presented to the BOE do have public input from site councils and committees that present recommendations to the BOE. I am not opposed to a change, however currently only The Gardner News and one patron has expressed this concern.
Shawn Carlisle – I do support open dialog within reason. I don’t believe public comments should be reviewed beforehand and be more like council meetings comments. I do know the board in the past 8 month has asked for the policy to be reviewed and make it more compliant with state statutes.
Brad Chandler – We have input during many meetings, we ask the audience if they have any questions about the subject we’re discussing. But, opening it up permanently could cause a lot of wasted time. Both the citizens and BOE members along with staff.
Lana Sutton – Having open time for public comments is a good idea, so any area of concern can be brought before the board in an easy and structured manner. I encourage communication between the board and the district that we serve.
Wes Rains – Yes.  I support open dialog, and would be open to structuring the BOE meetings to be similar to the City of Gardner, where open comments are allowed with a 5 minute maximum time frame.
If elected to BOE, as an elected representative, will you respond to patron’s concerns, questions individually? Why or Why not?
Shawn Carlisle – Yes, I feel it extremely important to answer any questions addressed to me. If I am unaware of the answer or need more background I may ask for a delay for a response and gather the information from staff before responding; however.
Brad Chandler – It completely depends on the concern or question? I respond to some individually & some the Board President or the Superintendent will respond. This seems to work the best & makes sure the person is taken care of properly & not just what 1 person thinks.
Wes Rains – Yes, as best as I can, within reason and within my legal abilities to do so.  Depending on the question and the knowledge or lack of knowledge thereof, I may have to consult staff first to properly answer.
Lana Sutton – Absolutely.  I believe everyone deserves a voice and I am excited for the opportunity to serve our great community.
Dustin Martin – It would depend on the questions and what they are concerning. IF it is something that I have the answers for then yes, I would answer them individually. IF I don’t have the answers then I would bring it up at board meetings and discuss these questions with other board members to get them answered. The BOE works for those that voted them in, if there are questions then the BOE should do everything they can to get those answers.
Rob Shippy – I have and will continue to answer patrons’ questions and concerns. I may refer them to staff as that maybe the most efficient way to resolve issues and get them information. BOE members should not answer personnel related questions to protect the district’s and individual’s interest.
With little public discussion, USD 231 recently formed the Gardner Edgerton Youth and Community Program, hiring employees, creating programs and beginning an in-house marketing campaign. How (or does) the GEYCP program support USD 231’s core mission of educating students?
Dustin Martin – Its educating students at an additional cost. If a student wants to participate in a program, they pay a fee. I was told that all programs are going to be self-funded and won’t cost the district any additional funds. If programs cannot stay self-funded and end up costing taxpayer’s additional funds, then I don’t see how this is a good thing. I would like to see a better relationship between Parks and Rec and the Board of Education. I would make that a priority if elected. No reason why both can’t be successful.
Rob Shippy – GEYCP positions were voted on in April 2017. GEYCP supports educating students as a whole both academically and social/emotional. Randy Watson of KSDE has spoken about various ways to accomplish this goal. http://www.ksde.org/Agency/Office-of-the-Commissioner/Commissioners-Messages
http://www.ksde.org/Portals/0/Communications/Vision/KESA_KSBE_Vision_Tabloid_Poster_FINAL.pdf
Shawn Carlisle – I think the program is a good program and does support USD231’s core mission statement, but I believe in the manner in which is was brought to fruition could have been more public open and discussions with other entities involved.
Brad Chandler – Well, it doesn’t. But, studies have shown that kids whom are involved in after school activities, do much better than kids that are not.
Lana Sutton – Our children’s education is provided in many ways, with athletics being one avenue. Music, debate, acting, robotics, culinary and other activities also serve in our children’s education. In a candidate forum earlier in my campaign I publicly stated that I believe serving all our children, both those that are athletic and those that are not with the additional opportunities that are now available with the new program is very important.
Wes Rains – To me this is beyond the scope of the core mission of educating our students.  That said, it is in the past, and if I am fortunate enough to be a board member, my duty will be to help it succeed, and hopefully over time I will be proven wrong.
To increase transparency and accountability, do you support videotaping/ live-streaming of all board of education meetings and committee meetings that have elected officials in attendance? Yes or no? Why?
Rob Shippy – I am not opposed to changing any process. If we have a majority recommending the change and the numbers support moving forward with the process and it does not violate student/staff privacy. The Gardner Council live streams, with 9-10 people watching the last meeting.
Dustin Martin – I do support videotaping and live streaming for all BOE meetings. There shouldn’t be anything to hide that would make this not a possibility. I have had talks with someone that would be willing to help but hasn’t because they have not been asked. I would, if elected, work hard to make this happen.
Brad Chandler – I have supported this and when I originally ran for office, suggested this be done. There were a lot bigger issues that came up, and was never addressed. So, yes, I support this.
Shawn Carlisle – Yes that has been one of my key bullet points. My hopes would be more parental involvement by the ability to watch the videos, as whats happened for the city council. I don’t believe all committee meetings should be recorded unless there is a quorum of elected officials
Lana Sutton – Yes I do. It’s a public meeting and we serve the district.
Often, USD 231 does not have the ability to supply KORA requests, or receive payment, electronically. To reduce cost and overhead, and increase transparency, do you support electronic media as the preferred method of transmission for KORA responses and payment? (ie. E mail and credit card or ACH payments)
Lana Sutton – I do not currently sit on the board and do not know all of the legalities regarding KORA requests and responses. I do not support electronic media as the only method of transmission because it can so easily be altered. I would think that a payment option could be made available, but again, do not know all of the system solutions that are currently available.
Wes Rains –    Yes.  We should be able to supply KORA requests without difficulty, and in the interest of taxpayer savings, we should provide them electronically, with a paper option, but at the cost of      the user requesting paper.   Yes, we should take electronic forms of payment.
Shawn Carlisle – Yes I would prefer to be able to have the KORA requests emailed, and as long as we have the ability to take non cash payments we should. This not only causes inefficiencies in receiving the information, but paper, ink and the staffs time to print and bundle
Brad Chandler – Yes, as long as the costs are covered & they are paid properly,  i don’t see why this wouldn’t work.
Dustin Martin – With everything these days being done electronically, I don’t see why this isn’t available. I get emails and updates from teachers all the time via email and if I can pay my kids food balance online why can’t payment for KORA requests be available online?
Rob Shippy – Taking payments electronically will not reduce the cost of overhead to the district or those making request as Mastercard and Visa charge fees. Providing documents for KORA request takes staff time and is an expense that is passed to those requesting documents supported by state statutes, charging for those copies reduces that cost.
During the past 3 years, USD 231 has contributed about $46,000 of taxpayer money to Schools for Fair Funding, an organization that hires lawyers to sue Kansas taxpayers for additional tax funds. Do you believe this money would be better spent in classrooms? Why or why not?
Dustin Martin – IF that $46,000 was spent to recover over $96,000 then yes I support it, if the district spent $46,000 to recover anything less than that, I would begin to ask questions on Why did we spend so much and how much tax funds did we get back. That’s a large amount of money to spend if we are not getting our investment back.
Rob Shippy – I have verified with the Director of Finance, the district has not made this payment since 2014. This is a decision made by the previous BOE and administration. I do find the most recent processes of funding districts per pupil to be beneficial to or district.
Wes Rains – As taxpayers, we want all money going into the classroom.   However, adequate and equitable public school funding has been quite contentious in Kansas.  Going forward, the Gannon       victory, along with a cooperative Legislature, will show this to be as legitimate of an expense as administrative and overhead expenses.
Lana Sutton – Fortunately USD231 dropped from that lawsuit several years ago and that money is now being used for our students and teachers.
Shawn Carlisle – I am not educated enough on the School for Fair Funding or what fund this comes out of so I will be unable to answer this properly and fairly positive 50 words would not be sufficient for an answer.
Brad Chandler – Maybe? I would like to have more information on this, than a general statement. What benefit do we get directly? What dollars are normally recovered?.. etc…
USD 231 is “at odds” with both Edgerton and Gardner councils. What would you do to further a working partnership between the three entities?
Lana Sutton – Keep open lines of communication. I will listen to and work with those that I may not agree with in a respectful manner.  We can learn from each other when we keep an open mind and communication flowing.  I also will make sure that we always keep the focus on the children.  I’m afraid the “end client” often gets lost in these discussions.
Dustin Martin – My take is simple, all parties involved, (City of Gardner, Edgerton and BOE), need to learn to work together as a cohesive unit. We are all in this together to serve and to do what is right for the citizens of both Gardner and Edgerton. I would like to put together a committee made up of all three and talk respectfully and professionally in an open room and work things out, together.
Rob Shippy – The local media focuses on the disagreements and not continued successful partnerships:SROs, Easements, Facility Usage, and sidewalk logistics this year. I will continue conversation with elected officials and attend meetings to maintain relationships.
Wes Rains – We need a three way stakeholder committee that meets monthly to discuss issues where mutual cooperation is paramount, such as GEYCP/Gardner P&R, managing our joint future             growth, and to maximize the use of the taxation we are imposing on our citizenry-we have a fiduciary duty to do so.
Lana Sutton – Keep open lines of communication. I will listen to and work with those that I may not agree with in a respectful manner.  We can learn from each other when we keep an open mind and communication flowing.  I also will make sure that we always keep the focus on the children.  I’m afraid the “end client” often gets lost in these discussions.
Shawn Carlisle – I’ve sat down and spoken to the Mayor of Edgerton about their concerns, and have worked with both the current Mayor of Gardner, the candidate for Mayor,and most of the current City Council members and candidates and believe together we can help improve in communications with one another.
I think we are closer than a lot of people make it out to be. It seems a couple people have caused issues and blown things out of proportion. I’m always looking for better ways to relate & communicate with the City Council & the City of Edgerton.