October 24, 2014

USD 231 voters to select three board members from eight candidates

File photo

File photo

Voters will be asked to elect new school board candidates USD 231. Recently, The Gardner News sent questionnaires to candidates in contested races. They answered four questions. Three of their answers appear below. Candidates were offered the opportunity to submit brief biographies and photos as well.
Candidates for USD 230 will appear in next week’s edition of The Gardner News.
The elections are not at-large, so voters will be asked to vote for one candidate for each position. The positions are based on geographical districts, but all voters will choose regardless of the district in which the live.
Danedri Thompson
Position 4

Shelta Collins
Shelta Collins currently serves as the Director of Operations for the Open Arms Institute where she travels throughout our nation assisting new and existing schools in all areas of operation.  Shelta was introduced to the Open Arms family when she began to serve as the Director of the Open Arms located in Gardner, Kansas in June 2010.  Within a year, she also began to consult for the Institute.  Prior to Open Arms, she spent three years serving as the Executive Director for a Christian school in Overland Park, KS.  Shelta also served as a District Manager with La Petite Academy in Chicago, Illinois.   Shelta holds a Master’s Degree in both Business Administration and Education from Mid America Nazarene University.

Mary Nelson
Mary Nelson, formerly Mary Nellor, was born and raised in Gardner. She graduated from Gardner Edgerton High School in 1982 and holds a business degree from Emporia State University. She has 27 years of professional banking experience and is currently a member senior vice president and commercial lender at a local bank. She is married and has two children, both of whom attended USD 231 schools. She is active in the community and has volunteered and served on numerous boards.

What is the most important responsibility of a school board member?
Collins:
The most important responsibility of the school board is to operate above reproach.  Within this mindset, a commitment to excellence can be experienced in all areas of operation from fiscal responsibility, quality programs, to taking care of the teachers and staff who work within the district.  Furthermore, the community can be confident in knowing that the board is representing its funding priorities and values.  Ultimately, it is the students who benefit, as the board works hard to provide our children with an exceptional education.

Nelson:
The most important responsibility of our school board is making and implementing necessary and appropriate policies that govern the integrity of our school district. The school board needs to establish a vision for the future of our school district. The school board must focus on long range planning and projections to accommodate growth, capital needs and financial allocations within our district.   This vision must ensure that every student who graduates has been prepared to not only meet the demands of a changing society, but remain highly competitive in pursuit of their post graduate opportunities.

Describe what you believe to be the superintendent’s roles and responsibilities.
Collins:
The role of the superintendent is to oversee all areas of operation within the district.  Accountable to the board, the superintendent should uphold the values and vision established by the board of education. The superintendent must work hard to attract and retain the highest quality of teachers. They should possess a passion for high quality schools by working hand-in-hand with the board to be fiscally responsible so that teachers have what they need to do their job from curriculum implementation, to the proper supplies and equipment.  The superintendent should also provide general oversight for all district facilities.

Nelson:
The superintendent must first and foremost promote and defend educational excellence found within every learning environment of the district from all staff, teachers and administrators.  This needs to occur by identifying and aligning educational, fiscal, and practical priorities to the available resources that are provided to support them.  The superintendent must also strive to meet and exceed the expectations that continue to further advance the broader vision of the district.

What motivates you to want to become a school board member?
Collins:
Having invested my entire career in education management, I have a passion for quality schools.  I would love to use my experiences to positively impact the district.  We have an amazing district with outstanding teachers and a community that genuinely wants to do what is best for the students.  With that said, our current board lacks transparency in its management of the financial resources of the district and fail to make themselves available to the community. If elected, I intend on being assessable to the community, making sure they are well informed and its funding priorities and values are represented.

Nelson:
I am motivated to be on the school board because I strongly believe in the value of a quality education.   Regardless of your pursuits, a quality education will be with you for a lifetime.  I want to represent my community along with six other outstanding school board members as we work to define the vision for the future of our district.   And lastly, I want to accept the responsibility for ensuring that future graduates will have the same opportunities for educational success that is afforded to our students today.

Position 5
Brett Limer
Brett Limer and his wife Shelby have lived with their two kids in Gardner for over 10 years. Flora is in eighth grade and attends Pioneer Ridge Middle School; Matthew is in fourth grade and attends Nike Elementary. Limer is employed by Sprint and has worked there as a software engineer for more than 15 years. His wife drives a bus for First Student transporting kids to USD 231 schools, field trips and sporting events.

Joel Riggs
Joel Riggs moved his family to the Gardner School District in 2001 from Olathe to be close to grandparents. Joel is the father of three daughters and husband Peggy for 21 years. After his children enrolled in the district, Riggs got involved in Pioneer Ridge Site Council and later the Gardner Edgerton High School site council. During that time, he realized how important it is for a parent to have an active role in the educational process outside of reviewing homework and attending school functions. He learned that parents need to work with educators and administration to provide a quality, well-rounded education for all students and not just their own kids. Riggs is a licensed civil engineer with a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree both from the University of Kansas.

Rob Shippy
Rob is a lifelong resident and graduate from Gardner-Edgerton as well as his wife Heather. Rob currently works as a firefighter for the city of Overland Park. He has recently served on the redistricting committee for the new elementary and middle school for USD 231. Rob has served as a volunteer firefighter in the community for the past 15 years, and is a reserve police officer with the Gardner Police Department. Rob currently holds an Associates Degree in Fire Service Administration from Johnson County Community College and a bachelor’s degree from Fort Hays State University. He will complete a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Kansas this coming spring. Rob has two daughters that attend Nike Elementary, and a step-daughter that is attending the University of Kansas working towards a master’s degree.

What is the most important responsibility of a school board member?
Limer:
While not directly implementing policies or programs, some of the responsibilities of a  school board include employing the superintendent and setting policy for hiring other  personnel; overseeing the development of and adopting policies; setting a direction for  and adopting the curriculum; establishing budget priorities, adopting the budget and overseeing facilities issues; and providing direction for and adopting collective bargaining agreements. The most important responsibility of a school board is to work with their communities to improve student achievement in their local public schools. The school board can do this by providing leadership, policy development and oversight, and communication.

Riggs:
The most important responsibility of the school board is to ensure a high quality and safe learning environment for each student in the district.  The board’s primary role is to develop policies based on the needs of the students, teachers, and administrators in a fiscally responsible and consistent manner.

Shippy:
The most important responsibility of a school board is to be the governing body that approves the budget. The school board should assure the budget represents the best interest of those in the school district.  This decision should not only be evaluated on efficiency, but also how it impacts our students and teachers.

Describe what you believe to be the superintendent’s roles and responsibilities.
Limer:
The superintendent is the only district employee hired directly by the school board, is responsible for providing professional educational advice on policy development, and implements the policies the board adopts. The superintendent is also responsible for the successful management of the school district and is expected to provide leadership related to the vision set forth by the board of education.
The superintendent can meet his/her responsibilities by working closely with the board of education to define the district’s budget, provide educational leadership related to the curriculum, ensure personnel are qualified and receive routine supervision, maintain the quality of district properties and ensure positive community relations.

Riggs:
The superintendent’s role is to implement the policies and procedures as directed by the Board.  This includes the day to day operations of the district including management of the administration staff.  The superintendent is responsible for bring issues related to the overall operation of the district including finical, personnel, and student performance to the attention of the board and provide information as to how current policies are impacted.  It is also the responsibility of the superintendent to monitor state and federal issues that could or will impact the overall operations of the district.

Shippy:
I believe the superintendent’s role is to be the chief administrator to execute the vision and direction that the school board establishes. Superintends have expert knowledge and skill in administration as well as education. The superintendent should inform and advise the board on issues and help set policy and goals that are aligned with school boards established vision and direction.

What motivates you to want to become a board member?
Limer:
I am motivated to become a board member for USD 231 for three main reasons.
First, want the board of education to be accountability driven, spending less time on operational issues and more time focused on policies to improve student achievement.
Second, I want to help the school board build a more collaborative relationship with staff and the community, and establish a strong communications structure to inform and engage both internal and external stakeholders in setting and achieving district goals.
Finally, the board of education needs to be data savvy — to embrace and monitor data — even when the information is negative, and use it to drive continuous improvement within USD 231.

Riggs:
The real simple answer to why I want to become s Board member is to continue the quality of education provided to my children attending schools in this district.  I have served on several boards’ in the past and have been in a leadership role with each by assisting in the development of policies for the Johnson County Planning Commission, SW Johnson County Economic Development Corporation, and the American Public Works Association Boards of Directors.  I have also served on the site council for Pioneer Ridge Middle School and the Gardner-Edgerton High School and understand the importance of a parent being involved the their child’s education.  I feel if elected to the board I can make a positive impact on the future of this district.

Shippy:
I have two daughters that attend Nike Elementary and my wife and are both former graduates of the school district. We are both proud to be from the community and graduates and want to assure the continued success and sustainability of school district. My educational background in public administrations not only helps to motivate to be involved, but also prepares me well to meet the challenges of being a school board member.

Position 6
Brad Chandler
Brad Chander has been blessed by growing up in a small town in nearby Spring Hill. His parents taught him the importance of hard work and the value of family. He moved to Gardner in 2005 and married his wife Colleen in 2006. Their young son, Paul, is in the USD 231 school system.
Chandler is a certified master ASE and Toyota technician. He currently works as a team leader and manages and supports five technicians on his team.

Patty Fabing
Patty Fabing has been a proud resident of Gardner for over 16 years. She and her husband Jay have three children in USD 231, a tenth grader and two seventh graders. She is passionate about the success of the district and feels she possesses many of the skills and attributes necessary for board membership. Fabing holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and works as an underwriter for a global insurance company. Her primary responsibilities are risk selection, pricing and profitability management; however she has experience in several business disciplines and has taken advantage of many opportunities for continuing education.

Duane Waldman
Duane Waldman is a senior programmer for TVH Parts Co. in Olathe. He has been programming applications, websites and fixing computers for 20 years.
He is married with four children and his wife is a bus driver for First Student here in Gardner. Together, they have a second grader, a third grader and a sixth grader in the district. They have lived in Gardner and been a part of the district for the past 13 years.
He can be contacted at kcwaldo@gmail.com. More information about Duane is also available online at LINK.

What is the most important responsibility of a school board member?
Chandler
The single most important responsibility of the board is to secure the education of the children enrolled in the district.

Fabing:
Board members must believe in the value of public education and must strive to prepare each and every student with the skills needed to compete in the 21st Century workforce. The activities of the district and the board should represent the priorities of the community. They must understand that their role is to act responsibly, strategically and in line with those priorities. Board members should be accessible and engage regularly in constructive dialogue with all of the stakeholders. Members must possess the following characteristics; integrity, commitment, perseverance, ability to plan, vision, initiative and character.

Waldman:
The board has to make sure that everything that is needed to educate our children is provided. Needed is the key word. The board needs to make sure its focus is on our children and not on vanity items that only seek to keep pace with the excesses of a few surrounding school districts. The coming years will be tough and will require the board to make difficult decisions on spending and funding, this includes making sure administrative salaries are within an acceptable range to the community.

Describe what you believe to be the superintendent’s role.
Chandler:
The superintendent is an employee of the board, whose primary role is to carry out the vision and direction set by the board. The superintendent is responsible for making business decisions related to buildings, curriculum, teachers, transportation, etc., in accordance with the direction of the board.
Fabing:
The superintendent’s primary responsibility is to oversee the day–to-day operations of the school district. They work closely with the school board with regard to budgetary matters, the implementation of school policies, adding or removal of school programs and the creation of a long-term vision for the district, among other duties. Effective leadership skills are one of the most important qualities for a superintendent to possess. They must also have a strong background in education, excellent interpersonal, problem solving and conflict resolution skills. In addition, they must maintain open lines of communication with the staff and the public they serve.

Waldman:
The superintendent’s role is to implement the board’s policies and use them to guide the day to day operations of the district. The superintendent needs to be able to identify areas of concern in the district and bring them to the board’s attention for action. The interaction between the board and superintendent must be cordial. The superintendent is subordinate to the board, but a superior to the rest of the district. It should be understood that the board is not able to manage every decision and the superintendent should be able to reflect the boards policies effectively.

What motivates you to become a board member?
Chandler:
My motivation comes from many areas, most importantly, my son. I am a concerned parent who feels that the current board has not sufficiently involved the teachers, parents, and other members of the community. I intend to ask questions and restore accountability, transparency, and community involvement to the board of USD 231.

Fabing:
Running for a position on the school board is not a decision I took lightly. In fact, I have thought about it for years. My desire to serve on the board stems from my pride for this community and my passion for the continued success of the district. I feel that my education, professional experience and interest to serve the community make me a strong candidate. I have no personal agenda, no political motivations, just a genuine desire to serve the community and to work hard to make USD 231 the best district it can be.

Waldman:
I want to make sure the board is guiding the district based off knowledge gained through public discourse and engagement of the issue presented to the board. I want to see that public funding is respected. The board should strive to do better than 60% acceptance on future bond issues. If bond issues are not able to generate that much support, then the board has not done it’s job in justifying the expenditures to the public and risks losing the good will of the community. Using good will on vanity items, can be destructive when items are truly needed.

Editor’s note: Answers and bios were edited for style, but not grammar and spelling.

Comments

  1. More information regarding my candidacy for USD 231 Board of Education can be found on my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/BrettLimerForUSD231BoardOfEducation or my website at http://www.usd231.info

    Please vote Brett Limer for USD 231 Board of Education in District 2. Thank you! :)

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