Editors’ note: We sent these questions to USD 231 Board of Education candidates except Ementi Coary. We could not find an email address for Coary and his phone went unanswered.
1. In one short sentence, please describe your reason for running for the BOE position.
Schultz: I am running for a second term for the same reason I did four years ago, because I am a huge advocate of both children and educators and this is the perfect way to support and encourage the success of both.
Strenz: I am running for Re-Election because I want to serve the students and staff of USD 231 and to continue the momentum of excellence we have achieved so far.
2. Both Gardner and Edgerton are growing rapidly and several housing developments have been approved. Do you think the USD 231 is well equipped to serve the needs of the growing population? What do you think the district should do to address the issue?
Schultz: A rapidly growing community brings unique challenges to a school district. Open a new school too soon and the district may struggle to keep facilities equal and with the same number of programs available to each. Open too late and a district faces over crowded classrooms and poor learning environments.
As a district, we basically have four options of dealing with growth. We can install portable buildings, build additions to those schools seeing the most growth, build new schools or redraw boundaries within the district. None of those come free from challenge.
To meet those challenges with as little turbulence and cost to our community as possible, we need to keep an eye on our capacity numbers within individual buildings as well as have ongoing examinations into our demographics by experts in the field and heed the advice offered by those experts.
I think as long as those conversations and examinations are continual and consistent, our financial and operations department are more than equipped to handle upcoming growth.
Strenz: I feel USD 231 has done a good job at watching the growth in both Edgerton and Gardner and we continually watch the growth with the help of a demographer and keeping in contact with our school Administrators. When the time arises that we need to make new space or even start the process of a new school, I am confident of our Administrators and the Building and Grounds Committee to help direct us.
3. Often, USD 231 resists supplying records to KORA requests, or receive payment for KORA requests, 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. Email and credit card or ACH payments).
Schultz: I think the district should always readily and without hesitation, provide access to any documents requested that fall under the Open Records Act. And unless some strong evidence could be supported otherwise, I would absolutely support utilizing electronic technology for both sending of requested documents and for payment in doing so.
Strenz: The school district should always meet any request for information that falls under Kansas Open Records Act. I would support electronic media as a method of transmission and for payment of such records as long as there is proper encryption and security methods.
4. USD 231 has often been “at odds” with both Edgerton and Gardner councils. What would you do to further a working partnership between the three entities?
Schulz: First, we need to remember that, most especially when it comes to our schools, Gardner and Edgerton are essentially one community and we need to work harder to make sure those students living in Edgerton feel as much a part of the school district as those students living in Gardner. I’d like to see various school board and both Gardner and Edgerton city council members meet regularly to air concerns and discuss issues of mutual interest and importance in an effort to mutually provide essential services and support to children and families in both communities.
Strenz: In regards to Edgerton and Gardner City Councils they are separate entities. In USD 231 it is ONE. We need to continually have communication with the City Councils and make sure all issues are talked about and dealt with among both Councils and the School Board. There needs to be a good working relationship among all three for the best outcome for the students. I would like to see a open on going out reach so we can work on the future of USD 231 and City of Edgerton and City of Gardner.
5. There’s a private group of local leaders called “Bridging the Gap” that meets to discuss public affairs in private. Some USD 231 officials have been known to attend the groups’ meetings. Do you support the continued participation of district officials in the group?
Schultz: I first heard about the possibility of this group several months ago. As an incumbent, running for my second term, I can with 100% certainty say that not only did I never take place in any such meetings, I was never invited to do so.
Additionally, upon first learning of its existence, I asked various members of the school board and district about participation in supposed meetings and was told, unequivocally, there had been no such attendance taking place by board members or district staff.
That said, I would NOT support any such participation by any official, district or otherwise, were it to take place privately. All matters involving affairs of public matter should be done so publicly, and with the knowledge and invitation of the community involved.
Strenz: I feel the “Bridging the Gap” group should be open. If they are working on “Bridging the Gap”, what better way to show the citizens of USD 231 that they are talking and trying to strengthen the bond. I have never been invited to these meetings and would support the effort only if it was made public.