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Four vie for Board of Ed seats

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By The Staff

Incumbent Steve Higgins will face candidate Donna Crain Drury Tuesday for a seat on the Anderson County Board of Education.
Two other incumbent Board of Education members, Lee Hahn and Scott Brown, are running unopposed to keep their respective seats on the board.
Candidates were asked the following questions, and their responses are as follows.

Name: Steve Higgins
Office sought: Board of Education
Profession: Distillery control operator
Education: 1 and a half year college
Family information- Wife Nikki; sons Drew and Shawn; daughter Nikki; son-in-law Henry; granddaughter Alexa; grandsons Nick and Max
Organization affiliations- Chief Steward- Campari America (Wild Turkey) UFCW local 227
Political experience- 10 years, Anderson County School Board

Please explain and name one line item in the Board of Education budget that you believe should be increased, and one line item that should be decreased.
The field of technology can never have enough funding. The advancements in technology are constantly improving and to keep our students able to compete in the modern world they should be offered the opportunity to have access to these changes. We are always trying to upgrade our technology department.
Our response to intervention also needs to kept up to date not only to meet the demands of Senate Bill One but to also keep our students striving to improve.
As far as the need to decrease our budget items we have already made cuts in staffing and classes due to our economic situation.
Also such things as cutting back on purchasing of school buses and traveling expenses have kept us within budget to name a few.
It would be hard to say at this time what else we could possibly cut back on.
 
Do you think the school board should budget enough money each year to purchase textbooks versus charging a student instructional fee at the high school? Why or why not?
I think in order to provide an adequate supply of text books for the students the school board should budget a certain amount for that specific purpose and also charge students instructional fees to supplement these costs. Unless schools come up with an alternative less expensive way for students to access their learning experience we are temporarily stuck with using textbooks.
 
Assign a letter grade to Superintendent Sheila Mitchell’s job performance. Please explain.
Mrs. Mitchell keeps the board informed of all actions taking place in the school system. She handles every situation correctly and by the book, and her ability to handle these situations calmly and impartially make her the best person for the job of superintendent.

If you could do one thing to improve the school system, what would it be?
(Candidate did not respond)
 
In your opinion, are the athletic facilities at Anderson County High School and Anderson County Middle School adequate for the needs of the athletic programs? If not, what upgrades to the facilities should be undertaken first?
School systems have the unenviable job of keeping all their facilities current and in good condition and with the exception of newly built schools with updated sports complexes the other school systems are constantly trying to make changes to their sports facilities. Presently our football and basketball facilities are over 40 years old and the baseball field is not far behind, and even though these facilities have been much improved over the recent years they could still stand to be updated. New football and baseball fields along with a new basketball arena would be nice but as you know it takes money we don’t currently have, so unless anybody knows of a wealthy philanthropist who would be willing to donate to our school system we will have to make do with our current plan.

Name: Donna Crain Drury
Office sought: Board of Education
Profession: Community service philanthropist
Education: Bachelor’s degree in organizational management, Midway College

Family information: Wife of Larry E. Drury; mother of Stacy Waldridge and Derek Drury, grandmother of five with two grndchildren in Anderson County School System.  I come from a family of educators with two sisters who are retired teachers (Charlotte Puckett and Jeanne Puckett) and a brother who is a retired teacher and principal (Charles Crain Jr.).

Organization affiliations: Anderson County ASAP Board member, Anderson County Community of Promise member, Helping Hands executive director, Treasuring Our Underprivileged Citizens with Heart (TOUCH) Board of Directors, Free Medical Clinic member, Hope Community Church member.

Political Experience: Prior candidate for Anderson County judge-executive

Please explain and name one line item in the Board of Education budget that you believe should be increased and one line item that should be decreased.
Increased – Line Item 1900 – Other Instruction (includes athletics and general fund)
Decreased – Line Item 2321 – Superintendent’s Office

Do you think the school board should budget enough money each year to purchase textbooks versus charging a student instructional fee at the high school?  Why of why not?

Definitely yes. Money for books should be budgeted for books in every class. Each student deserves to be issued take-home textbooks in order to have a fair chance in educational pursuits.
Some students cannot adequately learn without textbooks to take home for studying and receiving additional instruction outside classroom settings from parents, grandparents or tutors. Students learn in different ways. Some easily rely on memory or note-taking from lectures while others must have visual reinforcement from textbooks for learning. Without provision of take-home textbooks for all students, every student is not provided an equal opportunity to learn subject matter.
The instructional fee does not provide adequate financial support for purchasing books while it creates a financial burden for families.

Assign a letter grade to Superintendent Sheila Mitchell’s job performance. Please explain.

Grade B. State government’s reductions in educational funds for the school system make it difficult to make a smaller amount of money go a long way amid increasing educational costs. Some problems that exist within the school system and its budgeting were inherited from previous years when the system had healthy financial status. It will take more time and more money to recover from government cutbacks.

If you could do one thing to improve the school system, what would it be?

A stronger investment in commitment, dedication and attitude from school administrators and teachers about educating youth is what needs improving in the system. There are schools that welcome and work with parents and their children, but unfortunately, there are others where parents and students think they are not welcome or worthy, and teachers don’t feel valued for their hard work. That perception results in an “us against them” attitude among everyone involved with a child’s education. The attitude impacts numerous areas of a student’s education including self-learning passion, school spirit, teacher morale, and parent involvement.
A strengthened investment by all school administrators, teachers, students, and parents would result in more unity for educating the county’s youth. This applies to situations with extra-curricular activities’ fairness, advanced placement program clarity, teacher participation in after school events requirement, student and teacher dress code violations, portal use inadequacy, inconsistent “one” calls, and public recognition of teachers/principals with excellent performances.

In your opinion, are the athletic facilities at Anderson County High School and Anderson County Middle School adequate for the needs of the athletic programs?  If not, what upgrades to the facilities should be undertaken first?

No. The track program is in dire need of improvement with the track and surrounding area to ensure safety of team members and enable them to not have to travel to another county for practice and competition. Additionally, the team needs adequate number of uniforms so winning students are not penalized for lack of proper uniforms and have to share uniforms in order to represent the school in competitions. This sport has been overlooked far too long and is the first program that should be improved, particularly the uniform problem. With current situations, all athletes are not being treated fairly by the school system.
Soccer fields, spectator areas and concessions at both schools are also in need of improvement so players can compete safely and fairly with opponents.

Name: Lee Hahn
Office sought: Board of Education
Profession: Sales and owner of Hahn Ridge Farm, Registered Polled Hereford Cattle
Education: BBA- Eastern Kentucky University

Family information: Wife: Sherry Hahn. Children: Charles, Matthew, Deborah Hahn
Stepchildren: Drew and Katie Stratton

Organization affiliations: Ninevah Christian Church, Lawrenceburg; Anderson County Cattleman Association; Kentucky Farm Bureau

Political experience: Two terms on the Anderson County School Board (eight years)

Please explain and name one line item in the Board of Education budget that you believe should be increased, and one line item that should be decreased.
Technology should be increased to help advance our students’ abilities to learn all subjects. Decreased trip request that involve direct funds from general budget until economy improves.

Do you think the school board should budget enough money each year to purchase textbooks versus charging a student instructional fee at the high school? Why or why not?
Yes. Although the local board has not received any money from Frankfort to purchase textbooks the last four to five years, I feel that if we (board) can maintain our contingency fund at 5 percent or higher we should allow the budget to cover some if not all textbook expense.

Assign a letter grade to Superintendent Sheila Mitchell’s job performance. Please explain.
A-plus. Mrs. Mitchell is proficient and thorough at all levels of her position — she communicates very well with all staff, employees and board. She cares deeply about all the children within her school system.

If you could do one thing to improve the school system, what would it be?
Better inform parents and taxpayers how the school budget is structured and operates. Have more involvement from the public at our monthly board meetings.

In your opinion, are the athletic facilities at Anderson County High School and Anderson County Middle School adequate for the needs of the athletic programs? If not, what upgrades to the facilities should be undertaken first?
The athletic facilities currently meet the needs of our athletic programs; however, many improvements are needed as outlined by the Long Range Plan.