CORRECTION: Because of a reporting error, ThisWeek's Oct. 29 story on Gahanna-Jefferson Board of Education candidates inaccurately stated that Claire Yoder and Miles Hebert did not respond to ThisWeek's questions.
CORRECTION: Because of a reporting error, ThisWeek's Oct. 29 story on Gahanna-Jefferson Board of Education candidates inaccurately stated that Claire Yoder and Miles Hebert did not respond to ThisWeek's questions. These are Hebert's and Yoder's responses to ThisWeek's questions:
How do you intend to pay for the learning center's operations? On a related note, do you think the partnership between Stonehenge and the district will be effective? Explain.
Miles Hebert: It is my understanding that the district has formulated a 3-prong approach to pay for the new facility: 1) a no-interest loan acquired through stimulus funding; 2) revenue from a land lease that comprises the public-private venture; and 3) expenditure of general funds. I believe the land lease agreement that creates the public-private venture is a creative approach to reducing the overall financial burden to the district. In addition to the financial benefits of this approach, I am hopeful that this arrangement enhances the learning opportunities associated with the facility. The question of the private venture being unsuccessful will require the district to have a sound plan for seeing the project through based on varying expectations for revenue. This planning begins with the original land lease agreement and continues until at least a sound footing is established by the private venture.
Claire Yoder: The learning center operation will be paid for out of the general fund. Additional expenses would be clerical and secretarial services. We will utilize the existing educational staff. As with many local businesses, Stonehenge has been a great support to the school district especially throughout the process of work on the learning center. The process continues to evolve and we are required by law to go through a competitive sealed bid process for identifying the developer to complete the project. The status is still unknown.
What is your opinion on the upcoming 2010 operating levy?
Hebert: The community is going to closely evaluate the district's fiscal responsibility when considering the upcoming levy. Recent steps taken by the district to reduce spending for the 2009 school year, without significantly impacting school programs, will help in demonstrating this responsibility. My opinion is that the district must begin soon to make a strong case for a levy that demonstrates how current revenue has been used and how the new revenue will benefit the district. A successful levy will be critical to the goal of strong schools, strong community.
Yoder: The district has worked very hard to stretch dollars one year beyond what was projected in 2006 and lasted for eight years. The last levy was slated to cover three years and the district has stretched it to four years. We try very hard to avoid going out for a levy, but the current design of state funding requires districts to seek additional operational dollars in this manner.
Where do you see the district in five years, in terms of enrollment, funding, state report card, etc.?
Hebert: I don't see a big change in enrollment over the next five years that would affect current school facilities, but it seems likely the district will continue to need to deal with lowering financial contributions from the state. With this in mind, the district should develop a financial plan that demonstrates how expenditures can be managed while not diminishing the goal of increasing educational standards. Regarding the state report card, I have expressed my opinion that the district, despite needing to improve in certain areas, is doing a good job educating its students including my own three children. I believe the district has the staff and the programs to be successful, but we will continue to need to challenge those staff and those programs to yield measurable success over the next five years.
Yoder: In five years, I see enrollment staying about the same as it is right now. If school funding continues to be what it is now and remains at its current level, we will continue to be in the cyclical pattern like we have been in over the past years to seek dollars every three of four years.
We continue to work hard to see that all students achieve and make good progress that continues to improve the state report card. We are focusing on those groups where we need improvement, such as English Language Learners. The district is also focusing on needs identified through data and formative assessment to have all students be successful.