School Board Candidates forum: Larry Mangan, Kevin Dodds, Darin Goodrum

first_imgAs far as the promotional board in front of the school, it appears that the site council has come up with a viable solution.  I applaud the board for endorsing their recommendation.  When considering the problem of high utilities, I would recommend an evaluation of the current infrastructure to determine where savings could be obtained. by Tracy McCue, Sumner Newscow — The Wellington School Board race for District 2, Position 5 involves three candidates: Larry Mangan, Kevin Dodds and Darin GoodrumAll registered voters from the USD 353 school district can vote in this particular race in the city/school election to be held Tuesday, April 2. Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. People can also advance vote at the Sumner County Clerk’s office.The following is a list of questions submitted to Mangan, Dodds and Goodrum. For features on the other race between Maria Cornejo and Carol Hadorn you can click here… The current early retirement plan needs to be balanced against the needs of the overall budget. It’s a very good deal for some of the employees, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of the other employees and the students. Dodds: I believe that our district is lacking in the area of preparing our students for the real world.  We need to stress the importance of producing quality work by the deadlines put into place. These plans incorporate higher than standard contributions from the company and give the employees the flexibility to control the investment structuring of their plans.  Perhaps a program of this sort could be a consideration.  As far as eliminating longevity pay, I am vehemently against it.  I believe that dedication is something that should be recognized and rewarded. Goodrum: I know the Early Retirement plan has been in effect for a long time in USD353.  It was promised to the teachers for years, and would be very tough to take back from teachers who, for years, have been loyal to USD353.  Before I can offer my position on the issue, I would have to have some specific numbers on costs associated with the Plan, in relation to our overall budget. c. Security – Each elementary school needs to be reconfigured to control the entrances and exits for greater security. Access needs to be controlled with cameras and a buzzer system. Sad to say, but the days of the front doors of the schools being unlocked during all the school hours are gone. 10. Ultimately, it comes down to educating our children. Do you think the school district is adequately preparing its students for college and the working world? Elaborate.Mangan: I didn’t feel like the school district did very well preparing my son and daughter back in 1998 and 1999, but they made it through college OK, as have many others. I like the “College and Career Readiness Standards” that are coming in 2014. That sounds like the right idea to me. 7. Technology in Wellington seems to be deficient. What does the school board need to do to bring the school district up to today’s standards? Mangan: At one time, about 10 years ago, USD 353 was one of the leaders. It’s my understanding that continual lack of funding has gradually diminished the school district’s technology. It’s very difficult to keep up with information technology, but this needs to be a top priority.Dodds: I look at the technology deficiency of our district like eating an apple.  We need to take it one bite at a time.  When the expense of updating our technology is considered the cost is overwhelming.  I believe that the current technology should be upgraded in smaller, manageable portions starting with the most vital systems.  By the time the circle is complete it will probably be time to start over again.  With the rapid advancements in technology we should be able to stay within a few years of the current technology for all departments.Goodrum: Technology, to me, is the number #1 issue in USD353.  We have fallen so far behind in this area, it is going to be very hard to catch up.  USD 353 invested a great deal of money years ago into infrastructure for the computers and systems but we have not committed adequate funds yearly to keep up with the ever changing technology.  Technology needs to be a priority every year.Many schools are eliminating textbooks and doing most lessons online8. Wellington High School has been built for about 10 years now. However, it seems to have some construction issues concerning the roof, the promotional board in front, high utilities, etc. What do you think the best solution is for the school district? What are some other facilities needs the school district will need to address in the near future?Mangan: The school district opted to not retain a day-to-day construction inspector on this multi-million dollar new high school project back in 2003/2004. While it would have been a significant cost for a daily construction inspector in hindsight it might have averted some of the construction problems (roofing, electrical, etc.). I attended the monthly construction progress meetings along with school officials, the general contractor, subcontractors and the City Building Inspector. However, there was no one inspecting the work on a daily basis, only after everything was covered up. Hopefully these construction problems can be resolved short of lawsuits.Other necessary projects are the following: Goodrum: The roof issues at Wellington High School have been ongoing since it was built.    It needs to be fixed and not just done so with a “band aid”.  Every angle of recourse from the architect/builder needs to be pursued.  If it has been, then the School District has no choice but to fix the problems.Facility Maintenance and Capital Improvements are a huge concern of mine.  The Board, with the help of feedback from the community, needs to make a list of priorities and plan for the years to come.   Some of our School Districts immediate needs include the Middle School Parking Lot, Locker room / restroom for Tennis Courts and Football field.  We also need to be making future plans for our aging Elementary schools. Dodds: I have only recently learned of the deficiencies concerning the construction of the high school.  I find it quite disturbing.  It seems to me that if the problems are a result of poor construction then there should be some sort of legal recourse that the district could take against the contractor to, at least, share in the expense of repairs. a. ADA – All school buildings must meet ADA standards. Lack of funding is no longer an acceptable excuse – there must be continual progress. The ADA compliance deadlines are all in the past and the District is at financial risk if out of compliance.center_img 1. Tell us a little about yourself. Mangan: I graduated from the University of Missouri-Rolla with a BS in Civil Engineering in December of 1970. I served two years in the U.S. Army as a personnel specialist. I worked as a civil/municipal engineer from 1973 to 2012 for the Kansas Department of Transportation, The city of Liberty, Mo., the city of Liberal, Wilson and Company consulting engineers and for the city of Wellington.I am presently working part-time at the city of Derby. My son graduated from WHS in 1998 and my daughter in 1999. I have three grandchildren attending Eisenhower Elementary with one more in the future.I have been actively involved in several major school construction projects in Wellington including: renovating the four elementary schools; the construction of the new high school; renovation of the old high school facility into the new middle school in 2006, and preparing the safe routes to school grant which awarded $250,000 for the design and construction of sidewalks around the four elementary schools and the middle school. That construction begins in March 2013.Dodds: I received an associate of applied science/electronics from engineering technology from WSU/WATC. From March 1995 to May 2003 I was an avionics/instrumentation technician. From May 2003 to June 2006 I was an Avionics Technician. From June 2006 to 2010 I was an NC repairer/facilities from June 2006 to May 2010. I am currently an electrical engineer from May 2010 to the present.Some of my responsibilities includes producing electrical engineering to support the certification of Bombardier and Learjet aircraft, designing and maintaining data acquisition systems for flight test aircrafts.Goodrum: I am a 1986 Wellington High School graduate, and graduated from the University of Nebraska-Omaha with a bachelor of science in secondary education with a minor in business.I was a teacher in Lawton Public Schools from 1992 to 1996. From 1996 until 2009 I was owner/operator of Sunflower Wrestling and Sunflower Sports. From 2009 to the present I am a sales representative in the Sporting Goods industry. My wife, Tracy, and I have four children that attend the Wellington Public Schools. We have children at the high school, middle school and Eisenhower Elementary.2. What is the main reason why you are running for Wellington School Board?Mangan: I have always had an interest in education. My mother was a college professor and author of three college math books. I want to be a part of the ongoing process of providing the students of USD 353 with the best possible education and career preparation.Dodds: The main reason that I am running for school board is that I would like an opportunity to help improve our school district.I believe that I can bring to the table processes and initiatives that have been put in place at Bombardier/Learjet that have allowed us as a company to achieve “World Class” status.  Processes that include involving all of the stake holders in problem solving.  That would include the board, administrators, teachers, students, and parents.Goodrum: The main reason I am running for the Wellington School Board is because I have a concern and passion for the future of our schools and children in our schools.3. Wellington State Assessment scores have been a huge concern for USD 353. Why do you think the scores have been so low and how should we change the situation?Mangan: As I understand it, the elementary school scores are adequate and are particularly good at Washington School. The lower scores are in the High School, where there has recently been significant staff turnover. The new College and Career Readiness Standards will start in 2014, which will change the whole process of student assessment.Dodds: I know that state assessment scores have been a big concern in our district.  I feel that the biggest culprit for the situation is the approach that is being taken by our administrators, primarily the strict adherence to the pacing calendar that has been put into place for our teachers to follow.This calendar should be used as a guideline for our teachers to follow not a required schedule to meet regardless of the rate of absorption by the students.  I believe the resolution is simple.  Let teachers teach.  Our teachers are the ones who spend every day with their students.They should be allowed flexibility to adapt to the needs of their students.  They are the ones that are the most qualified to determine when it is appropriate to move forward with their lessons.  As a result of such policies, students are being left unfulfilled and under educated.  I believe that if such decisions are left in the class room, the test scores will take care of themselves.Goodrum: Test scores have been a huge concern for USD 353 and our community.  Our focus needs to be on providing better education for our youth and in turn, improving the test scores.  In recent years the test scores have improved.  USD 353 has implemented programs that are designed to help those students that may require some additional help outside of the traditional classroom setting.  Committees of teachers have been established at the high school level to research and implement ways to help our students learn.  We are identifying students who need help in the core classes and getting them assistance in the areas they need.4. Staying on the testing question. Do you feel that USD 353 is falling into a trap of ‘teaching toward the test?’ Is there a happy medium?Mangan: Teachers have to teach to the required standards and overall lesson plans all year long. However, when the time comes for the assessment tests, the teachers do prepare their students for the tests in those days preceding.Dodds: 1. I believe that, as a district, we are teaching toward the test.  I also believe that we have been left little choice due to the mandates that have been put in place by the government.  As far as content, our teachers know what needs to be covered.As far as taking the test itself, the tests are different than any other testing that is conducted throughout the year.  There is a lot of time dedicated to training students on how to take the test.  There should be a happy medium.  For the answer as to what it is, I would have to turn to the teachers themselves to put forth their recommendations as to what it might be.Goodrum: In some respects we have to “teach toward the test”.  As a school district, we are graded and evaluated based on how our students perform on these tests.5. What is your opinion of Sam Brownback’s proposal to eventually eliminate state income tax and how it will affect the school district? Mangan: There is definitely a pro-business and anti-education movement in Topeka. The State desperately needs revenue to make their “no income tax” proposal work and they are specifically targeting education funds.They seem to want to return to the pre-1992 days and put the financial burden back on the local school districts. Prior to 1992, wealthier school districts had more funding than poorer districts and the only way to keep up was to raise the mill levy. The State should remember the history of this issue and keep all schools on the same funding level. Whatever is decided, local school districts will have to adapt.Dodds: My opinion of Governor Brownback’s proposal to eventually eliminate state income tax and how it will impact the school district is one of skepticism.  I know that some states have executed a similar model and have had great success.  I hope that will be the case for Kansas.  I am sure that the transition will definitely pose financial challenges to our district and I would hope that our state legislature would prevent our funding from suffering great loss.Goodrum: If the state income tax is eliminated it will further reduce the money allocated for schools.  As we all know, the school cuts over the last few years have been substantial.  Schools are having to cuts corners in ways that can affect the quality of education for our students.  We, as a School District, need to continue to look for ways to be more efficient and effective without sacrificing a quality education for our students.6. There is some concern about eliminating the retirement plan and longevity pay. What is your position on the issue?Mangan: The early retirement plan has been in place since 1991 and has been cut back some in recent years. For example, employees who began employment after July 1, 2008 are not eligible.I believe that all long-term employees should be rewarded for their many years of loyal service and, since this early retirement plan has been in place for so long, naturally the long-term employees are now counting on it. I don’t know if any other school districts have similar early retirement plans and longevity pay, I just know that many employers have neither. Then, to add to the problem, during the second semester, after following the recommendations put in place by the board, the grades were still not up to par.  As a result, assignment grades were either dropped or counted as extra credit.  Once again, students’ grades were elevated to a level that was not earned. Goodrum: I do think the school district is doing a good job of preparing our students for college and the workforce.  We have a very talented, passionate group of Teachers and Administration who want to see our youth succeed.We, as a School District, Parents, Teachers, need to set high expectations for our Students and hold them accountable.  We need to continue to work to help them to achieve those expectations.  We have many kids that are getting college degrees and going on to do great things.  If a student wants to learn, there are many opportunities for them at USD353. b. Safe Rooms – I know the new High School has a safe room for adverse weather that will accommodate the entire building, but the elementary schools are still hiding under heavy tables and hoping for the best. All of the elementary schools need safe rooms. Dodds: KPERS has been underfunded and in trouble for quite some time.  I believe that there should be alternatives investigated.  I know that there are many companies who are abandoning traditional pension plans for enhanced 401K plans. For example, last year I had a serious issue with the way that a problem in the sophomore geometry class was handled.  Grades were inflated for students when it was realized that the method of grading homework assignments was flawed.  As a result, students who were slacking off and not turning in their work in a timely manner were allowed to turn in their work late for full credit.  My daughter was one of the students who unjustly benefited from the policy changes made by the board.  Her grade went from a D to A almost overnight. Close Forgot password? Please put in your email: Send me my password! Close message Login This blog post All blog posts Subscribe to this blog post’s comments through… RSS Feed Subscribe via email Subscribe Subscribe to this blog’s comments through… RSS Feed Subscribe via email Subscribe Follow the discussion Comments (5) Logging you in… Close Login to IntenseDebate Or create an account Username or Email: Password: Forgot login? Cancel Login Close Username or Email: Password: Lost your password? Cancel Login Dashboard | Edit profile | Logout Logged in as Admin Options Disable comments for this page Save Settings Sort by: Date Rating Last Activity Loading comments… You are about to flag this comment as being inappropriate. Please explain why you are flagging this comment in the text box below and submit your report. The blog admin will be notified. Thank you for your input. 0 Vote up Vote down JustMe · 386 weeks ago Um….does Mr. Mangan realize that Stellex hasn’t been Stellex for several years? Get out much? They all seem to be a little out of touch on at least a few different points. But eh…whatever. Raise taxes. Report Reply 0 replies · active 386 weeks ago +4 Vote up Vote down drop outs rule · 385 weeks ago As a drop out in 1996 WHS I went to Boeing in Wichita that started my 17 year aircraft career. I feel the schools should do more vo-tech for those like me who could not attend college due to having a child at 17 and my parents did not have funding for college. My daughter graduates this year and will start her college; I hope WHS has prepared her for the real world. Report Reply 0 replies · active 385 weeks ago +1 Vote up Vote down SRMC · 385 weeks ago I would like to vote for all three of these man. I can only vote for one. The USD #353 is living in the dark ages with District-elections, learn from the city and go to At large-elections system. Report Reply 0 replies · active 385 weeks ago +4 Vote up Vote down Just saying · 385 weeks ago To Mr. Dodds point about the high schools grades. From what I heard this was neither a teachers or a boards decision. This was a Jerry Hodson’s decision so he could get his son to pass his classes. He made it to where you didn’t have to turn in homework if you didn’t want to. This rule was set up because his son did not want to do homework and the only way he would pass is for Hodson to make this rule. Also if you look at the test scores they are okay in the grade schools. The scores start to drop in the middle school (ie. Hodson). Can anybody see a trend? Report Reply 0 replies · active 385 weeks ago -1 Vote up Vote down Jim · 385 weeks ago It will be interesting to have two school board members that are/have been city employees. Report Reply 0 replies · active 385 weeks ago Post a new comment Enter text right here! Comment as a Guest, or login: Login to IntenseDebate Login to Login to Twitter Go back Tweet this comment Connected as (Logout) Email (optional) Not displayed publicly. Name Email Website (optional) Displayed next to your comments. Not displayed publicly. If you have a website, link to it here. Posting anonymously. Tweet this comment Submit Comment Subscribe to None Replies All new comments Comments by IntenseDebate Enter text right here! Reply as a Guest, or login: Login to IntenseDebate Login to Login to Twitter Go back Tweet this comment Connected as (Logout) Email (optional) Not displayed publicly. Name Email Website (optional) Displayed next to your comments. Not displayed publicly. If you have a website, link to it here. Posting anonymously. Tweet this comment Cancel Submit Comment Subscribe to None Replies All new comments I would really like to see an internship-type program for high school students to learn job skills at local industries like TECT and Stellex. “Crusader Way” is another good way for students (freshmen) to interact with community leaders. Also, the “job shadow” program is very good. I had high school students interested in engineering shadow me at City Hall. One of those students went on to graduate at the top of his engineering class at Oklahoma State University. Another is currently at Kansas State University studying architecture, so I’m a believer in it. 9. What do you think will be the most important issue for the Wellington school district in the next four years?Mangan: The school district needs to go through a strategic planning process and prioritize their capital improvement plans. I can see where it’s difficult with State funding being so uncertain, but you need to know where you’re going, set goals and continually make progress.Dodds: I feel that the most important issue facing the school board in the next four years is clearly the budget issues that the district will be facing in lieu of the potential changes taking place at the state level.  I also believe that another important issue is going to be hiring qualified people to fill the various positions that have become available and will become available in the near future.Goodrum: I have several issues that I feel are the “most important” for the next four years:a.   Improving Technology in ALL Schools – we have to make this happen!b. Compensation for our Teachers including Retirement Plan.  We are one of the lowest paying districts in the area and it is hard to get quality teachers to come to USD353 and to remain at USD353.  We need to ensure our annual salaries are competitive with surrounding school districts and come up with a resolution on the Retirement Plan.c. Short and Long Term Strategic Planning – We shouldn’t have any “surprises”.  I would like to see a committee of Administration, Community Members, and Teachers established to create a Capital Improvements schedule, and yearly, allocate funds to ensure enhancements are done before we get to the “emergency” stage.d.   Improving communication within our district and with the public.   The community /public should be made aware of what is going on within our district.  School board members are a representative of the people and should let them know what is happening in our district. Such an evaluation might include whether or not the lighting that we are using is the most efficient and cost effective means available.  An evaluation could also identify areas of the school that could benefit from timers or motion activated lighting.  Over time even the smallest of changes could equate to savings.last_img