The existing school board members narrowed down 24 applicants for the Fall Creek Township position that opened as a result of the resignation of Mr. Bottorff. The candidates were narrowed down to four finalists that were then interviewed as a panel in an open meeting on June 18th, 2019 at the Hamilton Southeastern Administration building. I attended the interview session and brought my camera!
There were not a lot of questions asked. Each question was addressed to all of the finalists, with the order of answering changed each time so that the person going first varied. I’ve included the video of the answers on my “The Other Side of the Tracks” YouTube channel, my “It’s all about the kids” Facebook page, and within this article. I tried hard to not comment within the videos; however, there were a few times where I did end up adding a bit of textual commentary. Generally this was when candidates made comments about what the school district should be doing on topics that the district has already been doing something.
I have a disconnect with people who apply for a position or job without taking the time to understand what that job or position is. As such, when a comment is made that indicates a person has not been engaged with the district and doesn’t know what the district is doing or has done, it is hard to not call them out. In a similar manner, it is mind-blowing to know that two of the four finalists applying for a school board seat didn’t show up at the last school board meeting.
But alas, your reading this to get to the videos. The meeting for the interviews actually started with the board members introducing themselves. If you have been attending board meetings, or if you were planning to run to be a part of the group, I would have expected you’d know this information already. As such, I’m not sure why the introductions were necessary beyond the fact that most of the candidates had not regularly attended any board meetings. These introductions were followed by a presentation on the updated 10-year plan for the district. I don’t include either the board introductions or the 10-year plan discussion in the videos here, but rather will consider a different article for that in the near future.
The first video I posted jumps into the first question asked of the candidates. This question was actually posed in three parts:
What is your motivating factor for applying for this board position. Is there something you would like to accomplish during your tenure? How do you see your role in that goal?
The second question posed to the candidates was:
Please give us an example of a time when you worked collaboratively with others, and what – if anything – did you learn, and what was your role?
The third question asked was:
What attribute do you have that can help our board work together and be more effective? We’d like your answer through some examples of how you’ve worked with different groups of people that have come from different backgrounds with different opinions.
The fourth question is one I considered important. I was hoping to hear answers that would relate to what a school board does and not general answers. I was a bit disappointed in that regard. The question was:
What do you believe the greatest challenge to public education is today?
Rather than break out the remaining questions – there are only a couple more – I’ve put them all in this last posted video. It contains the final questions as well as wrap-up comments from all of the candidates.
- What characteristics, skills, and knowledge will set our students on the path for future success?
- What is something that you are most proud of that this school district is doing, and is there something you believe our schools could do better? (7:20)
- Final comments from candidates. (17:00)
The board will vote at the June 26th School Board meeting for the person that will fill the vacant position. The board is not allowed to collaborate in advance on who they will vote for, so it should be an interesting vote.
Who I would vote for is irrelevant because I don’t get a vote. I will say that I heard a number of good comments by the candidates, but that I saw issues with each of the candidates.
After I ran for school board in 2016, I asked many people why the voted for the person that won my district (Amanda Shera). The answers were generally “I liked her school bus signs” and “because she was a woman.” I mention this because it is important to look at actions a candidate has done within our district and schools over personal characteristics or credentials. If a candidate has not to engaged with the district or within our schools enough to know many of the big things happening, then are they really the right candidate to represent each and every one of our ~21,500 kids?
EDIT: Fixed first video link