Our schools and education of our kids are important to me. As such, below are some of my blog posts that focus in these areas.
In 2016, I ran for the HSE School Board. Below is information I had posted regarding my candidacy. 2016 was my first time running for a public political position. As such, it was a learning experience.
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Bradley Jones – Candidate for Hamilton Southeastern School Board
Thanks for taking the time to come to my personal HSE page. Friends, family, teachers, and several others suggested that I run for the HSE Board in 2016 based on my interest and passion for what is happening in our schools. While had been engaging with the board as a parent, in the end, I agreed that being on the board would have a bigger, needed impact. Therefore I had my name put on the ballot for the Hamilton Southeastern (HSE) School Board. Below is the information I had posted here on my web site regarding my candidacy. This information is now dated; however, should I consider a future election, the information is still relevant.
Note: This is a long page. For a list of tidbits about me, and of core issues, scroll down.
My HSE School Board Commitment
A board position is a four year commitment, so it is one I did not taking lightly. Unlike those that I’m running against, I didn’t just start attending board meetings. The candidacy didn’t lead me to getting involved with the school board, rather my involvement as a parent attending board meetings led me to be a candidate.
Those that know me are aware that I care about doing what is best for our kids – all of our kids. While the School Board doesn’t work with our kids directly, they do set the rules, policies, and procedures for those that do. As a member of the board, I would work with the board to make sure our rules and policies give our kids every chance to get the best education and experiences so that they can be best prepared to succeed in life.
I also commit to being fiscally responsibility. With changes in state funding, increased referendum dollars, multiple school bonds passing, and city TIFs, it is important that the board stay tuned into how money is being obtained as well as being spent. The city of Fishers projects a 2% growth in population over each year during the next decade with a more than 50% growth by 2040. As Fishers and the surrounding areas grow, so will our schools*. Decisions for this growth need to be made now if we want to maintain smaller class sizes and have the teachers and resources to continue delivering among the highest-quality education. One of the big issues for the school board to resolve is the conflict of their own demographic study as compared to that of the city.
Technology oversight is a topic that has been raised very loudly by many members of our community. As we continue the integration of technology as a tool within our schools, it is important that the policies and procedures approved by the HSE school board evolve with the changes.Topics like screen time, network security, technology failures, and age appropriate technology come up in nearly every discussion, so they are topics to be taken seriously.
Another key area of concern is teacher retention. We need to continue to hire great teachers, and then we need to make sure we keep them. Salaries and benefits are only one element in building an environment that draws and keeps good teachers. We need to make sure we are creating and maintaining an environment where our teachers can focus on teaching without unnecessary distractions or lack of support and training.
There are a variety of other topics that are equally important that range from discrimination issues, mental health awareness/help, class sizes, professional training, school fees, retention of the academic programs, alternative career options, and so much more. These topics are equally important. On some of these, there are initiatives already happening. On others, more needs to be done.
The Issues for HSE Schools and the Board
The reality is, we have great schools and live in a great district. I was one of the only candidates running in for HSE that attended a meeting by the Indiana State Board Association (ISBA) for candidates. This allowed me to meet a number of candidates running for school boards in other districts around Indiana. It was very clear that HSE is at the top of their game in educating kids. We have areas we can improve, but overall the performance of our schools outshine most schools in Indiana as well as around the country. Even so, we have a number of areas where we have to do better.
Lots to say!
Stay tuned to my blog to hear some of my thoughts, concerns, and perspectives on school, community, and tech topics. Regardless of how the campaign goes, I’m sure that in the coming months I’ll be addressing my thoughts on a number of initiatives that are already underway in the school system ranging from balanced calendars to world languages with tons of topics in-between! Just as I was writing on these topics before August, I’ll continue to write on them after November 8th.
In the meantime, below is a summary of information I’ve put into a handout that you can download from here. The information was created to fit on a single, two-sided piece of paper that I’ll be handing out, thus it is relatively sparse. If you live within the HSE district, please feel free to download the document and share it with your neighbors.
Bradley Jones – for Hamilton Southeastern School Board
I’d like your vote on November 8th for a position on the Hamilton Southeastern School Board.
Why You Should Care
Whether you have children in the public schools or not, the HSE School Board is making decisions that impact you and impact your child’s future. Even if you don’t have kids in the schools, the passing of bonds and referendums impact your taxes, and the quality of our schools impacts the success of our city to draw new businesses and families into Fishers. There are a lot of issues and topics that the HSE School board is or needs to address. I’ve listed just a few on the back.
My HSE School Board Commitment
Friends, families, teachers, and several others suggested that I run for the HSE School Board based on my interest and passion for what is happening in our schools and with our kids. When I’m elected, I commit to:
- Putting our kids first
- Demanding fiscal responsibility in all decisions
- Represent you and our community
- Keeping an open ear and an open mind to ideas that will benefit our kids and their future
- Listening, researching, and learning so I can to make the best decisions for the benefit of the students
- Giving my full attention to tackling the issues that have been raised (See the back side of this document for a list)
- Putting our kids first (This was worth repeating)
A Few Tidbits on Me
The following provide a little information about me:
- I am a dad of two attending HSE Schools.
- I am a regular volunteer at the schools, as is my wife.
- I prefer to solve issues rather than just talk.
- I am proactive. I also am not afraid to go to the source to get answers firsthand.
- I grasp the details needed to get things done and don’t just buy into the hype.
- Prior to deciding to run for the board, I regularly attended HSE School Board meetings so I could be informed.
- Edit: I’m the only candidate other than the incumbents that was regularly attending the school board meetings prior to putting my name on the ballot. Over the past two years, I was often the only parent in the audience for the main portion of the board meetings. I didn’t wait until an election to get involved.
- I’ve been a room parent for the past six years. I’ve been told I execute a good class party, and teachers have complimented the learning aspects of some of the games played.
- I’m actively involved in our community in driving technology education through user groups and meetups. I co-founded and ran the Indianapolis Developers Association for over a decade growing membership to over 3,500 at its peak.
- I’ve been recognized as a technology influencer by companies like Microsoft.
- I’ve written technical books that teach people of all ages how to program computers. My internationally bestselling books take technical topics and make them easy to understand.
- I am a board member for the Danville, Illinois Rescue Mission, which service homeless men. The mission recently purchased a new building, and will be serving short-term homeless women and children as well. (I graduated from Danville High School.)
- I interact daily with a diverse group of people from around the world through my job.
- I have experience with personnel issues, contracts, project planning, technology, and more.
How School Board Voting Works
School Board positions are non-partisan positions that will appear on the November 8th ballot. It’s not about political parties; it’s about the students. There are three of seven school board positions up for election this year. You’ll be able to vote for one candidate in each of the three townships within HSE. I’d like to ask that you vote for me to represent Delaware Township and then vote for one other person in each of Fall Creek and Wayne Townships. While we are aligned with a township, our decisions impact every student and family in our entire district.
Important Topics for the Hamilton Southeastern School Board to Address
While the HSE School Board does a lot of smaller tasks such as approving contracts for changing LED bulbs in our schools and recognizing community and school achievements, they also address a number of critical topics. The following are just a few of the topics the school board will be addressing or needs to address in the near future:
Our Kids: Kids First
Ultimately, it is all about the kids. Overall, we have great schools, wonderful teachers, and fantastic kids. Even so, we can continue to improve. Regardless of the area of focus or the topic, the core to any decision is the students. The following are a few kid-centric initiatives I expect the board will be talking about (or that I will be raising).
- Making sure the middle 60% aren’t overlooked; making sure every student has the chance to succeed
- Supporting the related arts (music, art, library, P.E.) to give our kids valuable experiences
- Incorporating mental health programs for our children’s social, emotional, and overall mental well-being
- Teaching the right world languages for our kids
- Maintaining smaller class sizes*
- Making sure the kids in our district have get a fair chance at opportunities to learn or participate in activities**
Clarifications: *The 2% growth projected for the City of Fishers over each of the next 10 years would equate to 300 to 400 kids added each year, thus needing 10 to 15 more classrooms. **Allowing out of district kids to go to HSE schools could take sport and academic positions away from in-district kids.
One of the hottest and most controversial topics the past five years has been technology. This topic will continue to be critical as the policies on the following items need to be evaluated:
- Managing screen time
- Security, privacy, digital footprints, and related topics
- Preventing cyber bullying
- Getting technology installed and working
- Use of proprietary tech vs. standard (“Why iPads?”)
- Evaluate keyboarded devices in lower grades
- Licensing, app, and hardware costs
- Confirming COPPA compliance
With an increased referendum (now at .23/$100), an increase of annual state funding per our student allocation increasing, and the approval of capital bonds, HSE Schools has tens of millions of additional dollars. Our schools need to be fiscally responsible as well as transparent without obfuscating. Fiscal issues include:
- Address the need for more school buildings
- Evaluate updates to existing buildings – Schools like Durban require updates
- Need for a larger administrative building
- Reduce use of referendum dollars to pay ongoing recurring costs
- Lower fees for things such as pay-to-play, student technology and other fees
- Ensure competitive teacher compensation
- Pushing for additional transparency in spending
- Stopping unneeded bonds
Teachers and Teaching
Our teachers and teaching policies are the core to our success. We need to support the success of our teachers and programs.
- Ensure competitive teacher compensation
- Get the best teachers and then keep them
- Support of project-based, inquisitive learning programs (HSE 21)
- Continued education of teachers, students, parents on technology as a tool
- Avoid fads and focus on the kids
- Create an effective school calendar
- Support opportunities for professional development of teachers
- Promote more consistency across grade levels
- Push for a stronger focus on developmentally appropriate curriculum
We need to do everything that can be done to safely prepare our kids for the future, while remaining fiscally accountable to our community. Help by voting for Bradley Jones for the HSE School Board on November 8th. (Again, this post was for the 2016 election.)