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Election 2012 • Candidate Questionnaires: Owen County School Board

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First Educational District

Kimberly Layne Hunter
Kimberly Layne Hunter, 39, incumbent district one school board member; director of Owen County Christian Preschool.
Graduated from Owen County High School, attended Northern Kentucky University for three years (majored in human services).
Married to Travis Hunter; two children, Autumn and Noah, who attend Owen County Schools.

What are the most important issues facing the Owen County School District and what would you do to address them?
First and foremost, we need to hire a superintendent. One who is a strong leader with a great knowledge of our educational system and a heart for our students. I want our students to receive the best education possible and for our leader to have the same desire for them. We need someone who will work well with staff, students and the board to ensure their educational success.

What changes in school board policies would you like to make if you win your election?
With a new leader in place, we can review our policies to see what changes need to be made in order to ensure that our school system is run effectively and efficiently. We need to work together to provide a high quality education for each student and for future students of Owen County Schools.

What would you like to tell the voters of Owen County about yourself and your vision for the Owen County School District?
I am a lifelong resident of Owen County and a graduate of Owen County High School Volunteering in our schools has given me a better understanding of our students’ needs. I am a firm believer in a good education and I want to do what is best for my children and all of the children in Owen County.  I want Owen County’s youth to realize their potential, get a great education, follow a positive career path and achieve a wonderful future. I want our graduates to be proud to say, “I graduated from Owen County High School,” and for Owen County’s school system to be recognized as a leader in education. I have been on the board since June 2012 and have learned a lot and have enjoyed working with staff to make choices to better our schools. I believe that cohesion between the board, staff and our superintendent will provide stability and that working together will make a greater education system for our students and school staff. I want our children to understand that anything is possible, no matter what their circumstances are, they have the potential to be successful in a career and in life.

Third Educational District:
Stuart Bowling

Uncontested.

Fourth Educational District:

Kitty Stafford Cammack
Kitty Stafford Cammack, 37, mother, wife and volunteer.
Owen County High School, attended Northern Kentucky University and Kentucky State University.
Married to Tim Cammack; two sons, Noah, 10 and Nash, 7.

What are the most important issues facing the Owen County School District and what would you do to address them?
Lack of leadership and direction is the most important issues facing Owen County School District at this time. I would like to find an effective leader who can unite our staff, students and parents. Someone who is not looking to use Owen County as a stepping-stone in their career, but rather someone who is committed to the children of Owen County and the community.
Our current financial crisis is the second most important issue. I would consider the need for fewer construction projects, which increases upkeep and maintenance in a time when our district needs to cut back and focus on the children’s educational needs and not more new buildings and athletic fields/structures. A prime example would be finding a solution for what to do with the former elementary school and how to better utilize the new elementary school instead of only having it house two grade levels.
Finally, I’d like to see each school in our district be an environment where the faculty and staff feels valued and appreciated and where parents and employees/administrators are proud to send their children every day. We need to focus on our students being college and career ready when they graduate.

What changes in school board policies would you like to make if you win your election?
School board policies are something that should be reviewed annually and changes considered, as needed. If there are policies that are outdated or antiquated, then they should certainly be addressed. It is important to keep our policies updated and in line with current state and federal guidelines.

What would you like to tell the voters of Owen County about yourself and your vision for the Owen County School District?
I have been a member of the OCPS School Based Decision Making Council for six years, served on the OCES SBDM council for two years and am currently serving on the MBMS and OCPS SBDM councils. I have also been an active member/officer of the OCPS/OCES PTO for six years and am currently serving as president of the OCPS PTO. I care deeply about the students, teachers, staff and parents in the Owen County School District. I would very much like the opportunity to make some positive changes in our schools. I strongly believe that members of our board need to be passionate, proactive and directly connected to the needs and students of Owen County. I have two young boys who are just beginning their educational journey. I want to see them and all students have the best educational opportunities available. I grew up in Owen County, attended Owen County Schools and graduated with honors. I know Owen County is a great place to live and raise a family and I want to see great things continue to happen here for many future generations of children and families.

Larry C. Johnson
Larry C. Johnson, M.D., Family medicine physician, serving Owen County.
Received a bachelors degree in education from Morehead State University, 1980; received a masters of educational counseling from Xavier University, 1987; received a doctor of medicine from the University of Louisville, 1999.
Married to Christy A. Johnson, M.D.; three daughters and one stepdaughter; two stepsons; and one grandson.

What are the most important issues facing the Owen County School District and what would you do to address them?
Currently, the most important, time-related issue facing the school district is finding and hiring the most qualified candidate for the superintendent position that was recently vacated. According to state law, the school board has limited involvement with school personnel changes. The board can only take part in the hiring of the superintendent. It is important to hire a person who possesses great leadership skills along with dedication to the Owen County School District, as well as the community. The next few years will be challenging for the superintendent and the district. The state funding for public schools has continued to decrease, but the demands on our teachers, school staff and students’ achievements has increased.
Another crucial issue would be to continue exploring options of restoring funding to our district. This is imperative to assist our teachers and school staff with the requirements now confronting them. The Support Education Excellence in Kentucky (SEEK) funding, which is money coming back to the local district from the state, has continued to decline each year. As a member of the Kentucky School Board Association, which is a group of dedicated board members from across the state, I have actively lobbied the legislature to increase SEEK funding to the districts. I will continue to encourage our local legislators to work toward this goal, as well as keeping this community informed in regards to the progress made in funding, that ultimately affects the future of our children.
Finally, the most crucial and ongoing challenge will be ensuring that our teachers and staff have the resources needed to fulfill the requirements of preparing our students to be college and career-ready by graduation. The Owen County district has excellent teachers, principals and staff members, all dedicated to this community’s children. The district’s budget and funding has changed over the last few years and is always dependent on the yearly legislative sessions. It would be ideal and a personal goal of mine to compensate our district with their much-deserved salary increases. Hopefully, this will be accomplished from our past cost savings from previous budget cuts.

What changes in school board policies would you like to make if you win your election?
First it is important to remember that all school board policies have a legal obligation to follow KRS guidelines. It is important that they are written correctly and legally and undergo periodic reviews and updating. All policy changes need to be voted on and approved by the entire school board to be accepted and entered into the policy book. Having said this, one policy to be reviewed would be the requirement of “special-called” board meetings. For example, a recent “special-called” school board meeting was needed to approve a school organization’s wish to have an overnight trip that would occur before the regular scheduled meeting. These extra meetings are costly to the district and ultimately to the taxpayer. Certainly, the schools’ principals are qualified to approve such events thereby saving money for the district and preventing unnecessary hassles to the school events organizers.
Moreover, any policy that causes undue costs to the district need to be reworded, changed or eliminated. Changes need to be implemented to save general fund monies in this time of decreasing SEEK and state budget funding to our schools.

What would you like to tell the voters of Owen County about yourself and your vision for the Owen County School District?
In 1987, I moved to Owen County to begin a career as the guidance counselor at Maurice Bowling Middle School. Over the years I came to appreciate a special way of life in Owen County. As a staff member, I encountered many brilliant and dedicated teachers doing superb jobs of educating our children. Twenty-five years later, the schools still employ the same types of qualified teachers and staff. Therefore, I had no doubts in sending my children to attend these schools. Two of my children have graduated the Owen County schools and are prepared for their futures. Currently, I have two teenagers in Owen County High School, and I have complete faith that they will be well prepared for college and/or careers.
Owen County School District is a fairly tax-poor district due to few industries or large corporations to bolster This is a tax luxury that many neighboring school districts possess. Over the past few school years the board has had to make tough decisions concerning the funding of certain staffing positions and school programs. As a former educator, I was personally chastised for the current budget changes the board passed last spring. The budget changes were to keep our district funded within budget and to prevent being placed on the state’s “watch list.” This list includes school districts that spend over budget and are in jeopardy of having their finances controlled by the state. I hope that all who were upset with these inevitable changes realize the reasoning behind these changes. The teachers, school staff and board members, and not the distant government, should control Owen County schools’ financial business.
In summary, my vision is for a successful and thriving school system that excels in preparing our students for college and/or careers. This is a high achievement for our school district that will continue to be measured and met with confidence. My pledge is to find a leader for our district who is confident in our staff and community, who shares in our vision to excel and is prepared to meet the challenges our district faces in the future. I will work to keep our budget on track, doing what is good and necessary for our schools to succeed, but at the same time, being fiscally conservative enough to allow local control and keep us out of financial trouble. I will continue to rally at the state level to increase funding to our district to improve the teachers and staff resources and salaries. I pledge to be available to constituents, to address their concerns when I can and above all, to function as a board member within the legal framework prescribed by the state for all school board members.