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Election Preview 2010 - School Board (fourth district)

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By The Staff

Brian Neal Clark, 44 , candidate for Fourth-district school board member

Employment and education: Production Team Member at Toyota Motor Manufacturing and co-owner of Convergence Communications LLC; Eastern Kentucky University 1989 - BBA in Administrative Management and Transportation/Physical Distribution Management

Family: Married to Patti M. Clark.; two daughters, Samantha Rae and Emily Katelyn

Most important issues facing Owen County and how to address them: “The greatest challenge facing the Owen County Schools is preparing our children to compete in the global economy. Many of our youth who are currently in college are finding that they were ill-prepared to succeed there. Fortunately, our schools are improving in performance based on test scores. We need to continue this trend that the teaching and administrative staff have started. It is the duty of all Owen County residents to support both the teaching and administrative professionals employed by the Owen County Schools and engage with them to insure our students receive the best education fiscally feasible.”

What changes in local government would you like to make if you win your election? “Most of the policies and laws affecting a school board are set by state law and there is little a local board can change. I do support the policy that Superintendent Raleigh implemented with the October meeting of publicly recognizing students and faculty for educational and athletic achievements.”

What are the differences between you and your opponent? “A board of education member is required by law to complete a set number of hours of training each year. Since my appointment to the Owen County Board in August, I have begun this training. The training covers legal and ethical issues, policies, financing, etc. I have served on the governing boards of small non-profit organizations as well as my church and I am a small business owner. With these experiences, I have learned how to accomplish our goals with a limited budget.”

What would you like to tell the voters of Owen County about yourself and your vision for Owen County? When I was appointed to the Board, there were a lot of rumors and accusations regarding my selection. I was accused of being a member of the “good-old-boy club”, though they admitted they did not know who I was. I was accused of making a back room deal to preserve Mr. Cleveland’s job, though his contract ended before I applied for the opening. I am continuously referred to as his puppet, though I have not talked to him since he left office. This is what I am not.

Here is what I am. I am a father who wants his daughters to succeed in life. I am a county resident who wants to be proud of our schools’ academic accomplishments. I am a taxpayer who wants to see my investment in the schools used wisely. I am just like most of the residents in this county.

As your board member, I will support and encourage our staff as the schools improve. If there is a regression in performance, I will be the first to question why. At work we live with the mantra of ‘continuous improvement.’ I will bring that to my work on the Board of Education.”

Deedi Dunavent, 43, candidate for Fourth-district school board member

Occupation and education: Quality assurance analyst with the Department for Disability Determinations; attended the University of Kentucky for two years and graduated from Midway College with a degree in Paralegal Studies.

Family: Married to Greg Dunavent; one son, Adam.

Most important issues facing Owen County and how to address them: “One of the most important issues facing the school system is how to continue to improve our test scores. Our scores have risen steadily over the past several years and we need to keep this going. I believe our school system is doing a fantastic job and am very proud of everyone involved. However, there are always opportunities to explore new ideas and try other options. I think it is a smart idea to look at other districts and see how they are doing things. The education of our children is a very “hot topic” right now in the national spotlight and this is drawing attention to the different tactics being employed by school districts all over the country. I believe we can learn from this information and consider using what has worked elsewhere right here in Owen County.”

What changes in local government would you like to make if you win your election? “I believe the board of education has been through enough changes in recent months. We need to get this fourth district seat filled with a permanent member and begin working with our new superintendent toward maintaining the current high standards already in place and exploring what new ideas he has to share with us.”

What are the biggest differences between you and your opponent? “I believe the biggest difference between myself and the other two candidates is that I am an outsider to the school system. No members of my family work at or for the school system. I have never worked for the school system. I want to be a part of the board of education because I have a young child who attends Owen County Public Schools and I want him to have the best experience. I admire Dr. Johnson’s years of service in the school system and his continuing service to our community. I know he has a vast amount of knowledge from his work as an education professional. I was approached by current teachers who knew me and felt that I would be a good representative for the needs of our children. I would not have made the same decisions that Mr. Clark has made since he was appointed to the board. I firmly believe that the most qualified candidate was not chosen for the superintendent position. However, this decision has been made and I have absolutely no problem working with Mr. Raleigh. I have no reason to believe he won’t be a great addition to our school system and look forward to the opportunity to get to know him. If elected, I would be the only woman on the board and I feel that it is very important to have a female perspective.”

What would you like to tell voters of Owen County about yourself and your vision for Owen County? “I was raised in Owen County and graduated from OCHS in 1985. I had a wonderful experience growing up in the Owen County school system and am proud that my child will be able to say the same thing. After graduating from college and living outside of Owen County for 10 years, I moved back “home” in 1995. I feel overwhelmingly privileged to be living in Owenton with my husband and raising our son here. We love this community and I think that serving on the board of education would be an amazing way to give back to this community. I would be honored to have your vote for fourth district board of education member on Nov. 2. Thank you.

Larry C. Johnson, M.D., 52, candidate for fourth-district school board member

Occupation and education: Family physician at New Horizons Health Systems; received Bachelor of Education from Morehead State University, 1980; Master of Education in counseling from Xavier University, 1987; and Doctor of Medicine, University of Louisville in 1999.

Family: Married to Christina Edwards, M.D. with six children and one grandchild.

Most important issues facing Owen County and how to address them: “The most important issue facing our county is the well being of our youth. We are living in a time when an education is more important than ever. It is imperative that we impress upon our young people the necessity of obtaining a good education, and just as important is for us as community members, to take on the responsibility of providing that education. If you have looked under the hood of your car lately, you know things are not the way they once were. Today’s auto mechanic is expected to stay abreast of all the latest technology placed in the modern vehicle, and this in only one example of the age we live in. Jobs that were once available with little or no formal education now require a great deal of training. We need to make sure today’s youth are well prepared for the challenges in today’s work world.”

What changes in local government would you like to make if you win your election? “I do not approach the school board election with a list of changes to be made nor am I following any pre-conceived agenda. I do hope that if elected I can offer some insight into areas that need improvement. Test scores and preparation of students of secondary education are two areas I feel we need to do better in. I recently reviewed the state mandated achievement scores for our district and I feel we can improve these. I know many teachers and principals are working hard on these objectives, and hopefully the board will position themselves to lend any support necessary to reach an improved level. I recently learned that our district scored in the lower 10 percent of students taking the ACT exam as required by the state. Obviously that number needs to be higher.”

What are the differences between you and your opponent? “I do not view this race as if there are opponents. By that I mean it should be thrilling to the voters that three qualified citizens are interested in running for a school seat. I hope that people will evaluate the candidates that are running, read these interview questions, and vote for the person they feel represents this district in the best interest of the students.”

What would you like to tell the voters of Owen County about yourself and your vision for Owen County? “For those who don’t know, I was in the education field for 13 years before leaving the profession to attend medical school. The last six years I worked as counselor at Bowling Middle School. I feel that I have a lot of insight into how schools function and a point of view not only from that of an outsider looking in, but also as someone who has been there, working on the inside. I would like to have the opportunity to use this insight to work for the betterment of our schools by representing our district on the board of education.

My vision for this county is that we place an extremely high value on education and ensure that our students are receiving the best experience possible. Twenty-three years ago a young eighth-grader came to me to get papers signed to quit school. He informed me that he didn’t need school, that his father didn’t graduate and he would just take over his father’s business someday. Well his father is no longer around, his business long extinct and I am sorry to say the young man has not done well in society. If he were able, I am sure he would advise any student who would listen, not to follow in his footsteps. My vision is for every student to be afforded a great opportunity to learn, and to leave Owen County Schools being able to say they were more than prepared to continue their endeavors whether it be furthering their education or working in today’s global opportunities.”