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MSD Northeast District candidates respond to questions

By The Paper staff

Three individuals – Sandy Davis, Matt Driscoll and Tiffany Haupert – are seeking the Northeast District seat on the Metropolitan School District of Wabash County school board in the Nov. 6 General Election.

The Paper of Wabash County submit a series of questions to the candidates and invited them to respond. A limit of 125 words per question was given, and The Paper reserved the right to edit responses exceeding the word limit.

Davis did not respond to The Paper’s request by its deadline of noon Friday, Nov. 2. Here are the questions and answers from Driscoll and Haupert. They appear alphabetically in rotating order:

Q: Why should a voter support you and not one of your opponents?

Driscoll: When they see my name on the ballot they will see someone that has been a lifelong resident of MSD and attended Northfield. They should see a person whose family has been loyal to the MSD district and that sent his four children to its schools. They will also see a self-employed farmer/business operator who has utilized skills obtained through school both within the district and through college education.

I am committed to the MSD district and keeping it the best district in the area. MSD students score the highest GPAs as incoming freshmen at state universities of all the county school districts. MSD also has the highest graduation rates in the surrounding area.

Haupert: I have school aged children and am able to put their needs before the needs of any small group of people. There are issues that are being ignored by the current board majority that are serious and obvious. I plan to address those issues and get the district moving in a positive direction. I have the education and experience to lead this district down this difficult road.

Q: What qualifications do you have to make you a good school board member?

Haupert: I see some serious deficiencies in the finance area I believe I will be able to address. As a Financial Advisor, I am experienced in the areas of finance and budgeting. Planning for the future of the district is something I believe has fallen by the wayside.

Driscoll: I am a product of MSD. I went to Purdue and goa a degree in agricultural education. I was trained as a teacher and have the utmost respect for the profession.

I am a self-employed farmer/businessman. I am use to making tough financial decisions every day to maintain our business. We are always searching for ways to do things better. No one moves forward by sitting still.

I believe with experience comes wisdom and knowledge. I have been endorsed by 11 former MSD board members. They are highly respected individuals and I am honored to have their support.

Q: Should MSD reconsider the study offered by the Community Foundation of Wabash County? Why or why not?

Driscoll: With us just recently completing the survey with Dr. Yeager and having Darren Bates doing a study on the tax implications of WCS merging with MSD, I don’t think there is an urgency to do another one right away. Mr. Bates’ study was eye opening on the tax consequences for MSD patrons.

In the future there could be another study done with WCS input. That study shouldn’t be narrowly focused on merging WCS with MSD. It needs to be broad enough to include what can each district do by itself or with other districts to maximize each’s potential. How do you collaborate with each other and other districts? We have a great model in Heartland Career Center on how several districts can work together.

Haupert: I think that the board should allow the study paid for by the Community Foundation to proceed. I think it will give us much needed information about our district. If we need supplemental data after that study is complete, we will solicit the help of outside experts to help us make solid decisions about the future of our schools. Doing nothing is not an option.

Q: What is your stance on consolidation and why?

Haupert: Consolidation is one of the many possibilities that should be studied. If there is any way we can provide a more robust education for all of our students, we must find it.

Driscoll: The first step in merging WCS in with MSD is to have them move forward on getting an elected board. At the present time their constituents have no say who represents them. For myself, and a lot of people, this is a big sticking point to a merger.

Maybe Mayor Long, Mr. Slacian and whoever else is working behind the curtains to get consolidation done could work equally as hard to get that done. Maybe someone could even set up a Facebook page promoting that.

My opinion is the best use of current buildings is to have a two high school system. These buildings, Southwood and Northfield, are rated in the top 90 percent of efficiency. It requires the least amount of busing.

Q: The configuration of MSD is the foremost matter facing the district now. What, in your opinion, are the other top 3 or 4 issues?

Driscoll: ISTEP/ILearn testing is a major issue not only facing our district but all school districts. We are to use these tests to see where our students are and to use them to help in evaluating teachers.

It is not a fair way to evaluate teachers or students. It is a test given in the spring and the results aren’t available until fall.

This fall, the results were encumbered longer because of problems with the test.

Declining enrollment in rural counites is something we all face. It would be nice if we could attract more business to our area to create jobs for more families.

Maintaining full funding from the state is an issue that is always a worry.

Haupert: Our district faces many of the same challenges that other districts are facing. Decreasing enrollment, rising costs of education, poor moral, low teacher pay compared to surrounding districts, and alternatives our students have to get an education are a few of the most pressing.

Q: Where do you see MSD five years from now?

Haupert: I see MSD collaborating or consolidated with Wabash City Schools and bringing more opportunities to our students. I see our district better addressing the individual needs of each student to make sure they are prepared for whatever future they see for themselves.

Driscoll: I see MSD as a leader in technology. We were the first in the surrounding school districts to supply a laptop or Ipad to every student K-12. This forward thinking allowed us to be a pilot in testing E-learning days for the state.

We have just scratched the surface of what can be done with the use of technology in the classroom.

We already have an online school at White’s. This is a brave new world of education that we have embarked on. We have a great staff that are forward thinkers and willing to look at ideas such as this. It is always about what is best for students both near and far. This is something we can tap into to incrase our enrollment.

Q: Where do you see MSD 10 years from now?

Driscoll: Ten years from now will be an exciting time for education with new technology. We are just approaching the horizon on what can be accomplished.

I serve on the board at Heartland Career Center. They have a virtual spray painting and welding booth. Law enforcement has a virtual reality simulator. This is even used by local law enforcement for training. They will be getting Anatomage Table 6 for health sciences. Take a look here at https://www.anatomage.com/table6.

We would have thought these things were possible five years ago? We have no idea on the possibilities in the next 10 years.

Will we be sharing classrooms with students in other schools across the state, the country or even the world?

Haupert: In 10 years, I see our district being an innovative system and a prime example of what other rural districts want to be. I picture learning that doesn’t necessarily happen entirely within the walls of a building. I see more on the job learning opportunities and more trades classes and certifications being offered. I would also like an adult program to be started where graduates one or two years out of high school that have had a rough start to their adult life can come back to our schools and get additional training or certifications.

Q: Anything else you would like to add?

Haupert: The issues facing our district are not new and have been ignored far too long. They need addressed now and under a microscope because of the lack of transparency that the board has operated under for so long. We need to find a way to unite our families. We need to build community confidence by showing them we can and will make things better for our kids.

Driscoll: With the help of my leadership we now have a $2.8 million cash balance in the General Fund without the use of borrowed funds. In fact, the MSD District will be completely debt free in 2022.

I will strive to continue the outstanding academic performance of our students. Northfield and Southwood have the highest graduation rates in the area. Our students earned over 750 college credits last year. The college performance of our graduates exceeds other area schools as measured by college GPA scores.

I will continue to pursue innovation in education for the benefit of our students.

MSD is home for my family by choice. I have proven I will stand firm for our schools.
 

Posted on 2018 Nov 02