October 21, 2012

Pioneer school board candidates respond to questions

— Pioneer school board hopefuls discuss issues

ROYAL CENTER -- Incumbent Gregory Lawson faces a challenge from Lisa Kesling in the race for a seat on the Pioneer school board.

The Pharos-Tribune posed two questions to the candidates. Those questions and the candidates’ responses follow:

Q: What do you see as the issues in this campaign?

Kesling: The main issue in the campaign is the question of whom will do a better job representing the taxpayers and parents of this community. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Greg Lawson and feel he has done an excellent job being a member of the Pioneer School Board; however, with new issues facing education in the future I feel the school board could use a fresh face. Education is evolving in many ways. Some of these ways include a new technology-based system, new criteria for teacher evaluations, and most importantly reduced funding. As with everything else, we need to find ways to do more with less.

Lawson: I don’t know that there are any issues to be contested in this school board race. The biggest issue facing all school boards is financing for our students. Trying to provide the needed services that are required, updating technology and keeping facilities up to date will continue to challenge all of us with the limited resources available to us.  It will require us to think outside of our standard realm of solving this issues.

Q: Why should voters choose you?

Kesling: I decided to run for school board because of my belief that a school board member should be involved with the school and have the first-hand knowledge of what goes on in within the school. Parents and taxpayers should have someone they trust and feel comfortable talking to concerning the education of the children of this community. Most importantly this person should be easily accessible. Being a school board member is and should be about more than just attending a meeting once a month. I have been preparing for my run for school board for about the last year. I have been regularly attending the monthly meetings and still continuing my involvement within both schools. I am committed to the time and energy required each week for meetings, phone calls, visits to schools and professional development seminars. I believe in the value of public education and am dedicated to serving the taxpayers of Pioneer School Corporation in the best interests of the students.

Lawson: I guess the first and most obvious answer is the experience that I have. But that can be a double-edged sword. I may have the experience, but it might be said that I’m old school, and we need new blood.  I like to feel that I am up to date on what is going on, but would be the first to admit that a first grader would be able to operate a computer better than myself. But, that just makes me appreciate the new technology that much more, and that we must continue to make the latest technology available to our students, but within our budget.

The first time I served on the school board, many years ago, I thought that only parents with students in the school should serve on the board. Experience and age have changed my thinking on this philosophy.

Whether one would admit to it or not, with your own children in school, I think you become narrow-visioned on how you make decisions. You want to make them on how they might affect your children. Without your own children, you become more aware of how your decisions will affect all of the students. This is not to say that someone can’t make decisions that properly affect all students, but is easy to be biased to a certain view. So maybe experience is a good thing to have on a school board.