Eudora News and Information – www.eudorareporter.com
Over the coming days we plan on bringing you profiles of the candidates for both Eudora City Council and the Eudora School Board. We sent out a questionnaire to all candidates and asked them the exact same questions. Their responses to the questions will be printed verbatim. This is opportunity for you, the reader, to see not only their responses but how they respond. The questions in the survey came from both editorial board decisions and reader input.
Our next School Board candidate is incumbent Belinda Rehmer.
Ms. Rehmer, please tell about your background.
I grew up in Lawrence, graduating from LHS in 1971. My husband and I moved to his hometown in 1982 with our two daughters Amber & Kendra. While in Yates Center we welcomed Jamie daughter #3 and son Steven. We moved to Eudora 1985. I have been active in the school district since 1986 when I worked as a Para at Nottingham Elementary. I served on the first EMS Site Council from ’92-’96 when I served at EHS till 2003. I have continued to stay involved with the schools through participation on various community committees.
What qualifications do you have for a seat on the School Board?
Before successfully winning my bid for election 4 years ago, I would have said my leadership experience qualified me for this position, however I now believe the real qualifications needed to serve our community on the School Board is the ability to see the big picture and the desire to seek what is best for all students, staff and our community.
What do you think is the most important issue that faces the School Board and how would you help solve that issue?
The City of Eudora has much to be proud of in their schools! We have great dedicated teachers and administrators who understand the importance of educating the whole student! I see issues that face Eudora’s schools are the same issues that face most schools in Kansas and the nation. By far our State’s financial situation is the most important issue that faces all Kansas schools today.
As board members it is our responsibility to ensure continued improvements in education with fewer dollars. That our district stays focused on educating our children, all of them! Doing what we can to engage the high performers, low performers and those in between. I am proud of what Eudora USD 491 has accomplished in the last 10 years or so and I believe with the help of our teachers, staff and community we can continue moving forward… in fact, I believe we have what it takes to be an innovative model that others will follow!
The budget situation for the school district is an important topic. What kind of solutions do you have to help solve School District budgetary issues?
This is a hard one, it’s very difficult to know how to fix something that is so fluid. We don’t know from one week to the next what our “paycheck” is going to be! AND if there is anyone out there that truly has a plan to fix the state’s budgetary problems, without stripping education or social services, PLEASE step up!
I am confident that we are on the right track. I am proud of our commitment to transparency and open communication with staff and the community as a whole. We will continue to evaluate every service looking for ways to consolidate, trim and/or cut any “fat”, but it looks like we are already pretty lean. We will not be adding any new services or activities for a while and we may have to pull out the “duct tape and bailing wire” to get through the state shortfalls. What I will continue to encourage is open communication because as I see it, from here on out every cut back will affect staff and children.
I am not a proponent of raising the LOB basically moving the funding responsibility off the State and putting it on the backs of our homeowners. I am a proponent of our continued cooperation with the city and promoting economic development , but this unfortunately is not a “quick fix” and though it is the right direction to go it is not going to solve our budget issues now.
I wish I had the answer to this one… I don’t.
What ideas to you have to either continue the quality of education or improve it at the schools?
We are on the right track now. We are so fortunate to have won the Safe Schools/Healthy Students Grant and I believe the Bridge, WRAP and all those services will help us to continue to improve on so many levels! That is something the State Budget issues won’t touch.
What is your position on state financing of School Districts?
I kind of answered this already. I am not a proponent of raising the LOB basically moving the funding responsibility off the State and putting it on the backs of our homeowners. I am a proponent of our continued cooperation with the city and promoting economic development, but this unfortunately is not a “quick fix” and though it is the right direction to go it is not going to solve our budget issues now.
I don’t want to see our taxes raised, however I am fully aware of the State’s dilemma. Unless they find a lot of “fat” anywhere they try to cut is going to hurt PEOPLE. Education, Social Services or infrastructure… where do they go? Raising taxes hurt the same sets of people… I truly wish I could see more communication within our legislature and less arguing, name calling and non-productive actions.
I would love to see the collaboration that is happening in Eudora spread all the way to Topeka! Let’s put our heads together and find a solution that can benefit the masses. Give and take, some will have to give so others can take and we can help each other succeed!
What other issues do you feel are important to the school board?
I am very interested in Mr Keltner’s pursuit of harnessing wind energy and the benefits of hands on education for our students
The SOAR program and it’s positive impact on behavioral problems before they become bigger. I see this program as so very helpful in reinforcing behaviors that will help our children be not only successful in school and work but in life!
Why do you want to sit on the School Board?
It is not a fun time with the economic turmoil of our nation and our state, especially for our state funded entities. We need more than advocates for our children, we need advocates for education. I would like to be part of the collaborative effort that turns Kansas’ financial dilemma into a model of excellence.
My father always said, “if you don’t vote you can’t complain and if you don’t participate you can’t be a part of the victory”.
The City of Eudora and our School District have been laid on my heart. I want to be a part of the victory.
I continue to be:
Committed to Eudora
Committed to the Core Values we have embraced
Committed to Transparency of our district – anything you may want to know about USD 491 is on our website
Committed to the continued collaboration with the City of Eudora
We will be bringing you the responses from all the candidates over the coming days and week leading up to the election. You will have the opportunity to meet the candidates face to face on March 23rd when The Eudora Chamber of Commerce and Eudorareporter.com co-sponsor our “Meet the Candidates” forum. The forum will begin at 6:30PM. For more information about the forum you can click on this link: http://www.eudorareporter.com/eudora-news-meet-the-candidates/. Election day is Tuesday, April 5th.