We are in the final days of 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.
The next candidate to profile is incumbent Joe Pyle.
Mr. Pyle, please tell about your background.
I am a lifelong Eudora resident. I have been married to my wife, Andrea, for 27 years. We have seven children; Andrew, 26, Jacqueline, 23, Christina, 22, Rachel, 20, Christopher, 17, Jennifer, 16, and Phillip, 10. All of my children have attended the Eudora public schools. We currently have three children attending school – Christopher, a junior at EHS, Jennifer, a sophomore at EHS, and Phillip, a 5th grader at EES. I have worked for over 30 years in the corporate world, primarily in management positions. My latest position was National Account Director for Covidien Healthcare, a $12 billion company. I have had the pleasure of serving on the school board for 12 years and I am currently the Board Vice President. I have also been involved in many civic activities throughout my time here in Eudora including coaching amateur baseball for over 17 years. I am a member of the Eudora Lions Club and an active member of Eudora Holy Family Catholic Church. My undergraduate degree is in History and Political Science from Emporia State University. I have 20 hours toward my masters degree at Baker University.
What qualifications do you have for a seat on the School Board?
Having served on the school board for the last 12 years, I feel that I bring a great deal of experience. Working as a team over the last 12 years, the school board, along with the administrators and our teaching professionals, have truly raised the standards here at Eudora schools. This continued experience in working with all different stake holders in Eudora schools will help facilitate continued growth and excellence for our students. I have 20+ years of experience in management roles for a large medical company and have personally hired and managed over 100 people around the country. I understand the importance of a quality education and the awareness that our students will be competing in a global marketplace. My work experience consists of primarily working with highly trained medical specialists such as cardiologists, radiologists, pharmacy managers, along with owners of very successful pharmacy chains.
What do you think is the most important issue that faces the School Board and how would you help solve that issue?
Without a doubt, our biggest issue we face this year is our funding from the state. We are really looking at some major budget shortfalls that could potentially impede our progress in making Eudora schools the best they can be. One of the things that has helped us a great deal in our district is the Equalization Formula. This ensures a poor district, such as ours, gets equal funding compared to some of the richer districts. If this equalization goes away, it could have an adverse impact on the quality of education that we deliver in the Eudora School District. I plan on trying to solve this issue by continuing to lobby our legislatures and also by looking for ways to continue to streamline all costs associated in running our district.
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?
As I explained in my previous paragraph, I feel that the budget shortfalls faced in all school districts across Kansas is a significant challenge. Again, as a district we are at the mercy of the state as to how much money we receive. However, it is critical that we prioritize what is most important to provide a sound learning environment for our children. It is probably a safe bet to say that we can’t do every single thing we’d like to do based on our budgetary constraints, so it will be critical that we, as a team (school board members, administrators, teachers, and the community), come to grips with what our highest priorities are.
What ideas to you have to either continue the quality of education or improve it at the schools?
We have seen ACT scores and our state assessment scores continue improve. This is due to our dedicate education professionals who work so tirelessly to provide all of our children a quality education. We, as a district, must continue to encourage, support, and thank all of the people who work in our district to make Eudora schools such an outstanding institution.
What is your position on state financing of School Districts?
We all understand the financial constraints the state is faced with right now. They are playing with far less money than they have in the past. It is imperative that the Equalization Formula, which I addressed earlier, continues in its present format. There has been an attempt by some at the state level to push funding down to the local community level. This simply will not work in a district like Eudora. We are currently maxed out at our mill rate, and our assessed valuation at Eudora is much lower than districts such as Desoto, Olathe, and Shawnee Mission. They can raise funds easier at those levels, while we cannot. So again, I would stress equalization and a level playing field, are critical. As our Superintendent Don Grosdidier always says, “A child’s quality of education should not be dictated by his or her zip code.”
What other issues do you feel are important to the school board?
Communication from the school board to the community and continued input from the community.
Why do you want to sit on the School Board?
Having seven children, four who have graduated from Eudora High School, and three currently attending Eudora schools, I have a strong desire to continue to see the district improve. I am quite proud of what we have accomplished in the last decade. We have built incredible buildings and created tremendous learning opportunities for our students in Eudora. If we can think back to what our buildings and programs looked like 15-20 years ago, it is very apparent we have made great strides in improving both the community and the quality of education for our students. Our test scores and state assessment scores have gone up year after year. Again, this is a testimony to the outstanding staff we have in the Eudora School District. It is my goal and desire to continue to build on this progress and truly make Eudora schools excellent in every category.
You will have the opportunity to meet the candidates face to face Wednesday evening 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.