Eudora News and Information – www.eudorareporter.com
The Eudora School Board will have a very similar look to it for the next two years as all the incumbents that ran won their respective seats. Re-elected to the Eudora School Board were Joe Pyle, Belinda Rehmer and Mark Chrislip. Pyle who, by less than 5 votes (this number is pending the results from Leavenworth County) finished ahead of Rehmer.
The newcomer to the School Board will be Dr. Daniel Dickerson who will take the seat vacated by Kenny Massey who ran for City Council. Bryan Maring came in fifth place, well behind Dickerson.
Joe Pyle said on his narrow first place win, “I’m humbled by the confidence of all the voters and very grateful. We have a lot of tough decisions ahead of us and I look forward to doing the best I can.”
Belinda Rehmer commented on her victory saying “Apparently people are satisfied with the job we have been doing since all the incumbents were re-elected. This is vote of confidence we are on the right track with what we are doing.”
The Board will be facing some very tough questions in the days and weeks ahead as the topic of school district financing will be front and center.
Also new to the board will be Joseph Hurla who was unopposed for the seat previously filled by Nancy Jackson who decided not to run for re-election.
Some interesting stats from the race:
Pyle lead in the west, north and south parts of Eudora while Rehmer was the top vote getter in the Central part of town. Dickerson took 5th in the Central and South part of town, but made up for those loses on the west side.
North Eudora had the largest percent of vote turnout for the School Board race with 17.3% of the population casting ballots. 15.6% of west voters turned out, while the South has 12.9% and the Central Eudora Precinct had only 12.6%.
We didn’t see who the 15 write-in votes were for, but we are taking a hunch that Mickey Mouse had a good showing.
Eudora News and Information – www.eudorareporter.com
A capacity crowd converged on City Hall Wednesday evening to hear from the candidates running for The Eudora School Board.
Four of the six candidates were able to attend the event where the audience had the the opportunity to hear the candidates in an hour long question and answer session. The candidates had the opportunity to let the audience know their feelings on the issues facing the District Administration and what their ideas are for leading the Eudora School District into the future.
All of the candidates in their opening remarks commented on how good the District is performing and wanted to help in continuing that level of performance. Two of the candidates, Joe Hurla and Daniel Dickerson each made the comment that they moved to Eudora specifically because of the quality of the schools.
The line of questions then presented to the candidates were focused on the most important issue that will face the District in the coming months: The District budget.
The Eudora School District is facing a loss of revenue of 1.3 million in the coming school year, due to the loss of new facilities money and cutbacks by the state of Kansas in education funding. We specifically asked what area would the candidates look at, with the likelihood of having to cut a large amount of money from the budget.
Joe Pyle did not name any specific areas to cut because he wanted to see the information that will be brought to the board at next months School Board meeting.
Dickerson stated “The easy cuts have been made already” and went on to talk about how “we need to look at the nitty gritty and look at things like how our buses run their route and see if we can cut fuel costs by taking more efficient routes”.
Belinda Rehmer, talked about how tough the situation will be. “I don’t want to cut anything and I don’t how we do that and keep growing, which is mandated by the government. We have to grow and do better on our scores to keep our accreditation. How do you do that and at the same time make the necessary cuts.”
Hurla said reiterated the fact mentioned earlier that the “painless” cuts have already been made. He wanted to look at all the efficiencies of operations to help offset “some of the painful cuts that are likely going to have to be made.”
Taxes were also discussed since the School District levies one of the larger mill rates in the area. The State Legislator has discussed, as a way to solve the state’s budget crisis and fill the gap in school financing, about raising the ceiling on the mill levies districts can charge. The current mill levy for the Eudora School District sits at 71.721, approximately 0.8 mills from the current maximum allowed.
Dickerson stated the fact that Superintendent Don Grosdidier has said on multiple occasions before, that raising the levy the final 0.8 will bring in very little extra revenue to the District. Dickerson talked about focused cuts in the budget, looking for “the needle in the haystack” as an alternative.
Rehmer’s response was “Raising the mill levy any further would be horribly damaging to Eudora. Do I want to raise the mill levy? No. Do I see that as an option? Yea. I see that coming but I don’t want to do it.”
Hurla said that should be the last option we have. “We don’t have the tax base to support raising the mill levy. We should work at making sure the legislature doesn’t push those tax burdens on us.”
Pyle talked about how tough it currently is under the current economic situation to pay the taxes and how he is not a “big tax guy”.
Other topics covered through the hour long discussion included looking at other specific areas including extracurricular activities and disposition of school district properties such as Nottingham, West Elementary and and the Old Middle school at 10th & Main.
All the candidates agreed that extracurricular activities are an important part of the curriculum, though the district may have to start looking at fees to keep these programs in place.
As to ancillary properties, those of value like the Nottingham/Laws field should not necessarily be sold right now with a down real estate market. The consensus was to hold on to this piece of property until the economy turns in a better direction and more value could be obtained. As to the 10th & Main property, the feelings were that since the building is in such poor shape and the city has an interest in that portion of land for a new Public Safety building, the best course of action would be to look towards that direction and explore that possibility.
This was an excellent opportunity for the citizens and patrons of the Eudora area to see the participating candidates in action and gauge from their responses on who to chose in the upcoming election.
Editor’s note: We will have a full report Friday morning on the City Council Candidate forum that followed the School board session. Make sure to check eudorareporter.com to keep up to date as we bring you full coverage of your choices in action heading into the April 5th election.
Eudora News and Information – www.eudorareporter.com
Over the coming weeks 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.
The first School Board candidate to profile is Dr. Daniel Dickerson.
Dr. Dickerson, please tell about your background.
I am 46 years old and have lived in Eudora for 10 years. I have been married to Jill Dickerson for 21 years. I have 2 children, Madeline in 11th grade and Camille in 9th grade at Eudora High School. All of my education has been in the public school system. I attended the University of Missouri at Columbia and earned Bachelor of Arts degrees in both biological sciences and psychology. I completed my Doctor for Philosophy in chemistry from the University of Missouri at Kansas City. I received my Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Kansas School of Medicine. My residency training in family medicine was completed at the University of Kansas Medical Center and at Olathe Medical Center. I am a family physician at Eudora Family Care and am associated with Lawrence Memorial Hospital. We are very excited to open our new Eudora facility (Church Street and K-10) on April 15, 2011.
What qualifications do you have for a seat on the School Board?
My leadership positions include Chief of Family Medicine at Lawrence Memorial Hospital and member of the Lawrence Memorial Hospital Medical Executive Committee. I am a clinical instructor for the University of Kansas School of Medicine and was the 2006 winner of the Rainbow Award for excellence in student mentoring. In 2005, I was honored by the American Academy of Family Physicians with the AAFP Foundation Teaching Development Award. I am also a graduate of the American Academy of Family Physicians Leadership Program. I have teaching experience at the university undergraduate, graduate and professional levels. In the past, I taught undergraduate and graduate level anatomy, microbiology, physiology, pathology and biochemistry. Currently, I teach introduction to clinical medicine, clinical family medicine and rural medicine.
What do you think is the most important issue that faces the School Board and how would you help solve that issue?
The most important issue that faces a school board is communication with the community. Communication is a key component to empower all stakeholders in the learning community. Eudora no longer has a newspaper. There is no a common source of information for the community to receive school board information. The school district has a very good website; however, many people in the community do not have internet access. Seeking alternative modes of communication and educating stakeholders as to where information can be accessed should be goals of the School Board. While the information from Eudora schools is readily available on the website, it is common for school board meeting notes to be posted up to two months after the meeting. Currently, a typical posting is a very short synopsis of what was presented during a meeting. Additional information about discussion points and decisions made would be welcomed by constituents. If I am on the board I will facilitate transparent communications with members of our learning community through electronic formats such as e-mail, website and twitter. Hardcopies of information will be provided on request.
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?
The current financial climate and the decline of school funding have led to some of the most difficult decisions that school boards have had to make in decades. Given these funding challenges, school boards will need to find ways to maintain the high standard of education while protecting educational programs and co-curricular activities. All items must be placed on the table for prioritizing. In depth conversations with stakeholders must be part of this process. The district is lean, additional cuts will be very difficult and will require much thoughtfulness. Recruiting and retaining high quality faculty will be critical. Practices such as developing professional learning communities, enhancing the new teacher mentoring program and providing time for teachers to connect with colleagues through distance learning teams are examples of strategies that attract and support high caliber educators at little cost. Educators continue to “do more with less.” Our first priority must be to keep quality teachers in the classrooms.
What ideas to you have to either continue the quality of education or improve it at the schools?
As the parent of two Eudora students, I have a vested interest in the school district’s success. I will assist the Eudora School District as it navigates through the current decline of school funding by explore all options and asking many questions. I will advocate for Eudora students by protecting educational programs while remaining keenly aware of financial constraints. I will do everything possible to maintain and build upon the relevant, rigorous education provided in our schools. US News and World Report listed Eudora as a bronze level school. There was only one school in the state of Kansas at the Silver or Gold Level. To reach the Silver or Gold level, Eudora schools need to offer advance placement courses. A goal of Eudora schools should be to achieve a level of excellence by implementing advance placement programs at the high school level and strengthening the advanced coursework at all grade levels.
What is your position on state financing of School Districts?
An educated society is a strong society. Kansas needs to finance school districts to make the community and state stronger. As a member of the Eudora School Board, I will advocate on behalf of the school district and students. I will actively engage state and national legislators in conversations about student learning and the importance of investing in our youth though education.
What other issues do you feel are important to the school board?
As a family physician for Eudora Family Care, I have the unique opportunity to hear the accolades and concerns that surround Eudora schools from students, staff and community members. We have a tradition of educational excellence in Eudora. Eudora has strong community involvement, wonderful facilities and an outstanding staff. We must work to prepare our students with 21st century skills where students are highly sought after in the job market. This will require professional development that keeps educators informed on best practice instructional strategies that engage our students.
Why do you want to sit on the School Board?
As a physician, I often counsel my school-age patients and their families. This counseling involves all aspects of the child’s health, expectations and goals. I want Eudora students to have every opportunity to succeed at any career path they choose. As a member of the School Board, I will keep student needs a priority as the district considers new policies and programs.
We will be bringing you the responses from all the candidates that have so far chosen to respond over the coming days and weeks 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.
Elizabeth Stamper, DO, a family practice physician, has joined Dr. Daniel Dickerson at Eudora Family Care. Dr. Stamper graduated from Kansas State University with a bachelor’s degree in biology and completed her medical degree at Des Moines University College of Osteopathic Medicine. Dr. Stamper and her husband, Erik, have a two-year-old son and are expecting a baby in March.
Dr. Stamper began seeing patients in Eudora on December 16.
On a related note, the new 10,000-square-foot building at, LMH Eudora Medical Park, will soon be home to Eudora Family Care. The building, located just south of K-10 near Church Street, will house the doctor’s office and LMH Eudora Therapy Services, which will be on-site outpatient physical therapy provided by LMH Kreider Rehabilitation staff, and Byrne’s Pharmacy, currently located next to the existing Eudora Family Care office.
Todd Koch, Director of Facilities Management, told the LMH Board of Trustees Tuesday that the construction project in Eudora is progressing with the roof going up so that internal work on the building can proceed throughout the winter months. Todd said the contractor has been able to overcome some earlier hurdles with the roofing beams and he hopes the building will be open in April.