With the upcoming elections for City Commission and School Board, we wanted to take time to highlight each candidate in the race.
All candidates were sent a questionnaire to fill out and respond to and stated that their responses to those questions will be presented as sent to us with no editing.
Today, we wrap up our School Board Candidate Profiles with Joe Pyle.
Please tell about your background and qualifications for a position on the School Board.
I have been married to my wife, Andrea, for 31 years. We have 7 children and all have attended Eudora schools. My wife and I feel very strongly that the attendance of Eudora schools, by our children, has laid a very solid foundation for them and has played a vital role in their success.
I have spent my entire career in the business world working for Fortune 100 companies in various capacities. Many of my years were spent in management roles overseeing and developing teams with up to 20 reports. I am currently the owner of two small businesses and employ several people part time
The most important issue facing the school board is funding. Tell us how you would decide on any budget cuts that may need to be made now and in the coming year.
Fortunately the school district several years ago was proactive in prioritizing our core values. Any funding cuts that should come, I would be most diligent in watching which cuts impacted our core values that we have deemed some of the most important to ensure a quality education for our students. One example of these core values is maintaining smaller class sizes with a low student to teacher ratio.
Do you support raising the local mill rate to cover any underfunding by the state and why or why not?
When you look at the LOB formula, relative to Eudora Schools, you can readily determine that we have a low assessed valuation so by raising the LOB the actual financial impact for a district our size would not be that meaningful. It would also put undue pressure on many of our senior citizens who are on fixed incomes. For these reasons, I would be reluctant to do much with the LOB.
The State Board of Education has adopted and begun implementation of the Common Core Standards in school districts through the state. What is your position on the Common Core Standards and if they were to become optional, would you support keeping or removing them from the curriculum in the Eudora School District?
I feel that we should have a set of standards that helps us develop the best curriculum for our schools. I feel the Common Core Standards are a step in this direction. Many educational experts have come out in support of the Common Core and it simply stands to reason that a program such as Common Core will help further prepare our students to be Career and College Ready.
What other issues do you see as important decisions the School Board will face in the near future?
In todays challenging and competitive workplace, it is critical that we, as a school district, continue to look for ways to improve and challenge our students to achieve excellence in all of their endeavors. Eudora Schools have made remarkable progress in the past 10-15 years and I feel they have done a great job in preparing their graduates for the outside world. The standard, that has now been set, must continue to be a goal that we strive to achieve. I also want to continue to see the ability of our teachers to be granted tenure and have all due processes available to them. Many of these fine professionals have devoted their entire careers to the teaching profession and we, as a school board, must do all we can to continue to support them.
Why do you want to sit on the School Board?
Having served for 12 years, it has been a real privilege to serve the patrons and students in the community of Eudora. Our schools face some unprecedented challenges with the upcoming state funding shortfalls and I feel that my experience and compassion for the students and staff of the Eudora School District will help be a valuable voice for the schools.
The City elections will be held on Tuesday, April 7. Polls will be open from 7:00 A.M. to 7:00 P.M. Voters can vote early by mail or by going to the Douglas County Courthouse. For more information on advance voting, you can visit the Douglas County Elections website: https://www.douglascountyks.org/depts/voting-and-elections/advance-voting
Three of the five candidates running for the City Commission will be selected. On the School Board, six candidates are vying for four seats.
We will have more in depth information about polling places as we wrap up our Pre-election Day coverage.
Assistant to the City manger Barack Matite and Parks & Rec Director Gary Scott hold the ribbon in place for the ceremony dedicating the new walking trail along Church Street. Cutting the ribbon are (l-r: Sunflower Foundation Program Officer Elizabeth Sewart, School Board members Joe Hurla, Belinda Rehmer, Joe Pyle, and City Commission members Jolene Born and Tim Reazin. Photo by Eudorareporter.com reporter Diane Chrislip)
Eudora News and Information – www.eudorareporter.com
A group of people braved the brisk temperatures and occasional raindrops to attend the ribbon cutting for the Eudora South Trail, a paved walkway that winds gracefully along Church Street in front of the middle school and high school.
The trail was made possible due to a generous grant from Sunflower Foundation along with the collaborative efforts of the City of Eudora and the Eudora School District.
“This is a great start to our master park and trail plan,” said City Commission member Tim Reazin. “I hope this leads to a walkway across K-10 to connect the city north and south and provide a safe pathway for pedestrians and bicyclists.”
Eudora Mayor Ruth Hughs said the idea for a trail began in January 2012 when a committee began meeting to develop a recreation master plan. The input from the public indicated a great interest in additional trails and parks in Eudora. The Eudora South Trail is the result of efforts on the part of a multitude of citizens and city leaders. One of the goals in the master plan is to eventually have trails and sidewalks connecting all parts of Eudora.
Both Eudora District Superintendent Don Grosdidier and Eudora Recreation Director Gary Scott are struck by the number of people who already walk, jog or bicycle on the trail every day.
“Before the trail was even finished people were walking on it,” City Manager Mike Press said.
“It’s going to be very pretty,” Hughs said of the trail and the recently planted trees along it. “It will add to the aesthetics of our town.”
School board member Joe Pyle was especially impressed by the teamwork between the school district and the city.
“This trail will enhance the quality of life for all the citizens of Eudora,” Pyle said.
City Commissioner Jolene Born expressed much appreciation to Sunflower Foundation for the grant and for their support of healthy living. “Without them, we wouldn’t be here today.”
Eudora News and Information – www.eudorareporter.com
by Megan Helm
Thursday night the School Board met to continue the hard work of maintaining high quality education for all Eudora children. They welcomed newest members, Joe Hurla. In addition they assigned additional board appointments, approve bids for food service contracts for next school year, heard reports and reviewed the districts strategic plan.
Joe Pyle will be leading the board as President and Eric Votaw will be supporting the role of Vice President for the 2011-12 school year. Mike Kelso was nominated to the Special Education Co Op Board.
Superintendent Don Grosdidier reported on the Legislative Reports from Topeka. Of most concern to Eudora is House Sub for SB 23 adds language to the Revised Kansas Code for Care of Children and the Revised Kansas Juvenile Justice Code requiring the board of education of a school district to award a diploma to any child over the age 14 who is in the SRS or JJC system, requests one, is enrolled in the district and has met minimum state requirements. House bill 2182 Sports Injury Act will also be a very important law that requires information be provided to students and parents about concussions. A waiver must be signed by the athletes legal guardian and be on file. Student athletes suspected of having concussions must be removed from play immediately. Only written permission from a licensed physician will readmit a player. Grosdidier will be updating the trainers and coaches of the new law. “It’s something we’ll be able to comply with.”
Vandalism at the stadium was discussed. According to Superintendent Grosdidier, the cost of the Cardinal head, the high jump pit and sealing the track again, to bring it to its original state, would cost around 130,000 per the contractor, ATG Sports. The need to seal the track was discussed as was attempting the clean up another way. “We’re still looking at alternatives to graffiti removal. We are being very cautious.” Grosdidier also mentioned that the police department has indicated that they have suspects and feel strongly that there will be an arrest very soon. Recouping the cost of damages will be pursued if arrests are made. The short term solution is to get the stadium in condition for Fall football. Grosdidier remarked, “We’ll make sure we don’t shut down our programs. The teams are still able to use the facility for training. Signs will be going up to alert the community.”
The bulk of the meeting consisting of reviewing the success the district has had implementing the Strategic plan and going over next year’s budget. The district is entering the third year of the three year plan and amazing strides have been taken under severe financial limitations. Areas made broad strides were Technology, Facility management, Student Learning with the whole child in mind and Community Partnerships. Superintendent Grosdidier wants to the board to begin considering what significant goals they would like to see the district achieve in the next three year cycle. The plan and its progress are on the Eudora School District Website as is the budget.
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.