DeWitt Public Schools Board Member Partial Term

DeWitt school board partial-term

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    Sarah Hartman

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    Bradley Stoddard

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Biographical Information

Why are you running for school board? Please mention any experience or background that makes you particularly qualified to serve.

What are the three biggest issues facing your district and how do you propose to address them? Which issue is your top priority?

If budget cuts become necessary during your term, what would you be willing to sacrifice?

If necessary to meet budget constraints, would you support closing a school building?

Are you satisfied with the academic achievement in your district? Why or why not?

Are you satisfied with the facilities in your district? Why or why not?

Are you satisfied with the performance of your superintendent? Why or why not?

Are you current in all tax, alimony and child support obligations? If not, please explain.

Hometown Bath, MI
Education B.A. Accounting, Michigan State University
Family Husband, David, DeWitt residents since 1986. 3 grown children, (2 live in DeWitt) 2 grandchildren (live in DeWitt)
Professional Experience I earned my CPA license while working in public accounting for 10 years. In 1990, I went to work for The ASU Group where I have been the CFO and a corporate officer since 2008.
Political Experience Elected to the Board in 2011
I was elected in 2011 to the DeWitt School Board to represent parents with children currently attending the district and be a voice for their concerns. My children have graduated but now I have grandchildren in the district.

The current Board has submitted to the voters a proposed bond issue for improvements that will be on the November 2016 ballot. If passed by the voters, I would like to be involved in the implementation of bonding in a fiscally responsible manner.

I have served the DeWitt community on several School/Township Committees, DARA coach, school volunteer, a past officer of PTA and DeWitt Band Boosters, and local Sunday school teacher.
The top priority is maintaining education excellence for all students. As DeWitt is one of the lowest funded schools in Michigan, the general fund struggles to cover the cost of providing quality education for all students.

The next issue is to address aging infrastructure including roads, parking lot, security and technology. As the general fund is stretched covering the cost of academics, it’s a challenge to allocate resources for these items.

The final top issue is as the district grows, to provide the right mix of educational opportunities to prepare and challenge all students.

Eighty-five percent of the budget is for employee costs. As educating students is the priority, we would have to determine which programs could be cut or reduced that have the least affect on students. At this time, I don’t have a specific item(s) that I am willing to sacrifice as priorities and legal requirements can quickly change.
We are a growing school district. The proposed bond would add two new classrooms to accommodate incoming students. It would not be prudent to close a school building.
Yes, I am proud of our students' academic achievements. DeWitt graduation rate is over 95%. A high portion of our students attend and graduate from college. Our students are successful after graduation. In addition, DeWitt students at all grade levels perform above state average, and quite often above other schools in the area. There is always room for improvement. We must keep the focus on individual student performance.
The current facilities have served the district well but they are showing their age. Now is the time to spend the money to make the necessary repairs and updates. The longer we wait, the more costly the repairs may be.
Yes, I am satisfied with our superintendent. He brings stability to the district, improved relations with staff and focuses on not just academics but the whole student.
Yes, I am current in all my obligations.
Hometown Rapid City, MI
Education Bachelor of Science Electrical Engineering Colorado Tech
Family wife - Jennifer, daughter - Paige, and son - Cole (both are students in the district)
Professional Experience More than 21 years as an engineer, manager, Director in Space and Defense or State Government
Political Experience served last 18 months on the DeWitt School Board
I am running for the school board as an active member of my community. It is important to me to be active in the schools and the future of my community. I have been a coach for a number of sports in the communities and continue to volunteer my time to aide the growth in learning of our communities children,and I feel that same level of time investment can be made as a voice for the community with the direction of the school district. My career has me involved all around the state and the nation leading strategic direction for first responders and that experience has prepared me to be a voice for our community. Budgeting experience and making difficult decisions have prepared me for the Board
The three biggest issues facing the district are: 1) The need for reinvestment in the schools in areas of security, technology and infrastructure. A proposal is currently out to the committee for consideration in order to address this key need in the district. 2) School expansion to accommodate community growth. In my short time in the district I have seen the incoming future graduation class sizes continue to grow. We as a community must look towards the future and continue to watch this trend to ensure school additions, or reconfiguration of schools aligns with future financial needs in the planning process from the community. 3) There must be better communication to the parents.
I have lived through this is in my career and have learned that prioritizing needs when budget cuts become necessary and communication with those affected are required. We can never assume that funding is never a problem, and at times sacrifice is viewed with varying degrees based on the over all impact. In the event such budget times would be placed upon me as a Board member to review, it would be necessary to gain valuable input from the teachers, administrators, support staff, superintendent, and the community to ensure all effective means to minimize the sacrifice can be understood. Decisions such as these should never be made in a vacuum, when ideas can be generated by those affected.
I do not support closing a school building in order to address a budgetary constraint. Closing a school building does nothing to help the students nor build a community. I believe long before a school is closed there are other areas to focus on for budgetary savings. Students should not be penalized as they attempt to gain the best public education possible with the type of overcrowding and environments that would not be conducive for them to learn.
As a parent and as a Board member I am very pleased with the academic achievement in the district. I was drawn to the district more than 8 years ago based on the small town, the strong support from the community for the district, and the numerous positive information that we learned from past and present members of the community. It has been the positive test results that draw more families to the district, and the passion the teachers and administrators invest in ensuring academic achievement is occurring in each school and each student focal level.
I believe the facilities in the district are at a point where reinvestment is required to occur. Many of the buildings have been around for a number of years, and investments in technology, security and infrastructure are required. Much like the types of investments we would make as citizens to our own homes are the same types of capital investments that we must focus on in our schools. Technology is no longer a added benefit in schools, it has become the mandatory norm in order to keep pace and prepare our children for the advanced learning they will experience through the rest of their education. Security and infrastructure are equal needs in order to provide safe environments.
As a relatively new Board member, the entire process of how the Board interacted and the Superintendent was new for me and a learning experience. In short order, I have come to gain a greater understanding of our Superintendent and the passion he has for growing the district in many ways. From new programs to enhance global learning, to short and long term strategic vision to accommodate the growing needs of students in the district. I believe the Superintendent is the right fit for the district for the opportunities we are faced with over the next few years.
Yes I'm current in all tax obligations. I have no other obligations.