Three Seek Jackson Township Seat

Three Seek Jackson Township Seat on HHSC School Board

At the November 6 election, Jackson Township residents will have three candidates from which to choose for the Jackson Township seat on the Hamilton Heights School Corporation School Board.  Gwen Hunter, a three-term member and past school board president, will not be seeking re-election after 12 years of service.

Julie A. Davis, David Martin, and Beth Jenkins Roberts will vie for the Jackson Township seat on the five-person board.  Each candidate was asked to provide a short bio and answer six questions in three categories of board service to give voters a little background and insight.

In addition, a special forum featuring the candidates will take place on Tuesday, October 30 at 6:30 p.m. at the Hamilton Heights High School Media Center. The forum, presented by the Little Husky PTO and open to the public, will also be also be live streamed.  Details on watching the forum on YouTube can be accessed online at www.hhschuskies.org.

Two other seats for the Hamilton Heights School Board up for election include the At-Large seat currently held by Arnett Cooper and White River Township seat held by Doug Ozolins.  Arnett and Ozolins are running unopposed.



 

 

Candidate: Julie A. Davis

Town: Arcadia, IN

Widowed

Children: 2

Profession: English Teacher/Dept. Chair (ret.) Instructional Needs IA (current)

 

Julie Davis is a lifelong educator and nearly 70-year resident of the Heights community. With 45 years of experience in Hamilton Heights classrooms as a teacher, department chair, and instructional assistant, Julie Davis, feels she could be an asset to the board.  “I believe my experience as an educator would help lend balance and a provide a unique perspective as a member of the school board,” said Julie Davis, who is always eager to listen and learn from others.

 

Davis has worked with students of all levels of ability, interests, and learning styles.  Additionally, she has been actively involved in extracurricular activities (Drama, Husky News, Student Government), and has helped to develop programs at the State Level (Indiana Online Writing Project, Model Classroom for Project Success) during her tenure at Heights.

 

A little-known fact about Davis was she was an extra in the movie “Hoosiers,” along with Dr. Derek Arrowood, Hamilton Heights School Corporation Superintendent, who was one of her drama students at the time.

 

Governance, Finance, and Operations

Q: What experience do you have with complex budgets?

JD:  As an English Department Chair for 35 years, Davis was responsible for the departmental budget, including amortizing textbook costs during adoption, distribution of student fees, and overseeing the ordering of teacher supplies.

Q:  What are the district’s greatest capital needs right now?   How do you think those needs should be addressed? 

JD: The details of such information would need to be learned by any new member to the board. I would, however, be in favor of financial decisions that would benefit the needs of ALL students, whether academic or vocational in nature.

Performance, Outcomes, and Equity

Q: What do you see as the opportunities and challenges in this district?

JD: The details of such information would need to be learned by any new member to the board as well.  As an educator, I would support a strong academic program for all students at a level appropriate to each child, along with resources for the teachers to insure their success.

Q: What are the significant issues that matter most to you?  How will you be accountable for them as a School Board member?

JD: I am concerned with an appropriate education for ALL Heights students. I believe they need to be equipped with the skills to make them successful citizens as they progress through school and beyond. I believe that the Hamilton Heights School Corporation needs to provide a safe and nurturing environment and should make decisions which would make this a reality.

Independence of Thoughts and Actions

Q: What are the factors on which you will base your decisions as a School Board member? 

JD: Listening, learning, and sharing ideas with other members of the board, with teachers, administrators, students, and members of the community as a whole.

Q: How will you build consensus and support in the community around the decisions of the school district?    Who do you bring with you to the table?

JD:  We need to strengthen the lines of communication within schools and community as a whole. If elected, I would be required to resign my IA position, but this would enable me to volunteer in the schools and visit with students and teachers to make certain that their ideas and concerns are heard.



 

Candidate: David Martin                                                      

Town: Arcadia, IN

Married:  Melissa

Children:  4

Profession:  Agriculture Investments & Farming

 

David Martin’s interest in seeking the Jackson Township seat stems from an interest to invest the time and leadership to help his children as well as all children at Hamilton Heights receive the best education possible.  He currently has three children attending HHSC, and his wife Melissa maintains a part-time position with the corporation.  “I have a strong finance background to help assure our taxpayer funds are being used in a fiscally responsible manner yet striving for the highest academic and vocational outcomes possible,” said David Martin, a resident of the Heights district for a decade. 

It is Martin’s strength in finance and business leadership experience coupled with eight years’ experience on the Cicero / Jackson Township Planning Commission / BZA that he feels would make him an asset as a member of the school board.  “He believes his background and community leadership experience would enable him to quickly learn his role and become a contributing member of the board. 

A little-known fact about Martin is that he comes from a long line of school board members with both his father and grandfather serving as school board members at Carroll School Corporation in Flora, Indiana.

Governance, Finance, and Operations

Q:  What experience do you have with complex budgets?

DM:  I have over 25 business years’ experience developing, tracking, and being accountable for large, multi-business unit budgets.

Q:  What are the district’s greatest capital needs right now?  How do you think those needs should be addressed? 

DM:  Project Vision is in the process of creating a best in class learning facility for the next generation of Husky students.  This extensive, multiyear construction plan is underway and meeting budget, timeline and construction expectations.  The success of Project Vision can be attributed to the foresight of the current and past school administration and school board.  The entire project, from design to financing was meticulously developed by the administration and vetted by community stakeholders.  The success of the project is a tribute to the vision and detailed execution of the HHSC leadership team. 

Performance, Outcomes, and Equity

Q:  What do you see as the opportunities and challenges in this district? 

DM: Although HHSC has a long history of providing a safe school environment, safety and student mental health is a growing national concern that is a high priority.

Q:  What are the significant issues that matter most to you?

DM:  Safety and student mental health are intertwined and complex issues that may never be completely solved, but as a board member and parent I will be committed to learning how others operate, both through successes and mistakes, to make HHSC a safer school. Significant parental and community engagement is a key part of any school system or student’s success.  I will work to foster parental engagement through promoting established programs and working to establish an Indiana Promise program in northern Hamilton County. Indiana Promise is an initiative of comprehensive activities for youth and families to build hope for their future and create community culture centered around secondary education.

 

Independence of Thoughts and Actions

Q:  What are the factors on which you will base your decisions as a School Board member?

DM: First and foremost, I will be accountable to the students.  Decisions must be considered based upon how it directly impacts students and or their learning environment.  Secondly, I will be accountable to the taxpayers of Jackson Township by seeking to advance the existing fiscally responsible culture. 

Q:  How will you build consensus and support in the community around the decisions of the school district? 

DM:  By maintaining consistent and transparent communication with interested HHSC stakeholders.  Much of my family time is centered around student and school functions, which provides ample opportunity to ask questions and learn about school issues and student needs. 



 

Candidate: Beth Jenkins Roberts

Town: Rural Jackson Township, east of Atlanta, IN

Married: Jeff

Children: 1

Profession:  Careers in book publishing and marketing production followed by non-profit administration, currently self-employed upholsterer.

 

After being asked to consider running for the Jackson Township seat, Beth Jenkins Roberts determined that she had the skills, time, and a desire to give back to her Alma mater, where she chose to return and settle with my family.  An over 40-year resident of the Heights district, with a husband who is a career firefighter and Jackson Township Board member, Jenkins Roberts says she will do her homework.  “Give me a goal and I will determine a path to success,” she said.

Roberts Jenkins is a problem solver with experience in budgeting creation and oversight and fiscal responsibility.  She has critical and independent thinking skills, can set realist goals and expectations, and has a grounded moral character.  A self-starter, with an experienced, consultative manager/leader style that can work creatively within tight financial constraints, and able to self-teach and successfully apply new skills with access to appropriate training materials.

“Although a graduate of HHSC and the daughter of a career HHSC teacher with many relatives in the teaching profession, I come from outside the school system and believe I have very little bias or internal system or exposure which may color my decisions as a member of the board,” she said.

A little-known fact about Jenkins Roberts is that her name appears in hundreds of best-selling books as Director of Production.

Governance, Finance, and Operations

Q:  What experience do you have with complex budgets?

BJR: Twenty years professional budgeting experience, beginning with creation and management of departmental budget in a large publicly-traded company, and culminating in developing and managing more than a dozen annual zero-based budgets for a local church, each year resulting in surplus with secondary goals of additional debt reduction payments frequently achieved.

Q:  What are the district’s greatest capital needs right now? How do you think those needs should be addressed?

BJR:  From a general understanding of capital needs, our Project Vision addresses a vast majority of short- and mid-term capital needs and our board members have prepared well and provided a healthy financial status with little burden on the local taxpayers.

Because our facilities should be up-to-date in 2020, obviously broader, mid-range facility needs, and routine maintenance should be identified, and funds budgeted. With sound facilities, let HHSC be the vanguard for quality, breadth, and diversity of our educational opportunities for our students and creatively providing more-than-adequate support and training for our teachers.

“Let us create a culture where our employees know that their sound requests for resources are met with an attitude of understanding, and if the sound request cannot be met at a supervisory level, it will be elevated and solved creatively,” she added.

Performance, Outcomes, and Equity

Q: What do you see as the opportunities and challenges in this district?

BJR:  Evaluating and surmounting obstacles which deter HHSC from achieving district-wide four-star school rating; Identify creative support resources in an environment of static growth and limited tax base; Study how the MOSAIC program positively and negatively affect our administration, teachers and students; determine a course of action if the challenges outweigh the advantages; Expose High School students to a broader range of skills and paths to being successful in transitioning to the job market, such as personality and career assessment testing and “intro to…” classes; Because our school district demographic skews older, determine a strategy to tap in to the expert personnel resources in our community to support in-classroom or behind-the-scene activity in a consistent and meaningful way on a volunteer or stipend basis which will benefit our teachers and students;  and Mental health awareness and security – what is the best course of action to improve our student well-being and provide a safe environment in an era where these problems have few obvious solutions?

Independence of Thoughts and Actions

Q:  What are the factors on which you will base your decisions as a School Board member?

BJR:  Listen. Assess. Verify. Speak the truth in love.

Q:  How will you build consensus and support in the community around the decisions of the school district?  Who do you bring with you to the table?

BJR:  I’m assuming this question comes from the mind of a marketing professional and supports the SMART goal of Community Engagement. A school board member would be wise to show passive support by listening and encouraging and working as a team to positively reinforce the policy without being seen as promoting an individual agenda, special project, or bias. Our Superintendent is the chief cheerleader for our corporation, our board must provide the administration access to the tools to successfully communicate to the community.