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Ron Harmon

Ron Harmon

1. Why do you want to be on the board?

I want to be on the board to provide better oversight on the Prop S projects and the operating budget. The gross overspending on the Francis Howell North High School has many in the
community frustrated. There’s a lack of trust in the community that the school board can actually manage the district’s finances or even cares to. Future requests for school funding might be needed. Those requests are going to be rejected unless something is done to fix the financial mismanagement. What person would build a house without first knowing what the house looked like and what it cost? It’s the  same thing with handling our tax money. It’s irresponsible to waste it. I also want to be on the board to provide oversight on the development of the curriculum. I want to make sure that curriculum developed is in the best interest of our students as a whole.

2. What is a current issue in our district that you would address if elected?
Prop S funding and the budget. First, an independent audit needs to be done to determine what went wrong on the FHN project. Other than the obvious fact that you don’t start construction without  approved plans and a guaranteed maximum price. Once the audit is completed, a detailed plan needs to be developed as to how the remaining funds are to be used – prioritize projects, review project costs, and review the scope of projects. Then execute the plan.

3. How would you like our district to be viewed from an outside perspective?

I would simply want the district to be viewed as a place that parents would want to send their children to school and where teachers would want to work.

4. What do you plan to do about continued funding issues in our district?

The first thing is to determine what went wrong with the FHN High School project as I previously mentioned. Then we need to find out where we are with the remaining projects. We need to prioritize and fit in as many projects as possible with what money remains in the Prop S fund. If there are any building needs left, we need to add those to the operating budget and plan for those accordingly. If we act responsibly, the community will begin to trust the school board should future funding be needed. We first need to manage the current money better.

5. How do you plan to keep top-quality teachers from leaving the district despite several pay freezes over the last 10 years or so?

First, the school board needs to provide better oversight of the district’s finances as mentioned previously. I take what Dr. Hawk said in the last couple of school board meetings seriously and that the highest raise possible was given to the teachers. We need to be creative to find ways to reward teachers. One possibility that we could consider is looking at removing the restriction on sick days that a teacher can bank. Currently, teachers are restricted to banking a maximum of 100 sick days. The teachers could be paid for all of their banked days at retirement. We could also revise the restriction to allow teachers to use the banked days instead of short-term disability. That could help with the number of sick days that teachers are using throughout the year and cut back on substitute teacher costs. Possible win-win.

6. Do you plan to do something about the accumulating issues with our school’s functionality, including the frequent flooding, leaking, and plumbing issues?

Yes, see responses above. We need to prioritize construction/building maintenance issues based on needs vs. wants and fit them in the budget in as timely a manner as possible.

7. How do you plan to increase the amount of janitorial staff? Will you offer more benefits, pay, or keep the rates the same?

Francis Howell is not the only place that is having a challenge hiring staff. This is a common problem throughout the area finding workers – school districts and businesses. Offering a higher salary may mean fewer staff can be hired. This may be a trade-off that needs to be considered. The amount of money that can be allocated to janitorial staff will most likely be restricted by the budget which may be limited because of how much money needs to be allocated to maintaining the schools since the Prop S fund was so mismanaged.

8. A student brought a gun to FHC in early February, how can the district improve on safety that was lacking before?
The school district has a zero-tolerance policy regarding guns in schools. The school district acted quickly with the information that was provided by a fellow student to a school resource officer to remove the student with the gun. I don’t know of anyone questioning the adequacy of the school district’s safety plans as implied by the question especially with the response of the situation at hand. With that being said, safety response plans should always be evaluated especially as new situations arise and experience dictates.

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