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Six running for Fairfield School Board

Meet the candidates for Fairfield School Board.

Posted on Oct. 29, 2012 at 1:00 a.m.

BENTON — Six candidates are on the ballot for Fairfield School Board this fall.

Trent Hostetler and Gregory Kitson are running unopposed for two District 1 seats. Joel Conrad, Marilee Keim, Kevin D. Miller and Kevin Noble are running for one District 3 seat.

Trent Hostetler

Unopposed incumbent, district 1

Occupation: Sales in family business

WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR SCHOOL BOARD?

Hostetler said that while there have been “trying decisions,” he has overall enjoyed his first four years on the Fairfield School Board and is thankful to have served the current members who he thanked for their guidance and encouragement.

“I’m running because I still feel the desire to see continued improvement in our school system as a whole,” he said. “We have been blessed to have the type of schools that we have, however, we cannot be satisfied. The status quo is not acceptable. We have a great staff and a great bunch of students. I want to do my part to see that they all succeed and that we prepare these kids for life out of school.”

WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THE LARGEST CHALLENGES FACING YOUR SCHOOL DISTRICT?

“Funding is, and always will be, an issue,” he said. “The cuts that the State made the last few years has been crippling for many public schools. Unfortunately, we’ve had teachers, non-certified staff and administrators that haven’t gotten a raise in four years. Fortunately, all of them realized the economic times that this area has faced and were willing to make the necessary sacrifices. We are at the point now where that needs to be addressed.”

Hostetler also said that they need to market Fairfield Community Schools to help keep up enrollment, which impacts funding. That doesn’t mean advertising exactly, he said, but “having the best and most equipped teachers, the best technology and the best programs that make kids want to stay here and will make other kids, outside the district, want to come here.”

“Being proactive and not reactive is very important,” he said.

WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO BRING TO YOUR SCHOOL BOARD?

Hostetler said he hopes to continue to bring leadership and a voice for students, staff and taxpayers to the board.

“Having a graduate and kids still in school, I have a knowledge of what’s happening day to day and what needs improving on,” he said, adding that he is proud of Fairfield and looking forward to another term on the board.

GREGORY KITSON

Unopposed, district 1

Occupation: Director of engineering and product development at Lifestyle Luxury RV

WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR SCHOOL BOARD?

“It’s an opportunity to get involved within the school system I grew up in and have enjoyed and admired for a long time,” Kitson said. “The Fairfield community has a great culture within, and I am looking forward to being a part of contributing to our school and student success.”

WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THE LARGEST CHALLENGES FACING YOUR SCHOOL DISTRICT?

“Schools continue to face cuts in state funding,” he said. “The challenges of providing student driven success in the classroom with improved educational programs, technology, extra-curricular activities, and facilities that the community and students can benefit from, and be proud of, will continue to be an issue.”

“I believe the success of our students has to come first,” he continued, “and balancing all the factors that go into that and giving the teachers the tools to perform are critical. There is a tremendous balancing act between fiscal responsibility to the community, without the trickle-down effect of harming the leadership of our teachers and staff, and most importantly, affecting the education and tools for our students.”

WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO BRING TO YOUR SCHOOL BOARD?

Kitson said he will work to get a better understanding of how the school system and school board work towards “maintaining and developing positive growth in all areas of the school system.”

“In putting the education of our kids first in our decision-making, which involves a vast of amount of areas, we can continue the success already surrounding our community,” he said.

JOEL CONRAD

District 3

Occupation: Director of business solutions at Indiana University Health Goshen Hospital

WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR SCHOOL BOARD?

“I feel that my professional background and board experience will provide the needed experience and insight to set goals and visions for the Fairfield School Corporation.”

WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THE LARGEST CHALLENGES FACING YOUR SCHOOL DISTRICT?

“Some of the biggest issues include fiscal responsibility, implementation of a new superintendent, teacher evaluation instrument, and an increasing need for up to date technology for both students and staff,” Conrad said.

WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO BRING TO YOUR SCHOOL BOARD?

“I hope to help create a vision and obtainable goals that includes all facets of the system,” including teachers, administration, staff and students, Conrad said.

MARILEE KEIM

District 3

Occupation: Retired teacher from Fairfield Jr. Sr. High School, also social studies department chairperson

WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR SCHOOL BOARD?

“My background in education puts me in a unique position to advocate for students and school improvement,” she said. “Fairfield students must be afforded the resources that will enable them to compete in our global economy. We can not become complacent and satisfied with the status quo; rather we must continue to offer a challenging curriculum including advanced placement courses.”

As township trustees, her father and father-in-law were also involved with the formation of Fairfield Community Schools, she noted. “I believe in public service and volunteerism and they were effective role models for me as I pursue this position.”

WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THE LARGEST CHALLENGES FACING YOUR SCHOOL DISTRICT?

“All Indiana schools are facing funding challenges,” she said. “As enrollment decreases so does state funding.”

Keim said that Fairfield needs to continue to attract more students and suggests adding a full-time grant writer to help bring in additional monies through private and public entities.

“Workable technology remains a challenge corporation-wide,” she said. State standardized testing, classroom teachers and administrators require current technology and “students must be technologically competitive as they enter the job market,” she said.

WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO BRING TO YOUR SCHOOL BOARD?

Keim said she will bring a professional approach to problem solving, good listening skills, an understanding that there are usually two sides to an issue and an ability to facilitate compromise.

“I have attended board meetings for the past 10 years and know the challenges this corporation has encountered,” she said. “I would face every challenge with our mission statement in mind: ‘Maximum performance is achieved through maximum effort with maximum opportunity.’ I would ask our Fairfield community to work together to achieve this mission. Most importantly, I will be a voice for student achievement and continued school improvement.”

KEVIN NOBLE

District 3

Occupation: Sales Representative for Hostetler Door Inc.

WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR SCHOOL BOARD?

Noble said that as someone who didn’t grow up in Indiana and has seen the impact of Fairfield has had on his kids, he believes that the Fairfield community has the best school system in the state

“I know most of the administrators and many of the teachers,” he said. “They have a passion for not only teaching the kids but also for caring and mentoring them in the classroom, in extracurricular activities and in many cases outside of school in our community where many of them live. In a nutshell, I want to make sure that our school continues to impact the kids with this type of caring heart and at the same time getting the best education.”

WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THE LARGEST CHALLENGES FACING YOUR SCHOOL DISTRICT?

Major challenges for Fairfield include needing to implement a new teacher evaluation system, which he said could improve students’ grades by rewarding teachers with good evaluations and offer pay incentives to those teachers. The system, he said, appears “to be subjective,” but could cause teachers to be fired for not scoring well. He recommends detailing guidelines “so everyone is clear on it” and offering teachers with low scores resources and tools to succeed.

Noble said that Fairfield also needs to re-evaluate its current information technology plan to prevent computer and network problems during the school day. He also said that Fairfield needs to expand its technical trades classes, such as adding media programs that can stream live video of extracurricular activities, and establish independent goals to improve students’ grades on standardized tests.

WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO BRING TO YOUR SCHOOL BOARD?

Noble has not yet responded to this question.

KEVIN D. MILLER

District 3

Occupation: Goshen Police detective (child victim cases)

WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR SCHOOL BOARD?

Miller said he has two kids in Fairfield schools and felt that filling an opening on the school board was a way to give back to the school system.

“I feel that it would be an honor to serve as a representative for the people not only in my township but all over the school district and to be a voice for their concerns on the school board,” he said.

WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THE LARGEST CHALLENGES FACING YOUR SCHOOL DISTRICT?

A major issue for Fairfield and for schools across the state is funding, Miller said.

“Maintaining the highest academics level possible including teacher’s salaries, staffing, and making sure we have the best academic programs to prepare our students for the future is a high priority,” he said. “It is also important to maintain the extracurricular activities,” including sports, fine arts and other programs Fairfield offers, and to provide students with the best technology available, including computers but also lab equipment and other items needed for teaching. “All of these items require funding,” he said.

WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO BRING TO YOUR SCHOOL BOARD?

“I hope to bring my integrity to the school board, and my interest not only in my own children’s education but also the education of all the students in the corporation,” Miller said. “By having the ability to work and communicate well with others,” he continued, “I can bring the ability to discuss issues and come up with solutions to the many issues that come before the school board,” which includes the concerns of school officials as well as the people within his district and the entire school corporation.


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