The upcoming General Election features one race for a seat on the Warsaw Community Schools board of trustees.
The ballot includes unopposed candidates M. Curt Hermann, who is seeking the District 3 seat, and Jay M. Bumgartner in District 6. The District 4 race includes incumbent Christie Gale and opponent Randy Polston.
StaceyPageOnline.com asked the two candidates in the only race some questions in hopes to assist voters in making their decision. Candidates Gale and Polston provide background information on themselves and explain their goals for WCS:
Christie Gale, incumbent for Warsaw School Board District 4, earned her Bachelor’s degree in 1996 from Bowling Green State University with a Bachelor’s degree and a JD from Case Western Reserve, Gund School of Law in 1999.
Gale, a wife and mother to three children, moved to Chicago in September 1999 and began practicing in-house for developer. She worked for Ezgur Wallach & Braun LLP from 2000-2004, and was partner and manager of the law firm Wallach Gale PC from 2004-2009.
Gale is currently a Jefferson PTO member having served from last year. She has been on the Warsaw Community Schools board since January and is a member of the Warsaw Education Foundation through the board and a member of the Mom’s Group at the Warsaw Community Church.
Gale says, “(Former Jefferson School principal) Denny Duncan suggested that I would be a good fit for the board, referred my name and had conversations with me about filling the vacancy. The board appointed me upon their own interview and not at any one’s referral.”
Randy Polston is a 1973 graduate of Warsaw Community High School and a 1977 graduate of Spring Arbor College where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in education and a General Elementary Teaching Life License.
Polston also received his Masters of Science degree in education administration and supervision Life License in 1982 from IU Fort Wayne.
From 1977 to 2011, Polston was employed by Warsaw Community Schools. During that time, he was principal of Harrison Elementary School, 1991-2011, and Claypool Elementary School, 1986-1991. He began is education career as a teacher in 1977 working first at McKinley Elementary and then Lincoln Elementary.
He also served as an elementary coach at McKinley and Lincoln schools and was a Department of Education Administrative Mentor from 2007-2011.
Polston has also been employed by Grace College since 2003 and currently serves as the college’s director of Applied Learning.
His accomplishments have included being named the 2009 Elementary Administrator of the Year, D.A.R.E. Indiana Educator of the Year in 2007, and Outstanding Regular Education Administrator in 1992. Polston has also been involved in the Indiana Leadership Academy, Who’s Who in American Education and Kosciusko Leadership Academy.
He is currently a Cardinal Center Ambassador, serves as the Education Division chairman for United Way, and is a board member for Jacob’s Ladder.
Why are you seeking the District 4 WCS board seat and what goals do you have for the corporation if elected?
GALE: I am currently on the board having been appointed by the board to fill a vacancy. It has been a great way to incorporate my legal experience and continue using that skill set in a way that benefits my children and serves the community. As a professional and a parent it is important to instill an appreciation of education in children and to contribute to the community.
My goals for the corporation are to continue collaborating with the board members, Superintendent Dr. Craig Hintz and his staff, parents, students, and the community to implement our mission; and:
To continue to work with our educators so that they can comply with state rules while providing quality education;
To continue to expand on the curriculum including in areas of foreign languages, sciences, social media education, and technology;
To continue with our efforts in long term facility planning while maintaining fiscal responsibility;
To continue to advocate our community relationships with Orthoworx, Ivy Tech, Grace Community College for educational success;
To continue to work on parental communication and partnering up on our students goals, including a guidance program that begins at an earlier stage; and
To continue to be forward thinking and invested in the future of education by determining what we need to provide for our students to be equipped and confident in their chosen field and in that next step of their careers and life.
POLSTON: I was having breakfast with my good friend and family physician, Dr. Gary Pitts. We were talking about how God works in our life. The discussion turned to my 34 years of experience with Warsaw Community Schools. I walked away from that discussion, thinking about what God might want me to do with this experience. I am a believer and I know God placed me at Warsaw back in 1977 as a teacher and then as a principal. I was there to educate the students in our school district, but at the same time to make a difference in the lives of my students and their families. After a 34 year career, I am feeling God’s direction to use this experience to continue to make a difference in the lives of our students. As a school board member, I will bring my experience to make the best possible decisions for our students.
As a member of the Warsaw School Board, I would to continue promoting quality schools. I want to make a good school corporation even better. I want Warsaw to be known as the top school corporation in the state of Indiana – High Quality-High Performing Schools. It’s about our children and making sure we provide quality schools.
I want to continue connecting our school corporation to our community. We all need to work together to provide the best possible educational opportunities for all students. “It takes a village to raise a child.”
As a member of the Warsaw School Board, I will be a voice for all students.
As a member of the Warsaw School Board, I will continue to move our corporation forward with technology. Our students will need technology to be competitive in the workplace.
As a member of the Warsaw School Board, I will be a “fiscal watchdog.” I will work with the board to make sure every tax dollar will be used to benefit each and every student.
As a member of the Warsaw School Board, I will be an advocate for discipline in our classrooms. I will work closely with the board to assure teachers are teaching and students are learning in safe environments.
In your opinion: What is the biggest problem/concern regarding our local schools and what can you, as a board member, do to improve/change it?
GALE: The challenge facing Warsaw Community Schools is that public schooling has become competitive and to retain and attract families as well as teachers will take continued improvement, vision and funding.
As a board member you are one of seven, and you collaborate together with our focus on students and the strategic objectives that are centered on student success in developing an annual plan to serve others; progress on their dreams; and growth and proficiency in alignment with district standards. This equates to providing a curriculum that will provide opportunities for students for their future path.
It is important to have a strong and ongoing orthopedic presence in the schools and this is one aspect of the community study through which Orthoworx has been vocal on the need to have S.T.E.M. K-12 school.
POLSTON: During my 34 years with Warsaw Schools, I’ve seen a lot of educational changes handed down by our federal government and our state government. People are frustrated. Teachers are frustrated, parents are frustrated.
Education has continued to change. I’m not saying that all changes have been negative changes. There has to be accountability in our classrooms but the changes that have been taking place have been so drastic, so quick, teachers and principals are struggling to keep up.
As a board member, I want to continue the discussion about these issues. What are we doing to protect instruction time during the school day? Do our teachers have the time they need to fulfill the teaching expectations and raise expectations during the day without spending literally hours and hours in their classroom in the evenings and on weekends?
The best part of our school corporation — the educators who we have as a part of our team. The staff of WCS is second to none.
Budgets are obviously a big part of our public education system. Although no one wants to see any areas necessarily cut, what areas do you think should first be looked at for making adjustments and why?
GALE: Our board is fiscally responsible and has guidance from a very informed chief financial officer, Kevin Scott.
In continuing with our vision, our resources will only be used if they align with our mission so there must be ongoing district review of our programs in ascertaining whether they are in line with the strategic plan. If they do not align and are not accompanied by resources, then they will not be approved or must be dropped.
The budget is a complex system in that there are different sources of funds that flow into the district. One source is for Capital Project Funds and transportation, and the second is the General Fund which is the source for teacher salary, wholly supported from the state based formula and revenue generated from the state.
At a basic level the General Fund has a funding formula that is based on student enrollment and the complexity index which accounts for families on free and reduced lunch program. Therefore, growth in our schools essentially equals more dollars to pay our teachers. If personnel reductions became absolutely necessary, I would not approve any that affected the classroom, which means I am a proponent for instructional assistants. Overall, at this time, our budget is in good shape and we have been able to approve a three year wage increase plan for our support staff.
POLSTON: One of my goals, as noted earlier, is to be a “fiscal watchdog” as a member of the school board. Without being a part of budget discussions up to this point, it would be difficult for me to say we need to cut in this area or that area. I have always been impressed with our “pro-active” approach to offering the best educational program to our students. We need to continue taking that approach while continuing the budget discussions.
Now, having said that, Kovert-Hawkins presented a facility assessment on every building, land, and other properties owned by WCS. As a part of its assessment, they came up with a “vision” of what WCS could and should do over the next 10 to 20 years. If WCS chose to do everything suggested, the price tag would be $110.5 million.
After I attended the assessment presentation, I went through the report. One of the things that came to my mind was my first year as principal at Claypool Elementary, 1985. It was during that year that our elementary buildings were at 150 percent capacity. The buildings were so crowded. We were all getting very creative as to where we could put students for their educational day. We never want to get back to that point.
In order to stay up with changes and offer the best possible educational facilities, we will have to have these conversations. The mission statement of that report shared, time and time again that these were the facts and figures for discussion.
General Election day is Tuesday, Nov. 6. Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. that day. Absentee voting is taking place now.
Those wishing to cast absentee ballots for this year’s election must order a ballot from the Kosciusko County Clerk’s Office no later than Monday, Oct. 29. For more information, call the clerk’s office at 574-267-4444.
Absentee voting is available in the clerk’s office, located on the main floor of the Kosciusko County Justice Building. Hours of voting are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The last day to cast an absentee ballot is noon Monday, Nov. 5.
Saturday voting hours will be 8 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 27 and Nov. 3.
StaceyPageOnline.com will also feature answers from Wawasee Community School Corp. candidates vying for the District 1 seat – Brent L. Robinson and Michael D. Wilson; and District 2 seat – George W. Gilbert and Brandy Maney. Heidi Rozow is unopposed for WCSC school board in District 3.
A candidate’s forum was held for Whitko school board candidates last night. See related article.