Superintendent Steve Clason began by explaining that candidates must be residents of the district they represent, although they function as at-large representatives and every voter in the school district can vote for all the seats, not just the candidate in the voter’s district.
The three candidates addressed a packed room and presented themselves, their credentials and their vision for the school system.
Joe Begley, running unopposed in District 3, talked about his involvement with the Whitko School System as a teacher for 33 years, teaching agriculture, mathematics and computer science, and coordinator of the I.C.E. program. He cited his daughters as examples of Whitko graduates who used the strong educational foundation they received to go on to very successful careers in their chosen professions.
Although retired from teaching, Begley still wants to contribute to the community and the school system by working to make “excellence for all” a reality. He believes the schools offer an excellent product and wants to encourage students to take full advantage of this opportunity.
Georgia Tenney is vying for a seat in District 1. She also has worked for the school system for nearly 33 years, first as secretary to the principal of Pierceton Middle School and then Whitko Middle School. Tenney says, “Students, parents and teachers were my Number 1 priority.”
Tenney is also retired but still very active in the school system, volunteering at the elementary school, accompanying the choir in the middle school, working with CWA, and helping at the gate at home football games. She also has been involved with the Pierceton Chamber of Commerce as treasurer for seven years.
Tenney wants every student to be given the tools to succeed, whether that be books, technology, or a trade school environment. She wants every teacher given the opportunity to succeed by getting the support and trust from the corporation they need to do the best job they can do. And she wants parents to know that they are welcome.
Tenney recognizes that she has a lot to learn regarding the financial side of running a school system, but from her former positions “knows Whitko inside and out.”
Phil Menzie is also running for District 1 and has had a career in finance, including 13 years as the director of Financial Operations at Whitko. He currently works in the Fairfield School System.
Menzie says he would like Whitko to be the school system that other schools are measured by. In this era of open enrollment, Whitko needs to have the programs and staff to entice students from surrounding school systems, he says.
Raising student test scores would help in this endeavor by improving Whitko’s grade from the Department of Education. He approves of the goals of the 5-year instructional plan, but would add more emphasis on college and career readiness programs. Whitko lost more than 50 students to other schools this year, which amounts to a huge reduction in funding.
Menzie feels with his total of 18 years in school financial management, he will be current on the legislation, state agency directives, tax issues and other challenges that affect public education in Indiana today.
Remember to vote for your candidate on Tuesday, Nov. 6.