Bachelor's Degree, Business Information Systems, Drake University
Master's Degree, Business, Drake University
Investment Software sales, Investortools, Inc.
On the Record
What experiences do you have that make you a good candidate for office?
I am a municipal bond investment guy by trade, managed billions of dollars of mutual funds and capital, including credit analysis and purchase of school bonds. I currently sell investment management software to municipal credit analysts and portfolio managers, who oversee more than $1 trillion in municipal debt, including ownership in much of the $150 million outstanding Geneva 304 debt. I have read Geneva 304 bond disclosure documents and attended the finance and board committee meetings. I also have been an adjunct professor of finance, investment and computer courses at both college and university schools. I have volunteered as a mentor to gifted math students. I understand what it takes to prepare and teach a class. I have been on condo boards and governance boards of churches.
What are your top three priorities if elected?
Budget, communication with taxpayers, classroom technology. Providing excellent education while being a good fiduciary of taxpayers dollars in job #1. I feel we in #304 have become very confused over the past 4 years by the mismatch of zero growth in staff and enrollment while taxes have climbed. The education budget has gone from $40 million to $58 million, while the economy is stalled, we have that same staff and student numbers, yet can’t seem to explain more spending. This needs to be our top priority in the district after new board members arrive. Communication on budget and all issues, perhaps a simpler format, a summary of spending, more interactive information on the board web page - some big improvements are possible. Classroom technology needs vision from the board for the administration and teachers to bring ideas for innovations in techniques where tablets or other devices can improve collaboration, job preparedness, college prep, improved communcation, study habits and tools for learning in general. Compared to other states and districts, I feel we are behind in exploring opportunities and hope to bring focus to this area.
Would you support freezing your taxing district’s levy until housing prices rebound? Why or why not?
Yes. Budget discipline won’t come if we don’t demand it. We must face our spending problem and realize we have reached the taxpayers limit on both ability and willingness to accept increases. The levy vote revealed an illusion that people will/can pay whatever is levied, but I say they only pay what is possible, or move; while prices and future taxes spiral lower. Geneva lost 15% population since 2008. Lower demand for housing, lowers prices and tax revenues. I argued for a levy freeze, as did many others. The board voted CPI+1.5% claiming victory that didn’t do the allowed-by-law CPI+3%. With warnings we’d lose that forever. But... we have a surplus of rev over expenses by $3 million last year, why raise taxes to another record level? To make things worse, there was no discussion at the 7-0 vote (when and what basis were decisions made then?) and no explanation as to why the budget wasn’t being cut so we could live with a CPI+0% that taxpayers demanded. Why do I suggest communication poor? several board members said a tax increase is a cut: how? the target budget was shown with an increase in levy by CPI+3% - anything less than that legally allowed “full” increase is a cut - meaning the difference between a big increase and an increase, is a cut - make sense? Not to me either. The only way to get wise about spending is to stop levy increases.
What one decision by the school board do you most disagree with and why?
The levy increase. See me previous answer for the why.
What was the biggest accomplishment of the board in the past year?
A good, fair agreement on a new teacher contract, with a provision for a committee to revamp the step/lane to more closely align with performance based standards -- all this is in flux, so a perfect time to involve a collaborative effort to get groundwork laid before the next contract negotiation. With all the changes, three years doesn’t sound so far away.
Why should voters elect you to office?
I know budgets and know how to teach. I understand the difference between governance and management. I also know how to provide vision, leadership and demand clear, simple answers. I also feel a strong sense of service to students, parents, teachers, taxpayers - to do what’s tough and necessary to be a good steward of taxpayer resources and a good steward of the trust given to the schools by parents, that their kids get the best education possible for the best price.
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