Incumbent Marty Hodits is one of four candidates seeking a seat on the Francis Howell Board of Education.
Hodits, a two-term member of the board who was first elected in 2006, is running again for a third term. He is competing against Steven Johnson, Marie Haupt and Eric Seider for one of the two spots.
Marty Hodits: Candidate for Francis Howell Board of Education
Where do you live? 5252 Roanoke Drive, Weldon Spring, MO 63304
What is your current job and/or position? I am employed by the Boeing Company as a facilities plant engineer, electrical. I have been with Boeing for the past 32 years.
Why are you running for School Board? When I first ran for the Board of Education six years ago student learning was my main issue and it is still the same today. Education is a life-long process and student educational needs are my first priority. All students deserve a high quality education whatever their learning ability.
Along with student learning, fiduciary responsibility is extremely important. The taxpayers of the Francis Howell School District, the Board of Education, and the central office administration of the district have continued to practice sound financial management to balance the needs of both students and taxpayers.
Due to the downturn in the U.S., state, local and world economies the burden to finance public education is increasing on the local taxpayers. With the declining economies, the federal and state governments are still imposing laws and mandates on public education, which they are required to fund by law. These unfunded laws and mandates that are being imposed on all public school districts are placing additional funding burdens on local taxpayers. Whenever our governments impose laws and mandates on the public, I believe that they should be held accountable for funding as required by existing laws and not place the burden on local taxpayers.
Relevant Experience: The past six years I have been a member of the Francis Howell Board of Education. During this time I have served on the Policy and Facilities committees and attended the Professional Learning Community training and the annual Missouri School Board Association. Also, both of my sons received their K through 12 educations in the Francis Howell School District that provided them with the knowledge to continue their education and become successful businessmen.
What do you think you can bring to this position?
For the past six years I am proud to say that I am a member of the Board of Education for the Francis Howell School District that has changed course and is now focused on preparing students for the 21st Century. The use of technology, critical thinking skills, along with proficiency in math, communication arts (reading, language and writing), science and history are now the norms. I will continue to support these educational elements and the fine arts, sporting activities and extracurricular activities components of education.
A second item is the understanding of the fiduciary responsibility and knowledge of school budgets. For the past six years I have worked closely with the District’s CFO Kevin Supple to understand all the different elements of a school budget and the mandates of our governments, how funds are obtained and can be used.
Please tell us about one goal you have for this position. To improve student learning and make sure that the District provides a curriculum necessary so every student will have the skills for the 21st Century. In order to do this the District must provide quality teachers and support staff to every student who enters any school within our District because every student deserves a high quality education whatever their learning ability.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the district? The way our governments want to regulate and fund public education. The public school systems are where most students receive their education. No other time in the history of the United States has public education faced the challenges that it does today.
Public school districts and all educators are being made the "whipping boy" of the U.S. Congress and the General Assembly of the State of Missouri. These two governmental bodies' mandates are the real issue with public education. Their mandates handicap all public education with rules, regulations and funding issues that take time away from educating students, forces all educators to be paper pushers and forces every local taxpayer to fund a greater portion of public education. It is my belief that these bodies of government should only establish guidelines for all educational institutions, provide funding as required by law and let the local communities determine how to educate the student.
Budget projections have Francis Howell faced with deficit spending in the not-so-distant future. What do you think the District should do to address the situation? By all projections from the District’s CFO the Francis Howell School District could have to do some deficit spending starting next year. The deficit spending for FY2013 and 2014 will only spend down the increases in the fund balance that has occurred the past two years. The actual start of deficit spending could start in FY2016 when the automatic $0.20 rollback happens.
Based on today’s economic forecast by the federal and state governments they will not have the fiscal resources to fund education as required by the laws and mandates that they have burdened all school districts with. If there is no change in employment, housing and retail sales and the governments will not fund education as required, then the Board of Education will be forced to ask the local taxpayers to either fund education to meet the needs of all students or to cut the quality of education by increasing class sizes and lay off staff.
Howell Central and Howell North currently don't have a synthetic grass playing surface on their football fields. Should the district make it a priority to replace grass fields with field turf? The question is not “IF” but “WHEN” will Central and North get synthetic grass playing fields. At present, there is an agenda item on the April 5, 2012 Board of Education meeting to discuss “Future Bond Projects.” At that time we should know the cost for all school improvement projects that have a direct influence on student learning. If the bids for the new HVAC systems at Fairmount and Barnwell follow the same pattern as all previous bids over the past four years they will come under budget then we will have sufficient funding to commit to installing the new playing fields. In order to have the new playing fields at Central and North the Board of Education needs to approve this expenditure by the last meeting in May.
Previous Francis Howell Candidate Profiles: Marie Haupt
A request for information was sent out to each of the candidates and this is the response.
Note: Candidates and supporters should feel free to comment, but please keep things professional.No attacks, no name calling, no profanity. Thanks.