By Nick Poust
Event: The Hamilton Southeastern Education Association hosted a candidate forum for the HSE School Board Oct. 4 at Hamilton Southeastern High School.
Who attended: Candidates from Delaware, Fall Creek and Wayne townships took the stage, vying for openings on the Hamilton Southeastern Schools board by speaking about a variety of issues. These candidates included Brad Jones, Amanda Shera, Adam Harness and Frank Whelan of Delaware Township, Mike Bottorff, Kent Everett and Howard Stevenson of Fall Creek, and Sylvia Shepler and Charron Wright from Wayne.
Brad Jones focused on the importance of technology within education. In regards to HSE21, a program in place that integrated iPads into HSE schools in 2013, Jones expressed concerns over screen time and security but also backed the usage of computers and iPads by both students and teachers in the classroom. Additionally, Jones disapproved of the current state of standardized testing and was a proponent of moving that funding into the arts.
Amanda Shera stressed the importance of student safety. She was particularly in favor of seatbelts on school buses. Additionally, in regards to mental health, she said more counselors and mental health coordinators are necessary to adequately help students in need. She specifically mentioned a focus on youth mentoring as well. She believed HSE21 could be best integrated on an individual basis. “It would be best integrated using components of curriculum that teachers can individually establish,” she said.
Adam Harness was for a more traditional learning approach. He said he wanted technology in the classroom to be a choice for the students, not a requirement. In addition, Harness stressed expanding HSE’s importance on mental health.
Frank Whelan was a proponent for increased funding for and expansion of the arts. “This is especially important for creative thinking, outside-the-box thinking, along with all of the typical academic subjects,” he said. Whelan additionally spoke positively about the HSE21 program, but he was skeptical of allowing students to take iPads home with them. He also stressed additional training for teachers in regards to the positives and negatives of technology.
Fall Creek Township
Mike Bottorff was in favor of HSE21 and, branching off that educational platform, was an advocate for individualized instruction. “We now have tools, more so than we ever have before, to meet students where they are in their learning goals,” Bottorff said. He also backed additional internship programs.
Kent Everett said he believed “students spend way too much time testing, and teachers spend way too much time administering tests.” Everett was also concerned with putting iPads in the hands of Kindergarteners, which begins in 2017. Additionally, Everett wanted to see more communication from the school board and school districts, with particular focus on live streams of school board meetings.
Howard Stevenson, running for re-election, wanted to improve upon the 95 percent graduation rate by focusing on the engagement and achievement gap for students. A proponent of HSE21, Stevenson said this program allows for students to apply what they learn in a creative environment. He said he also was in favor of more funding for early education and making sure students with special needs are prepared for college and beyond.
When it comes to mental health, Syliva Shepler, also running for re-election, was for partnering with faith-based organizations to get students the help they need. In addition, she wanted to see students monitored more in regards to their educational growth and educational programs like HSE21 evaluated more in regards to early childhood education.
Charron Wright wanted to make sure pre-schoolers are prepared for the ever-growing curriculum within Kindergarten. She said she is in favor of more internships for non-traditional and high school students and said she prefers the NWEA Assessment over ISTEP when it comes to standardized testing.
Each candidate will be on the ballot come Nov. 8.