Last Monday, the Madison Consolidated High School Student Council organized a forum for the individuals running for the school board. The voting will take place on Tuesday, November 6th. The candidates answered six questions that came directly from a form sent out to the student body and teachers throughout the school district along with three follow-up questions from the audience. The candidates are Larry Henry, Jodi Yancey, Ken Brunner, Rob Kring, Gina Lawrence Freeman, and Carl Glesing. Greg Bentz was not present. The order of the candidates presented in our article is the order in which they were placed on stage.

Larry Henry

Larry Henry, far left, looks to Isaac Hanson for forum ground rules.

The first candidate on the panel, Larry Henry, has a grandchild soon to be attending Madison Schools.  When asked what his role as a school board member was, Henry responded with, “There are a lot of things that are involved in that role, one of the big roles is partnering up with the community, I truly believe that.”

He expressed the importance of input from the community.

“It’s not I; it’s we. We work together, we get things done, we all come together to make things better.” Henry also identified the need to reward teachers “to increase to the payments to them, to keep them here. They’re hard to find.”

He explained the shortage of teachers and why efforts to keep them here are important. Madison has recently lost several teachers in a short period of time. The science department in particular has taken some hard losses. Henry emphasized the importance of a student-teacher relationship.

“I remember all my teachers: who they were, how they dress, and how they made me who I am.”

Henry also voiced his opinion on bullying and pointed out the high suicide rate for Jefferson County. He mentioned the implementation of PBIS in the district.

“Hopefully that’s going to change some of the actions of the youngsters and various people at various levels of the corporation.”

Jodi Yancey

Jodi Yancey discusses an answer between candidates Henry and Brunner.

The next candidate in the lineup, Jodi Yancey, is the wife of ex-MCHS principal Kevin Yancey who was fired unexpectedly from his position as principal of Madison Consolidated High School during the 2016-17 school year and has two sons attending Madison Schools.

“We have to improve the infrastructure of our schools, we have to have an environment that is open to the teachers so that we know their needs,” Yancey said.

Yancey expressed the role and priority of the school board.

“We are responsible for the tax money given to our schools by you, and we make sure that those tax dollars are being used appropriately and in the classroom…providing quality education is a key thing that we, as board members, have to remember is important.”

Yancey concurred with Henry’s concerns on the teacher shortage.

“It is getting harder and harder to recruit and keep teachers,” said Yancey. “We need to open up lines of communication that makes them feel like they’re wanted and needed. We need to make sure to hire the very best teachers, that will challenge students.”

She also expanded on the idea of a competitive compensation program and identified mental health awareness as another of her top priorities. “We need to spend some money helping students in that aspect,” she said.

Ken Brunner

Ken Brunner

Ken Brunner is a former teacher at Madison High School and had multiple children go through the school system. Brunner stressed the importance of safety in our school system.

“Our priority is to provide a safe environment for our students to learn in,” Brunner said.

He stated that all safety is important whether it be safe from intruders or clean drinking water.

“You need to feel comfortable in the building you’re in order to have a good learning environment.”

When asked how he planned to make teachers stay, he explained that pay may be a factor.

“I don’t know why we are losing our teachers. It may be pay, I’m not sure. It may be more than that, too. It may be how we are treating our teachers.”

He stated that he would be in favor of raising pay if that is what we would have to do. Brunner commented about the Madison-IvyTech partnership as well.

“I believe that it gives kids an opportunity to do better.”

He tied that concept into the idea of establishing discipline within the school district. He also stated that be believed we should continue our alternative program for kids who have trouble in school.

Rob Kring

Rob Kring

Rob Kring, our fourth school board candidate, is seeking re-election.

“One of my goals is to re-establish trust and confidence between the community and the school board,” he said.

This is also one of the key tenets of Kring’s platform. He described the role of the school board as “creating a vision, along with the superintendent, as well coming up with a budget with our superintendent. We come up with a plan on how we are going to move forward with our superintendent,” said Kring. “(The) bottom line on any decision that we make (is that) we need to consider what is best for the students.”

Kring agreed with Brunner that the number one priority should be a safe and secure environment. He described the implementation of new security systems in MCS schools which will include background checks.  When faced with problems of discipline throughout the Madison Schools Corporation, Kring believed “the problem is bound to arise that something will happen that is not in the handbook. When that happens, you must remain consistent and fair.”

Kring also said the solution for getting teachers to stay is more compensation.

“Money. It usually comes down to pay.” he stated.

But he also emphasized that teachers need to be heard, and their concerns need to be taken care of.

Kring closed by stating, “We have survived the turmoil (within the community) and have done a good job with the superintendent, but he can’t do it alone. That’s when the school board offers support.

Gina Lawrence Freeman

Gina Lawrence Freeman

Gina Lawrence Freeman is a 1979 graduate from Madison Consolidated High School and has a granddaughter in the seventh grade at the junior high. Freeman is running on the platform of “education, future, and community.”

“I am running for a positive platform,” she said.

Lawrence believes in the safety and health for our students. One way that we promote the health of our students is free breakfast in the mornings, Freeman shared.

“We need to be a team…they need to be heard, listened to, and engaged with.”

She expanded on the idea of communication and expressed the importance of involvement with the community and communication with the parents.

“We think it’s great when a student’s voice is heard in school, and all across the community.”

Carl Glesing

Carl Glesing

Carl Glesing graduated from Madison in 1962 and is also up for re-election.

“Our role as a board member is very broad; one of our responsibilities is overseeing the big financial picture. We provide the resources necessary that our students need for a good education,” Glesing said.

Glesing believed day-to-day operations should be left up to the administration and also agreed that pay needs to be raised in order to keep teachers on board. He also stated that we are losing teachers to higher paying jobs.

“It all boils down to teachers are not being treated as the professionals they are.”

He elaborated on all the burdens put on teachers.

“We need to alleviate these burdens,” Glesing said.

He supported the Madison-IvyTech partnership and said that it is helpful in training young kids for blue-collar jobs. Again, communication was a huge concern for Glesing like the other candidates.

“I believe we have done a poor job of letting the public speak,” Glesing explained.

Glesing said he has been working with Superintendent Studebaker for a way to let the public speak since they are unable to during the business meetings.