By Rachel coleman
• Leader & Times
USD No. 480 Board of Education candidate Chris Jewell was unavailable for an interview, but he did fill out a questionaire His opening statement was: “Board members must be willing to listen.”
o What motivated you to run for USD 480 school board.
“I’m running for school board because I think we can do better. I think we can do better as a district. I think we can do better for our employees. I think we can do better for our community, and I think we can do better for our students – and I think they deserve it.
“Liberal is my home. I’m a Liberal resident by choice, having moved here more than 23 years ago as part of my work. Since 1997, I’ve been self-employed building a business here in Liberal. Now, I’d like to give back, bring my experience to the Liberal school board.”
o Explain your priorities for the education of children and teens. What areas are most important?
“Students and their families should be the No. 1 priority of this district. All board decisions should benefit their well being and success. We must learn to prioritize and make sure that cuts or expenditures do not hurt our students or those that we entrust with our students every day.”
o Describe your vision for the future of USD 480 and its students.
“My vision is that USD 480 is committed to offering the highest quality education in the state of Kansas. I see us providing a safe, positive and stimulating environment where students are our first priority. Our district has state-of-the-art facilities that exemplify pride of ownership. Technology is cutting edge and abundant in all areas of the curriculum. It is
accessible to students and staff both at school and at home, keeping the district competitive. We must recognize that mutually beneficial relationships are essential between the district and community and that, most of all, our children enjoy coming to school.”
o What challenges do you see in education in our school district? How should these be addressed?
“I believe we need to focus on the 3-R’s. Responsibility, relationships and respect.
“First, we have a responsibility to maintain the integrity of the district’s budget. It’s the foundation of everything we do. We must work harder to improve relationships between the board, the superintendent, administrators, our teachers and the public. We must allow the professionals we hire to do their jobs without undue micromanagement from the board. We must open lines of communication and establish an atmosphere of transparency, in order to restore the respect and confidence of the public in our board.”
o On the other hand, what strong points do you see in USD 480? What’s working well?
“We are fortunate to have talented and committed people who care about the education of our children.”
o Personally, what strengths and relevant experiences would you bring to the board?
“In my experience, the most important quality for a public official is to be willing to listen, to ask the right questions, putting all of the relevant information on the table, and making sure all interested parties have an opportunity for input before a decision is made.”