Voters in the Eureka Springs School Board election will have to decide between two opponents for one of the two open seats, Position 4, this month. The other seat, Position 3, had no candidates, as Robert McCormick has decided not to rerun. The board will have to appoint a replacement.
In Position 4, incumbent Tom Freehling is rerunning and is being challenged by Jason Morris.
Early voting begins Tuesday, Sept. 11, at the Eureka Springs and Berryville courthouses from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Election Day is Tuesday, Sept. 18, from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the St. Elizabeth Parish Center on Passion Play Road.
Each candidate was given the same set of questions, with instructions to restrict their answers to up to 100 words each, with the provision that answers would be cut off at 100 words. (Note: Question 5 is a two-part question, so candidates' full answers were allowed in that question). Answers were returned by email and have not been edited except for minor grammar or spelling. Candidates are presented alphabetically, with a short profile and then their answers.
Freehling is a native of Pittsburgh, Pa., and has lived in Eureka Springs for 11 years. He worked for 25 years as a private sector trainer and college instructor for a state college and university System, and he has taught in 44 states and Europe. He was a college senate president and president pro tem and division chair for a technical college.
He was elected to school board in 2009 and is its vice-president. He is entering his third term as a county constable. He is a court-appointed special advocate for abused and neglected children and is a member of the Eureka Springs Fire Department, the Carroll County SORT Team, Basin Spring Masonic Lodge. He is married to Holly and has two sons and two step-daughters.
A. To make sure the children of this community receive the very best education that we can offer them.
b. To keep the school system financially sound, yet spend the necessary funds to keep our infrastructure modern and technologically up to date. So that our children will have a facility for an excellent educational opportunity.
c. To employ the best staff and teachers possible and pay them a decent wage that they may deliver that education opportunity to our children.
a. Finish the new high school, and facilitate the move to the new building as smooth as possible for the students and staff.
b. Bring our case with the state of Arkansas to a conclusion so we can get our financial goals set and get on with our job of running a school system and educating our children
c. Work to get our enrollment up and keep our trend of higher test scores going.
d. Keep our great teachers and staff and try to improve their pay and benefits.
a. We have no school age children. But as a school board member, I have been involved in many school functions.
Personally I would like to see more participation by the community in the business of running and managing the schools. Unfortunately, by interruption state statues, school board meetings are not open-forum meetings. They are meetings that must be held in the open and are open to the public. The process is simple. The agenda is published in advance of the meeting and posted and sent to the media. There is a signup sheet at every meeting for the public to express any concerns they have about the agenda items or anything that they would like to address.
The recent tragic loss of our Skills program instructor, as school was to start this year. The community support that poured forth in the fact that several businessmen from our community were willing to leave their own company and step forward to help instruct our children in this program. This is a testimony as to the depth of the caring and involvment our community has for our school system.
The least admirable thing is some of the doomsayers that stand on the sidelines and take shots at our school system. These people don't attend or participate. But are very willing to publicly criticize the system, without correct information, which presents a very poor image of our community.
I was the ONLY school board member that spoke against this issue and had it tabled and later removed. I did not feel the school was in a position to add another level of administration to the district.
The budget has already been adjusted. We started the process when we got the first letter from the state of Arkansas. We have been running the school as if we will lose that money. We have put the money aside that might have to be sent back to the state. We felt that this was the only thing that could be done to keep the school from going into fiscal distress if we lost the suit.
Morris is a native of Harrison, and has lived in Eureka Springs for 15 years. He has an AAS in Paramedicine from North Arkansas College. He is a nationally registered paramedic and captain firefighter with the Eureka Springs Fire Department and an instructor with the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management. In 2008, he was elected president of the International Association of Firefighters Local 4708 in Eureka Springs. He is currently president of the Local 4708, is the vice-president of the Eureka Springs FireWise Committee, member of Basin Springs Masonic Lodge, Arkansas Ambulance Association and National Association of EMTs. He is married to JoLynn and has four children.
I believe that the school board is responsible for supporting the teachers and staff of our schools by providing them with the resources necessary to accomplish their mission of providing a quality education to our children. I don't see that happening with our current school board. The current school board does not consult with the teachers and ask them what they need.
My first priority will be to communicate with the teachers, principals and staff to ascertain what they most need from the school board to do their jobs. I will also visit with the older students in order to learn their perspective on our school system. Once I have this information, I will work to find a way to implement the necessary changes by working with the other school board members and the superintendent.
I have several friends who are teachers and support staff at the elementary and high schools. I also have a daughter who will be entering the Eureka Springs Public School in a couple of years.
The school board represents the public. I feel that ALL actions of the school board should be public and should be discussed and considered before passage. I feel that there should be an opportunity for public opinion during meetings but that the time should be limited. I will personally make myself available to public input at all times, by telephone, in person or by e-mail.
My mother and father are both retired from public education. They both taught all of their lives. I have been exposed to public education throughout my entire life. The thing that stands out the most for me in the Eureka Springs schools is the dedication and compassion our teachers take into the classroom each and every day. It shows in the quality of education they provide in subjects not tested in the standardized tests and it shows in the standardized testing scores. It shows when students return to the schools after graduation just to thank their teachers; this happens often.
Least admirable...probably that the current school board tends to move secretly in directions that do not necessarily coincide with the desires of the citizens of the district.
What would I change...the public's ability to have input and be heard. The school board works for the public and the students.
I do not feel that this district requires an assistant superintendent. I feel that our principals and other staff can assist with any duties that the superintendent cannot perform by him/herself. Our district is having enough financial difficulty as it is, to spend money on an assistant superintendent when our student enrollment is actually down from past years would be foolish. The money would be much better spent on our children.
The state is currently withholding funds for the school district until the ruling from the court. The school district is currently working with a budget that anticipates an adverse ruling from the court, so hopefully no cuts would have to be made.