Archive for Thursday, March 24, 2011

Academics should be most important, says candidate

March 24, 2011

Jeff Barger, USD 204 Board of Education candidate, says some recent decisions made by the board prompted him to throw his hat into the race.

Barger, in response to a question about why he’s running, said, “The way budget cuts and spending have been approached in the recent past.” The question was posed in a candidate questionnaire prepared by The Chieftain.

Barger says he sees funding to be an important issue facing the board, but for him it’s not the most important one. He says the board needs to put academics at the top of its priority list.

“Our kids need to know how the real world works and have a base that will allow them to succeed in it,” Barger said.

If spending adjustments need to be made, Barger says he would favor cuts to any “non-educating positions and programs” that aren’t mandated by the state. These would include music, arts and athletics positions and programs.

“By non-educating, I am referring to programs that don’t prepare a child for college in the standard reading, writing and arithmetic model,” said Barger, who has four children going to schools in the district. “If it doesn’t fit that, then if the budget suggests, athletics and art programs should be cut.”

Barger says he would favor a tax increase if the students’ academic experience was being reduced through overly-large class sizes, but he adds raising property taxes is a tricky business.

“I think that this is a double-edged sword. If taxes are raised to gain more funding, it could drive away industry that provides the tax base through jobs,” Barger said. “But, on the other hand, without exemplary schools, companies and individuals won’t come to your area. I feel that the funding fight in Topeka must be the battleground so that all districts are treated fairly when the state budget is completed each year.”

Barger says he would be a strong leader, always willing “to make tough decisions, and communicate the reasoning them.” He sees the role of a school board member as being one in which the only policy decisions that are made are those that best prepare students both academically and for the realities that come once school is over.

“To safeguard the educational standards and maintain a fiscal status that allows the district to product the most prepared students in academics as possible,” Barger said.

See Barger’s full responses to the candidate questionnaire at


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