2015 Candidate questionnaire: Jeanette Klamm, USD 458 Board of Education
Jeanette Klamm is running for the Position 3 seat on the USD 458 Board of Education, which covers the southern portion of the Basehor-Linwood school district. Gary Johnson also is running for the seat. The following are Klamm's responses to The Chieftain/Sentinel's candidate questionnaire.
Occupation: Management Analyst for the Lawrence Utilities Department
Family: Husband – Tony, Sons – DJ (9th grade) and Brett (7th grade)
Years lived in the school district: 19 years
Previous political experience: NA
Other community service: 4-H Club leader, Leavenworth County Extension Council member
Campaign website (if applicable): NA
What made you decide to run for office?
As a parent of two USD 458 students, I have a vested interest in the success and improvement of our school district. I believe that we are fortunate to have a great school district, excellent administrative and teaching staff, and many opportunities to pave the way for students to become active, productive, and successful. I also think that we have quality leadership in the current board and administration to guide the district into the future. With the position 3 seat open this election, I chose to run for school board to contribute to the district’s continued improvement and growth through offering grounded, sensible, and thoughtful perspective. As a current parent of district students, I am likely the most active in the district as I will ever be. This involvement will help me in engaging with other parents and constituents, as well as increase my overall awareness in district issues.
What special qualifications would you bring to this office?
Through my professional career, I have had the opportunity to hold many leadership positions related to my job(s) as well as professional organizations on the state and national level. I bring experience with public entity budgeting and financial understanding that will be valuable in understanding the district’s financial needs and challenges, as well as operational aspects. Through my career in public service, I have a comprehensive understanding of customer service to residents of a community or, in this case, the district. As a parent, resident, and property owner in the district, I share many of the same concerns, issues, and expectations for the district. Throughout my career and community activities, I have continually worked well within groups and individuals with consideration and respect. I would expect nothing less than that in this position as well.
How do you plan to stay in touch with constituents if you are elected?
As a parent, I am currently in attendance at many of the school activities, as well as an active member of the community, through non-school related activities and church. As a school board member, I would naturally have opportunities to attend additional activities as well as look for events that would put me in contact with the residents and parents in the district and position 3 area. In addition, I am always available to discuss issues that need attention or constituent concerns and questions. I would be interested in opportunities to address local civic groups, as well as other organizations at their request.
In addition to voting for your intended seat, voters will consider a bond issue election for the district on the April 7 ballot. Do you support approval of the bond issue? What improvement projects do you find most important?
I support the bond issue for the overall improvements it will fund, as well as the ability to hold the mill levy at its current level. Although there are negative aspects to a growing school district, a positive is that this growth allows the district to pay off current bonds quicker and take out new bonds without raising the property taxes. This is a great position for the district to take advantage of. It is difficult to determine the “most” important project. I am particularly excited about the prospects of the Career and Technical Education addition. By adding these programs to what we offer our students, we can enhance the education of students, who may not be interested or suited for college after graduation by making them job ready in a technical field. In addition, the potential to offer these programs regionally is also a huge benefit to the district.
As you have been campaigning, what issue have you found is most important for constituents in your (Position 3) portion of the district? How would you address this issue?
Generally, there is concern in the ability to maintain the size of classes, programs, and facilities, due to the decreases in funding from the State of Kansas. Specifically since Linwood Elementary School falls in the Position 3 area, there has been some concerns voiced to me about additional cuts or reductions in that area. Although funding district wide is a concern with the developments at the state level, I am committed to maintaining the current resources to each of the schools that make up our district. I believe it is critical to maintain the elementary school in Linwood functioning at its current level. Not only does it have an excellent staff, but the ability to have a good school close by to limit the amount of time in busing is critical for students in this area as well as the livelihood of the community.
In your own opinion, what are the three most important issues facing the school district? If you did not do so in a previous answer, please explain how you would address these issues.
As discussed in the previous question, the decreases in state funding are providing challenges for school districts across the state, including USD458. Every opportunity to showcase the achievements of this district are important to sending the message that funds are well spent; likewise, we also need to be mindful of any appearances of waste that may attract unnecessary attention. The decreased funding on the state level will have lasting impacts and challenges to the district that will require careful consideration and decision-making over the coming years. A potential outcome may be some deferred improvements and phasing in of projects and activities.
Although growth is spurring the ability to take advantage of another bond issue without a mill levy increase, this growth is also going to eventually strain our facilities. In recent years we have had two grade levels (that I am aware of) that have been the largest ever in the district. We have seen a 300% increase in grade sizes in the last 25 years. Given the location of the district, that trend will likely continue, which will result in additional space needs. Although I don’t know how soon that extra space will be necessary, I’m committed to using the current space we have wisely and to its fullest extent, while still maintaining reasonable class sizes.
Somewhat related to the previous two issues is class size. Overall, USD458 has been able to maintain reasonable class sizes, which enhances the learning opportunities and one-on-one time with teachers. Whether it is growth of the district or decreasing funding as the root cause, maintaining class sizes is an issue that will effect student test scores and learning ability, staff’s ability to effectively teach, and the ability of the district to maintain the quality of education.