Five people—one incumbent, three newcomers and one previous member—are seeking two seats on the Milton School Board.
Voters on Tuesday will be asked in a primary election to narrow the field from five to four, and voters April 7 will choose two to serve on the school board.
The five on the ballot Tuesday are Shelly Crull-Hanke, Karen Hall, Michael Hoffman, David Holterman and Chuck Jackson.
Crull-Hanke, Hall and Jackson answered questions at the Milton Area Chamber of Commerce candidate forum Feb. 6. Hoffman and Holterman responded to questions during in-person interviews.
The $2.5 million operational referendum approved by Milton School District voters in November 2016 will end with the 2020-21 school year. The school board will need to decide what happens then.
Q: Would you support another operational referendum? If not, what would you prioritize as $2.5 million in budget reductions?
Crull-Hanke: “We’re going to be looking at something. Obviously, we need to be fiscally responsible. There’s been lots of movement with doing business partnerships ... Teacher salaries and benefits are not going to go down.
“We have an increase in growth when you see all the building and home building construction that’s going on. The spending per pupil is still probably the lowest in the state ... but the money we’re getting from the state isn’t probably not going to rise much.
“So, we probably are going to be looking at a referendum in the near future, and I would support that.”
Hall: The board and administration should look at the budget and trim as much as they can, Hall said.
“If we are still short in funds and we need to go to another operational referendum, I would support that. I do think we have an administration team right now in the district office that is very adept at doing that, has already started looking at that.”
Hoffman: He said he would support going to referendum. He pointed to recruiting and retaining quality teachers during a statewide teacher shortage and Milton’s relatively low tax rate.
Holterman: He said he would seek the recommendation of the administration.
“I do support maintaining the current level of activities and programs within the district, and I would be very curious and interested in hearing what the administration says we need to do that,” he said. “If it’s $2.5 million, that’s what it is.”
Jackson: “I think from my business experience, this is something that I would be very capable of helping the district with. … If we go to referendum, which I think is almost a given, I will support the motions to go referendum, whether or not I will support the referendum as an individual, I can’t say at this point. I don’t have enough data.
“But the idea of asking the community to give us money, I think, is a totally legitimate question.”
Q: Will you dwell in the past or focus on the future?
Crull-Hanke: “I am ready to move forward with the board, with the community, with the school district. I talked with one of the administrators, and they’re ready to do business as usual and get back to the business of teaching of our kids and not to be in this influx of fighting and turmoil, things like that.
“I think we need the local media also to do the same, to move forward and not keep rehashing old board situations, old administrator situations and making comparisons to our new set of administrators and new board members compared to the members in the past. So, I say move on forward, and let’s be positive.”
Hall: “I would agree with both Chuck and Shelly, let’s move forward. Let’s put the past behind us. Learn from the past mistakes that we have made but stay focused and move forward. Dwelling in the past is not going to do anything but create more animosity, more hurt.”
Hoffman: “There’s no sense in dwelling in the past. The past is the past. You can’t do anything about the past. This question I think comes from the fact that clearly there are wounds in this community that need to be healed. There are wounds on the board that need to be healed, and you’re never going to do that if you dwell on the past.
“You should always look to the future. Use your past to make educated decisions for your future, but don’t dwell on the past. I look forward to being a force of leadership on the board that can help people move into the future and let the past go.”
Holterman: “I would consider myself a person who will focus on the future. I think there are a lot of people that have strong feelings on the past. All I can say is I lacked the benefit of the insights that people who were on those committees and on those boards. And through that process, I attended meetings, because I was interested in things, but I was an outsider looking in.”
As a board member, he said, he would have the opportunity to “be an insider and see all of that data, all of that consideration, all of these discussions and look to the future. We could spend a lot of time looking at the past and accomplish nothing because it is what it is, and they can’t be changed, good, bad or otherwise.”
Jackson: “Focus on the future, learn from the past.”