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LWV League of Women Voters of the Cincinnati Area Education Fund

Smart Voter
Hamilton County, OH November 5, 2013 Election
Candidates Answer Questions on the Issues
Member of Board of Education; Finneytown Local School District

The questions were prepared by the League of Women Voters of the Cincinnati Area and asked of all candidates for this office.     See below for questions on Qualifications, Improvement, Building Consensus, Equity

Click on a name for candidate information.   See also more information about this contest.

? 1. What are your qualifications for office?

Answer from Scott Haarlammert:

My key qualifications for the Finneytown Board of Education include having three children currently enrolled in the district, having fifteen years of business experience, and volunteering extensively at the Powel Crosley YMCA, Finneytown's Elementary Schools, and the Greenhills Co-op Preschool.

Answer from Michael R. Matzko:

As the father of two awesome children in the Finneytown Jr. and Sr. High schools, I have a vested interest in making this public institution a model school that provides the highest quality education and extracurricular opportunities possible.

I have twenty years of experience in Business and Information Technology including managing large budgets, personnel management, systems technology and security. Previous to that, I have had experience in the arts, both as a professional musician and as an educator, teaching both in the classroom and one on one with students of all ages.

My peers most often recognize me as a person who openly listens to all sides, communicates easily with people from different backgrounds, is open to new ideas, and drives innovation.

I currently hold a position at Vantiv, Inc. as a Sr. Product Manager for Operations, providing the link between business partners, software development and security to develop the road map which helps the company run faster and more dependably while still growing rapidly in a global market.

? 2. What can be done to improve your school district's results at current funding levels?

Answer from Michael R. Matzko:

Finneytown is fortunate to have a stable fiscal outlook thanks to the hard work by the current treasurer and previous administration. However, in order to increase the quality of education, maintain the infrastructure of the facilities, and grow programs such as technology, you have to cut costs or raise revenues. Although I do beleive in educational accountability, I feel strongly that cutting teacher and staff salaries to save money should be avoided at all costs - in fact we may need to increase revenue to attract a high quality of teachers. Revenue therefore must be generated by a combination of grants and donations. Several years ago, we had a plan which created the Finneytown Educational Foundation. We need to be creative in finding additional opportunities which can bring about significant income designed to make targeted changes which fit the long term goals and programs.

I realize this is easier said than done. There are a lot of guidelines and restrictions which govern the finances of a public school district. However, that does not mean we cannot get creative and drive towards the new ways of thinking required in these challenging economic and political times.

Answer from Scott Haarlammert:

I think that Finneytown School District is fortunate to be blessed with dedicated and professional faculty, well-maintained facilities, a solid curriculum, and great extra-curricular activities, all of which are key ingredients to the success of the district's students. But I think the x-factor that can make a difference in the overall success of the Finneytown School District is broader engagement of, and by, the families of the district's students. As a parent of three elementary-aged children, I am encouraged when I see families attend school functions with their kids. Whether it's in-school activities or after-school programs, I want to encourage all families of Finneytown students to participate in their kids' education as much as their schedules will allow.

? 3. What will you do to build consensus in the community in support of your school district?

Answer from Scott Haarlammert:

Consensus can only be built with extensive and transparent communication. I plan to communicate with the community as frequently and as thoroughly as possible through social media, email, and individual interaction about events in the district. Although I won't be able to officially speak for the board, I'll be more than happy to listen to the questions and concerns of the community.

Answer from Michael R. Matzko:

Finneytown is a changing community, with fewer families with children in our school district, and a more transient population. Therefore, keeping constant contact with the community is key to obtain the level of support that the district historically receives.

As a local photographer, I am often at community and school events, and promote the district through my work. This exposure, coupled with neighborhood events and the history of local contacts through former students families, has given me an insight not only to school families, but also to families with students in our neighboring parochial schools, and those who attend our community churches. As a board member, I will continue to attend these functions regularly and will always be open to people who want to talk with a board member.

The impressions I have heard during my campaign is that the board is only vocal during levy drives. I would suggest that we hold social events for the public during the year, outside of our normally scheduled meetings, where we could listen and communicate to community members about various issues facing the school district. Another possibility is semi-annual newsletters sent to the entire community. We should utilize our parent's talents with marketing and technical skills to help absorb the cost of these campaigns and best deliver our message.

If we are regularly vocal in the community, passing a levy, if needed, in the future will not be as difficult as in the past, and the community should be aware of our progress with maintaining a responsible fiscal budget and growing a model public school district.

? 4. What would you do to advance the concept of "equity in education" in your district?

Answer from Michael R. Matzko:

Finneytown is unique in that academic, economic and racial diversity is a hallmark of our district. Students in our school system get a fantastic education which teaches them to flourish with all types of people, regardless of their walk through life. Students attending college after graduating from Finneytown often express how comfortable they are with students from other backgrounds, much more than their peers who graduate from other communities and schools.

Due to our small student population, coupled with passionate faculty and community support, our students receive a unique opportunity to take part in a large array of extracurricular activities. Many students participate in varsity sports, band, and drama, as well as community service activities within a single year.

I like the current superintendent's view that if you work on improving the education of the special needs students as well as the gifted students, the rest of the school will follow in kind. This model celebrates a different type of diversity and transcends academic or economic challenges and successes. In order to keep a level playing field, for every large growth initiative we bring to the table, we have to solve for economic diversity.

For example, you cannot promote a highly technical school when students may not have home internet access or may not be able to afford laptops and tablets. Therefore, in any future plan, we have to devise a way for all students to take advantage of current technology, regardless of their background. This is what it means to create a model public school district.

Answer from Scott Haarlammert:

Simply put, all of the kids in the Finneytown School District deserve the opportunity to receive the best education that we as a community can provide for them. That means that we must engage with families and their children to understand their concerns. In particular, we need to understand where the district is underserving our children so that we can take corrective action. The future of our community, the country, and the world lies in our ability to raise self-confident children who are critical thinkers and who participate fully in the world around them. This is the opportunity that we must provide to our kids.

Responses to questions asked of each candidate are reproduced as submitted to the League.  Candidates' statements are presented as submitted. Word limits may apply. See individual questions for specific word limits. Direct references to opponents are not permitted. Please edit your work before submitting. We are unable to provide spell-check at this time.

The order of the candidates is random and changes daily. Candidates who did not respond are not listed on this page.

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Created: January 15, 2014 17:15 PST
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