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LWV League of Women Voters of the Cincinnati Area Education Fund
Hamilton County, OH November 5, 2013 Election
Smart Voter

Michael R. Matzko
Answers Questions

Candidate for
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.
Read the answers from all candidates (who have responded).

Questions & Answers

1. What are your qualifications for office?

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?

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.

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

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?

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.

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.

Read the answers from all candidates (who have responded).

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Created from information supplied by the candidate: October 18, 2013 13:18
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