By Chris Wetherell
On May 1 at 7 p.m. Troy High School hosted a question and answer forum with the four candidates running for the School Board. The candidates, Rhoda Richardson, David Orr, Ed Hanson, and Joshua J. Chapel were each given two minutes to answer and discuss the questions that were posed by the students.
Each candidate was given the opportunity to discuss their qualifications and why they were interested in serving on the school board.
Rhoda Richardson began by saying she was a mother of three who attended Troy Schools, has management experience, is a team player, and is a responsible person.
David Orr followed by stating he was a Troy High School graduate and was a “real world survivor” who has been involved at all levels in the work place and prefers to be outside the ditch rather than digging the ditch.
Next was Ed Hanson who shared that he was a School Board member some ten years ago and that experience made him uniquely qualified to serve again. He added that he wants the students to have a good future and that the future is our kids.
Joshua Chapel finished up by stating he has done lots of volunteer work with the schools by coaching wrestling and that he is a union employee which gives him a working knowledge of union employees and how to negotiate with unions.
The next question concerned the academic requirements to participate in team sports. Troy athletes with an “F” are currently suspended from sports participation and with two “F’s” they are removed from sports. The main question was about why some schools have different standards like Libby that only requires a 2.0 average.
Rhoda, David, and Ed all agreed that the existing policy should remain unchanged with Rhoda adding that sports are a privilege. Josh dissented from the group by saying that the 2.0 average system was good and he said that it is strictly enforced in Libby High School.
Another question posed to the candidates was whether athletes should be allowed additional time to complete assignments.
Rhoda again stated that sports are a privilege and that athletes should be held to the same standards as other students. David echoed her sentiments. Ed cited the student handbook that states assignments are to be turned in on time. Josh again disagreed with his other candidates and suggested that athletes may need more time to complete an assignment, but it should be considered on a case by case basis.
The students then asked a question regarding academic rigor and freedom suggesting that some classes were easy and caused the students to be bored. Ed said that the board approves the various programs, Rhoda said that she believes the students are responsible for their course selection and David felt that the parents need to be involved with the process. Josh said the students can select their course of study.
The “Gear Up” grant has recently been cut which will result in fewer students that will benefit from the program that prepares students for college. The question was asked if the candidates had any plans to write or apply for various grants to supplement the “Gear Up” grant.
Rhoda said that she did some research on the internet and found that there are several grants available to students such as a PELL grant, David stated that he was not a grant writer, Josh said he had no plans to apply for any grants and Ed added that he agreed with the others but thought there may be someone that applies for grants for the school district.
The next question was of particular interest for the students was whether eight absences was too lenient and if six tardies before being issued a punishment was too many. All the candidates agreed that the current policy is reasonable and that there may be an occasion that a student is out longer and should be considered on a case by case basis. Each of the candidates took this opportunity to stress the importance of being on time, and that it is very important as they continue in life.
Technology has become an integral part of today’s education. Students asked if the candidates supported the use of cell phones and laptop computers in the classroom. None of the candidates felt there was any place for a cell phone in the classroom. They also agreed that the use of laptops in a classroom setting was not only useful but also becoming the norm.
Dress code was the next topic, and Ed pointed out that historically the dress code tends to change as styles and accepted norms change. He shared that when he was in Troy High School girls were not allowed to wear pants. Rhoda loves the current dress code, David said just be happy, and Josh suggested that whatever the dress code is, all students should be held to the same standard.
The two most anticipated questions involved bullying and school safety. All the candidates shared their feelings and thoughts about bullying.
Rhoda read a definition of bullying, David agreed with the policy in the student handbook, Josh felt that bullying should be considered on a case by case basis stating that as he looked back on his high school years he might have been a bully, but at the time he did not realize it or consider it bullying. Ed added that to impact bullying there needed to be a change in the culture, bullying should be reported and followed-up on with the addition of an educational component. All the candidates agreed that it was a learned behavior and that there would need to be changes in the home as well. Regarding school safety David supported a closed campus with tracking who comes and goes, favors the CCW (concealed carry) by staff members that are willing to and that are properly vetted and trained. He added that he also thought a school Resource Officer was a good idea provided they were not close to retirement. Ed felt that arming a teacher was not a good idea due to increased liability for the school board but suggested there could be a CCW staff member if they were trained by the sheriffs and or were reserve deputies. Josh felt his responsibility would be to make the kids as safe as possible in school and was both for and against staff being armed. Rhoda wanted to know where the problem of school shooters was manifesting and felt there should be no guns in school at all. She thought additional security would be helpful.
Voting will be on May 8 from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. at the Troy activities center.
Troy School District would like to state that the views expressed are those of the candidates and not those of the Troy School District and that the sponsorship of the forum is not intended as and is specifically disclaimed as an endorsement of any candidate