Friday, September 04, 2015

TOP STORY >> Hunter vs. Moore for Lonoke Zone 2, Pos. 1 seat

Leader staff writer

Newcomers Charles Hunter and Ross Moore are vying for the Zone 2, Position 1 seat on the Lonoke School Board.

Early voting is from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Monday, Sept. 14. Election Day is Tuesday, Sept. 15, with polls set to be open from 7:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. at the Lonoke County Courthouse Annex, 210 N. Center St.

Hunter, 41, has lived in the district for 25 years. He is a senior claims adjuster with Farm Bureau Insurance Company. He has worked for the company for 16 years.

Hunter and his wife, Tiffany, have been married for 11 years. They have two sons.

Charles, 9, is a fourth grader at Lonoke Elementary School. Chase, 5, is a kindergartner at Lonoke Primary School.

Moore, 61, is a lifelong Lonoke resident. He and his wife, Brenda, are both retired educators. They have two married sons, Josh and Jordan. They attended Lonoke Public Schools from kindergarten through graduation.

Moore retired two years ago after 37 years of working in the Lonoke School District.

Moore received his bachelor’s degree from University of Central Arkansas in Conway and his master’s degree in administration from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.

What do you think the job of the school board is and are they doing that?

Hunter: I think that the school board’s job is to implement school policy and procedures, ensure that the district’s financials are in line with current policy, review the superintendent’s job performance and to be a voice for the community.

I believe that the current school board has been effective with keeping our school district headed in the right direction.

Moore: The job of any school board is to ensure a quality education for the students who live in the district, to hire and retain quality staff, to be a check and balance on the spending of funds received by the district to run the schools, and ensure policies and procedures are in place to make the district run smoothly.

What do you bring to the school board and to the district?

Hunter: I will bring a willingness to face tough decisions head on and the ability to resolve any issues at hand in a professional and courteous manner.

If elected to the school board, I feel that it will be important for me to go into our schools and get to know the staff and students who ultimately will be affected by the decisions that I help make.

I have a sincere concern for all of the students in our district, and my No. 1 goal will always be to put our children and their education first.

Moore: I bring 37 years of experience as an educator. Thirty-one of those years were spent as a principal in the Lonoke School District. I have worked with principals at each of the schools in our district, with seven superintendents, have made presentations to school boards and attended school board meetings.

I have worked with primary school students, middle school students and high school students. I know and have successfully worked with many of the students, parents and staff members in the Lonoke School District.

These experiences have made me aware of the types of things that must be considered when making decisions that affect students, parents and staff members.

My heart is in Lonoke Public Schools. I would like to be able to contribute more to make our school system the best that it can be and hope the people in Zone 2 will give me the opportunity to do just that.

What are the strengths and weaknesses of the district?

Hunter: The Lonoke School District is making advances in our student’s education by increasing technology in the classroom, providing more choices in educational offerings at the secondary level and making student safety a top concern.

Lonoke has the advantage over larger districts by being community centered, but, in saying that, the district seems to struggle in getting the support from parents of children who are the most at risk.

Moore: The strengths of Lonoke School District are staffs that care about kids, our facilities, our students, good parental/community support and virtual technology.

The weaknesses of Lonoke School District are salaries for classified and certified need to be increased, no one-to-one technology and having to share staff between schools.

On a larger scale, what is right and/or wrong with education today?

Hunter: State testing requirements and uncertainty with how our state will test Common Core has caused a lot of stress on our teachers and administrators. Over-testing as a tool for effective teaching appears to have created what I would call a “gotcha mentality” for both teachers and students instead of improving teaching and thereby improving student success.

Moore: Education presents a myriad of challenges for schools today.

In the Primary School grades, the core areas of reading, writing and math must be stressed. Curriculums for these grades are including science and social studies. This has taken time that teachers need to ensure that students have the reading, writing and math skills necessary to be successful throughout life.

Keeping up with technology is of the utmost importance. This is a challenge for smaller school districts.

Schools must be willing to try new approaches and must constantly look for ways to meet the needs of students. What works well for our students might not work well in another school district.

What are your thoughts on Common Core?

Hunter: When looking at Common Core compared to the old Arkansas state standards, I think that Common Core is the best opportunity our kids have of learning the skills they need to move to the next level, whether that’s the workforce, technical schools or universities.

Common Core will keep our students aligned and competitive with the rest of the country so our children aren’t falling behind and can remain competitive when vying for scholarship and job opportunities.

Moore: Common Core was meant to provide curriculum which would be “common” to all public schools. The math part of Common Core was not ready for implementation.

Too much supplemental material has to be added to ensure the necessary student learning is occurring. Gaps in the math had to be supplemented by teachers we knew were familiar with best practices.

Common Core in the lower grades takes too much time away from reading, writing and math. These three areas must be the main part of the curriculum in the lower grades.