Election 2015
Board candidates talk issues

Board forum

Reagan Heck

R. Heck

Katie Ernst

K. Ernst

This week Kings voters had their first face-to-face encounter with the four candidates competing for two open school board seats.

The candidates, Richard Himes, Melissa Kircher, Kerry McKiernan, and Peggy Phillips, took the stage before about 100 people gathered in the high school auditorium to share their views on topics ranging from district growth and enrollment to Common Core, bullying and Kings’ tradition of Wednesday early release.

Warren County Assistant Prosecutor Derek Faulkner moderated the forum. He read questions to the board that had been submitted by audience members. Questions were collected at the beginning of the forum.

After each candidate gave a two-minute opening statement, Faulkner began the question and answer session. 

Kings is facing a looming population growth due to nine housing developments under construction around the district. Some estimates show an influx of many as 1,200 students over the next 10 years.

“Schools would be used differently than they are now, resituating the schools and building a new school somewhere down the road,” Himes said.

Common Core has become the new federal standard for curriculum. Candidates were asked to address the issue of federal control versus local control in education. Kircher acknowledged that the issue has affected everyone in education. “The amount of testing has caused anxiety amongst teachers,” she said.

Bullying awareness month is October, leading the candidates to discuss anti-bullying policies in the district. Phillips said, “Kings has a policy, and the policy needs to be followed.”

McKiernan added to this thought, saying that he believes bullying begins “at the top and trickles down.”

“Our current board leadership are bullies themselves,” McKiernan said.

Wednesday early release has been a tradition at Kings for at least a decade. Some believe the early release is not necessary. However, candidates such as McKiernan believe this program is beneficial for the children, especially those involved in extracurricular activities. “I tend to think it’s valuable for our students,” he said.

When asked if any candidate is affiliated with COAST, the Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes, all of the candidates denied any affiliation with the group.IMG_0030

Kings School Board meetings have made news several times over the past year, at times drawing large crowds as a divided board argued over procedures and even saw a lawsuit filed over alleged violation of open meetings laws.

Despite past division, current Kings High School teacher Matthew Christman said he found Monday night’s forum to be a positive experience.

“I was very pleased with the overall positive tone of the candidates. We’ve had a lot of negative attention associated with our current board for almost two years, partially due to communication issues. It was nice to hear the candidates mention that they want to be as clear as possible with the public and they want to represent the public as best they can,” Christman said.

KHS Junior Jared Doll attended the meeting as well, volunteering as the time-keeper.

“I thought it was unbiased and a good description of what we have for our school board,” Doll said.

The election is Tuesday, Nov. 3. Click here for more on each candidate from The Knight Times, and check back for more stories coming for Vol. 7, Issue 3: The Fall Edition.

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