School Board candidates offer written answers to 20 questions from Inside Vero
District 1 (northwest Indian River County including Fellsmere and part of Sebastian)
Karen Disney-Brombach (incumbent)
Disney-Brombach is serving her first term on the school board. She is 56, married to Robert Brombach with three children, one grandson. She has lived in the county for 16 years, college educated. She is a respitory care practitioner and co-owner of Brombach Plumbing Service. Her civic involvement has including serving as president of the Florida School Boards Association, Indian River County Metropolitan Planning Organization, chairman of the Fellsmere Frog Legs Festival and volunteer coordinator for United Way.
Frost is the challenger, age 41, married with two children. He has lived in the county since age two, served in the U.S. Marine Corps. He has a bachelor’s degree from Eastern Oregon University and an MBA from Nova Southeastern University. He is CEO and founder of Green Patroller Industries and previously taught science at Sebastian River High School and was the senior market manager at the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in Fort Pierce, project manager at AnalytX Inc., distributor for GreensFirst and NanoGreens10 and more. His civic involvement included treasurer of the Sebastian Charter Junior High School Board, active PTA member, and numerous volunteer activities.
District Four (West of U.S. 1 south of Vero Beach city limits south to Indian River County line, west to 66th Avenue.)
Heimler is married and has a son. He is 56 years old and has lived in Vero Beach for seven years. He graduated from the University of Arizona with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. Heimler was vice president of Lady Audrey Fashions, taught in the Miami-Dade School District and is currently in the credit card processing industry. His civic activities included being named Florida State Department of Education Volunteer of the Year and Miami-Dade School District Volunteer of the Year, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and board member of the Sebastian Junior Charter High School.
Searcy if married with three children. He is 67 years old and has lived in Indian River County for 35 years. He graduated from the University of Florida in Economics and is currently credit manager for a nationwide trucking company. He previously worked in the banking industry and served in the U.S. Army. His civic activities include serving on the Indian River County Public School Planning Citizens Oversight Committee, past president of the Indian River County Taxpayers Association and the Vero Beach Kiwanis Club, chairman of the United Way Financial Campaign, and numerous other volunteer activities.
Questions and Answers:
1. The 2014/15 School Budget is less than last year’s total budget, yet, there was an advertised tax increase. How will you explain this to the community as a School Board Member?
Disney-Brombach: The term “roll-back” is used to describe the economic conditions of total taxable value in the prior year and the amount of monies raised by ad-valorem taxes. It does not relate to the rate of change in the millage. With the millage roll-back rate, the school district will realize exactly the same amount of revenue as the preceding year.
Frost: There may be a discrepancy because the announcement is made on projections before the district finalizes its budgetary needs. In general, there has been a consistently increasing budget. The State has increased its funding, one of the benefits of an election year budget. The problem isn’t with funding. The people are taxed adequately, the problem is the reckless spending on things that don’t add value to the educational experience.
Heimler: Property values have started to rise and even though the tax rate has dropped, the amount of the actual tax has gone up. The example that best explains this is: A residential home with an assessed value of $200,000 with a $25,000 homestead exemption in 2013 would have a taxable value of $175,000. In 2014 with a 4.65 percent increase in property values, the house would have an assessed value of $209,300 with a $25,000 homestead exemption, bringing the taxable value to $184,300.Given last year’s tax rate; the homeowner in 2013 would have paid $1,420.30 in School District taxes. Under the proposed tax rate for this year, the homeowner would pay $1,473.48 – an increase of $53.18.
This example was printed in this newspaper and supplied by Carter Morrison.
Searcy: This issue is controlled by Florida Statute § 200.065(3)(c), which requires advertising a tax increase because this year’s proposed millage, 7.995, is greater than last year’s rollback millage, 7.836. Last year’s District budget was based on last year’s millage, 8.116, and this year is based on the proposed millage, 7.995. The advertised tax increase is based on rollback millage while the budget is based on adopted or proposed millage.
As a former school board member, I have a proven record as a fiscal conservative. I believe if we spend smarter we can avoid significant tax increases in the future.
2. Name one specific change that you would make in the 2014/2015 budget, if anything?
Disney-Brombach: Substitute teachers pay was reduced as one of the measures to balance the budget. I would restore the rate of pay for regular substitutes and increase the rate of pay for long term substitutes.
Frost: Reinstate the Science Coordinator for North County schools rather than reallocation of that position to Common Core mandated “staff development”. I would also suggest changing the $1.2 million being spent on the data collection technology to be spent on 6,000 student computers.
Heimler: I would lower the dollar amount of the Administrative salaries and the number of high paid positions at the district.
Searcy: I would eliminate the $7,029,557.00 projected for the new administrative complex at the Storm Grove Road site (57th Street & 66th Avenue). I would apply those funds against outstanding loans for capital purposes. This would save the District approximately $350,000.00 per year. These funds could be used to solve the problems at the deteriorating District office.
3. It has been said that all school district budgets have been impacted over the years by “unfunded mandates” from the State Legislature. How will you work with Florida Legislators to raise awareness of the impact of these requirements on school district dollars?
Disney-Brombach: In a manner consistent with my position I will continue to advocate for the necessary changes to fund or eliminate/modify the mandates. As the President of the Florida School Boards Association, I have the privilege of meeting with the Governor and his staff as well as the FL Commissioner of Education, for the benefit of taxpayers and students. As the Legislative Liaison for our school board for 7 years, I have the experience to speak to and work with our legislators.
Frost: I have begun building relationships with our representatives. I believe in the concept of “home rule” and think that we should leave the legislation to the legislators rather than traveling around on the taxpayer dollars pushing our personal agendas. Our legislators are very responsive and have offices here in the district where we can access them. That’s why it is so important keep education out of the hands of Washington bureaucrats. The odds of running into them in Publix are almost nil, but I can’t make it through the produce section without someone telling me how bad Common Core is. Our local legislators are equally accessible. That’s as it should be.
Heimler: We need to actually bring our legislators into our district to show them personally how these unfunded mandates are crippling our districts ability to teach our students.
Searcy: In my recent conversations with a local legislative delegate, they indicated a need for more direct communication from the School Board about items of concern. The School Board’s Legislative liaison needs to constantly work with our House and Senate representatives to inform them of the problems caused by placing these unfunded mandates on the District.
4. The School Budget includes use of local Impact Fees. Do you feel the use of Impact Fees is appropriate since they are collected by Indian River County from new residential development?
Disney-Brombach: School Impact fees are collected and used for the addition of new student stations. Opening this year are new student stations at Fellsmere Elementary and Treasure Coast Elementary. We have not included impact fees as a revenue source for the 2014 -2015 school years as the status of those fees are at question.
Frost: Yes, for converting portable student stations to permanent student stations. The debate about impact fees really only centers around the projections for student growth being negative. If growth is negative, how can we legally collect impact fees which are designed to offset growth? Of course the only portion of impact fees under discussion are the educational portion and not emergency services and roads etc. Impact fees disproportionately hurt middle class families and keep them from building their dream homes or relocating to the area. Maybe if they eased up on the impact fees, more families would move to the district and there would be a justification for imposing impact fees. As it is, they are a barrier to growth. They should only be collected to replace portables, not to tear down and rebuild schools. Those funds should come from the capital fund, not impact fees.
Heimler: The county is only the collector, as you have properly stated. The use of the actual Impact Fees is the issue here in our county. The Charter School population is now about 12% of the total student base in our county. We need to work together with them with a better defined sharing plan.
Searcy: Currently the use of impact fees by the District is unnecessary because it can only be used to fund new student stations. There are presently approximately 2,000 excess student stations and projected student growth rate is stagnant or declining.
5. Some School Board Members have stated they support Charter Schools but fall short of approving proposals submitted for new charter schools. What is your opinion of approving charter schools?
Disney-Brombach: The decision to open additional charter schools is on a case by case basis. Many areas of school management are considered including financial viability, educational integrity and local governance. The most important factor in the decision is the students. Students deserve to have a stable educational environment that will not fall apart due to a weak business plan. As the sponsors of charters schools in our county, the school board must ask tough questions and challenge new comers to rise to the standard of our existing charter schools. SDIRC has high performing charter schools unlike many other counties and we want to maintain that success.
Frost: It is no secret that I am an ardent supporter of Charter Schools because a rising tide raises all ships. They are centers of innovation and we are already seeing some of the benefits. Study skills pioneered at SCJHS are working their way into Storm Grove and Sebastian. We need to move from an “us vs. them” mentality and realize that we all have the same mission in mind.
Heimler: I served on the Sebastian River Junior High Charter’s Board of Director’s from 2012-2014. I am a big supporter of the local Charter’s, as they have served our County very well and performed better than most of our traditional schools. Each new application needs to be looked at carefully. The ones that have been approved are very successful.
Searcy: I support the Charter School concept because of the results demonstrated in all Charter Schools in our District. They have been successful because they are required to have a good business plan, strong management team and parental support. Charter Schools in other districts have failed because the operation of those schools did not meet the above requirements. If a new charter school proposal comes before the School Board which meets these criteria, has a guaranteed number of students, and a facility that meets state standards, approval would be appropriate.
6. There is a waiting list at all magnet schools in the district. What do you think can be done to change public perception about some of the lower achieving traditional public schools? Would you support repurposing those schools to charter schools so they can be more flexible in meeting student needs?
Disney-Brombach: Transforming our lowest performing schools is already underway by making them schools of innovation. New leadership, some changes in personnel and new focus are already changing the school climates. Using the charter school model is an option I am willing to explore.
Frost: Failing schools already enjoy many of the same benefits as charter schools such as relaxed regulation. They become “centers of innovation” which is how schools like Glendale can go from failing to an “A” school so quickly. Unfortunately, the current trend towards the federal control of schools via Common Core will only add to the government bureaucracy. It’s been demonstrated time and again that bureaucracy is the killer of innovation, removing those obstacles to success will be my mission.
Heimler: No, I do not see the need for changing them to Charters. I do however want to eliminate the lottery system for the Magnets and bring all of the lower performing schools up to their levels. The District is making changes at most of the lower performing schools and with the help of the parents and the community; we can turn them into high achieving schools.
Searcy: Public perception of any school will improve when that school’s performance improves. Name change unaccompanied by innovative learning approaches in a diverse environment will not solve the problem. I support any program that promises to improve academic results.
7. Recently released school grades show decreases in the majority of schools. What will you propose to insure these grades rise?
Disney-Brombach: The changes in the Florida school grading system have created a lot of confusion about the success or lack of in Indian River County Schools. Last year we had the expectation that many of our school grades would fall due to the increased difficulty of the tests and the higher scores required at each grade level. We braced for the negative impact then, a safety net was put into place so that no grade would go down by more than one grade. When we look at what the actual grades would have been compared to the grades for this year, there is improvement. The most marked improvement is with the lowest 25% of readers. This was one of the superintendent’s goals. I know we need improvement and not excuses, but I am confident the school grades reflect neither the effort put forth by our students nor the quality of the teachers in our schools. I believe we must continue on the path we have begun for literacy and establish a strong plan for math and science. As we approve our budget for 2014-2015 we must be sure that our appropriations reflect our values. Mainly that student learning is the priority.
Frost: I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I do know the right questions to ask and have a proven system for conducting the analysis and policy changes necessary to turn things around. It’s tempting to rattle off a knee-jerk response, but we’ve had enough of putting band aids on the dam. We need a systemic review and implementation plan. We have to evaluate the organizational culture, value drivers, trends, methods and leadership. Only when we address all five factors will we have a winning strategy. This is what I do for my clients. The board really needs a strong strategic leader who has the ability to turn things around.
Heimler: With the addition of Andrew Rynberg, Asst. Superintendent of Curriculum, Bruce Green in Technology, Brian McMann in Data and Scott Sanders in Facilities, the district has the right team in place. There are two major initiatives that are in place and are being expanded dramatically this year. The Earful and Moonshot Moment initiatives are being expanded to include all of the Teachers and Students.
The biggest piece that is needed to bring up the grades is Parental Involvement. This is vital to the success of our students learning abilities.
I will introduce a volunteer initiative for all of the schools, not just the Magnets and Charters. The success of those schools is helped tremendously by the mandatory 10-20 volunteer hours for each family.
Searcy: We need to make sure our curriculum includes stronger reading and math skills in the early grades. Research shows students are at a high risk to fail and/or drop out if they read below grade level when they reach high school. I will work with the Superintendent to implement stronger reading and math programs in the lower grades. Additional reading specialists and tutors may be required and additional volunteers could be trained. One of the criteria which must be met by the new Superintendent is demonstrated success at moving under-performing schools to the “A” list.
8. Indian River County was the only School District to pass a tax referendum 3 years ago in the middle of the economic downturn. How do you feel about the spending of these funds thus far?
Disney-Brombach: The purposes of those funds were clearly defined, partially for arts and music teachers, partially for technology. The school board has been deliberate about regular and transparent accounting of those dollars as well as reporting the spending of those dollars to the community.
Frost: It was great to see the community come together and vote for better schools. Unfortunately, we have seen budgets increase and grades decrease. This is what I mean by a need to bring Smarter School Spending to the district. We were fortunate that the voters helped us keep 30 teacher positions, many in the arts, which is important. The .35 milage set aside for technology of the .6 milage is being spent poorly. Our Board is spending $1.2 mil for federally mandate data collection and reporting that should be spent on “Student Computers” as we were lead to believe in the referendum language. The board knew that the implementation of Common Core would require this data collection and snuck in the language about “technology and student computers” to convince voters. Who would vote against “Standards” and “teachers and student computers”? The problem is both of these are propaganda buzzwords designed to reduce pushback by parents and taxpayers for federal programs. We need to put the needs of the student first, not reporting to our Race to the Top masters in Washington.
Heimler: The taxpayers here supported it and the District has done a good job spending the funds.
Searcy: The citizens of Indian River County voted in favor of a tax increase three years ago and in the tax proposal the School District included language that the revenue generated was to be spent for specific items. Each year the District publishes a list of the expenditures in the local newspaper for public information. If these revenues are being spent in compliance with the promises made in the referendum the District is managing the funds properly.
9. The current school board’s initiative to replace portables has received some public criticism. Would this be an important issue to you as a Board Member?
Disney-Brombach: Most of the criticism I have heard actually is about needing to replace the portables for permanent space. Two are our schools with the most portables have been building all summer and will open this school year. The portable space issue is not just about student safety and comfort, it is also about spending. Eliminating the rental cost of portables is good for the budget.
Frost: It is a very important issue. Why are we putting teachers and kids in portables while spending over $20mil on administration and support buildings? If people are critical of spending at all then they should oppose both. What I propose is Smarter School Spending, which is putting resources on the front lines of education where they do the most good. Getting students into permanent student stations is a step in the right direction, building office buildings isn’t.
Heimler: I am against the use of portables and I will be an advocate of permanent student stations inside the main buildings.
Searcy: Yes. Our students deserve to have clean and safe classrooms.
10. Many groups in the community have criticized building a new Administrative Complex. What are your thoughts on this?
Disney-Brombach: The administration building is being built out of need and is not a frivolous expenditure. The estimates to keep the current building in habitable condition exceed half the cost of a new building, a building that the school district does not own. The current building was formerly attached to the old county administration complex that was demolished once the new county administrative complex was built. The architect has been instructed to keep it frugal and efficient.
Frost: Incumbents will defend their decision using a multitude of excuses, but it quickly becomes obvious that one cannot defend the indefensible. We are building portables for students at Citrus Elementary while building a $7.3 million office building for our school board that is 19,000 sq ft bigger than the current building. Is our core mission educating children and preparing the next generation of America or is it pampering our school board. We shouldn’t be treating our school board like royalty while treating our kids like refugees. Our kids deserve better.
Heimler: The board has voted on this and I need to focus on issues that I can make a difference on.
Searcy: Something should be done to improve the working conditions in the current administrative complex. I would prefer exploring other possibilities. The District office complex is an older building but it appears to be very serviceable. The District could lease part of the county administration building to set up a complete IT Department. The new location would be clean, safe, dry and convenient to the District offices. The district office complex has not been “condemned”. Upgrades to older buildings have been approved in the past. We should spend some of our capital funds to improve the current facility.
11. Do you feel the community is supportive of safety issues on school campuses such as visitor identification passes, fencing, bullying and school resource officers to name a few? Any area that you feel needs to be expanded or improved?
Disney-Brombach: I think that overall the community is united in its support for safe campuses. I am not at liberty to discuss all of the security measures in place as that information is protected for obvious reasons. SDIRC did a comprehensive security audit to see what areas needed enhanced measures and we created a plan to correct those deficits.
Frost: The community is supportive of providing a safe learning environment for our students. I would bolster the Sheriff Resource Officer program and support using other law enforcement to augment the SRO program when we have credible threats especially during transition periods such as before and after school when most attacks occur.
Heimler: Overall, yes. What needs to be expanded is the Raptor visitor system to include all classes of violent crimes, not just Sexual Predators and Offenders. The City of Vero Beach Police Dept. assigned Officers to two schools last year for the arrival and dismissal of our students. I will be asking each Police Dept. in our County to assign Officers to the Schools that do not have Resource Officers.
Searcy: Yes, the community is very supportive of security issues. Not all student campuses have the same level of security. Ingress and egress to some campuses is insecure. I recommend a complete review of the overall safety programs for each school site and, at minimum, that access by non-students and non-staff be routed through the main office of each school. Good examples of the safety access point are the School District main office and the main access point to the Indian River County Sheriff’s office.
12. When Dr Adams retires next June, Indian River County will have had 4 different Superintendents in 10 years. This number is far above the State turnover average for any School District. How important do you feel the Board and Superintendent relations are to School District success?
Disney-Brombach: I was elected in 2006. Since then I have hired 2 Superintendents, Dr. La Cava and Dr. Adams. Three years is the average. The relationship between the Board and the Superintendent is extremely important and is difficult to maintain. The Board has the potential to change members every two years. The Superintendent must constantly adjust to changing expectations and the ever-changing landscape of public education.
Frost: It is very important.
Heimler: Extremely important. As we all are here for the children, not our own personal agendas. There is no “I” in “Team”. I also feel that the community needs to have a good relationship with the Superintendent as well.
Searcy: Good Board and Superintendent relations are imperative to the success of any District. It is important that each know and understand their function. Mutual respect for their separate roles is required for success. All School Board members and the Superintendent should possess personality traits that demonstrate their ability to work effectively with others, even though they may disagree with the others position.
13. What quality will be most important to you in searching for a new superintendent for the school district?
Disney-Brombach: Above all other qualities we must have a strong instructional leader, preferably someone with a proven track record of educational reform. The changes we have put in place over the last 3 years have us close to seeing/obtaining the growth in our students. We have made great gains in the lowest achieving students but we must also continue to challenge our high performing students. The new supt must be strong enough to stay the course on the literacy reforms we have made and also be able to implement the math and science programs needed.
Frost: The ability to inspire subordinate leaders and a “kids first” mentality.
Heimler: This time it needs to be from the outside with a proven track record as a Superintendent of a highly performing district. This will eliminate any perception of favoritism and bring a fresh new perspective to our district.
Searcy: Our district should find a candidate with a proven record of exceptional leadership and managerial performance, including demonstrated knowledge of school finance and budgetary issues. The prevailing candidate should bring to our community a vision of high achievement with a dedication to excellence.
14. How would you want to involve parents, teachers and members of the public in selecting the new superintendent?
Disney-Brombach: Using a community board, holding public meet and greets, submission of questions. I am also open to ideas of how to involve the community.
Frost: Community input is extremely important to me. That’s why I’ve put a survey on VoteForFrost.com seeking input from the community as to whether they want an internal or external search and which traits they value. One thing that’s been missing from the current board is meaningful interaction with the community. It’s cheap, easy, and quickly implemented so why wouldn’t we use technology? If people can vote for their favorite singer, they should be able to share their opinion on matters of real importance
Heimler: We need to form a search committee that is all inclusive of our community. This would ensure that all vested parties are involved in this vital decision making process.
Searcy: Parents, teachers and members of the public should be invited to a series of meetings. The selection of the new Superintendent is a Board responsibility. Open communication between the Board and community is necessary to insure all viewpoints are fairly considered.
15. Parents and teachers have expressed concern regarding the on-going testing of students throughout the school year. What changes, if any, would you suggest in this area?
Disney-Brombach: This is a frequent topic of discussion. Some of the testing mandates are required at the state level and we must be compliant with those tests. Our instructional leaders are sensitive to the testing issues and are looking at what tests can be eliminated at the local level.
Frost: Because of their cost and negative impact on students, I would propose restricting standardized testing to only those required by State Law.
Heimler: There is way too much testing and not enough emphasis on allowing the teachers to actually teach. The children cannot possibly be under pressure all year, as this is not healthy for them or the teachers. I would push for less testing and freer thinking.
Searcy: The next school year testing requirements are established by the Florida Standards Curriculum (Common Core). The Superintendent is required to work with the Florida Department of Education and State Legislative rules and regulations. As long as we have the Florida Standards Curriculum (Common Core) we will be required to follow their testing requirements. I will work with our legislative delegation to opt out of the required federal mandated curriculum.
16. The budget for the ESE (Exceptional Student Education) has increased in the proposed budget. Do you feel current programs are meeting the needs of our students and are there changes you would propose?
Disney-Brombach: When the IDEA law was created, school districts were promised funding at 40% of the cost of implementation. We have consistently received 17 – 18% of the cost for IDEA. The remainder comes from the general fund. We are seeing more students diagnosed with issues such as ADD and ASD, far more than we receive funding. It is necessary to increase our local budget for ESE despite the shortfall from state and federal funding.
Frost: I recently attended, at my own expense, the summer symposium of the Center for Autism and Related Disorders (C.A.R.D.) at FAU. I’ve learned that there are a number of concerned and involved parents working hard to ensure that the professionals have what they need to provide an excellent education for all students of the district. The district really needed to increase funding for the unique needs of these students. One of the themes at the conference was the important benefits of incorporating technology and this is capital intensive. It’s refreshing to see the board correcting this oversight.
Heimler: I think the ESE program in general has not provided what our students need. We are under staffed in Phycologists, as the National Recommendation is one per every 600 students and we have 1 per every 2000 students. Most of the funding is federally refunded to our district, so we should have every program possible to meet our student’s needs. I feel that the Department needs to be looked at from the Top down.
Searcy: The budget for the exceptional student education programs has increased because the number of students being classified as ESE students has increased and the services necessary for each of these students continues to escalate. I would propose the new Superintendent review the ESE budget and programs carefully to assure proper allocation and use of funds. I am open to proposals that will improve education for all students.
17. It is often said that “you best be able to count to 3 as a member of the School Board”. If you have a proposal that does not receive support from your fellow school board members or the superintendent; how would you move forward?
Disney-Brombach: There have been times when I was on the short side of a vote. If on the prevailing side of a vote, a board member may bring the item up again so in some cases it is necessary to vote yes in order to bring an issue up for additional consideration. Even though I might not agree with a course of action, I will participate in votes concerning that action.
Frost: It is the Board’s role to set policy and the Superintendent’s to implement and enforce policy. If a proposal doesn’t receive support the board member could continue submitting it as a ‘board member item’ if it is something really important. There are also remedies for private citizens that are not denied a board member just because they have elected to serve on the board. If there is something in which I really believe, I will dedicate myself to its pursuit within the confines of the law.
Heimler: As I said before, there is no “I” In Team. We cannot go back to the disruptive meetings and in fighting of the late 1990’s.
Searcy: If I have a proposal that does not receive support from my fellow board members or the Superintendent and a member or group of the public requested action on the proposal, I would continue to work with the Superintendent to prove the need for such program. If the proposal made it to the action agenda, motion is made and seconded, discussed and then voted down, then the proposal as presented should be finished. As a board we will not all always agree but we should respect each other. We must move forward and work together towards policies that will provide the best education for all students.
18. School board members must operate under the Florida Government in the Sunshine statute. What is your view these mandates?
Disney-Brombach: I take the Sunshine Law very seriously and frequently caution others to do the same.
Frost: I’m very familiar with the Sunshine laws having worked in HOA environments, as well as being the Treasurer for Sebastian Charter Junior High School. I support anything that encourages decision making in the open and transparency with robust citizen involvement.
Heimler: I fully support it.
Searcy: I agree to abide by the Florida Government in the Sunshine Statute. The purpose of the statute is to eliminate back room deals and this for the most part has been accomplished. Elected officials must constantly be on guard to insure compliance. The statutes are the law and we must comply.
19. If there was a decision made by the majority of the school board – at least 3 of 5 votes – that you were in opposition to; how would you respond when asked about the issue in the public?
Disney-Brombach: Once all opportunities to revisit the issue have been exhausted, I feel it is important to take responsibility for all issues.
Frost: If a vote doesn’t go your way. Board bylaws 123(p) stipulates that once a vote has been cast the board member must accept the will of the majority. The most I could do is point to the outcome of the vote as being 3-2, which is a public record, and state that the board has decided. It is the responsibility of the Board Chairman to be the official voice of the board.
Heimler: I would support the decision.
Searcy: I would respond that I was opposed to the Board’s decision but respect the majority position and will abide by it.
20. What do you feel is one of your greatest assets that will make you a successful School Board Member during your term of office?
Disney-Brombach: Building good working relationships with local, state and federal agencies and other elected official takes time and perseverance. Meeting with the White House Education Advisory staff, US Department of Education, Senate and House Education Committees, I was able to communicate the impact of federal mandates on local school districts. At the state level, meeting with the Governor and his staff as well as the FL Commissioner of Education, I have discussed the impact of high stakes testing to children and the importance of parental choice. These and many other issues will continue to be raised to the benefit of our students and the protection of the taxpayers. My experience and leadership skills will be valuable assets to guide the board through the Superintendent hiring process. . I have been diligent about professional development including earning the distinction of Certified Board Member. As the President of the Florida School Boards Association, I have the privilege of spending time with and learning from the success of other districts. There is no substitute for experience!
Frost: It would be easy to say my education (MBA) and experience as a teacher will make me successful. Or it would make sense to point to my experience as a leader in the US Marines and strategy consultant for firms like ExxonMobil, but what really sets me apart is that I’m here to serve the students and taxpayers and not a personal political agenda.
Heimler: My goal is to continue to help provide the best possible education for our children. Over the past 15 years, I have volunteered over 5,000 hours for the school systems in Florida. I have also taught two years of 5th grade math and donated my entire salary to help those less fortunate. Amongst others, my two immediate goals are restoring teacher morale and fiscal responsibility. As a school board member I will active meaning I will be a full time board member. I will sit in classrooms weekly and communicate directly with teachers, administrators, parents, and students. I will work diligently to build a working trust with each of the above groups. At the same time I will be a watchdog for taxpayers. I will keep a keen eye on fiscal efficiencies. Taxpayers, and I’m one of them, deserve no less. Vital to the success of our school district is both parental and community involvement. I earned the State of Florida’s Department of Education’s Volunteer of the Year Award for my ability to bring the entire community together to help a Double ” F” Failing School to become a “C” school. It took a concerted effort and lots of parental involvement but in the end the effort paid big dividends for all involved and, most importantly, for the students. As mentioned above, I will be a “full time” board member, which is essential to being able to interact and engage the entire community. I will have an open door policy and will be very transparent with all of the citizens of Indian River County, especially parents. I have an 8-year-old going into 3rd grade, and he along with all of our children is my incentive to work every day to improve our children’s education.
Searcy: Having served on the board previously, I understand the requirements of a Board member and have a record of successfully performing the job with intellect, insight and integrity. I also understand and respect the structure of the District and will do my job as policy maker. In a recent editorial endorsement the Vero Beach Press Journal stated, regarding my previous school board service, “Searcy fought for educational excellence and administrative transparency,…he worked diligently on behalf of the public.”
Very good article! I wonder about the use of portables but from another stand-point. They are quite useful in keeping class size at the right level and during those years when there is suddenly an influx of students. These grade school students will not remain there but for a few years before moving on to middle schools….and then of course high school. So, building or adding onto a current school is great based on this unexpected batch of kids. However, in a few years the trend may well change and some of these permanent classrooms could–theoretically at least–stand empty. As far as the new administration building goes – we will always have a school board and personnel. If the old building (from the ’50’s) is large enough, healthy enough for humans and could be remodeled/updated, that’s fine–keep the old. However, we don’t want a lot of workers having health issues due to mold or other problems–that could cost the School District big-time. We want the building to last a long while–through hurricanes and anything else. Weigh the pluses and minuses – as long as we aren’t pennywise and pound foolish, do what is needed.