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Blair Oaks candidates weigh in on district’s finances, COVID response

April 3, 2022 at 4:00 a.m.
John Weber (Submitted photo)


Blair Oaks School Board candidates laid out the issues facing the district in the coming years at a News Tribune forum last week.

This week, candidates took on the remaining questions the News Tribune didn't get to during the forum.

The candidates are John Weber, Adam Mietzner, Valerie Fischer and Glenn Reynolds, and they will be on the April 5 ballot.

Q: As a school board member, you will be a steward of the school district's finances. What is your assessment of how the district's finances have been handled? What concerns you about challenges the district may face in the future?

John Weber

A: One of our many roles as a board member is to be a fiduciary to the finances pertaining to running the district. As a fiduciary we must do what is in the best interests of all stakeholders of the district. Because of Dr. Jones' detailed work on the district finances and the annual audit that is performed by an outside accounting firm, I feel that we don't have any current issues. Next year dealing with the potential shortfall to finishing the second phase of the new high school due to costs going up, this will be a concern.

Adam Mietzner

A: I think the current board has done a great job with our financials. Keeping the school on a balanced budget, while being one of the lowest cost districts in the state to educate our children, and with much lower tax rates than the average school! Also staying right at the budget for phase 1 of the new high school. The only thing I foresee being an issue is the unexpected costs and inflated costs of phase 2 of the new high school. But those are challenges I'm sure that will be addressed when the time comes for the upcoming bond issue.

Valerie Fischer

A: As a board member, we are to be great stewards of the money the district entrusts us with. Past history has shown the members and Dr. Jones have been very smart and conservative, and I believe it will be carried into the future. The taxpayers in our communities are living with inflation across the board and they do not need any unnecessary cost. The board needs to expect increased cost with daily operations and may need to be creative in exploring how the district can reduce these costs. We need to live and work within our financial means.

Glenn Reynolds

A: Consistently, we are and have been one of the lowest spending schools in the state. Our current spend per student is $8,344 and the state average is $11,436. We do need to develop and maintain our facilities to accommodate the number of students we have enrolled and manage the district growth. We also need to properly pay our teachers and other staff so that we can maintain current employees and attract the best new talent. With that being said, I will be an advocate to maintain our existing tax level, review the budget and exercise fiscal conservatism.

Q: How would you assess the district's response to the pandemic when it comes to in-person vs. virtual instruction, as well as mask mandates?

John Weber

A: The district has done a great job dealing with the pandemic. The district worked with the Cole County Health Department and communicated with other schools to come up with the best plan to keep everyone as safe as possible but also provide the best education under the circumstances. Outside of the nationwide shutdown, we have be able to be in seat and limit virtual learning to a minimal. Masks were an option for most of the pandemic. The admin team, the teachers and district staff worked hard together to do a great job in these tough times.

Adam Mietzner

A: I think the school board's district response has been the best I have seen. We have many other districts who have come to us for their pandemic planning. Of course, we went into lockdown just like everywhere else in Missouri. We opened back up for summer school 2020 and haven't missed a day since. The district based its response on a percentage scale. I can't say enough how proud I am of how we handled this virus. As for the masks, I've always been pro-choice. We are Americans, and it should be the choice of the families, not the government.

Valerie Fischer

A: Blair Oaks was the envy of school districts during the COVID pandemic. They used common sense in living with the virus. I believe children must have in-person learning to maintain positive social interactions and improve their mental health. In-person learning is also vital in maintaining and excelling in their education. We should not let our children live in fear and anxiety but maintain normalcy and a positive routine for them. If a child wants to wear a mask, they can. I am very proud how Blair Oaks has led the districts, and I believe it will be carried forward.

Glenn Reynolds

A: As a district, we did better than most schools in the state. We focused on in-person learning. In-person learning is the best option for most of our students. It allows for better teacher/student assessment, individual student social development and extracurricular participation. In-person socialization through interaction with other students and teachers is also a key part of an individual's development.

I believe mask usage is a decision that should be made by the student and their parents based on their own risk assessment.

Q: As a board member, would you support a transgender girl playing on a girls' athletic team and using the girls' facilities or a transgender boy playing on a boys' athletic team and using the boys' facilities? Why or why not?

John Weber

A: As a board member, we oversee Dr. Jones running the district. He and his administrative team, including the AD, must follow state and federal laws pertaining to what is acceptable and what is not acceptable. I respect everyone's opinion on the transgender issue, but as a board member, I must act in an open-minded way to deal with issues based on following current laws. It would be naïve to think that laws won't change and with that in mind, as a board member, I will deal with changes with an open mindset.

Adam Mietzner

A: I'm 100 percent not in favor of any female or male using the opposite sex's bathroom and or playing any sports. There are two genders: man and woman. Women have been fighting for years for equality, and now it seems like the media wants to throw that out the window. If you're moving to our district, I myself believe people should assimilate to us, not us assimilating to them! We're a very conservative district, and I plan on keeping it that way.

Valerie Fischer

A: First and foremost, every student should be treated equal on all matters including gender identity. As a member, I believe a transgender person should not be playing on the opposite gender athletic teams. The physical attributes of a gender has a great influence on the students' performance. Regarding restrooms, the safety and security of students is at the forefront. The opposite gender should not use the same facility. If a neutral restroom is requested, it needs to be made possible in that building. This should be a single person usage. Every concern and request should be heard by the board.

Glenn Reynolds

A: No, I would not support this. We have certain core systems or rules that have to be in place for society to function. Gender is one such rule. A person is born with either a XX chromosome or a XY chromosome. These chromosomes give the person a set of traits that separate them from a person with the opposite set of chromosomes. Ignoring this is ignoring basic science. Finally, when we allow students of different sexes access to each others' restrooms or locker rooms, it has the potential to put our students at undue and unnecessary risk.

See more election news at newstribune.com/election/.

  photo  Submitted photo: Adam Mietzner
 
 
  photo  Submitted photo: Valerie Fischer
 
 
  photo  Submitted photo: Glenn Reynolds
 
 
  photo  Candidates for Blair Oaks school board. 


Print Headline: Blair Oaks candidates weigh in on district’s finances, COVID response

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