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GENERAL ELECTION 2018

This is the second of eight question and answer sessions with candidates for local office. This week, candidates for the two school board seats up for election this November are featured. Each answer, including the bio, was limited to 150 words. In the event of answers longer than that, we are forced to cut from the bottom up.

2nd District

Brief bio:

Karen Brock

I am a wife, a mother of four, and a grandmother of two. My husband and I own a small farm, Nut and Honey Farm, (he is the nut . . .), where we raise chickens, bees, strawberries and vegetables. We’ve lived in Woodford County for over 20 years. We left Versailles briefly - while my husband did ministry training and we then did mission work in Bulgaria - but when the work was done, we came straight back to Woodford County. Versailles is not only where our friends and family are rooted, it’s also home to Journey Church, where we are active members. I have been a math teacher for over 20 years, so I am in a unique position to see benefits of all educational options. My experience has taught me to believe that parents and guardians should have the freedom to choose the educational path they believe is best… Allison Pacey Richardson

I am a lifelong resident of Woodford County. I am excited to run for School Board in District 2. I have been married to my husband Danny for 20 years and we have two beautiful children. Brooke Lee is a 2017 graduate of WCHS. She is currently attending BCTC and will go to EKU next fall. Tye Stone is a freshman at Woodford County High School. While my background is not in education, I am a businesswoman and I believe in work ethic. I am a Real Estate Professional and I co-own Richardson Electric and Stonebrooke Whitetails, with my husband. I have extensive knowledge in financial planning, running on a budget, public relations, and working alongside my counterparts to ensure that each task, in three very different business atmospheres, is completed in the best interest of our employees and customers.

Why are you running and what do you hope to accomplish?

Karen Brock

I am running as the incumbent in this race for the 2nd district to continue what I started four years ago: to be a voice for the employees of the school system. Having worked in the system, I understand the difficulties of the job, but I also understand why our employees do it every day: they value a good education and love to see the kids grow emotionally, socially and academically. My former coworkers asked me to run, when I left the High School. A teacher’s perspective gives me a different view of activities, programs and issues. I encouraged the raise that was given during my first term. One of my goals for this second term is to get another raise for the staff. I have learned a lot about my role as a board member in all the required trainings I have attended.

Allison Pacey Richardson

I am running for school board because I feel like it’s time for some positive changes. I will not be persuaded to decide on any issue without complete knowledge and transparency. I hope to continue getting our community more involved with our schools. I want to communicate with our teachers and make sure that their needs, in the classroom, are being met. I want to work with our SBDM counsel and make sure that the needs of our students and families are met and I want to make it possible for future generations to live here and can afford to do so, if they wish.

Is a new high school needed? If so, by what date, and how will it be paid for?

Karen Brock

Yes, I believe that we do need a new High School. While conservative spending initiatives are always to be admired, the reality is that the cost of updating our existing building to meet the needs of 21st Century learning would be better spent in a new building. There are areas of the school that are inadequate. Take, for instance, the Science and Food Labs, and Art and Music facilities - our student numbers cannot fit in the spaces provided, and the performances are having to be done outside of the district facilities. Any possible flexible use areas - for student collaboration and team work - are all but impossible to find. However, the biggest need concerns students who are not college bound. While I do strongly believe in funding for these overdue updates, I am glad that the people of Woodford County got to vote on the issue…

Allison Pacey Richardson

This question has been exhausted over the past seven months. It’s time to move forward, maintain the building we have and work towards the future.

How well is the school system doing to prepare students who don’t plan on going to college?

Karen Brock

A high school’s job is to prepare students to be college &/or career ready. I do not believe that the non-college bound students are getting the best from our current schools. But that is because these students need training in collaboration, group work, soft skills, etc. Our space is limited at the high school to meet these needs. Not passing the school tax has hurt the non-college bound students the most. I was excited for a new high school, but more excited about the plans for the old - to create our own vocational center aimed at preparing our kids for jobs in our industries in Woodford County. Our vocational students lose so much valuable time when having to travel to Lexington for training that isn’t specific to the jobs available in Woodford County. There was also a plan to expand our Alternative Program…

Allison Pacey Richardson

In my experience, I was pleased with the Career Ready Pathway. My daughter graduated HS with her MNA and went straight to work. It was in line with the degree she is working towards in college. However, this is something that I would like to look at in depth. Being the wife of a Skilled Tradesman, I know the value of skilled workers and I would like to see our school system work towards diminishing the stigma of students graduating and going to Trade School. A college degree is not the only path to financial security. Without our Skilled Trade professionals, we have nothing. We are a farming community as well and many of these young men and women depend on pure back work to survive. They already know what work is and adding a skilled trade to their knowledge would be an invaluable asset…

What steps are needed to ensure Woodford County schools are as safe as possible?

Karen Brock

With the recent addition of more counselors, social workers and School Resource Officers, I believe our schools are safe. It is not a perfect system, because it has imperfect students and employees. But, I believe the goal of all of the Woodford County employees is to keep our kids safe. All of our buildings have been evaluated by the Kentucky Center for School Safety and by our local police force. We have done all that these two groups have recommended to make our schools safe. Fayette County is spending all of a 5 percent tax raise (about $13 million) per year to improve safety. Eight of the ten steps being implemented by Fayette County have already been implemented in Woodford County without a tax raise. The two items not being implemented are: a partnership with UK Pediatrics, and metal detectors.

Allison Pacey Richardson

This is something I am very passionate about. We aren’t doing enough. The first step, in my opinion, is to get an outside source (with no connections to our school system) to come in and assess our schools, mainly the High School. Personally, I would like to see metal detectors in our Middle and High School. I have no problem exhausting every option if it means a safer environment for our kids and educators. 5th District

Brief bio:

Dani Bradley

I would like your vote to represent District 5 on Woodford County’s School Board. I’m the mother of four children - two are currently in the school system and one will be entering it soon. After graduating high school in 1996, I studied at Eastern Kentucky University. Recently, I was proud to spend two years focusing on student achievement as an elected representative on Southside Elementary’s Site Based Decision Making Council. I founded and chaired the I Support Our Schools committee that was publicly acknowledged with Outstanding Volunteer Recognition by the current school board. For 12 years, I’ve been involved in Woodford County public schools, volunteering countless hours and participating in parent-teacher organizations. I have regularly attended school board meetings to learn as much as possible about this role. I am a longtime resident and would be honored to serve Woodford County… Anissa Penn Davis

My family has lived in Versailles for generations. I moved here when I was 6 and am a 1988 graduate of WCHS. After college and the first few years of marriage, Jeff and I chose to move back to Versailles. Our girls are WCHS grads (2010 and 2012). I am in my 15th year as a public school educator. In that time, I have gone back to school to earn my Rank I (2nd Master degree) in Curriculum and Instruction, my Principal Certification, and my Doctor of Education degree with an emphasis in Educational Leadership. When my girls were in school, I volunteered as the Softball Booster Representative. I am also president of the Anderson County Education Association. In this capacity, I actively participate in Board meetings, financial meetings and tax levy meetings. This position has also given me the opportunity to frequently deal with KAR and KRS statutes. Robert H. Williams

My wife Courtney and I have resided in Woodford County for 13 years. We have one child (Sean) who attends Huntertown Elementary and one child (Sydney) who attends Woodford County Middle School. I’m a Virginia Tech graduate (Civil Engineering) who is currently employed as a Sr. Project Manager with EN Engineering. I have served WCS as a SBDM representative, Facility Planning Committee member, and Redistricting Committee member. Our family and I attend Journey Church where I serve as a Deacon. In my spare time, I enjoy hiking, fishing, water skiing, biking, snow skiing, and spending time with my family.

Why are you running and what do you hope to accomplish?

Dani Bradley

I believe in Woodford County’s long-standing tradition of providing an excellent education to our students and will ensure that everyone has a voice in our education system as a school board member. I plan to improve communication between the Board of Education and community members to create stronger ties and deeper trust between the Board and its constituents. I will work to stimulate growth in our schools while maintaining fiscal responsibility within our district. Woodford County is a wonderful place to raise a family and schools play a vital role in that. If elected, I will use my experience as a parent, volunteer, and Site Based Decision Making council member to make informed decisions for Woodford County and maintain the standard of excellence within our schools.

Anissa Penn Davis

I am seeking a seat on the Woodford County School Board because I see a need and want to help. I am a big picture type of person who is detail oriented. If the details don’t make sense, then the picture is skewed. My top three goals are: 1) Raises for educators every year (this is absolutely doable); 2) Buying instructional materials teachers need to be successful; 3) Building maintenance/safety. All of these needs must be met in order for the district to move forward.

Robert H. Williams

I want to insure all children in Woodford County receive the best education possible. As a parent, church member, coach, and volunteer, I enjoy mentoring and interacting with the young adults of our community. I believe strong public schools are critical for job growth and the sustainability of future generations. If elected, my goals are: improve career readiness, make WCS a great place to work, and implement our Facility Plan. As an engineer working with industry, I would like to see more of our graduates fill high demand occupations in our area. As an educational institution, our teachers, staff, and administrators are our greatest resource. We need to make sure we are retaining and developing our employees so they perform at the highest level. Lastly, we must provide facilities which create a safe and positive environment for learning and high achievement.

Is a new high school needed? If so, by what date, and how will it be paid for?

Dani Bradley

Woodford County does need a new or significantly renovated high school. Our current high school was built during Lyndon Johnson’s presidency and is showing its age. A newer or renovated building would allow for the most up-to-date security for our students so the sooner this could happen the better. As a board member, I will look for every possible revenue source to fund a new high school including sponsorships, endowments, changes in statute, and any other possibility. I respect the community’s recent vote on the facilities tax. However, in my extensive talks with people throughout that process, I found very few that didn’t think that a new school was needed.

Anissa Penn Davis

If we don’t keep up the current high school, we will need to build a new one. I am fiscally conservative. The current board has chosen to increase the tax levy 4 percent and dedicate those funds for buildings. That’s a good first step as long as the district can continue to support its educators and keep its buildings in good condition. A current board member asked about building in phases. That intrigues me and I need to look more into it.

Robert H. Williams

I support construction of a new high school. The current facility does not meet the needs of our students in many ways. As for funding the school, the Board must reduce debt to increase bonding capacity. In order to reduce debt at a faster rate, the Board must consider a general tax increase of 4 percent each year which is not subject to a recall vote under KRS 160.470. The latest financial projection indicates the new high school may be under construction by 2024 using this model. As an alternative, I support reconsideration of a facilities tax in the future. If a facilities tax was approved during my term, I would not support a 4 percent general levy increase, unless required by KDE under KRS 160.470.

How well is the school system doing to prepare students who don’t plan on going to college?

Dani Bradley

I think that we have made significant improvements in this area but there is still much work to be done. Demographic changes and economic fluctuations across the country are resulting in fewer students going to college. We need to change our system to meet those needs. We have outstanding Agriculture, Health Science, Culinary, Engineering, Business, and Manufacturing teachers in place to grow these programs and prepare our students for successful careers. We need more high-quality apprenticeships and co-op programs that can take place offsite so that the current high school’s space constraints aren’t an issue. These programs would allow students hands-on experience in their fields of interest and allow them to be paired with future employers, setting them up for successful futures regardless of their interest in attending college.

Anissa Penn Davis

We could do better. We can do better by increasing the number of students who are career ready by partnering with the trades. Some districts are part of a Co-op and students have the opportunity to study anything from welding to nursing. Partnering with local businesses to offer internships/student co-op to students who have taken certain classes will help more kids become productive citizens. To do this, we can create a school within a school to help career transitioning students be successful.

Robert H. Williams

The latest report card indicates no WCHS students were enrolled in career paths such as: HVAC tech., carpentry, electrical tech., masonry, or welding. My goal is to get more students enrolled and certified to work in these high demand occupations. I appreciate the “Industry Day” sponsored by our local economic development authority wherein many high school students visited area industry to discuss job requirements. As a District, we need to partner more heavily with area industries and businesses in the construction and manufacturing sectors so our graduates are interested and qualified to pursue possible career paths with area employers.

What steps are needed to ensure Woodford County schools are as safe as possible?

Dani Bradley

As a parent of two current students in different school buildings, I was pleased with the recent decision to hire a safety resource officer for each school in the district. I believe we need to make sure each school is adequately staffed with counselors, social workers and teachers to reach out to at-risk students and consistently enforce bullying rules to prevent potentially dangerous situations from escalating. Every student in Woodford County needs to be safe and cared for within his or her school building. Communication with parents in the event of a safety issue is also critical. Parents need to be made aware of safety issues in a timely manner. It is incumbent on all of us to work together to make sure our children are learning in the safest possible environment every single day.

Anissa Penn Davis

Woodford County is already doing a lot to make sure our students are safe. Sally Port doors are wonderful. These are the doors where you need to be buzzed in multiple times before you get into the building. School Resource Officers are a great line of defense. These officers not only walk the building making sure the outside doors are secure, but also work hard to build relationships with students. Educators have been building relationships with students for years and the trust that comes from that effort help make school safer. Unfortunately, we live in an age where we need more than trust. Many districts have trained staff to randomly wand students when students come into the building. An example - beginning at 7:35, the first five students walking in Door 3 will be searched by the wand. The next week it may be 7:40 at Door 1.

Robert H. Williams

I support the recent addition of school resource officers to all elementary schools. In addition to this measure, I would like to see more CCTV monitoring at all WCS facilities. I also support the addition of metal detector stations for entry at the high school. Since it’s a general requirement of employment nowadays, I fully support 100 percent drug testing of our middle and high school students, not just our student athletes. To successfully treat the drug abuse epidemic, we must identify the addiction as early as possible.

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