Married, Karen E. Bowman
On the Record
What experiences do you have that make you a good candidate for office?
I have lived in the community for 23 years family going through Prairie Grove School. I come from an extended family that includes teachers. I spent a number of years designing educational software and the specialized hardware for it. I developed seminars and workshops to engineering groups at regional technology companies. I have managed many large government projects and led many technical teams successfully. Additionally, I spent some time at District 46 as a volunteer until I was hired as interim Technology Coordinator. When the new Coordinator was hired, I was hired as Teaching Assistant working seven (7) very interesting years in a variety of capacities including Technology Assistant and Library Assistant. New knowledge is emerging in virtually every field and discipline on time scales which were, at one time, decades, are now years and, in many cases, months. Many technologies, driven by competition, are leaping ahead with new products emerging every few months. We must be knowledgeable to understand how to integrate this new knowledge via the new technologies, into our curricula. My unique background helps me to do just that. I am running for office with 3 other vested community members; Laura Barker, Margaret Ponga and Rick Salvo.
What are your top two or three priorities if elected?
I want to determine, both in the near term and over my time in office, if elected, what we should do about the current district levy. See #3 I want to re-define and re-instate the various committees with a renewed community involvement. We need the community’s perspective and feedback. See #4 It seems that the overall staff/faculty moral has been eroded in the few years since I left the district. I want to determine why and make the indicated changes to correct it. This will help Improve performance of both staff and students.
Would you support freezing your taxing district’s levy until housing prices rebound? Why or why not?
I believe, in principle, in supporting a freeze on the currently defined District levy. These are hard economic times and much of the community is struggling to make ends meet and some tax relief would certainly be justified and welcomed. But, as they say, the devil is in the details. This issue is quite complicated and a simple overall freeze will not address the root problems. A great deal of study and analysis will be needed to determine both the current financial health of the district and what financial needs can be projected for the next five, or so, years. These considerations together with a careful review of administration contract details will be needed to further define details of any freeze. This issue deserves much discussion and debate and will be one of my priorities.
What one decision by the school board do you most disagree with and why?
I am actually perplexed with the School Board’s questionable decision to dispense with the community committees. School Board members are the stewards of the public pocketbook and of the public trust. The relationship between the school and the district community needs to be developed and nurtured. The district and the community are involved in an expensive, time-consuming common project of getting all these students educated and launched on their way. The community is the one true source of unvarnished feedback. We can sit in our meetings and convince each other that we are doing a great job, but without feedback from the community, we really don’t know how we’re doing. We need the community’s perspective on every aspect of what we’re doing. So the priority will be to re-instate all the community committees. We need a finance committee, curriculum committee, policy committee, building/grounds committee, parent/community advisory committee, discipline committee, technology committee, etc.
What was the biggest accomplishment of the board in the past year?
I feel that by-far, one of the better issues was the implementation of the ECE (Early Childhood Education) Pre-School program. Statistical data shows students that attend a high quality pre-school, display significantly higher achievement in reading, writing, math and, the all-important, social skills going forward. Additionally, these same students not only perform much better later on in the higher grades, but tend to go on and to perform very well in college and out into the business world. We have determined that these little guys are able to understand and accomplish far more (and much earlier) than we had understood until now. We need to start this process as early as is practical to prepare our students to excel in an increasingly competitive international/world culture. I applaud their decision and their efforts in starting this very important and useful program.
Why should voters elect you to office?
I, actually, have long considered running for the School Board and I am excited about the chance to contribute something special to the community, and looking forward to the challenges of the position. I have lived in the community for 23 years and have had family go through Prairie Grove School. I have a strong technical aptitude and a broad experience in dealing with technical issues. I am a firm advocate for a strong technical component in implementing the curriculum. I am interested in restoring District 46 to it’s earlier pre-eminence in the county. I want to determine why one of the smallest districts repeatedly and consistently posts the largest administrative cost per pupil. I am interested in restoring fiscal transparency and responsibility to the district’s finances. And, finally, my spouse served on this same school board for 14 years. So, we will have the added advantage of her experience and unique perspective.
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