Wilson, Hisle square off for school board
Published 11:22 am Monday, October 24, 2016
PHILLIP TODD WILSON
Phillip Todd Wilson, 51, has lived in Clark County for more than 40 years.
He has two sons, nine-year-old Asher, who attends Strode Station Elementary, and 14-year-old Palmer, a GRC student.
Wilson loves Clark County and wants to do whatever it takes to be part of a bright future for all kids and employees.
He has been the associate principal at Madison Central High School for three years. The two previous years, he was the assistant principal and athletic director at Madison Central. He has 23 years of experience in the education field.
Although Scott Hisle was born in Lexington, his grandfather was born in Clark County and his ancestors go back to Captain John Strode.
Hisle has been working and volunteering in Winchester for the past 30 years. When it was time for his first child to start kindergarten, his family made the move back to Clark County and has loved it here ever since.
He and his wife, Christy, have been married for 29 years, and have three college-age children who all graduated from George Rogers Clark High School.
He is the chief financial officer of The Freeman Corporation and has undergraduate degrees in finance and accounting and a master’s degree in business, all from the University of Kentucky.
He for 11 years on the Parks Board and was an integral part of the construction of the playground, gym renovation and the indoor pool at College Park.
He is a Leadership Winchester graduate, past president of the Rotary Club, past treasurer and vice-president of the band boosters, soccer coach, volunteer for the Knights of Columbus and past treasurer of local Boy Scout Pack 22 and Troop 22, and is an Eagle Scout.
If elected would you support raising the county school tax rate, lowering the rate or maintaining the existing rate?
PW: I’m going to support what’s best for educating the students of Clark County Schools. I’m not going to short-change our students and I’m not going to put undue burden on the taxpayers of Clark County. I am a taxpayer myself. I own my own home and also have rental properties that I pay taxes on. I understand the responsibility to balance the needs of our schools, families and businesses.
SH: At this year’s public tax hearing I asked the Board of Education to keep the existing 60 cent tax rate. After hearing public comments, my opponent (voted) to instead raise the tax rate by the largest non-recallable permissible increase of 4 percent and the Board approved that increase.
Over the past nine years, the Clark County school board increased their tax rate by 55 percent, while inflation only increased by 16 percent. While the school system certainly needed some additional investment by the tax payers, this more than tripling of the tax rate versus the inflation rate has been difficult to swallow for many taxpayers, especially for retirees. With a current reserve of over $14 million and budget surpluses of over a $1 million a year for the past several years, the school system already has more than adequate resources to handle many of the pressing needs of our schools and still give our teachers and staff a much needed 3 percent raise. We need members on the board who can fairly balance the needs and wants of the school system with the taxpayer’s reasonable ability to pay. If elected, I will be one of those members.
With regard to facilities in the school district do you think it is smarter to build GRC athletics center rather than a new preschool, or should the preschool take priority? Why do you hold this position?
PW: The people of Clark County have spoken that they want the athletics center and I support that 100 percent. We have a state-of-the-art high school and we need a state-of-the-art athletics center to meet the needs of all the students at the high school, Campbell Junior High and the community. Preschool, however, won’t be left out. Preschool is very important to me as well. Many times there are other avenues to preschool funding that are not available for school facilities. While the athletic center will continue to be a priority, I would push us to pursue any avenue we can to seek out funding for the preschool project as well. The recent distinguished designation of our school district shows that we can have both improved athletic facilities and a quality education for all our children.
SH: We don’t have to choose between athletics and instructional needs; we can and should do both. Because of the large contingency fund plus normal future tax revenue streams, the district has the money available to construct not only the gym and the athletics center, but also a new preschool.
In August 2016, the Kentucky Department of Education approved Clark County’s facility plan that included a 4,000-seat gymnasium and a new football/soccer/track/band stadium and other athletic fields, so these improvements are already going to happen. However, because the actual contingency fund for last year came in $4.4 million more than was originally budgeted, the board now has enough money in their contingency fund to also move forward with the construction of a new preschool. A solid educational foundation in a child’s early years is critical to that child’s future success, and this need is even more so for at-risk children. So my answer is all of the above. I support the construction of not only the GRC athletics center, but also a new preschool.
If elected, what specific policies would you propose or support for help to ensure the physical and mental safety of Clark County students?
PW: Safety and security of our students remain a top priority. We need to ensure that we have the best possible learning environments for our students and educators to be successful. I will make sure that we use community and state agencies to benefit students so they can thrive at school. I will also actively support policies and resource that promote that end.
SH: To properly answer this question would require more in-depth study, but I applaud the progress that the school system has already made in increasing the safety of students by implementing physical separation of lobbies, security cameras and perimeter door and window security. The current facility plan includes improvements to Life Safety at Strode Station, Phoenix Academy and Shearer Elementary and I fully support expenditures in these critical safety areas. I look forward to working with the other Board members to continue the current path of making the Clark County School System as safe as possible for Clark County students, teachers and staff.
If elected, what specific policies would you support to help maximize opportunities for GAP students who may lack access to advanced placement courses and other school resources?
PW: I will support policies that make a difference with all students. Understanding GAP students have unique needs, I would work to eliminate those barriers that are keeping our GAP students from being able to participate in any course or take full advantage of the many resources available, I would both encourage and support opportunities for higher level classes, such as Advanced Placement and Dual Credit.
SH: Schools need to prioritize early literacy for all students and ensure that students with early reading challenges are identified quickly so intervention and different approaches to learning can be implemented for those students.
A recent Prichard Committee report entitled “Excellence with Equity” presents an comprehensive analysis of this issue. Performance gaps between students don’t just appear in later years, but can be found as early as in kindergarten. This early years gap highlights the need for a supportive, engaging preschool education especially for at-risk students. We need to ensure that instead of differences being accentuated that individual student’s strengths are noted and then built upon.
What do you think is the biggest issue facing the district and what would you do to address it if elected?
PW: I’m proud that our district is a distinguished district and I would like to keep and maintain that status. (Superintendent Paul) Christy, the teachers, administrators and all of our staff have done a wonderful job preparing our students and raising the bar in Clark County. To help facilitate that continuation, I plan to help support the work going on in our buildings, encourage teacher professional learning opportunities, and work with our community to make sure our Clark County graduates are productive members in our community and their world. Positive role models are just as important to our students as positive community partnerships are to their future. I will work hard at both.
SH: At the heart of any of the complex efforts required to run a highly effective school system is the financial funding to support this work and the proper expenditure of those funds. During the past several years the school budgeting process has been woefully inadequate. Due to poor budgeting information, the Board has set tax rates and employee compensation levels based upon budgets that were massively wrong. These mistakes not only caused the board to over charge the taxpayer by increasing tax rates when an increase was not needed, but they also short changed the teachers and staff by projecting an inability to increase their pay, when the actual ability to increase pay was quite different.
With my background in business and finance and my passion for community service, I can help the board navigate through these complex issues. We need a person on the board who can complement the current strong educational background of board members with a person who has experience in analysis of the types of financial and budget issues facing the board and can bring a fresh perspective of the business community to help tackle the challenges that lie ahead. I am that person.