Monett School Board Questionnaire: Ken Gaspar
Publisher’s note: The following Q&A represents the candidate's views verbatim, as submitted via email in response to our questions, and has not been edited. The election will be held April 4, with voters allowed to select three of the four candidates. The top three vote-getters will be elected. - JB
1. What should be the next field of study pursued at Scott Regional Technology Center?
What a fantastic facility the Scott Regional Technology Center is. It truly is one of the District’s greatest assets. I have had many conversations with students and parents alike speaking about the many great offerings, oftentimes involving people from outside our District. Regretfully, there are still so many that may not completely understand the value of learning a skill. There has been a shift within society that placed a greater emphasis on a traditional 4-year college career for graduating seniors. This has resulted in a much more shallow skilled labor pool. Monett’s rich industrial base has been very instrumental in helping our District tailor the programs that will place the students in a favorable, job-placement situation. I cannot state what one program could or should be added, market demands should dictate. I will ensure we continue to work with the very industry leaders looking to hire these graduates. I will look to continue the requisite embedded academic studies each student must complete, to increase their marketability.
2. What are the best ways to retain good teachers in the Monett school district, and would you consider rewards for exemplary teacher performance?
Pay-for-performance is a popular compensation methodology utilized in many private sector companies. The education industry employs a “step” system which dictates an educator’s salary, based on years of experience (seniority) and personal education level achieved (Bachelor’s, Master’s, Specialist, and Doctorate degrees). Teacher performance is an extremely difficult thing to measure consistently and objectively as many variable factors exist, namely different students each year. As educators achieve higher level degrees, they bring that knowledge to the classroom which further enriches the students. Our Board and Administration focus each year on our certified and non-certified staff salary structures. Our goal has been to provide the best salary structure we can and I will work to continue the rich tradition. This is always done within the current funding levels. Other points to be made are that Monett provides a great benefits structure and an environment for educators to be successful.
3. What do you believe is the school district’s responsibility when it comes to the education and physical and mental health of at-risk students?
Any District’s responsibility is to educate and protect ALL students. The Monett R-1 has employed highly skilled professionals who have assisted in the development of programs that address these students in need. This Board member has been proud of the staff the Administration has hired to ensure our at-risk students are in focus. We have partnered with local agencies to obtain additional direction and will continue this practice, when needed. Our District’s participation in the free & reduced lunch program provides breakfast and lunch meals to those students that might not have it available to them. Additionally, support from an amazingly generous community, enables the “backpack program” to thrive, providing additional meals to students that may not have access. “At-risk” students can emanate from any socio-economic level. I will ensure our District continues to employ a School Resource Officer (SRO) to stave off harmful substances that can not only affect a child’s school career but their entire lives. The Board’s recent passage of randomized drug testing is showing great promise. We are sending the message to students and parents that a student’s future is precious and they must be given an opportunity to be successful.