Monett School Board Questionnaire: Andy Brandt
1. Is the school district doing enough to encourage diversity in its staff in hiring minorities, certified and non-certified?
To be honest, I try and speak to as many people in the community as I can about the issues our schools are facing and this topic has never come up. Monett is a very diverse community and school district. I think our teachers and staff should be a representation of that diversity. Since our community is so diverse, if we are hiring the best possible candidate for each position then that diversity should be reflected. If it isnít, then we probably need to explore our hiring practices.
2. What would you like to see the district do to reduce teacher turnover?
Our turnover seems to be a constant issue. I donít think there is one common reason we are losing so many talented teachers. Some teachers are leaving to be closer to the town they live in, some are leaving for a district with a four-day week, some are leaving for higher paying districts and some are leaving for districts with more traditional programs. We need to make sure our pay scale is competitive with districts like ours. We need to be conducting exit interviews and looking for trends. We also need to realize that a teacher living near Springfield or Joplin, is going to leave Monett someday to be closer to home. There is probably nothing we can do to keep most of the teachers in that situation, but we need to think outside the box to find incentives to keep them in Monett. This issue isnít just about turnover either, we have very talented teachers living in Monett and driving to Aurora, Cassville or other towns nearby. We need to find out why that is.
3. How would you know if the school district has achieved the right balance between technology and self-taught programs versus having enough teacher aides for hands-on learning? How would you make sure youíre promoting the right balance?
Iím going to answer this question as a parent, not a candidate. While I applaud Monett for being one of the first districts to put technology in the hands of our students, I think we have went too far and it has been at the expense of hands on learning. I know my children would benefit from more traditional classroom instruction. Going to a parent teacher conference can be maddening, with my 9-year-old showing me five different programs on her tablet. Most of the classrooms at Central Park feel like a Starbucks, with kids sitting on couches staring at their tablets. Part of hands on learning, is getting to know each student personally and identifying their learning style. Everyone learns differently and has different strengths and weaknesses. With the overuse of our technology, we are not identifying the needs of some of our students and those students are falling behind. I know there are a lot of parents out there, that have kids that are struggling in certain areas, that donít feel their child is getting the personal instruction they need.