Richard Conn is one of six candidates on the Nov. 6 ballot seeking one of the two seats on the Saline Board of Education. The terms are six years long. The other candidates are Susan Estep, Brian Woodruff, Jennifer Steben, Thomas Frederick and incumbent Scott Hummel.
Here's our Q&A with Richard Conn.
Family: Single - Parent of 3 adult Saline alumni graduates.
Career/Education: BS degree in accounting. 35 years of business experience in Finance, HR, IT, contracts etc
Relevant experience (other related boards or government experience): Served 7 years as a Trustee at a large private school in Ann Arbor, Condo President. Thru work involved in contracts, lawsuits, many legal issues.
What's your motivation for running? Will be retired from full time job effective January 31, 2019. Want to give back to the wonderful Saline community, help where I can.
What do you think your service would provide the board, schools and district citizens? I am a good listener and problem solvers and have relevant experience to contribute at a board level. Been involved in many board meeting. Know about strategic thinking and planning.
What are Saline Area Schools best strengths to build on? What areas most need improvement? Our teachers, faculty, leadership team, our community and excellent school facilities. Need improvement maybe continue to evolve and adopt all of the ongoing technology and new online and teaching methods.
Describe the ways you've stayed apprised of issues in education and Saline Area Schools. Talk to other community members, co-workers with children in district, attend bi-weekly saline school board meetings.
When you serve on the board, who do you see yourself representing and working for? Represent all community members and number 1 role to think strategically and represent our community values and support the superintendent and his/her executive team.
What's your opinion of the district's move away from the traditional classroom, and how would you assess requests to fundamentally change the way Saline students learn in school? All methods need to be investigated and tried and monitored. People can learn in different ways and settings. Involve community members for impute.
What's your position on teacher pay and benefits - given that the district's purse strings are controlled by the state. Stay current and at market prices so as not to lose long term teachers to other districts.
Under what, if any, conditions would you consider privatizing support staff? The board and superintendent have to annual review all school expenditures and makes sure they are competitive and fair.
How important is diversity in staff and administration? Staff and administration should seek and hire the most qualified candidates period. Any searches should be broad enough to capture a wide range of candidates.
Does the district do enough to protect students from bullying? If not, what would you like to see done. I believe district has done a good job in this area.
Regarding pay to play, should the schools spend more or less to subsidize student athletics and extracurricular activities? I remember when this was first tried and my children paid to run cross country. It seems to work and the right balance has been found. Seems that there has been no drop in number of students playing on our sports teams.
How do you see online/digital learning opportunities fitting into Saline Area Schools? Heard a recent board presentation given by school employees and it seems to be working, right balance offered between how many online classes can be taken versus still being in the class room to be part of the important daily interaction with other students and teachers, including times a substitute teacher is running the class.
A big part of the board's responsibility is budgeting and policy making. Describe your experience and/or skills in these fields. This is an area that I am very experienced in. For 35 years involved at many levels of annual budgets both with employers and while a trustee.
The move to an early start of the school year prompted discussion about year-round school. What are your thoughts on year-round school? People change, kids change, parent needs change so everything should be tried and investigated and evaluated and then implemented if it works.
A lot of the most contentious issues the district has seen recently are offshoots of the so-called "culture war," whether it's Planned Parenthood's involvement with sex education curriculum, or including LGBTQ students in the district's bullying policy. How will your religious beliefs, or lack there of, inform and influence your policy making? I am just 1 person with a set of experiences of living for 21 years in our saline community. I am a fair and well balanced person. I have met a lot of people and have traveled many places in the world. All of these experiences will effect the decisions a board member is asked to make. I will look at the recommendations of the superintendent and his / her team and I expect overwhelmingly support those decisions or work with them to find a better alternate solution where possible.