This is the seventh in a series of question and answer articles on the candidates for Hays USD 489 school board. The same questions were e-mailed to each candidate, and they were given several days to provide their answers. Answers appear here in full, unedited. Four seats are open on the school board, each consisting of a four-year term. Other candidates are Paul Adams, Cole Engel, Alex Herman, Lori Hertel, Jessica Ann Berg Moffitt, Luke Oborny, Allen Park and Tammy Wellbrock.
Craig Pallister started his career in education in Dodge City, teaching there for 10 years before becoming an assistant principal. He would take that same position in the Hays USD 489 district before becoming a principal for 21 years, retiring from Hays Middle School. His wife, Sue, also retired from USD 489 as a teacher and librarian. Their two daughters attended USD 489 schools, as does their granddaughter.
He received a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in education administration from Fort Hays State University.
1. Why are you running for school board? What experience or qualities do you have that will benefit the board and district?
I am running for USD 489 Board of Education to support the community (taxpayers), superintendent, teachers, and all staff (Para-educators, secretaries, custodians, bus drivers, etc.)
Second, support local businesses and vendors on bids, when possible. Third, retain and recruit high-quality teachers and staff. Fourth, make all decisions after asking “Is it good for students?”
Fifth, I would like the district to consider adding a public relations position that would inform the community of the outstanding accomplishments of staff, students, and the district. The PR position would also provide transparency about the needs of the district.
My experience as a teacher and principal will allow me to get up to speed quickly regarding district business and needs.
2. What do you see as the three biggest challenges USD 489 will have in the next five to 10 years?
I would support appropriate funding from Kansas and the local taxpayers.
I would make retaining and recruiting high-quality teachers and staff a priority.
It essential that new and renovated buildings for our students through bond issues and capital outlay be a priority.
3. USD 489 and the Hays NEA have reached impasse on contract negotiations for two years in a row. What steps need to be taken — by both sides — to help smooth the talks and improve relations between the board and the teachers’ bargaining unit?
Collective bargaining that is “win-win” gives teachers and administration a combined voice in the decisions that affect all district personnel. Building trust between the teachers and the board of education is key.
4. What priorities should the district put on projects for facilities improvements and how should they be funded?
The elementary buildings are the oldest and should be the highest priority. The high school and middle school need major renovations and additions to meet student needs (middle school cafeteria and high school CETE classrooms).
5. The school board and administration have recently put an emphasis on building a contingency fund, adding $300,000 last year for a total at the end of fiscal 2019 for $1.2 million. Is this a good strategy, or should that money have gone for other use?
The contingency fund is needed to meet the district needs in case of building emergency needs such as roofs, heating, AC, and equipment until a bond issue allows these updates. The emphasis of a contingency fund at an appropriate level is sound fiscal management.