Candidates say keeping pace with technology is key

Wednesday, March 20, 2002

JACKSON, Mo. -- Communicating with the public and keeping pace with changing technologies are the keys for success in the coming years, according to Jackson school board candidates.

The six candidates agreed on several issues ranging from technology to funding to long-range planning at Tuesday's 14th annual Meet the Candidates Forum sponsored by the American Business Women's Association.

Incumbent T. Wayne Lewis and newcomers Mack Illers, Fred Jones, Kevin Schaper, Donna Tidwell and Terri Tomlin are campaigning for three vacant seats on the board.

"We would be doing a disservice to the students if we didn't introduce them to technology," said Jones. "We need a goal for technical planning."

Jones said the district has already made strides in getting computers into every classroom, but people should remember the computers are just a learning tool.

Lewis agreed.

"Technology, yes," Lewis said, "but we also want to be very practical and stay in tune with the basics."

All of the candidates said if the district isn't able to keep up with changing technologies students will suffer because it is used every day in nearly every industry.

Tax increases

They also noted doing so would be expensive and could possibly require voters to approve tax increases in the future.

But that's not the only thing that would require an increase in taxes.

When the candidates were asked if the district should think about constructing a new high school to compete with new facilities at Cape Girardeau and Notre Dame high schools, they had the same answer -- it would be nice, but it's not likely.

"We would need about a 75-cent increase to do that," said Lewis referring to a tax increase. "And we can't even get a dime passed right now."

Illers said if the district was able to scrape together enough funding to build a new facility it would most likely be little more than new walls and floors.

"Which would you like? A nice shiny sports car with no air and an AM/FM radio, or a 5-year-old car with everything," he asked. "I would much rather have a very, very good curriculum than a brand new building."

Voters will decide April 2 which of the three candidates will serve on the board for the next three years.

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