Meet the 5 candidates for the Carmel Clay school board 2016

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Compiled by Ann Marie Shambaugh

Five candidates are running for two at-large seats on the Carmel Clay school board. Election Day is Nov. 8, and early voting begins Oct. 12. Visit hamiltoncounty.in.gov/222/Current-Election-Information for a complete list of voting locations and times.

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Katie Browning

Katie Browning, 31, is a mother and substitute teacher at Carmel Clay Schools. She graduated from Hannibal High School in Missouri, where her mother was an English/language arts teacher and from Brigham Young University with a bachelor’s degree in political science.

Why do you want to run for school board?

“I care about the future of our schools and community. I have a background and education in policy, legislation and government. Having a passion for public education makes running for school board a smart choice. My relentless dedication for our students make me the perfect choice.”

Have you run for elected office before? If so, when and which office?

“My last run for elected office was ninth grade student body vice president. My maiden name is Smart, so I remember handing out Smarties candy and using the slogan: ‘Make the Smart Vote!’”

What is the biggest issue facing CCS right now?

“State school funding is one of our district’s biggest hurdles. However, our district is also having to address teacher unions and contract mediation. Once our teachers, their unions and the IEERB finalize negotiations, we as a district can move forward in strengthening relationships, being more effective in collective bargaining and focusing on other student needs.”

What is your opinion of the state school funding formula?

“CCS is one of the lowest funded districts in Indiana. The current formula asks Carmel to do with $132 per student with what the average school corporation in this state does with $918. This is a huge and possibly damaging discrepancy. We have one of the highest-performing districts in our state but may not always if our funding continues dramatically below average.”

How should CCS handle being one of the lowest funded districts in the state?

“In Carmel, we have to use referendums just to maintain what we are currently providing to our students and pay basic needs such as utilities. We need to be very visible at our state level to ensure that our community is represented. One of the assets I bring to our school board is my understanding of policy and legislative processes. I will advocate at all levels of government for public education and will take advantage of every opportunity to communicate the needs of our district.”

What do you see as CCS strengths?

“We live in a wonderful school district. Our teachers, administrators and support staff work with love and diligence. Parents sacrifice time and resources to support our PTOs, classrooms and student extracurriculars. Last but not least, our community. We come together when tragedy strikes, and we celebrate successes. Our schools have great relationships with the City of Carmel, Carmel Fire and Police Departments and many local groups and businesses. It is all of these things combined that make us shine.”

What do you see as CCS weaknesses?

“As a district, we should heavily focus on our most basic needs: state funding, which requires use of referendums to meet a basic budget requirements and teacher/support-staff retention. Alongside these issues we can work on tackling class sizes, student technology use and testing that takes away from constructive class time. All of these factors influence the type of education our children receive.”

What do you want readers/voters to know about you?

“I am an extremely hard worker. I focus on solutions rather than problems. I want to be innovative while not jeopardizing the traditions that have made us strong. Personally, I have the added incentive of having a third grader and Kindergartener who attend Carmel Clay Schools. I want them and all students in our district to have the best education we can possibly give them.”

What are your goals if elected?

“My first goal is to learn as much as I can from our current board, administrators and teachers about our district. I know I have much to process, but I will take the time and put in the effort to do the very best at this position. I will be ready to dive into state funding, collective bargaining and legislative priorities. I am a team player and will work with others to use my skills and talents to do what is needed and best.”

Favorite local restaurant?

“Blu Moon Cafe in the Indiana Design Center. This is a favorite weekend breakfast spot for my family.”

Favorite hobbies?

“When I have alone time, I love curling up with a blanket and a book. We named our son Atticus from one of my favorite characters in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ by Harper Lee. As a family, we participate with Carmel Dads Club and enjoy doing as many local events/festivals as we can. We love being out in our community!”

What is an interesting fact that people don’t know about you?

“When I was 16, I was in a terrible car accident. I am blessed that all healed except that I no longer have a sense of smell. I miss it of course, but it does have its perks!”

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Cherish Foreman Davis

Cherish Foreman Davis, 31, is a stay-at-home mom of four. She graduated in 2003 from Mt. Vernon High School and studied anthropology at IUPUI.

Why do you want to run for school board?

“I am running for school board to most effectively make a difference for our most paramount priority, our children and their education.”

Have you run for elected office before?

“I have run before within the Democratic Party for District-level Pledged National Delegate this year and was elected.”

What is the biggest issue facing CCS right now?

“Teacher salary funding, large class size and cuts to funding for music and art programs.”

What is your opinion of the state school funding formula?

“I think that overall foundation funding must increase per student across the state and that public schools need more funding in general. The current formula increased Carmel Clay School’s funding, but it’s still not enough. Any cut in complexity index funding is wrong. Counties which experience higher rates of childhood poverty must be aided through differentiation in the formula.”

How should CCS handle being one of the lowest funded districts in the state?

“Continue to lobby the General Assembly through the Indiana Fix-It Coalition.”

What do you see as CCS strengths?

“Community, importance of music and the arts.”

What do you see as CCS weaknesses?

“Too-large class sizes, employee salaries not sufficient and too much priority to subsidized testing.”

What do you want readers/voters to know about you?

“I am a stay-at-home mom and political and community activist. I have four beautiful children. I am a fifth-generation Hoosier. I am a dedicated person who strives to seek every way possible to be the change. I live for standing up and fighting for what is right, compassion and love.”

What are your goals if elected?

“I want to be a strong voice and work hard advocating for students, teachers and fellow parents.”

Favorite local restaurant?

“Woody’s Library Restaurant.”

Hobbies?

“I love hiking, reading and listening to music.”

What is an interesting fact that people don’t know about you?

“I played soccer for 13 years. I was a goalkeeper for various club teams and high school.”

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Kathie Freed

A retired teacher, Kathie Freed, 62, is the only candidate with previous school board experience. She graduated from Lebanon High School and received a BA in mathematics and a MS in secondary education from Butler University.

Why do you want to run for school board?

“As a lifetime teacher, I have always been passionate about education and giving our young people the best opportunity to succeed. I am seeking a second term on the Carmel school board so that I might continue to serve our community and the young people served by Carmel Clay Schools.”

Have you run for elected office before?

“I was elected to the Carmel Clay School Board in 2012. It is the only public office for which I have run for election.”

What is the biggest issue facing CCS right now?

“As with many districts in Indiana, providing an excellent educational experience to our young people on a limited budget continues to be our biggest challenge. We are fortunate to have the support of our parents and our community to help provide services for our students. The referendum that was passed in 2010 has been the difference between continuing to provide services expected by our community and having to cut teachers and programs.”

What is your opinion of the state school funding formula?

“The state funding formula is extremely complex. There were some adjustments made in the last legislative budget that helped our district. It has been a goal of our board to help guide the adjustments so that all students in the state benefit.”

How should CCS handle being one of the lowest funded districts in the state?

Our superintendent, Dr. Wahl, and a member of the board have met with each state legislator to discuss the need to properly fund education. Each year we set legislative priorities which clarify our focus. Number one priority is funding each year. Collaboration and sharing information will do the most to eliminate this problem.”

What do you see as CCS strengths?

“CCS has so many strengths, but I think that basing every decision on what is best for our ‘kids’ is number one. We provide excellent curriculum in a safe and welcoming environment and combine that with opportunities to succeed in academics, athletics and the arts. This all happens because of the dedication of our teachers, our staff, our administrators and our parents. It does indeed take all these people to allow students to explore their opportunities and realize their potential.”

What do you see as CCS weaknesses?

“I believe that CCS has relatively few weaknesses. However, we are always working at being better. Two areas where continued attention is needed are the social and emotional needs of our students and continued development of career preparation at the high school. Both are part of the strategic plan adopted by the board in the last year.

What do you want the readers/voters to know about you?

“I retired from teaching math at Carmel High School in 2010. I spent the next six years instructing math at Butler University. I have two sons who attended and graduated from CCS: Brent in 2005 and John in 2011. I volunteered to help out with PTO events whenever I could. As a teacher, I served on many curriculum committees and school improvement committees. I coached cheerleading, math club and the Brain Game team. Every activity has helped me to understand what make Carmel schools special and I use this knowledge to provide insight in board discussions.”

What are your goals if elected?

“If re-elected to the board, I will continue to work with my fellow board members to set policy and provide leadership for CCS. I look forward to working with our superintendent as we continue work on the implementation of our strategic plan which includes improving communication with parents and the community, improving the use and availability of technology in the classroom, and the development of a system to monitor each student’s social and emotional growth.”

Favorite local restaurant?

“Muldoons.”

Favorite hobbies?

“Music, reading and socializing. I also enjoy choir and my adult Bible fellowship at Hazel Dell Christian Church.”

What is an interesting fact that people don’t know about you?

“The CHS cheerleaders won the State Fair Cheerleading competition in 1989, and I was their coach. I was a member of the marching band at Lebanon and Butler. I cannot even do a cartwheel, so the cheerleaders won in spite of their coach that year!”

Family?

Husband Russell, married 32 years, sons Brent and John, pets Suzie and Daizie and father Bob Shue.

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Tim Smith

Tim Smith, 51, is an assistant superintendent at Anderson Community Schools. He graduated from Rockville High School and got his undergraduate degree from Milligan College. He has a master’s degree from Indiana University and education specialist and doctorate degrees from Indiana State University.

Why do you want to run for school board? 

“I believe in Carmel Schools. I want to use my knowledge and experiences as an educator to support the educational process in our district. Being a member of the school board will be a role I take very seriously and believe I will make a positive difference for the district.”

Have you run for elected office before? If so, when and which office?

“No, this is my first election process.”

What is the biggest issue facing CCS right now?

“I believe one of the biggest issues is the upcoming referendum for the district. State legislation has made school funding very difficult on districts across the state, and Carmel is not immune from this issue. We need to be fiscally responsible for our community yet maintain integral programs for our students.”

What is your opinion of the state school funding formula?

“The school funding formula is bad and needs to be revamped. The inadequacies in school funding statewide are hurting ALL schools throughout Indiana. It is important that school districts work with legislators to get changes made for the state.”

How should CCS handle being one of the lowest funded districts in the state?

“First of all, we need to be vocal as a school community and voice concerns to our state legislators. Secondly, we need to be fiscally responsible with our spending to assure student programs and opportunities are supported and continued. School budgets are stretched everywhere, so we need to make sure we watch our spending without negatively impacting students or staff members.”

What do you see as CCS strengths?

“One of our greatest strengths is our outstanding teachers! I know many teachers throughout the district, and we are blessed with great teachers! Other strengths include unmatched fine arts programs, superior athletics and successful academic teams that attract great families to our community. A key strength often overlooked is the supportive families that are involved with their students’ lives.”

What do you see as CCS weaknesses?

“There are always areas where schools, staff and students can improve. Making sure that the district is transparent and communicates effectively with all of the stakeholders is very important. I do not see these areas as weaknesses, just areas for continued monitoring and improvement.”

What do you want voters to know about you?

“I will be committed to working for all facets of our school community. My experience as an educator, former employee of the district and commitment to maintaining the outstanding reputation of our schools will allow me to be a quality board member for Carmel Clay Schools.”

What are your goals if elected?

“My goal as a board member is to serve the entire community by making decisions for our schools that will benefit our student success, staff morale and unity for our district. I will be a part of the solution to difficult issues facing our schools in Carmel.”

Children?

Jacob 20, Amy 16.

Favorite local restaurant?

“I enjoy ALL of the downtown Carmel restaurants and visit them regularly!”

Hobbies?

“Golf, travel, water skiing, attending school and professional sporting events.”

What is an interesting fact that people don’t know about you?

“I have jumped out of a perfectly good airplane.”

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Lin Zheng

Lin Zheng, 42, is a clinical associate professor of accounting at Kelley School of Business. She went to high school in the beach city of Fuzhou, China, and studied economics at China’s Xiamen University. She got a master’s degree and Ph.D. in accounting from the University of Alabama. This is her first run for elected office.

Why do you want to run for school board?

“I believe my passion for education and my expertise in financial management will bring a lot of value to the district. I and my family have been active in the community. If elected, I will enhance global learning, improve parent involvement and strengthen sound financial management.”

What is the biggest issue facing CCS right now?

“The biggest issue facing CCS right now is to ensure high-quality programs and services under limited state funding. CCS has a long history of providing excellent learning opportunities for students. However, programs are facing financial challenges if the district relies only on the state money.”

What is your opinion of the state school funding formula?

“I do not think the state school funding formula properly addresses costs and quality of programs and services in each individual district. The formula should ideally sufficiently fund programs and services that cater to student needs in the district.”

How should CCS handle being one of the lowest funded districts in the state?

“If elected, I will advocate on increasing state funding to CCS.  At the same time, I will leverage my educational and financial expertise to ensure tax dollars are used wisely and efficiently.”

What do you see as CCS strengths?

“We have a community that is highly committed to education. We have smart and driven students, skilled educators and passionate parents. My educational and financial expertise will help focus everybody toward the same goals and make Carmel Clay school district one of the best in the country.”

What do you see as CCS weaknesses?

“I would like to enhance our students’ global competitiveness by introducing more global learning initiatives such as enable globally-connected schools. I would also like to increase parents’ involvement in the board’s decision making process.”

What do you want readers/voters to know about you?

“The first thing is my commitment for community service and education. Second, I believe my financial skills are the strongest among all candidates. Third, I routinely use cutting edge technology to enhance communication and information transparency as a professor at Kelley School of Business.”

What are your goals if elected?

“First, I will bring enriched global learning opportunities to prepare students for global competition.  Second, I will ensure tax dollars are used effectively, efficiently and compliantly. Third, I will empower parents in the district decision-making process and engage them to have more input and involvement in educating kids.”

 Favorite local restaurant?

“My favorite local restaurant is Puccini’s Smiling Teeth Pizza & Pasta.”

Favorite hobbies?

“I like reading and cooking. Reading helps me keep up with the changing world and cooking helps me put big smiles on my family and friends.”

What is an interesting fact that people don’t know about you?

“I am an expert user of abacus for counting and calculating.”

Learn more about each candidate:

Katie Browning: katiebrowning.com

Cherish Foreman Davis: facebook.com/Cherish4CarmelClaySchoolBoard/?fref=ts

Kathie Freed: facebook.com/FreedForCarmelSchoolBoard/?hc_ref=SEARCH

Tim Smith: https://www.facebook.com/Tim-Smith-for-School-Board-1014298318668512/?fref=ts

Lin Zheng: linzheng4schoolboard.org

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2 Comments

  1. M Paul (opinions r mine alone) on

    Sounds like we need more poor people to move into Carmel so we can increase our per pupil funding. Vote NO on any upcoming referendums. CCS has plenty of money.

  2. M Paul (opinions r mine alone) on

    And remember, school referendums are not subject to the constitutional 1% property tax cap. So a vote for yes means you like paying taxes. And I never met anyone who likes paying taxes.

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