Photo by Jeff Thompson
Council's concern with BOE finances drives interview questioning
On April 3, Doug Hildreth interviews before the City Council for an upcoming vacancy on the Hoover City School Board of Education.
After conducting seven interviews in three hours on Thursday, April 3, one thing was overly clear.
The Hoover City Council wants its appointment to the Hoover City Schools Board of Education to make a difference as soon as he or she sits down at the table. And not just any difference — Council members want to begin the big picture fix with the school system’s finances immediately.
“I think it’s safe to say we don’t need to hit a home run with this appointment,” Council member John Lyda said. “We need to hit a grand slam.”
Nearly every member of the Council voiced his concern about deficit spending by the Board of Education in his questioning. Each candidate was asked his or her position on the Board’s fiscal year 2014 budget, which projects approximately $150 million in revenue and $167 million in expenditures. Most provided similar answers.
“Something’s got to be done,” applicant Craig Kelly said. “You’ve got to cut costs.”
But the Council didn’t stop at big-picture spending. Council member Brian Skelton asked applicants about their opinions on disclosing information to the public about bids. Pointed questions were also asked to applicants on their opinions of HCS Superintendent Andy Craig. Although veiled, Council member Adm. Jack Natter asked candidates if they would blindly support the recommendations of the superintendent.
Council president Jack Wright said that under the current spending patterns, the Board would need to cut expenditures or increase revenue significantly to return balance to the budget.
“The million-dollar question is where can $1 million a month be taken out of or raised,” he said. “And somebody has got to step up to plate.”
Lyda said he felt like one of the candidates who interviewed would be able to begin a pattern of changes in HCS’s finances that would lead back to a balanced budget. Second interviews, if necessary, will be held on Monday, April 7 beginning at 4 p.m. and end prior to the 6 p.m. City Council regular meeting. He said the names of those returning before the Council, if necessary, would be released on Monday, April 7.
The Council is expected to make the appointment during the meeting April 7.
Interviewing on April 3 were applicants Craig Kelly, Max Harbuck, Doug Hildreth, Guy Locker, Terry Turner, Arnold Singer and Kadie Whatley Peters. Applicant Stephanie Schambeau was not present.
Current Board of Education member Paulette Pearson announced last month she would not seek reappointment. Her current five-year term expires in 2014. Terms for the five members of the HCS Board of Education members are staggered so one position comes up for reappointment each year.