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School District 501 At-Large

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  • Brent Hall

  • C. Richard Bonebrake

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    Keith Tatum

Biographical Information

What special strengths do you believe you will bring to the school board?

What is the most critical issue facing your school district, and what is your position on that issue?

How should a school board support its staff---classified, certificated, and administrative?

What additional school security is needed and how do you propose addressing that need?

What time commitment are you prepared to give the district?

Personal Biography I am a lifelong resident of Topeka Kansas. My education was eradicated by a young family and the need to provide economically for them. I have thrived as a Union President and my coworkers put me in my position because of my ability to critically solve issues. I have been with Frito-Lay going on 15 years and my knowledge of what corporations are looking for comes from research and negotiations. I now have a 17 year old and a 3 year old daughter. I am married to my best friend Betsy Hall.
Campaign Phone (785) 969-5866
Campaign Email
Education I graduated Seaman high school in "97 along with Kaw Area Technical School (Building Mechanics). The rest of my education has not came by formal education but the most valuable to what I do from day to day. Labor Economics and Labor Law has proven invaluable to my case by case work.
Community/Public Service I have worked with Special Olympics, Topeka Public Library, several people in need and have the ability to organize volunteers to help. I am currently working with S.J. Hazim to put together a since of community in Topeka by volunteering and mentoring.
I have been involved in workplace solutions at Frito Lay through the union for the past decade. I have an outside the box view on issues and what sets me apart from the other candidates, is my commitment to follow through to see results. If I say I will do something or talk to someone, I don't hide behind closed doors, I will give candid answers and not cower to the person I am serving. Never the less, I will put the work in to getting to yes even if the initial response isn't favorable. I am dedicated to raising morale from the public by doing not what is easy but what is right and just. The most important people in the district are the parents that come together to engage in their children's education. I have the background as an organizer of labor and ability to move that in to the community. An African proverb states it takes a village to raise a child and I think the same is true here in Topeka. I will be a pivotal board member for Topeka Public Schools.
We need to provide an affordable but excellent education. Preschool is over priced and not even realistic for the parents to afford this very necessary for early childhood development. Children need to be in a structured environment by four years old and need the social interaction with other children to help with the social and emotional growth. Preschool education have benefited students in the long term there has been many studies on this but one that stood out was a study conducted by the National Education Association. They found that participants in pre k were more likely to continue their education and less likely to commit crimes in the long term effects from a preschool program. We must focus on early childhood development as a key issue, along with emotional development. Once we near secondary we must help formulate a plan to find effective classes to put the student on a path to a career. We need more career oriented classes accessible to every student.
We must make common sense decisions and research the possibilities that support first our students but don't put undue hardship on the staff. We must be the sounding board for the ones involved and work out solutions that are the best for all. Classified staff should get the same dignity and respect as the teachers and administration. Workplaces are a place of business and we must be professionals for this to work as planned. When we work well together, the students win and the work place morale improves. We must be included in all collective activity to assure that this is happening. We should be stewards of the staff to remove obstacles that make it difficult to provide quality education. Furthermore we must enter the schools and observe the operation to make suggestions going forward to improve functionality.
I am sure that we can give additional security by allocation of current staff. The playground seems to be an issue where there is no structure and it is possible that undesired behavior is being displayed. Staff should be strategically placed to avoid these interactions. I feel there is a better way of dealing with children and it stems to the source of the issues not just the reaction to the behavior. We need to analyse problems and come up with common sense solutions. Hallways should be monitored for unidentified people and reported inside with an action plan in place that can be conducted quickly with efficiency. Additional technology will be appropriated as needed in dealing with schools.
I am willing to commit my time away from work to help the functionality of the schools to insure the best quality education is provided. I have been working with my HR department to even take time away from my job to fulfill my duties as a school board member. I want to see this work for all children, not just my own. Together we can make 501 education an example of what the best education can be.
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Personal Biography Keith believes in the power of public education. Keith graduated from Topeka High School in 1989, and went on to receive a Bachelors Degree in Psychology from Washburn University and a Masters Degree in Public Administration from the University of Kansas. Keith has more than 20 years of experience serving in roles of public service, public policy, and community leadership. Keith currently serves as the Training Director for KNI in Topeka and is an adjunct professor at Washburn University.
Campaign Phone (785) 207-0634
Education Bachelor's Degree (Psychology) - Washburn University, 2000. Master's Degree (Public Administration) - University of Kansas, 2015.
Community/Public Service Keith is the founding chairperson of both the USD 501 Equity Council and the Community Advocates for Social Enrichment (CASE). He also has served on the Sheldon Head Start policy council and the LULAC Senior Center board.
Address 2719 SW McAlister Ave. Topeka, KS 66614
CampaignPhone 785-207-0634
As a graduate of the USD 501 district, and a parent of children who attend (and have graduated) schools in the district, I am very much invested in the prosperity and effectiveness of this district. My 20-years of service in the public sector, and my educational and professional background, make me an ideal contributor to the school board in matters of public policy, budget, and personel development. Additionally, my experience on the 501 Equity Council and Sheldon Head Start policy council gives me a great working familiarity with district administration, teachers, and processes.
Maintenance of adequate funding. School funding directly from the State has an immediate impact on the ability to put materials and resources directly into the classrooms where they will be most effectively utilized. While the Kansas Supreme Court's recent decision on the adequacy of school funding levels is positive, it's entirely dependent upon the will of the Legislature to maintain from year-to-year. We need to continue the fight to ensure the State is living up to its obligation to properly fund our district and to support the academic success of every student in the USD 501 school system.
The 501 district has real challenges when it comes to recruiting and retaining employees. We are an urban district with very modest means. In order to help ensure we attract and keep quality employees, we need to develop non-monetary, broad-based strategies and policies supporting our classified, certified, and administrative staff at a variety of levels. As KNI's Training Director, I am frequently faced with issues of staff recuitment and retention, and we've had to get creative in exploring new possibilities. Mentoring programs, tuition assistance, and employee-of-the-quarter awards are all innovations we've implemented to great effect. My plan is to bring this kind of innovation with me to the school board and utilize it for the benefit of all of our employees.
The school resource officers do a fantastic job of keeping our buildings and campuses safe and secure. We need to ensure we are providing them with all the necessary resources in order to make this happen. Keeping schools safe while not turning them into police garrisons is crucial for maintaining the school building as a welcoming environment for children and teachers, and there is a reasonable method for ensuring both. Engaging with district police professionals, teachers, and parents to determine any additional needs will be key in addressing any possible security need.
I'll be giving it 100%. I'll need to be available to constituent, teacher, and student needs each and every day, and I am committed to hearing their needs and helping to address any potential issues they may have. Being on the school board is not paid work, but it's critically important for our community and I believe in its power to change our world for the better through education.