The race for Keokuk School Board is loaded, with nine candidates seeking four open seats in the Tues., Sept. 8 election. One of the men in the race said he will bring a business mentality to the board if elected.
Matt Dunlap said his career in transportation and accounting has prepared him to handle conflict resolution, logistics, management and finances. He said these are all traits he expects to use during a potential four-year term.
Dunlap said when it comes to the budget, he feels student achievement must come first, but he said the district needs to be healthy. He said instead of making drastic cuts down the road, he would prefer to look to the state and federal governments.
"We need to get back to writing more grants in our school system," said Dunlap. "That's basically free money. Some of the grants come with stipulations that you have to spend it in certain places, but I think that might be a way to fill the void there."
Dunlap said he would like to see more classes added, more professional development and staff-sharing.
"I would also support the possibility of maybe sharing administrators and possibly a superintendent with other school districts," said Dunlap. "I think as state funding becomes more restrictive... I think schools are going to have to look for ways to stretch the dollar."
Dunlap said Keokuk's greatest strengths are its teachers, administrators and facilities. He said on the other hand, the district's challenges begin with open enrollment and the district losing $500,000+.
"We need to get a handle on that problem," said Dunlap. "I think we need to have technology play a greater role in our school system, get technology in the hands of our students. The purchase of the (laptops this summer) is a good start."
Dunlap said he would support more transparent activities by the board, including recording meetings, developing goals for the district and holding community forums.
He said if elected, he would also work to bring basic life skills to the curriculum.
"We are still missing the basics," said Dunlap. "Kids know how to use a computer, but they don't know how to count change. Just simple things like that. Some of the kids probably still need to learn how to cook so that when they get out on their own or go to college."