WILMINGTON — The Wilmington City Schools (WCS) Board of Education has two seats up for election and three interested candidates — Ken Farris, Michael S. Flanigan and Kevin Neil Snarr.
Ken Farris said he wants to serve on the board to bring people together and bridge the gap among parents, students and teachers. He also wants to improve opportunities for youth and build public support and understanding with the school system.
“I really believe in serving as a link between the school and the public,” said Farris. He would like to do what he can to help parents get more involved with schools and their children’s education.
Given recent bomb threats, he feels a recent challenge facing WCS is the safety of students and staff.
A second challenge would be aging school facilities. Farris said, “We need to look into the future and ask, ‘What are we going to do with aging facilities — what’s the best thing for them, to continue repairing or replace?’ ”
He also said he’d like to see track and field back at the high school.
The 46-year-old Farris said he holds a basic understanding of how school board meetings are conducted, having attended meetings regularly the past couple years. As service manager at a local auto dealership, he feels capable of managing money and people, and helping everybody grow as a team.
“As a person, I’m not afraid of change and believe that change is good. I do believe in this community, and just want to see Wilmington grow, along with the school system growing with our city,” he added.
Michael S. Flanigan said his decision to run for school board is “all about kids” and a desire for every child to succeed in what they do.
“I want to make sure our school provides an environment where they can learn the tools to be a successful adult and make sound decisions,” said Flanigan. Further, he wants to see a school environment where students can be different and still be accepted.
“I think Wilmington City Schools have grown in this area over the last several years, but there is still room for improvement,” he said.
As is the case with many school districts nationwide, he thinks the largest challenge for WCS is funding. “As a parent and taxpayer, you want to know a district has proper funding to be successful. While that may mean a lean budget, we cannot eliminate services that make the school successful,” said Flanigan.
Another major challenge, he said, is to continue challenging students and providing them with the best available tools to learn in “our ever-changing world,” such as keeping up with rapidly changing technology.
A third challenge for WCS is being able to continue offering extra-curricular activities, according to Flanigan. Extra-curriculars, whether athletics or the arts, are important for developing the whole person, he said.
The 40-year-old Flanigan said he’s a lifelong resident of the WCS district, and in the past 19 years has worked in the banking industry and believes his work background gives him good experience for budgets and for understanding financial trends.
Kevin Neil Snarr said he wants to continue serving on the school board because he cares very much about children and their education. Additionally, he said his experience in the Wilmington school system as a student was wonderful and helped him tremendously to grow.
“I feel a great need to give back and do as good a job as I can on the school board,” said Snarr.
A top challenge, he said, is trying to maintain an effective district when the state’s portion of funding is “subject to change” and outside the control of local districts, with often short notice of those changes to state funding.
Another challenge for WCS district leaders is to keep their eyes on ensuring students will be ready to go on to a college or into the workforce, and to do “everything we can so they have as good of a skill set as possible when they leave high school,” he said.
And a third challenge is continually trying to lower class sizes, “especially in the early grades as much as possible, leveraging what money we can to that end and always trying to lower class size,” according to Snarr.
The 47-year-old Snarr said he has been a lifelong resident of the school district and has been a professional educator for 26 years.
“I feel being involved in education gives me a perspective that many don’t have.” He added he had been a teacher and principal with WCS, along with eight years experience on the WCS Board of Education and 12 years on Wilmington City Council.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768 or on Twitter @GHuffenberger.