KENDALLVILLE — People who have been around East Noble over the past four decades are probably familiar with Dave Pine, but now he’s looking to make the jump from the school office to the school board.

Pine, a now-retired 39-year veteran teacher and administrator for East Noble, is seeking the school board’s at-large seat up for vote this fall.

The seat is technically contested, although Pine’s opponent on the ballot, incumbent Denise Holbrook, resigned her seat on the school board last week, citing grievances with board leadership.

Holbrook will still appear on the fall ballot as it is too late in the season to withdraw names, but she had left the board.

Pine holds a bachelor’s degree in education from Ball State University and a master’s degree from Indiana University in educational leadership. In other local government experience, Pine is also a member of the Noble County Convention and Visitors Bureau Board.

School board members serve four-year terms and serve as both the legislative and fiscal agents for the school. They hire and supervise the superintendent, approve the annual budget for the schools, approve policies and staffing changes and plan and approve large new projects that require tax bonds to pay for among other duties.

The News Sun posed four questions to each of the candidates about their campaigns.

Pine had returned his Q&A answers before the News Sun received information from Holbrook that she had resigned her seat. Holbrook had also answered the questions, but having left the board, our newspaper has opted to run only Pine’s answers in print as he is still seeking the seat on the board:

News Sun: Why should voters select you as their representative to the East Noble School Board?

Pine: My leadership perspective will bring an added level of understanding to the outcomes of board policies and decisions. I have learned and adopted practices that look holistically at each area for improvement as I know that every student, every teacher, every faculty member is a part of our community, our culture and our collective growth. I believe my past experiences with leadership and vision will add to the growth and success of our schools. As principal of LaOtto, Rome City and Avilla, I worked alongside our staff and community to raise achievement (all set forth and measured by state assessments).

At LaOtto, we earned a 4 Star designation, indicating we scored in the highest percentile in all areas measured. At Rome City, the percentage of students meeting standards raised from 46% to 78%. At Avilla, percentage of students meeting standards raised from 63% to 81%. Following that year, the state assessment changed and scores across the state (including Avilla) had dropped. Yet Avilla still was, and continues to be, above the state average. Far more important than any test score, we created a culture where each student was known and cared for by the staff.

These relationships continue even after our students and teachers move on in their paths. These same approaches served me well when I was selected to work with a small group of educators to work in numerous Department of Defense School located around the world. A good board member knows the secret to real leadership for the community is to listen and weigh each voice in the community, to recognize and honor everyone as a unique and valued stakeholder. I understand that involving the community and stakeholders will help make decisions that are in tune with our own local values and needs and best meet the needs of all students. Lastly, and most importantly, I have a sincere desire to help the students, staff, and ENSC community excel in all areas of the educational experience.

News Sun: What are the top three issues you see facing East Noble over the next four years?

Pine: Like all schools, we continue to face challenges presented by ever-changing expectations. I see these three issues as the most pressing for our School Community:

Financial — We must continue to maintain financial stability due to the efforts of the current leadership. It will be critical to make informed decisions to maintain the health of our finances with possibility of future funding deficits.

Achievement — As we prepare all of our students for future individual levels of success, we have to monitor their progress to ensure they are on track to be college and/or career and life ready. Sadly, this also involves some forms of standardized testing mandated by the state which then gives our schools a grade both by the state and federal government. Finding a way to increase achievement on these tests, while also meeting student needs, is critical to the success of both the students as well as the schools that comprise our district.

Success of students — As we prepare our students to be “life ready,” I believe a critical effort to strengthen the bond of engagement between the school district and the community (inclusive of parents and guardians) will be beneficial. Research bears out that successful organizations have a positive culture and climate and a sense of collaboration for all parties involved.

News Sun: East Noble is advancing on a $5 million plan to upgrade its Ohio Street bus garage to better serve the transportation department as well as become home for the technology department. What are your thoughts on this proposed project?

Having been an employee of ENSC for many years, I understand that these plans and proposals do not just occur overnight and come to fruition over time with many discussions coming together to support a vision and path forward. I saw firsthand why a good visionary plan to address these types of needs does occur. I believe that ENSC is on a good path to provide the necessary physical facilities, as well as other equipment, to best meets the needs of students of today and tomorrow; while also being good stewards of the tax dollars provided by our community. I fully support the enhancement of facilities.

News Sun: East Noble has recently seen some turnover on its board, with three members resigning following internal conflicts inside the board. How would you envision yourself working inside the seven-member group to serve the school, its students and the community?

Pine: Our school board consists of seven members, each of whom brings, or will bring, a unique perspective to the table. It is not enough to have a clear vision of how to move forward. Each member must also be willing to hear other points of view and build consensus. The process of developing policies should be a team effort, reflecting the input of every member. Additionally, a good school board member will be proficient in gathering and analyzing relevant data. It is important to know what types of data will show the success or otherwise of a particular policy and to be able to figure out reliable ways to obtain it.

Board members need to think beyond themselves and their viewpoints when looking at data, and in making their decisions, must be able to explain them in a transparent and honest manner to the community. Just as we have witnessed technology change and adapt to the needs of the world, so too must an effective elected body. Every organization must be able to look at itself with a critical eye and consider how it can improve in all facets of its operations, and this is evermore important for a school board who represents the community.

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