Candidates offer ideas to improve student achievement

Improving student achievement and addressing future issues are two focus points for the pair of candidates running for the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. school board.

Incumbent Pat Bryant is running against challenger Tim Woods for the District 5 seat on the board. Both are vying for a four-year term, with different perspectives on how they think they can help the district.

Woods said he hopes to take an active role in helping to improve student achievement.

“The most important thing I could do is encourage and advocate a strong parent-teacher partnership so that areas where a student is struggling are identified early and a proactive plan of guidance and support can be crafted with all parties engaged and focused on its success,” Woods said.

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In particular, Woods said he will strive to encourage parents’ engagement in their student’s education and improved communication with their teachers as a path toward performance in the classroom.

“When a student is struggling, an open dialogue between home and the school is key to getting them back on track for success,” he said.

Bryant, a retired sheriff’s deputy with the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department, said he believes the most important thing a school board member can do to help improve student achievement is to provide a safe learning environment. He said during his time on the board, two resource officers have been placed within the district.

In addition, he said district officials have changed public access to school buildings. That was done for safety reasons, requiring visitors to first interact with school personnel before reaching their destination, Bryant said.

Bryant, who has been involved with the schools since 1984 because of his association with the sheriff’s department, said he believes a safe learning environment plays an important role in student success.

“Once a student enters the building and he or she feels safe and that nobody’s going to bother (them) here, they’re able to concentrate more on their studies,” Bryant said.

His other focus moving forward is attempting to have students be more invested in their education through independent studies and develop their own curriculum of academic interests. Bryant said that is important because not every student will be able to attend college and some will be looking at different career options.

The candidates also have different views on what they see as concerns for the BCSC school system for the next four years.

For Woods, that centers on the relationship between the board and families in the district and believes current board members aren’t listening to the public as they should.

Woods said that’s something he wants to change if he is elected.

“Repairing the damage done to the mutual trust and respect that should exist between the board and BCSC families is paramount,” he said. “Without that foundational relationship, addressing current and future funding, curriculum and policy issues becomes all the more challenging when the vision of the board and the taxpayers are not in agreement.”

Meanwhile, Bryant said he remains focused on making improvements to buildings that need them, noting that the board is proactively looking at utilizing different types of financial bonds to fund the work.

What's next

Coming Wednesday: Preview of Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. school board District 7 race.