Tri-Cities Voice Newspaper - What's Happening - Fremont, Union City, Newark California

October 12, 2004 > Kevin Harper, NHUSD

Kevin Harper, NHUSD

I am a Certified Public Accountant with 25 years experience providing audit and consulting services to schools and local governments. My work with school districts will allow me to assure that New Haven bureaucracy does not get in the way of the teachers' work in the classrooms, and that our children get the resources they need. As a parent of a New Haven school student, a product of California public schools and a 12-year Union City resident, I care about our schools. I come from a family committed to education; my sister is a school board president and my brother, a college teacher.

Having served as Elected Auditor of the City of Alameda, interim Chief Financial Officer of the East Bay Regional Park District and interim Finance Director of the City of Fremont, I am well-qualified to oversee the District's $100 million annual operating budget and $120 million school bond issue.

I have seen some dreadful decisions made by the current school board. The decision to close El Rancho Verde continuation school is having negative impacts on student safety, morale and test scores at Logan. The decision to open Delaine Eastin Elementary School is having negative impacts on the School District budget, such that the 2005-06 Budget includes closure of two schools. More importantly than bad decision-making is the fact that the attitude of the current board and administration inhibits public input. Better decisions would be made with the full input of parents and teachers, and decisions made would be better understood by all if the process were more open and inclusive. I will encourage involvement of parents and teachers through recommending changes in the public meeting agenda format, the availability of detailed board meeting materials and the appointment of ad-hoc committees.

I will actively support an open communications process to improve community input into district decisions and provide a continuation school for struggling students. There will be a reassessment of the district's plan to close two schools in 2005-06 and community involvement in the decisions to spend the $120 million of Measure A bond funds. I believe schools should prepare our young people for college, for career, for life. Our students should learn not just reading, writing and arithmetic, but also responsibility and respect. We are responsible for providing safe schools that are free from violence, bullying and discrimination. Every decision must be made within the context that education of students is the number one priority. The best decisions for our students are made with the active input of parents, teachers and district staff.

I have worked with local governments my entire 25 year career as a financial consultant and auditor. I will be able to bring perspective of how other governments do things, from budgeting and financial reporting to layoff notices and union negotiations. My financial perspective will allow me to ask the tough questions about the budget and to understand when and where fiscal flexibility is in the budget. Just as important as my school district finance knowledge, I know how to work through people by assigning tasks and deadlines, documenting agreements, and holding people accountable.

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