Fulton's four school board candidates appeared at the high school Wednesday afternoon to answer a series of questions posed by the Fulton Certified Teachers' Association in an open public forum.
Incumbent Dennis Depping and opponents David "Rob" Hunter, Kathy Brandon and Kristi Donohue responded to questions regarding an array of topics ranging from their goals for the district to the school board's role in leading the schools and resolving conflict.
When asked what direction she would like to see the district move in, Brandon said she wants teachers to have more autonomy in their classrooms, for the district to be "much more transparent" with its budgeting process and to work more with the community.
Hunter said he believes there are good things happening in the district and that one of his priorities would be "to maintain what I believe is quality staffing." He also noted that he thinks there are "novel ways we can save money" and that he would like the board to be more transparent in how it has handled money from the last bond issue.
Depping answered that he wants to see the district achieve distinction in performance and continue to implement Positive Learning Communities throughout the schools.
"We need to get every student involved (in their education)," Depping said.
Donohue said she was not as knowledgeable regarding things currently going on in the district as the other candidates, but added that - like Hunter - she believes the district has a strong foundation and she wants to continue to build on it.
Next up was the question as to what kinds of programs the candidates would cut first should further cuts to the budget be necessary.
"I think I would look to transportation," Hunter said, noting the state requires districts to provide transportation to students living more than three miles from the school, but Fulton buses students that live more than one-and-a-half miles. "That's an area we're going to have to look at - there may need to be some forums on this."
Depping said the school board has tried to make cuts "from the outside in" over the past several years - a trend he thinks should continue.
"Our students are the reason we're here," Depping said. "All cuts need to go from outside the classroom first."
Donohue replied that she does not believe the board should look at just one particular area or program when making cuts.
"I don't think it's appropriate to look at one specific program," she said. "I believe we need to look at the cost-for-benefit of everything we have - maybe we could make smaller cuts here or there."