LEE COUNTY, Fla- Bob Chilmonik announced on Wednesday his intention to run for election to the Lee County School Board, District Two.
Chilmonik says his experience as an executive in the business sector and as an educator, both in the public schools and at the college level, will help him work toward improving academic programs as well as increasing efficiency and financial accountability in the school district.
Chilmonik served the board for seven years before leaving in 2010 to make a run for county commission. Chilmonik says he hopes to return to the school board to implement improvements he suggested to the board in the past. He says his priorities are as follows:
· In order to maximize the likelihood that our graduates are prepared for today’s professional demands, the District must solve the long term problem of the low reading level of many of our secondary school students. Currently, and for many years past, 60 percent of our 10th grade students read below grade level. These poor reading skills are evident in the low SAT and ACT test scores in which our district scores near the bottom of both Florida and the nation. A more rigorous approach is required to teaching English with a greater emphasis on grammar, writing and reading comprehension. Moreover, we should study the techniques used in school districts around the country with similar demographics to ours whose students score higher on tests measuring English skills. We must also improve our technical education and offer more vocational programs in response to requests by local business owners.
· In order to lower the staggering cost of our transportation programs and shorten the unreasonably long bus rides of thousands of children, we must return to the neighborhood school model as many school districts in Florida have done with no upheaval. This can be accomplished while continuing to maintain ethnic diversity. We simply cannot afford to continue a fifty million dollar system that has never delivered its goal of academic gains.
· I will continue to ask the tough questions, as I did in the past, regarding how your tax dollars are spent, and I pledge to vote against any new taxes in this dire economy. I will press for at least a 20% reduction of the district's bloated administration and use a small amount of the money saved to bring back the internal Board auditor position which was eliminated by my former colleagues. Independent auditors are used to control costs and increase efficiency in large companies and large school districts throughout the country; in a district such as ours, with a budget of about $1.5 billion, it is essential that we have ongoing audit oversight to eliminate waste and achieve maximum efficiency.