Archive for Thursday, March 12, 2009

CPA wants to bring financial expertise to school board

March 12, 2009

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Thom Hepford

Age: 43 Address: 1526 W. 2nd Terrace Family: Hepford’s wife, Krista, is a virtual art teacher for the secondary program at the Lawrence Virtual School. Their daughter, Ilaena, 6, is in kindergarten at Pinckney. Occupation: accountant

Thom Hepford, a CPA at Mize, Houser and Co. in Lawrence, makes a living helping people with their taxes. Finance is his forte and seeing how money is being spent by the Lawrence school district is what spurred his decision to run for the school board.

“As a property taxpayer, you look at your tax bill,” Hepford said. “You look at your mill levies. You look and see what the schools are doing.”

Hepford grew up in Topeka and moved to Lawrence in 1991. He’s spent time off and on as a 911 operator but decided to get an education in accounting at Washburn University.

His wife, Krista, is an art teacher at the closing secondary program at the Lawrence Virtual School and his youngest daughter is a kindergartner at Pinckney School. But he said that’s not his main motive in vying for one of three open seats on the school board.

“I’m a little concerned about how the money’s being spent,” Hepford said. “Maybe we can cut down on some of our expenses.”

Hepford thinks that the voters have an advantage in this school board election because the three current members are not running for re-election.

“I think it’s an opportune time to get a little better diversity in there,” Hepford said. “Obviously my approach would be from a very financial position and from my own beliefs on core curriculums.”

‘Hard decisions’

Hepford knows the budget is a big issue facing the district. He has a few ideas on where cut backs could be made, including the administration.

“Unfortunately, it’s not a very large part of the budget,” he said.

Another area he would want to look at is capital expenditures, like the new athletic facilities at both Lawrence High and Free State High.

“I wish that could’ve been done a little less costly than it was,” Hepford said. “Capital expenditures are very expensive, so that is, in my opinion, a very key area to look at.”

His third place to look to save money would be social services, such as mental health work and counseling.

“From a compassionate standpoint of view, it hurts to cut social services,” Hepford said. “From a budgetary point of view, you have to remember that the school district is here to educate and not necessarily provide services that aren’t academic.”

He does not want to make a straight cut of these services, but instead wants to consider looking to parents for support.

“I would like to see some cooperation from the voters who have children to maybe step up and provide some of the services that are currently costing the school money and costing the money and costing the people who don’t have children,” Hepford said.

But he doesn’t want taxpayers to think the board should raise fees for parents every time something comes up.

“I’m more concerned about not expecting them to pick up the tab,” Hepford said.

Other issues

Word came down from City Hall that they would no longer be able to finance school crossing guards. Hepford finds this to be a big problem and wants to save the program.

“Safety’s a pretty strong issue,” he said. “That’s something we’re going to need to find a way to make happen one way or another.”

While Hepford is satisfied with Lawrence’s curriculum, he wants to make sure that it includes more that math, science and English.

“I think music’s very educational,” he said. “I think art’s very educational. I think some of the other courses that teach you how to be a human being. ... That’s what I consider a core curriculum.”

Comments

mom_of_three 6 years, 1 month ago

“I would like to see some cooperation from the voters who have children to maybe step up and provide some of the services that are currently costing the school money and costing the money and costing the people who don’t have children,” Hepford said." Not sure which services he is talking about, but if the parents could afford those services, then they probably would pay for it...

Shelley Bock 6 years, 1 month ago

I'm sorry but I don't believe that this candidate gets the big picture. Social services may be easy to cut, but provision of these services often keep students in school.

As to the athletic field development, these expenditures are modest in comparison to like developments by other school districts. This criticism rings hollow without any specifics as to what can be eliminated for savings.

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