Name: Kevin Gentry
Office sought: Huntley Community School District 158 Board Member
Occupation: SVP Financial Services, Finance, Credit, Analytics
Education: BA Accounting, Michigan State University, MBA Western Michigan University
Elected offices held: Huntley School Board since 2007, Past President, Vice President and Financial Advisory Chair
1. What is your largest priority for District 158 if elected?
Continue to drive a culture of innovation within the district fostering programs such as the Medical Academy, Blended Learning, and Personalized Learning Continue to deliver cost efficiencies such as solar energy, utility optimization and financial discipline to maintain a leadership position in cost per pupil relative to peer school districts and the state at large
Ensuring every student and student sub-group can achieve academic and personal success
2. What changes should District 158 make in the future?
Create innovative ways to better drive a culture of student support throughout the student body to drive higher levels of emotional well being
Seek ways to grow collaboration opportunities for faculty at all grade levels
3. What are your thoughts on how District 158 has adjusted since enrollment has leveled off?
I believe that the district has continued to reap the benefits of a disciplined and regimented approach to financial planning and budgeting. It is this discipline that has allowed the district to stay within budgetary constraints while delivering very solid results. A detailed rolling five-year plan cycle maintains proper focus on the needs of the district as well as the financial constraints. A key outcome of the planning process is targeted and prioritized staffing plan that avoids over staffing and unnecessary future reductions.
4. What direction do you believe that District 158 should head in the future with its property tax levy if enrollment projections hold?
Absent any changes in the overall taxation structure, I believe the district should continue to manage within the CPI based formulas currently in place. As indicated by the Evidence Based Funding model, the district continues to operate in state of less than full adequacy and continues to drive the lowest cost per pupil amongst peer districts.
Regarding the bond repayment portion of the levy, we will to seek ways to abate and reduce the scheduled levy via the ongoing long-term refinancing strategy that has resulted numerous years of reduced levies.
After considering the impact of tax abatements, the growth in levy extensions has been below 1.5 percent (while averaging 0.6 percent) since the 2011 levy year.
5. What are your thoughts on the district's increase in school resource officers?
Given the size of the district and the continued state of affairs in the country at large, I strongly support the expansion of the school resource officer program. Student safety is always a primary priority that is essential to the well being of the community. Our resource officers have always been a very positive influence within our schools and expanding coverage to each campus will ensure higher levels of safety and responsiveness.
6. What are your thoughts on the district's efforts to introduce solar energy systems?
The solar initiative is just another example of the leading-edge innovation we continuously drive within the district. This initiative will drive several hundred-thousand-dollar savings annually and will not require any material upfront investment of taxpayer dollars. The structure of the agreement is such that the district will not need to invest money upfront but will still be able to realize significant guaranteed rate reductions over many years. These types of initiatives are critical to maintaining an ability to invest back into the classroom without increasing overall spend levels.
7. How do you feel about the district's initiatives such as the Vanguard Vision and the incubator?
Again, these two initiatives are a continuation of the long-established heritage of innovation within our district. The Vanguard Vision initiative has very high potential to be the next step function growth in student achievement. The program seeks to base student progression on mastery of key competencies as opposed to a traditional sequential view that is by nature more a one size fits all approach. I am excited to see how the program develops and remain very encouraged by the progress already made. Regarding the incubator program, I am in enthusiastic support. These types of all encompassing “capstone” type business courses were valuable to me in my own education and I am very excited that we can drive this type of opportunity at the high school level.