Fairfield Ledger
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Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 21, 2014

Pumphrey runs for school board

By DIANE VANCE | Mar 26, 2014
Stephen Pumphrey

Stephen Pumphrey is on the April 1 special election ballot for a seat on the Fairfield school board because he’s interested in investing his time and talent in the community and for education.

Pumphrey is one of two candidates to file for the school board seat to replace former school board member Amy Miller, who was elected for four years in 2011 and resigned in November.

“Iowa school boards are the most basic form of government,” said Pumphrey.

He is eager to participate in the process.

“Between my wife and I, we have six kids,” he said. “We have a student in sixth grade at Fairfield Middle School and one attends Pence Elementary School. Three kids live and attend school in Ottumwa, and the oldest is a freshman at Van Buren High School.

“I feel I owe it to the community to try to give back,” he said. “I’m concerned about education and making sure teachers have the right tools for teaching in the 21st century. And I’m concerned about the safety of our students.”

Pumphrey said some of the challenges facing the Fairfield school district include finances, attracting and keeping good teachers, and the search for a new superintendent.

“I’d love to be involved in hiring a new superintendent,” he said. “Art Sathoff came here without experience and did a good job. And he’s moving on to bigger and better — and I wish him all the best. But now, we have to spend money to search for a new one.

“And I agree with former school board member Bob Waugh about having something in the next contract,” said Pumphrey.

Waugh spoke at the March 17 school board meeting about Sathoff resigning effective June 30 with a contract signed until June 30, 2016. Waugh said there should be some consequence of leaving a contract.

School board member Jerry Nelson said on March 17 that probably nothing could be done at that point about Sathoff’s contract and resignation, but the next contract could include a financial consequence of leaving a contract.

Finances are a concern for Pumphrey.

“It seems there’s a lot of wasteful spending,” he said. “I want to know where the money is going. The school district could be more efficient.

“I’m not happy they had to close Lincoln Elementary School [at the end of the 2009-10 school year],” said Pumphrey. “We lost some good teachers when that happened. We’re a small community and we need to keep our good resources.

“I am glad to see Lincoln being used again for school programs.”

The high school renovation project is another challenge in the near future. Bids sent out to begin construction work this spring returned with higher price tags than the district has bonded and budgeted. The school board is working through its options how to handle the $2 million overage.

“The price of everything has gone up,” said Pumphrey. “Gas, materials and everything. The lowest bid is not always the best; the whole package needs to be understood to see what materials will be used.”

Pumphrey said the school district has some great people working in it.

“I look forward to working with everyone,” he said. “I’ve never served on a school board before. I am a quick learner and can learn anything. I have a four-year degree in accounting and love math.”

Pumphrey is a native of Batavia and graduated from Cardinal High School in Eldon.

“I played baseball for two years at Upper Iowa University under coach Rick Heller, who is now coaching the Hawkeyes,” he said. “An injury interrupted my college [career] when I couldn’t play.”

He completed his degree at Buena Vista University at Indian Hills Community College campus.

He works for Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad.

“The ballot Tuesday has two people on it and both are really great choices,” said Pumphrey. “I’d be very happy to serve on the school board and have an opportunity to put my 2-cents worth in.

“Dr. Miller is a great person. The most important thing is voter turnout. Everyone’s vote does count. I am happy to have the opportunity to run for school board.”

When Amy Miller resigned from the school board because her family relocated, Philip Miller was appointed out of four candidates that interviewed with the board in November. Miller was appointed to fill the vacancy until the next school district election, which is Tuesday. Miller is also on the ballot.

The person elected to fill this seat will serve on the school board until the end of Amy Miller’s four-year term, September 2015.

The special election also is asking voters to approve a 10-year continuation of the 67-cent Physical Plant and Equipment Levy. The current PPEL expires in FY15. The funds are used to purchase buses, technology and other equipment.

Polls are open noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Polling places for this school district election are:

• Jefferson County Courthouse for residents of city of Fairfield, Locust Grove Township, Buchanan Township, Cedar Township, Center Township, Maharishi Vedic City, and the portion of the Fairfield Community School District lying within Pleasant Plain Township in Wapello County.

• Libertyville Community Center for residents of the city of Libertyville, Libertyville Township, Des Moines Township, and the portions of the school district lying within Village Township and Lick Creek Township in Van Buren County.

• Lockridge school gym for residents of the city of Lockridge, Lockridge Township, Round Prairie Township, Walnut Township and that portion of the school district lying within Trenton Township in Henry County.

• Pleasant Plain community building for residents of the city of Pleasant Plain, Blackhawk Township, Penn Township, and the portion of the school district lying within Clay Township, Washington.

Absentee ballots are available through the auditor’s office at Jefferson County Courthouse. A request for an absentee ballot needs to be to the auditor’s office by Friday. If mailing a voted ballot, the latest postmark accepted is Monday.

Absentee ballot voting can also be done in person in the auditor’s office, up to 11 a.m. Tuesday, an hour before polls open.

The auditor’s office regular hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

 

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