Fairfield Ledger

Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 19, 2018

Smithburg: Must obtain higher graduation rate

By Nicole Major, Ledger staff writer | Sep 01, 2017
Madonna Smithburg

The following are the responses of candidate Madonna Smithburg who is competing for one of three four-year terms on the Fairfield Community School District’s board of directors. The election is Sept. 12.


1. Please briefly explain what prompted you to run for a seat on the Fairfield Community School District’s board of directors.

I have been watching from the “sidelines” for many years and decided now was the time to get involved and get in the game. While my children attended Fairfield community schools, I felt pulled to be part of the school board, but chose to fully enjoy my time with them while they were still at home.

Both of my children went away to college and chose to move back to Fairfield to raise their families. I now have two young grandsons who will be in the system before I know it. I want the best for every child in our community, as we all do.

I want all children to receive the best education possible, have the opportunity to participate in a broad range of extracurricular activities, and to feel safe in their school environment.


2. What do you think the current board is doing right? Are there any areas that you think the board could improve upon?

I respect that hard work and time our current board has put in, especially these past few years. A lot of tough decisions were made. Moving forward, I would like to see our board set the standard for communication within our district. As a board member, I look forward to having the opportunity to ask the tough questions many community members have.

Oftentimes, when I watch the board meetings online, I find myself with unanswered questions and wondering why there isn’t more discussion on items. I understand that board members are not meant to ambush people during meetings, but I would like to hear more discussion for clarification on items for myself and for students, families, community members and employees of the district.


3. If elected to the school board, what assets would you bring to the table? Please talk about both your professional and personal experiences.

I am accountability driven. I strongly believe everyone in an organization has to take responsibility for their actions. Setting goals and taking the necessary steps to reach them are also something I strongly believe in.

My husband and I have operated our own business for the past 25 years. We have set goals over the years for growth and continue to make progress toward reaching them. Being part of the Indian Hills Community College team for the past 20 years has been another opportunity for me to look forward and set goals. We routinely write “Plans of Excellence” collegewide and departmentally to make sure we are on track and moving forward.

I am very proud of the Fairfield School District and Fairfield community. My family has been an active part of the community for many generations and plan to continue this for many more to come.


4. What is your stance on the latest hot button issues, such as grade alike, Libertyville Elementary School closing, etc.

Having experience running a business and knowing what sacrifices have to be made sometimes to balance the budget, I respect the decision to close Libertyville School. I would love to have seen this school continue knowing firsthand what a wonderful place it was. I support the decision to move forward with grade alike, however, I would have liked to see it handled in a more delicate manner. I understand that the timing was right with the closing of Libertyville, but I would have liked to have seen more discussion and input from faculty, parents and community members before the vote.

I agree that there are definite positives that will come from grade alike. In the future, I would like to see such decisions part of a long-term plan for the district so everyone knows where we are headed and how we are going to get there.


5. What unique thing about you distinguishes you from your peers?

After hearing from all the candidates, I believe we all have valuable qualities and want what is best for our school district.

I have experience working with our high school graduates on two levels. I interact daily with the kids who come to Indian Hills Community College from several local districts and see a wide range of college readiness, ranging from those who are goal oriented to those who are still a little bit lost and unsure.

I know our FHS graduates and the ones who struggled and did not graduate. We can do better. Every young person can learn and grow. We must be vigilant to see that we have a higher graduation rate and that our students have basic life skills.

We need the entire community to take responsibility. I want to encourage volunteers to tutor and mentor our students. I encourage programs for parents to make school an exciting adventure. I follow the research on what educational programs and practices are the best.

As a local business owner, we employ kids still in high school and some recent graduates. My husband’s favorite interview question is, “How many quarts are in a gallon?” You would be amazed how many don’t know the answer. I want to see all of our graduates be prepared for successful life in the 21st century.

The lessons I have learned as parent, education professional, businesswoman, and city council woman will be a valuable asset to the school board.

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