Lewis Kipness

 

Responses to Citizens for Civic Improvement Questions

 

1.     Why are you running for school board? Why now?

What attracted us to Evesham 27 years ago was its affordable housing and the reputation of its educational program. With one daughter going into 1st grade and the other starting middle school, this was extremely important to my family.  We watched both children excel in the district with our oldest being part of the first graduating class of DeMasi Middle School and our youngest becoming president of Green Hall. Both have advanced degrees and are in education in New Jersey. I want to see Evesham schools continue to provide excellence in education through its staff, its administrators and its facilities.  I couldn’t think of a better way to ensure this than by doing something that I had done before and in some small way would benefit public education, give back and pay it forward.

 

Education forms the basis of being an informed citizen of the community, the country and the world.

 

2.     What other boards or organizations have you been part of and how have these experiences prepared you to be a BOE member?

I previously served on a school board in a small town in Morris County. It was a very challenging time with several very high-profile public issues.  As a result of dealing with these issues I had to interact extensively with other members of the board, the superintendent, school administrators, faculty, the press and the public. I was also able to successfully negotiate a new contract for our staff and avoid a costly teacher strike.

 

My past experience in working together with these stakeholders will enable me, as a member of the Evesham BoE, to work to continue to provide the best educational opportunities for the children of our community all the while keeping an eye of fiscal responsibility.

 

3.     What do you think are the top issues facing the ETSD BOE and how would you address them?

Given the cut back in state funding, I believe we are potentially facing a big challenge in how to maintain a strong education/instructional program without an impacting our taxpayers.  The out-year budgets may be a challenge as it is anticipated that we will lose $9.0M in state funding through 2025.  Therefore, it is extremely important to get all of the stakeholders involved in working through these issues with no or minimal impact to our instructional program and taxation.  To that end we need input from these same stakeholders.  As a BoE member, I will be the liaison between the Board and these stakeholders. We need to maintain the excellence of our instructional programs, our staff and administration while maintaining fiscal responsibility. My ability to form consensus with all stakeholders will be an asset for me in the upcoming years facing this potential fiscal challenge.

 

Lastly, the Board is elected by the community to act as state officials to govern the schools at a local level.  Although our election is held the same time as the state-wide elections, including those for township mayor and township council, it is a separate and distinct entity. Do the 2 entities have to work together?  Without a doubt.  We need to maintain our independence while still maintaining open discussion regarding shared services.

 

4.     Describe a time when you had a conflict or a conflicting view or opinion with someone in power or authority. How did you handle it? What was the result?

Negotiations themselves fit the definition of a conflict situation. I have been the lead negotiator for engineering, procurement and construction contracts in the environmental and power fields. In becoming a strong negotiator, I developed the skill sets of doing my homework, knowing our positions and conducting mock negotiation sessions. I will use these skill sets to work with all stakeholders with the bottom line being able to provide an excellent education to our children.

 

To be successful, you always have to be prepared. As a BoE member I will do my homework, I will speak with stakeholders and the administrators; I will ask questions which I believe will enable me to reach consensus and result in a win-win situation.

 

In a one on one situation, I was tasked by my supervisor to write departmental procedures. He wanted the procedures very general.  These procedures would be subject to internal audit and a general set of procedures could easily lead to conflicts in interpretation with potential audit failure.  To convince my supervisor that we needed detailed procedures, I wrote the first draft from a very general perspective.  When we reviewed them, I identified potential interpretation issues such that my supervisor then agreed to develop detailed procedures.

 

5.     How are you funding your campaign?

I am self-funding my campaign.

                                                              

6.     How can voters learn more about you and your candidacy?

I can be reached through my email address at

lewiskipness@verizon.net.  A Facebook page is currently under development.

 

 

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