Hayden wants to cut wasteful spending

Published 1:15 am Saturday, October 23, 2010

This is the final installment of a three-part series in which the Clanton Advertiser interviewed candidates for political offices with local implications. Below are responses from Dave Hayden, who is running for superintendent of education. Candidate passages are presented verbatim but may have been edited for length and clarity.

Why did you decide to enter education, and why are you running for superintendent of education?

I got into education because I wanted to be a math teacher. That was a subject I enjoyed in high school. I feel like I was influenced a lot by Ivan Smith, who’s a local legend. He seemed to enjoy teaching algebra, so I said I’m going to give that a try. And as far as running for superintendent, I’d like to see a few things done differently. In Chilton County, we’ve kind of wound up with too much money getting lost in a bureaucracy, for the lack of a better word. A period from 2000-2008 we went up something around 13 percent in students and we went up 130 percent in upper level uncertified positions. We have too many chiefs and not enough Indians. But the money doesn’t make it way down to the kids. If it stops out here at the central office because somebody’s kin person needs a job, that’s not where we need to be.

The financial picture for all school systems in the state, not just this one, looks pretty tight. What ideas do you have that will help our system weather this economic downturn?

Well, we control the outgo of money not the income. We’re going to get what we’re going to get, primarily from the state, federal government and local taxes. All we can do is manage it, and once again, the employment picture, we’re going to have to do better in that regard because 90 percent plus of our funding goes to salaries. They make a big deal about turning off the lights. I’m not for wasting anything anywhere, but these little refrigerators, people go nuts over them. You can put a lot of refrigerators in a building for what you can hire somebody. Again, we can consolidate some upper level positions.

Bullying has been a major concern in the county recently. What would you do specifically to address that in the school system?

Well, I think we are off to a pretty good start. We’ve had a system-wide workshop. They hired an individual that’s an expert on bullying to come in, and we had everybody in there from teachers, support personnel, bus drivers and so forth. First thing they say is we need to identify where does the problem lie? Don’t say it doesn’t exist. I mean, I have seen bullying over the years and dealt with it the best way we can with regards to our policies and so forth. Take away the opportunity. A little prevention goes a long way. Have an adult monitoring kids at all times.

Test scores are always going to be a way to measure success. What are your thoughts on getting us to where we need to be?

I’m the only candidate I guess now that is in the classroom, and we’re hammered somewhat, “get the test scores up, get the test scores up.” We spend more time reviewing than teaching, and I just think we’re losing something there. I guess the bottom line is we have to keep working.

In the past, a lot of policy decisions—for example, cell phone use and uniforms—have been made on a school-by-school basis. What are your thoughts on that style of making policies?

If it’s policy, it has to go through the Board of Education. The cell phone policy now is what it is. Some schools ignore it, and that’s not good. Some deal with it the way they’re supposed to. I agree with what some people are saying we need to come together and say, “OK let’s do this or don’t do it,” but then lets enforce what we have.