Name: Damon Mendoza

Position you are running for: USD 470 Board of Education

Family members (e.g. spouse, children, grandchildren): Wife, Kristal, and three children, Devin (junior), Kamryn (seventh grade) and Kinley (fourth grade)

How long have you lived in Arkansas City/Cowley County?

Approximately 32 years combined

Have you served on any boards previously?

Arkansas City Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, Chairman of Leadership Cowley County, Chairman of Adams Elementary School Site Council, President of Jack Henry SilverLake Midwest Regional User Group (banking technology focus group)

Why did you choose to run for this position?

As a member of the school board, I will have the opportunity to share my professional and life experiences to benefit our community.

I believe I will be able to represent different groups within the community and ensure that others have a voice in the future of our schools’ success. Most of all, this is another way in which I want to make a difference.

The City of Arkansas City has proposed a land swap adjacent to the bus barn area once Water Treatment Facility construction is complete. What improvements or changes would you like to see in the area?

Since I’m not familiar with the details, I won’t elaborate or give an uninformed answer. However, I’m confident that with good leadership and communication, we will collectively make the right decisions to produce a win-win for both parties involved.

What do you think should be done about Liberty Cemetery, the small rural cemetery owned by the school district that is northeast of Ark City in Silverdale Township?

As I understand it, there isn’t a public road access to the cemetery, which makes a difficult situation for those with loved ones in the cemetery. It surely was a kind gesture to donate this land to a worthy recipient (school district), but it doesn’t make sense for the district to continue to be involved. This may be another opportunity to produce a win-win for all parties involved.

Tax dollars were used to finance the bonds for construction of the new ball fields south of Arkansas City High School. The bonds are still being paid off. Do you think USD 470 should relax policies for these fields to allow more public access?

If there’s more to the question than access to practice organized sports, then I’d need more information. If I take the question for its face value, then my short answer is no.

I have been coaching baseball, and still coaching softball, for about a decade in Ark City. These new fields produce great opportunity for our kids and the community. I am thankful for the decisions made to build them.

We have always had access through the north gate, and some head coaches have had access to the other gates. Is it easy for everyone to walk the extra steps and carry gear into the complex to practice? No. Did we always have access if we wanted to put in the work? Yes, the north gate is always open. If someone wants to practice, they have access to do so.

As for other activities, if there is communication about the schedules of organized sports, there have been no problems that I am aware of.

Do you think the school district should develop some sort of master plan for its facilities and how it will deal with continued changes in its mix of students?

Yes, the district should develop a master plan for its facilities and adaptation to the times.

I’m not positive on the meaning of the words, “mix of students,” but change is constant, as is the need to plan.

I will refer to the most recent school board meeting when a group of teachers presented to the school board their excitement of newly learned methods of teaching technology and using technology to better teach. They display adaptation, leadership, and offer a plan that will allow our teachers to better engage new skills and knowledge to our students.

In general, do you think it is appropriate to leave a school board position vacant for an indefinite period of time, or should the board of education adopt some sort of time limit or deadline to fill future vacancies?

There should be a time window to fill future vacancies. Life happens and some circumstances may cause a board member to be absent, but it is responsible to limit the number of missed meetings and/or votes.

If the school district were to add one curriculum or program of study, what would you like it to be?

One would think that some form of technology subject would be the primary push from someone like me, who has been in information technology for almost two decades, but I’m a big proponent of leadership and team building, so leadership programs come to mind.

Some form of life skills education is another opportunity, such as social networking awareness or electronic communications etiquette.

However, the one that sticks out most to me is college preparation. I recently learned of ACT test workshops offered at the high school, so that’s a step in the right direction.

Perhaps we can build on that, to include filling out scholarship applications, school site visits and other things that students, and probably most parents, have no clue of what they should be doing to better position themselves for college.

Cowley College begins competing in wrestling this year. Are there any new sports or activities you would like to see the middle and high schools participate in, and if so, how would you propose to finance them?

Rhoda hit the nail on the head with her answer and I totally agree with her: School spirit and support in the school and the community should be encouraged before we consider adding new activities.

Perhaps pep rallies should not be optional. As a Marine Corps platoon sergeant, I learned some things about spirit and motivation. One of the first things I learned was false motivation is better than no motivation at all.

What is your opinion of the job being done by Superintendent Ron Ballard and his administrative staff? What changes, if any, would you like to see in their approach and/or the school district’s direction?

We are in a fortunate position, in that Dr. Ballard and the team has been fiscally responsible. Consequently, though we aren’t financially bursting at the seams, we are not as stressed as others.

As for any changes I would like to see in the current approach, I would first discuss with Dr. Ballard. It is always best to work directly and communicate with the other party before sharing.

Is there anything else you would like voters to know about you or why you are seeking this position?

As an ACHS graduate, longtime resident, coach to many current students, and parent of three children in elementary, middle and high schools, I would love the honor of serving as a school board member and active participant. I respectfully ask for your vote on November 7. Thank you for your consideration.

This information was provided by Damon Mendoza, candidate for the USD 470 Board of Education.