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Brian Koontz

NAME: Brian Koontz

AGE: 43

SPOUSE’S NAME, IF APPLICABLE: Nikki Koontz

What office are you seeking? Blue River Valley School Board At-Large

What is your political affiliation? The “Hatch Act” is a federal law that forbids US Government civilian employees from declaring a political party while running for office. Because I am a Department of Defense Federal Employee and therefore subject to the Hatch Act, I can’t share with you my party affiliation for publication, and school board is the only office I will ever seek due to its non-partisan nature.

Why are you running for public office? I want Blue River Valley to be the unquestioned premier school in the area that provides a safe and welcoming education environment for every student while using taxpayer money wisely. I think that I bring a different background and approach to school board governance that often provides a different perspective for the board to consider.

What is your education background? Bachelor’s Degree from Ball State University in Economics, Political Science and Finance. Master’s Degree from Ball State University in Political Science.

What experience do you have that lends itself to the office you seek? Being the father of three kids at BRV, including a daughter in high school, a son in junior high, and a daughter in elementary school. This exposes me to issues across the age spectrum. My mom taught at Blue River, which exposed me to first hand knowledge of how hard our teachers work and how financially challenging a career in teaching can be.

If elected, what is your top priority? If re-elected, my priority is to continue BRV’s march towards becoming the premier area school. To do that we need to allocate scarce resources where they are needed most and that is the classroom. The most important resource that a student will have in the classroom is the teacher. Therefore we must hire and retain the most talented teachers possible. Increased teacher pay is critical for that retention.

What security measures that are not currently in place would you advocate? I don’t think its responsible to advertise security weaknesses in a public forum such as a newspaper. Over the last six years we have greatly increased security measures at Blue River, including 100 percent coverage by an armed local law enforcement resource officer, locked single points of entry for both schools and monitored security systems and cameras. Blue River Valley is a very safe school, but we are continuously looking at ways to harden it more.

What are current school policies that you would like to see changed or added? I would like to see BRV elementary experiment with is “looping”, which is the practice of a teacher remaining with the same group of students for more than one school year. This practice can maximize student learning because students do not have to become accustomed to a new teacher and their routine every single year, the normative process where students and teachers get to know each other and their routines at the beginning of a school year and therefore move more slowly through material is eliminated at the beginning of the second year, therefore allowing the class to move more quickly, cover more material and learn more. Teachers also become much more familiar with each student’s unique needs, and better able to meet them. Looping is not for every teacher or every grade, but I think that BRV could experiment with it and see if it produces results.

What strategies do you favor to face financial challenges? Every rural school in Indiana is facing financial challenges. In an environment such as this, we need to focus on putting our limited financial resources where they are needed most, and that is in the classroom. Administrative and ancillary drains on school finances have been and must continue to be minimized at BRV to put as much of our resources as possible into the classroom where it directly impacts students.

How would you encourage community involvement in school business? Opportunities for community involvement are many but they are not all utilized to their fullest extent. While community attendance at sporting events and fine arts events is encouraging, I would like to see more community involvement in our School Board and PTO meetings as well. Attendance is important, even if not bringing a critical problem to the board, and the PTO always welcomes new members.

How would you like to see curriculum improved? The BRV curriculum is solid. Continuous improvement is ongoing, and we are always looking for ways to get better. My primary area of concern is in dual credit courses where a student can earn college credit during high school. BRV has recently increased its dual credit offering, and is working to add more courses to the dual credit list.

How do you make yourself accessible to citizens? I am always accessible via phone, and while attending events that my three kids are involved in at the school. I am regularly approached by other parents or community members at these events, and I welcome that interaction.