The Hutsonville Unit 1 Board of Education has five candidates running for four trustee seats this election. Two candidates are running to retain their seats, Matt Draper and Travis Matthews, while three others, Connor McCoy, Mark Angel and Tanner Strohm, look to fill the seats vacated by Sherman Newlin and Bill Wyman. who have chosen not to run in this election.
Voters will be able to vote for four of the candidates. Based on the residency of each of the candidates Township and Range restrictions do not apply and any of the five can be elected with out conflict.
Travis Matthews, 46, Annapolis, is married to Shandy Matthews, and has four children: Trent, Paige, Marah, and Ashlyn. He has lived in the district for 20 years and graduated from Robinson in 1990.
He is seeking a second four year term on the Unit 1 Board of Education. He has also served as an assistant coach for boys high school basketball at Hutsonville the last two years.
For Matthews the three top issues in running for the school board are the teacher shortage and finding good qualified candidates, athletic coops and education-based funding.
"I feel that working with our current administration and fellow board members in seeking out qualified faculty to come and live in our community is a must," he said. "Keeping our current teachers, and not have so much turnover in our staff and faculty and making sure quality education is maintained."
"We will be in the last year of our contract with Palestine for most sports, other than football," noted Matthews. "As part of the Athletic Committee at CUSD 1, we will seek to make sure we find the best fit for our student-athletes."
Money is always a key issue for any school district. "EBF (Education-Based Funding) and categorical payments are issued to district." said Matthews. "We must work with current administration and fellow board members to seek out and obtain full funding for these very important items."
"All three of these issues will require us as a board to perform due diligence to make sure quality education is maintained and new opportunities are explored to aid our students in their education," he said.
Asked why he is the most qualified of the candidates in the race, he said, "I have served the past four years on the Hutsonville CUSD 1 School Board, so I have prior experience with dealing with school issues and working with the current school board. I have a vested interest, as my wife went to school in this district and we have four children who have been brought up in the community and school system. I feel my qualifications as an Assistant Professor at Lincoln Trail College for the last 20 years have provided me with the knowledge and opportunities to have a great understanding of the issues that secondary and higher education institutions face in Illinois," said Matthews.
Connor McCoy, 27, is married to wife, Danielle, and lives just west of Hutsonville.
McCoy served as an alternate for the "Committee of Ten" (2017-2018)
"One of the top issues that I am interested in is the curriculum, specifically maintaining and potentially expanding the current selection of dual credit courses offered at HHS," said McCoy. "Dual credit courses give students an opportunity to take courses that are the equivalent of a college course, and offer the opportunity to receive college credit at the high school level. These courses help prepare students for college, and also lower the overall cost of a college education."
"I also have a lot of interest in the overall condition of the facilities that are currently part of the Hutsonville school district. I served on the "Building and Grounds" committee as part of the committee of ten, and understand the value in continuing to update and maintain our current facilities to ensure their viability for the future," he said.
"I believe that extracurricular activities are an important part of the Hutsonville school district, specifically the sports and organized clubs," said McCoy. "I believe that students are able to learn many life lessons through these activities, and get exposure to valuable experiences they may not have otherwise had. I also feel that extracurricular activities are important for potentially drawing in new students and families to the Hutsonville school district."
Why are you the most qualified of the candidates in the race?
"I believe that my experience as an alternate for the "Committee of Ten" (2017-2018) gave me valuable insight to gain a better understanding of how the school district functions concerning a broad range of aspects such as finance, tax levies, curriculum, extracurricular activities, and the long term viability of the school district. I also believe that I am a qualified candidate due to my background. I am currently employed as a Safety Professional, and have both experience and training in many areas such as preparing budgets, project planning and execution, construction, and policy and procedure drafting and implementation," said McCoy.
"I also believe that I am a qualified candidate due to the fact that I am a lifelong resident of the Hutsonville area, and am invested in our community for the long term."
Matt Draper, 46, Hutsonville, is married to Jodi, and has twin 15 year old daughters and an 11 year old son.
He has served two terms on the Unit 1 board, and serves on the South Eastern Special Education Board, and Eaton Water Board.
"A main concern moving forward is the lack of teachers," said Draper. "We have terrific teachers and administration that we sure do not want to lose. As they retire or relocate, the number of applicants to replace them are just not there."
"State funding is also a major concern.," said Draper. "School board was much easier when we received all of the necessary state payments in a timely manner. A considerable amount of work is done by our Superintendent, staff, and board to keep our school performing very well with only a percentage of the funding we used to receive and still create a positive learning atmosphere to educate our kids."
"I personally would like to offer more vocational type of courses," he said. "There are a lot of students in our area who will make terrific electricians, welders, HVAC technicians, machinists, laborers, etc... and would greatly benefit from more technical classes. We are pleased to now be offering Ag classes again. It has been many years since our last Ag and FFA programs and these are important to rural America. Our kids are excited about these programs, both town and country students."
Draper said he would like to honor a couple of board members who are leaving. "Bill Wyman and Sherman Newlin have chose to not run for re-election. We are losing a lot of knowledge in many different areas and they will truly be missed. Bill has been in education his entire adult life in various roles including teaching and coaching. He is kind of the silent type; but when he brings something to the table ,we all listen," said Draper.
"Sherman came on the board before his children were even students yet and they are now in college," said Draper. "He, too, is very sharp in many different areas. That being said, I know all of the people who are running for this election and can honestly say that any will be great board members. We all will have the best interests of our students, faculty, and community in mind."
Tanner Strohm, 37, West Union is a petrochemical piping inspector. His wife, Allison, is a nurse and they have two sons.
Strohm was elected to two consecutive terms on the York Township Board of Trustees, and currently serve on the Hutsonville Summer Rec board. Over the past seven years he has coached T-ball, Rookie baseball, Minor baseball, Flag Football, and 5th/6th grade Pal-Hut tackle football.
"I made the decision to run in this election for the same reason I have coached sports over the years," said Strohm. "I love watching and teaching my kids, and their classmates or teammates, learn and grow. Being a parent is the greatest joy of my life, and I will do whatever I can to ensure my boys, and the children in our community, have every opportunity to succeed."
"The administration, teachers, and faculty at Hutsonville are a great group of people," said Strohm. "They strive to put the health, safety, and education of their students first. If elected, I would be honored to do my part in continuing that tradition."
Mark Angel, 59, West York, is a graduate of Hutsonville High School and says he is "Tiger Proud."
He has served as a trustee for Melrose Township in Clark County, and was an alternated in last Committee of Ten during Hutsonville-Palestine school consolidation talks. He is a member of the West Union Christian Church, past president and member of West Union Community Club, and is trustee and chairman of Bailiff Cemetery.
The three most important issued for Angel are see that the district stays financially stable, and that they maintain excellent administrators, faculty and non-certified employees. He would also like to see more diverse extra curricular activities for the students.
As to why he is the most qualified candidate Angel said, "I am a graduate of Hutsonville High School, and I am Tiger Proud. I support school activities, and am running because I have a fondness and loyalty to Hutsonville Schools."