Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA

September 6, 2013

Hoch third write-in candidate

The Daily Iowegian

---- — Voters will now have three write-in candidates to pick from when they go to the polls on Sept. 10 for the school board election.

Name: Steve Hoch

Why do you want to be on the school board?

During my previous terms on the school board, it seemed that most of my time and energy were spent on the mundane day-to-day operations of the district. While reviewing board policies, buying buses, and approving invoices are certainly part of the “job,” these tasks shouldn’t be the main focus of the board. If I could get a second chance, I would try to strike a balance between the routine “housekeeping” tasks and the need to promote initiatives that will improve the overall quality of our school system.

What is your background? Job(s), family, education, expertise, qualifications, etc.

I grew up on a farm north of Chariton and graduated from Chariton High School. I received a BS degree in Electrical Engineering from Iowa State University and went to work for Iowa-Illinois Gas & Electric Company (now part of Mid-American) after graduation. In 1979, I accepted a position with Iowa Southern Utilities as Electrical Manager at the nearly-completed Ottumwa Generating Station. In 1990, I moved to the ISU corporate office in Centerville as staff engineer for the Ottumwa and Burlington Generating Stations. I still work in the Centerville office today and perform a similar function, but due to mergers, the number of plants I work with has grown considerably. With a few exceptions, nearly all of my work experience has been in electric power generation.

I believe my engineering background has given me the ability to thoroughly analyze a problem or issue, develop several possible solutions, and select the best one based on the risks and rewards. A director, whether for a school district or for a multi-billion dollar company, must be able to calmly and rationally consider an issue, all the while keeping emotions and personal interests out of the picture.

My wife, Cindy, and I have been married for 36 years and have three grown daughters and seven grandchildren.

Why should people vote for you?

One reason would be experience. I previously served on the Centerville board of education for approximately 15 years. Also, I’m conservative by nature. I don’t spend money impulsively (just ask my wife). I’m sensitive to the high tax rate in our district, and would do everything in my power to lower that rate.

What do you hope to accomplish if you are elected?

First, I want to continue to be an advocate for not only the students, but for the taxpayers of this district as well, and to be a good steward of the taxpayer’s money. Just as importantly, however, I want to make Centerville the kind of district that parents want to open enroll their students into, not out of. Part of this deals with improving the school climate, including zero tolerance for bullying and harassment. The second part of the equation is to enhance our course offerings so that all students will stay engaged, not just those who are college-bound. I believe we should be striving to offer more technical courses, including auto mechanics and electricity/electronics, so that students are prepared to go directly from CHS to the workforce. We’ve seen this work with the metals program, so why not expand it to other areas?

What are some of the main issues facing the board and where do you stand on them?

Money has been an issue as long as I can remember. Declining enrollment and a stagnant property tax base have resulted in an extremely high school tax levy. I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I do have a few thoughts on the issue.

(1) I feel that giving a large across-the-board raise to district personnel and large raises to select administrators were inappropriate actions given the massive cuts that had just recently been made. My perception is that we gave back a good share of the savings.

(2) I don’t believe our revenue outlook will significantly improve in the short term, if ever. As a result, we have to develop a sustainable budget strategy that doesn’t link spending to short-term revenue.

Another persistent problem is keeping all students engaged. When students become bored with school, attendance and discipline suffer. We have to find ways to keep all students interested.