Candidate profile: Dennis Haas

Dennis Haas is a candidate for the Freeburg District 77 school board in the April 4 election.
Dennis Haas is a candidate for the Freeburg District 77 school board in the April 4 election.

Name: Dennis R. Haas

Age: 53

Immediate family members: wife, Kimberly, daughter, Megan; son, Adam

Home: Freeburg

Office seeking: Freeburg District 77 School Board

Occupation: Commercial Air Line Pilot (20 years), U.S. Marine retired, Farmer, Owner - Haashold Storage

Previous and current elected offices and terms served: FCHS school board member, one term 2013-2017

Why are you running? I originally ran for the school board to be directly involved in my children's education, improve communication and the public's perception of the school board, improve the school's appearance, be directly involved in how the school handled the State's funding shortfalls, and improve the caliber of some of our coaching staff. I am running for re-election because I still have work to do.

What is the most important issue facing the Freeburg High School District? How would you approach it? The immediate threat facing the school is the election itself. There is a group of four individuals running as a slate in an attempt to take over a voting majority on the board. If elected, they will have the ability to push their own agenda for the next four years. Consider the ramifications of this. The ability to hire or fire whomever they please. Support or cut whichever programs they desire. How can anyone think this would be a good thing for our school? Strategically, the State not funding schools sufficiently is causing budget shortfalls. Every option has to be considered to reduce costs; administration, teachers, class size, programs, school consolidation. We have to be creative and learn to do more with less. We can not tax our way to a solution.

Should a school district’s teacher demographics mirror that of its student demographics? Why or why not? I do not believe so. Competence and a strong desire to teach is what is important. Race, gender, social economic background should not come into play, only competency and the ability to connect with the students matter.

How much emphasis should your school district put on STEM education? Science, technology and math skills are crucial for our students to succeed in the 21st century work force. Our school needs to continue to increase its offerings of STEM classes, particularly in the area of technology. When we can not meet a student's needs with the courses we offer, a student should have the opportunity to participate in a program such as SWIC's Running Start.

What are your views on the high school's mascot? I support our Midget mascot. I enjoy its history and how it has come to represent accomplishing more than what one should be capable of accomplishing.

In St. Clair County, there will be votes for two sales tax referendums. One would benefit school facility costs, one would benefit public safety. Do you support either or both of the referendums? Why or why not? I am in favor of the 1% sales tax to support our schools. If passed, it will bring a new funding source for schools to utilize to try and overcome the state’s school funding reductions. It will save programs. In the high school's case, the first 55 percent (I believe) of the revenue collected will be used to abate real estate taxes. The school will still have a significant amount funds to use from the remaining 45 percent. I do not believe it is appropriate for me to comment on the public safety referendums as I am not involved in public safety or running for an office involve in public safety.

Why should people vote for you? People should vote for me because I have worked tirelessly representing their interests on the board for the past four years. Despite meeting almost continual resistance from the veteran board members, I have not been deterred. I have fought against the tax increases, fee increases, improved the appearance of the school, pushed for summer driver's education, pushed for surveys of our parents, students and graduates, improved our sports programs, pushed for our participation in SWIC's Running start, pushed for a consolidation study of our schools, and the list goes on. I have worked continuously to bring about meaningful change to this board. I still have work to do and would appreciate your support.