Get to know the Dysart Unified board candidates: Jay Leonard

Posted 9/28/20

In the November election there are  six candidates vying for three seats on the Dysart Unified School District governing board.

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Get to know the Dysart Unified board candidates: Jay Leonard


In the November election there are  six candidates vying for three seats on the Dysart Unified School District governing board.

Current board members Christine A.K. Pritchard and Jay Leonard are seeking reelection, while member Jennifer Tanner chose not to run.

The candidates running are Christine A.K. Pritchard, Jay Leonard, Rhiannon Miett, Jo Grant, Chrystal Chaffin and Charles Wilson.

The Surprise Indpenenedent will feature each candidate leading up to the election

Get to know Mr. Leonard here:

Q: Please list your 3-5 major priorities for the district and how you plan to address each of them?
A: One of the biggest ones is getting kids back to school and establishing a new normal. The second one is going to be working on internally funding a lot of programs we currently have with bonds and override and working on programs to fund internally through schools instead of continuing to get bond and override monies. We also need to make sure we are getting the most out of our new superintendent. We need to make sure we have a good volunteer group that are supporting the schools.

Q: What is your occupational background?
A: I am owner of a security company. I have been in Surprise for 20 years.

Q: How do you plan to address the budgetary issues the district faces?
A: We have worked with several different programs and we have a partnership through HVAC system upgrades and lighting systems from the traditional CFL bulbs to LED lighting. With the partnership we have comes through and works with schools they guarantee the savings we get with actual lighting in electrical bills will actually cover the cost of the upgrades. We will do some pretty hefty upgrades and initially pay out of M&O. The guarantee with the partner if we follow the recommendations at the end of the partnership everything will be paid for as far as through electrical the HVAC and controller get old, the technology and LED lighting can save us a lot of money.
As COVID hit, we took out Valley Vista performing art center and started bringing in outside talent to come in and stimulate growth coming in and good, quality shows bring in community and being in community center and draw external resources. We actually had that booked out completely for the year and because of COVID we have it booked out next year as well. Huge draw as far as revenues.
Several programs have been created through arts and music and we have been able to hire through internal funding sources. We found funding for several positions and those are going to be self-funded and continue to be funded through external sources and not M&O money.
For the technology piece, advertising and leveraging local business and a local advertising system to use technology programs in place and pay for instructors for the classes and activities and resources that they have. One thing Dr. Kellis has done a really great job with is looking at outside sources and bringing in revenue to get away from bond and override monies for continued growth.

Q: What are your thoughts on the innovation and the district as education takes on an even bigger technological role?
A: We are one of the only districts I know of with online curricula approved, which made it easier to transition over. Although it wasn’t the cleanest transition, the plan was in place and to moving forward with Schoology, ISchool and the Florida Virtual curricula system are seamless transitions. We were working toward that online resource, and that will become more and more valuable. We have to compete. That’s one of the key things under Dr. Quinn Kellis. The leadership and other school board members’ and staff’s forward thinking and looking at what are our opportunities and planning and executing. One of those examples is when you have 26,000 students and you have to plan for a pandemic. And continuing to look forward to what we need to do to be competitive in the market and continued to innovate and invest in infrastructure to make sure we have the resources to support our school and students and allow staff to continue to work and get paid and service the students.