School Board Proud of Union
By EMILY RAMSEY
SCHOOL SUPPORTERS: Union Superintendent Dr. Kirt Hartzler stands with the school district’s Board of Education members. From left, Stacey Roemerman, Hartzler, Ed Payton, Patrick Coyle, Jeff Bennett and Heather McAdams.
Courtesy Union Public Schools
“A member of the Board of Education is a link between the residents of a school district and the administration,” says Stacey Roemerman, Union’s Zone 4 School Board of Education member. Although Roemerman is new to the board, only holding her seat since April, she is certainly not new to involvement with the Union School District. Roemerman has three children who attend Union, and she has served on the Jefferson Elementary for three years, this year as president.
“There are so many parts of Union that I am extremely proud of,” she says, including the school district’s philosophy. “We have created a community not based on city boundaries or a common socioeconomic status but on a common goal of excellence, the Union Way. It permeates every aspect of our district: athletic, academic, behavioral philanthropic.”
The Union School Board of Education is made up of five members plus Superintendent Dr. Kirt Hartzler. Board members are elected for five-year terms and receive no pay.
Jeff Bennett, representative of Zone 1, became a board member in 2006, his sole reason being to hand his son, who later graduated from Union, his diploma, as Bennett’s uncle had done for him.
“Union Public Schools is run like a Fortune 100 company, with its sole purpose as how best to educate kids,” Bennett says.
During his time on the school board, Bennett has accrued a long list of reasons for his pride in the school district and its accomplishments, such as the district’s mission of graduating 100 percent of students college and career ready and its focus of creating well-rounded students.
“We encourage some form of extracurricular activity: fine arts, clubs/organizations or sports,” he says, citing current student participation at 80 percent. “(Those students) have a tendency to be more successful in and out of school.”
Patrick Coyle, Zone 2 board member, has previously served as a trustee and president for the Union Schools Education Foundation. He has been active in the Union Football Booster Club and coached youth baseball, soccer and basketball. His son and daughter are both Union graduates.
Heather McAdams, of Zone 3, is in her sixth year on the board and feels that she holds a unique perspective as a board member.
Since beginning on the board with young children, McAdams has watched them move through the school system and seen how they are affected by various changes made at the district and state level in education, she says.
McAdams quickly touts the district’s emphasis on community schools and careers.
“Our graduation rates and family engagement in community events is a great measure of success and shows us that the changes to the way we view educating a child are making a huge difference,” she says. “And we are growing a initiative through all 19 buildings in the district.”
That initiative began as a pilot program at Darnaby Elementary for the 2013-14 school year. This year, it has been expanded to include Cedar Ridge and Moore Elementary Schools.
In 1998, Zone 5 board member Ed Payton began with Union as a volunteer with the Union Long Range Planning Committee. In 2005, he was elected as a board member. “I chose to get involved because I believe that a strong and effective public education system is the cornerstone of our democracy and strength as a nation,” he says.
Three of Payton’s four children graduated from Union Public Schools.
In addition to the already mentioned accomplishments of the school district, other achievements that Payton finds notable include the Carrera Program, the community’s regular passage of school bond issues and the district’s expansion of adult education programming.
Another area of excitement within the district, says Hartzler, is a new initiative for the current school year, called Career Connections. The pilot program introduces students to various community businesses, including APSCO, Inc. and Bama Companies, and a wide range of industries, such as manufacturing, engineering, medical, teaching and sports management.
“I’m excited about the potential this opportunity will offer kids in enhancing their learning experiences,” says Hartzler.