KASB School Board Member Profile: William Cook, Erie-Galesburg USD 101Scott Rothschild
Erie-Galesburg USD 101
How long have you been a school board member? My total time as a board member is nine and a half years. However, the first four years were from 1987 to 1991. I was appointed in June 2013 to replace a board member leaving to become a teacher in our district.
Why did you decide to become a board member?In 1987, I chose to run for school board because I felt I could add a different perspective to the board as I had been a student when the district was formed in 1967 and currently had children attending Galesburg Elementary, which had not had a local board member in over a decade. In 2013, I was humbled to be asked to consider being appointed after a 22-year gap in service. I knew I would be by far the oldest member, have no children or grandchildren currently in the district and would need to reacquaint myself with the faculty and staff, but I was able to offer certain advantages. As I am self-employed, I can set my own schedule, thus being generally more available to attend meetings and represent the district beyond our borders during the standard work day. I had the experience of taking three children from kindergarten through high school graduation plus the four years of previous Board service. I had served in the prior term as the Board representative to our special education provider, ANW Special Education Services.
What do you do outside of being a board member? Provide consulting services as a licensed Professional Engineer and as a licensed Professional Land Surveyor in addition to having farming interests and holding a real estate salesperson license. Chair a countywide organization to fund special events and scholarships for 4-H participants. Also serve on a rural water district board, a cemetery board, a township board and have been involved with leading the local Mem-Erie Historical Society since its inception. Routinely attend Neosho County commission weekly meetings as I also serve as the County Surveyor.
What experience do you bring to the table that will improve your local school district?
My participation in the boards and work experiences mentioned above have provided a very broad perspective of the needs of the families across our entire district. It is too easy to get focused on what is very important to one’s own family and neighbors. My experiences over the decades across the entire district, plus being married to a teacher who works in a neighboring district provides a wide-ranging knowledge base. Being able to work with others to help advance their goals, rather than my own, has been a tremendous pleasure.
As a board member, what is the top goal you have this year? This year’s goal is to work on returning our district to a solid financial situation. Various factors over the past few years have led us to a very poor financial state. Saying “no” more frequently is difficult. Convincing our local voters to allow us to increase the capital outlay mill rate is critical. We must also find ways to put more money into salaries for all employees. Selecting where to cut to find that money is very challenging. Also, in my role as a Board member of the Southeast Kansas Education Service Center (known as Greenbush to many), representing our district as a founding member, I hope to find more ways to utilize their services for both financial and academic benefit.
Who was an adult you looked up to when you were growing up and why? My maternal grandmother was a great inspiration to me. As she was born in 1893 and lost her birth mother at a young age she was only allowed to attend school through the sixth-grade. However, she was a very intelligent person in working with the world around her. She raised three daughters through the Great Depression and all three attended Junior College at her insistence. She knew how to work with people and how to do a hundred things around home, from gardening to carpentry. She was an incredibly practical person.
Who was your favorite teacher and why? The teacher that broke me out of my shell was my eighth-grade teacher, Mr. Voral Manson. He realized, when I didn’t, that I had a natural ability in math. He introduced me to all sorts of math concepts that were not required by the standard curriculum he was to follow. My independent study built my self-confidence academically. That became extremely important the next year as we went through school consolidation and I entered a new school with nearly four times the number of students.
What is a saying or quote that you live by? Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.