If you were unable to make it out to the Meet the Candidate Night last night I am posting my written responses to each question. While I strayed from my script a lot as I tend to do in these type of forums I wanted to at least offer some type of information about myself and what I had to say. I apologize if some of my attempts at humor do not come off well in my written statements, things like that are all about delivery.
1. Opening Comments:
I want to first thank the district for having my fellow candidates and I here today. I am proud to be a part of this district and enjoy all the work I have gotten to do with everyone during my last three years on the board.
My name is Casey Otto, I am 32 and have lived in New Town for the last five years. I have a son, Holden, who is in the second grade at Discovery Elementary.
I own my own business and have for the last 10 years.
I grew up in Bridgeton and lived in downtown St. Louis before moving to New Town. I was drawn to new town, in large part, because of the district. Before buying my home I toured some of the buildings in the district and met with teachers. I was quickly impressed by the caliber of education that was delivered by the “small, community oriented district.” That, I have found, was an understatement.
Many board members, teachers and residents are 2nd, and 3rd generation Orchard Farm students and many have members of their family attending or working in the district.
But after being in the district for only five years I have not only seen how tight knit and friendly everyone in the district is, but my family and
I, have quickly been welcomed into it.Now, approaching what my be my second term on the board and with “no chance” of remaining the “new comer” I may be able to brag, “just a little bit”, about my roots in the district. – Thank You
2. Why have you decided to run for the school board and do you believe you can adequately represent the entire district?
I originally ran for school board because I wanted to be involved in the district and to be a part of my son’s education. What I have found since I have been on the board is how great the district is, the faculty, the students and everyone that is involved in the educational process.
That, combined with my growing understanding of education and public schools has led me to not only enjoy my work in the district but to become an outspoken advocate for public education, both locally and state wide.
Being from New Town I feel I represent a rapidly growing number of residents and am proud to be the voice for them as well as all the surrounding areas in the southern part of the district.
I also keep and active website, facebook page and am constantly out and about in the community, so, whether or not I live is some of the farther stretching areas of the district I am easily accessible and always open to hear from any resident from any part of the district.
3. How has your life’s education and experiences prepared you to serve the school district and the community?
I am a graduate of Pattonville High School and attended that district throughout all of schooling and while it will take me and my family many generations to create the same type of roots many residents of Orchard Farm already have, I do understand the since of community that is found in being part of a district for so long.
That helps me understand the needs of what a close knit district can be and also how much pride is found for the district.
I also consider myself a life long learner and, along with my formal education, I have engaged myself in as many learning opportunities the district and community has offered to me in an effort to better serve the district and it’s residents.
I am a part of in many different political and community groups that advocate for public education and for the lives of those who have and will graduate from the district and surrounding areas.
I am also proud to be the son of William Otto, newly elected state representative from the St. Charles. My relationship with him helps me keep my finger on the pulse of what is happening statewide, whether it be in education or with any other issues that may effect our district and its residents.
4. What do you feel the most critical issues are facing the Orchard Farm School District today?
As with most districts today we are feeling the pinch of a slowed economy. Managing finances can always be a balancing act but with the right planning and the right team to implement that planning we have, and will be able to continue to, offer a top notch education as we move forward.
The district is also seeing an increase in growth again and, like we have done in the past, it is important we always plan a few years ahead to ensure we will have the facilities, faculty and the proper educational tools that will be required by those moving into the district and also to continue to draw new residents.
I hear a lot how Orchard farm is somewhat of a “best kept secret” in St. Charles County but as the word is gets out, it is important we keep a balanced budget, ensure there is room for everyone who wants to be a part of the district and do that all with student achievement in mind.
5. What qualities do you bring to the School Board that you believe would benefit the district?
Although I’ve been on the board for three years I still consider myself a “newcomer”. I am new to the district and living in the newest addition to the district, the youngest member on the board, and am the only member to only have served one term.
I find this an asset to the board because I am willing and open, always eager to ask questions, attend events, and hear from residents.
I have very few preconceived ideas of what I want for the district and the residents. That allows me to be vocal about things I want and listen to the opinions of others. My decisions on the board come from the processing of information and critical thinking, and less from what I brought to the board before I was elected.
I am also a small business owner and understand how to make tough decisions and what the weight of those decisions can be. Sometimes doing the right thing can be difficult and often met with criticism, but making the right decisions are integral to maintaining a successful business as well a successful school district.
And, the reason I got on the board in the first place, I want to see the best possible education and opportunities for my son. That’s what all parents want for their children and if I can ensure that for mine it can be ensured for all students in the district.