Oct 19, 2021 10:44 AM

Hays Post Hays USD 489 candidate profile: Cathy Hopkins

Posted Oct 19, 2021 10:44 AM
Cathy Hopkins
Cathy Hopkins

Cathy Hopkins

Do you or have you ever had children or grandchildren who attend(ed) Hays public schools?
I have six children, three of whom went all the way through USD 489. The other three spent some time here before completing their education in Olathe, KS. I currently have grandchildren who attend school in USD 489.

Did you support the USD 489 2016 and 2017 bond issues? Why or why not?
I did not live in Hays at that time.

Would you support a bond issue if it were put to a public vote in the next year? What do you think it should include?
I would support a bond issue provided it receives full input from the community, is fiscally sensible, and has plans for maintenance in the coming years. The fact that the last two bond issues failed tells me the community sent a message, and we need to listen to it rather than just offer up more of the same.

Someone asked at the last community bond meeting whether other school districts that had passed and completed a bond saw improved results among their students. No data was provided, and I hope it will be offered in the next meeting. I believe this question has to be answered. Plans have to make sense and money must be spent wisely. 

How do you think the district should address facility needs and maintenance outside of a bond issue?
We first have to answer the question of how we got here and then make changes accordingly. The BOE must serve the public by being fiscally prudent and ensuring that dollars are spent wisely. All this will, in my opinion, garner trust among our community and allow a sensible bond to be passed in the future.

What would you do to improve relations between the board and the community?
In short, I would do everything possible. I believe a large part of the work involves improving transparency. It also means that board members need to listen to members of our community and be open to their suggestions.

Do you think board unity is important? Would you be able to compromise with other board members who do not share your same views? Do you think you would be able to work with the current board members who will remain on the board after the election?
Unity is both important and necessary. However, we must recognize that unity is not uniformity. The simple fact that you disagree on a particular issue does not mean you reject unity. Rather, unity means coming together towards a common goal and doing the work until that goal is achieved. 

Yes, I do believe I can work with the remaining board members, provided they are willing to work with me. There is absolutely no reason we can not work together to fulfill the mandate of the BOE.

What is your position on students wearing masks in schools as a COVID mitigation effort?
I believe in the freedom to choose what is best for you and your family. I do not believe in mandates as they detract from our constitutional freedoms. Simply put, we are a republic with a constitution, and it has to be upheld. Giving away our rights as citizens is not an option; it leads to nothing good. 

There is much data to show that masking and quarantining the healthy are not effective. Our own county health officer stated quite clearly at the BOE September work session that masks and quarantining are political in nature. There is decades worth of scientific research showing that cloth masks are ineffective when it comes to stopping viral transmission, which is why we've never seen this approach used before. What’s more, there are many studies showing that prolonged masking of children is harmful. 

But beyond all of that, health mandates are a method of taking away our freedoms, and I will not apologize for seeking to uphold those hard-won rights.

Do you support the school district’s current COVID mitigation policy? If not, what would you put in its place?
I do not support the current policy. I believe the numbers are way too low, and the testing of anyone who is asymptomatic does not make sense. The tests themselves have been proven to be inaccurate. The CDC has gone back and forth many times on all things COVID-related. Many practicing doctors (and I do mean many) who regularly see patients disagree vehemently with the CDC and its methods. The silencing of those voices takes me back to my previous statement: our freedoms, including our right to informed consent, must not be abandoned.

Have you received any funds or in-kind donations from a donor from outside of the school district or a PAC? Please explain.
I have received some support from my sister, who does not live in this community. Aside from that, all of my backing has been local.  

What is the most positive and negative things about USD 489 currently?
We have amazing people here in our district, community, and county. If we are willing to do the hard work of engaging each other without prejudice, then I believe we will see things get even better. It is not a cliche to say our children are our future--they are. We must champion them daily by being the best individuals we can be. I think the #EveryStudentEveryDay489 is a bold statement that everyone can get behind, and we should do what it takes to live it out. 

Yet this doesn’t mean asking people to sign off on a bond issue without providing them with clarity and accountability. Doing the same thing over again would show we didn't listen the last two times. I am also concerned that bringing in the same group to promote this huge project is not showing honor to the community who said no in 2016 and 2017. We do not have the federal dollars that Liberal, Garden City and Dodge City had to spend. Comparing those cities to Hays is not apples to apples. This is what I gleaned from those I have heard from. Thank you.