Posted by: David R Archer | October 26, 2009

David Archer: the Who What and Why

 Below you will find my answers to the Benicia Herald Questionnaire.  I welcome your comments and questions!
David Archer

Birthplace: Tucson, AZ
Age: 33
Years in Benicia:  1.5
Job/Company: Finance/Compliance Consultant / Self Employed
Family: Wife, Amanda Archer; Daughter, Celina (8th grade @ BMS); Daughter, Antigone (6th grade @ BMS); Son, David (5th grade @ JH)

Political History

When were you first interested in being on the school board?

The initial time I thought of running for the school board was after reading an article in your paper about how current board members criticized each other for not coming to meeting prepared. I thought to myself that our kids deserve better than that.

What motivated you to run for the board this year?

My previous comments concerning preparedness did not make me run for the school board alone. When I started thinking about other factors such as the current school board’s lack of financial expertise and their lack of knowledge concerning organizational structure (based on their elimination of critical jobs that recently required reinstatement), I really felt compelled to enter the race.

The final piece that encouraged me to file the paperwork was when I realized only three people were going to run for the three seats and none of them had the financial qualifications which are required for all public company boards and to me are equally important for our school board; I have those qualifications.

What do you think you would bring to the board, if elected?

If elected, I will bring a number of talents to the board:

1)    I am the only potential member of the next school board with a financial background that includes education, experience and high level organizational budgeting. Other candidates run small businesses but they still require someone like me to help them with their finances which are not nearly as complicated as an organization the size of a school district.

2)    I am also a Certified Internal Auditor with working experience as the Director of Internal Audit for a public company on the NYSE. This means I am recognized in my profession as being a reliable resource for any and all financial, compliance, and operational investigations/audits/reviews. I have completed a number of fraud investigations and chaired the Ethics Committee for my previous employer.

3)    I have a strong leadership background and team building background which has been demonstrated by my successful climb up the workplace ladder in business as well as experience serving on my previous area’s local school board and other youth organization boards.

4)    I have a great care and concern for our children which is demonstrated in my willingness to volunteer in the community and to coach a multitude of youth teams in various sports.

What issues in this race do you feel you’re most qualified to address? How, then, would you address those issues if elected?

An area outside of finance that I am the most qualified to address is the upcoming labor negotiations with the teachers union. I am the most qualified for this because I have been party to labor union negotiations and the formation of memorandum of understandings (MOU’s) previously.

 Unlike my opponents I have never worked for the teacher’s union and have never taken money or accepted the endorsement of organized labor. This makes me the only candidate who has no potential conflict of interest with organized labor.

Another area I am most qualified to address is strategic planning from cradle to grave. Having worked at a high level in a large organization I have been through the process of developing a strategic plan and tying individuals to that plan so that everyone knew how they were contributing to the goals of the organization.

One final area that I am the most qualified for is creating an organization that is lean and efficient. I am the only candidate who has gone through Six Sigma/ Lean Management training as well as implemented many lean management projects to save real dollars and time. All these issues would be high priorities for me if elected and I would be willing to put in the work to lead the charge to see their completion/implementation.

 What direction do you think BUSD is heading during the next four years? Where do you see the district four years from now?

Based on the state’s budget we are most certainly headed towards tighter budgets and more cuts. With my help I know that BUSD can survive the storm intact as a lean organization with a strong emphasis and care for the education process.

In four years I would hope to see us on the other side of this economic cycle with strong talks of rebuilding financial reserves and being better prepared for the next down economic cycle so this process is not so difficult.

 I would also like to see an organization with well thought out budgetary contingency plans and an organizational structure that has all jobs/tasks/departments tied to a strategic plan designed by the board, the educators, and the parents/community of Benicia.

In what areas do you think BUSD has succeeded in the past? Where has it fallen short? How can it address those areas better, and what can it do to keep addressing the other areas well?

The area that BUSD has been the most successful has been in its ability to attract and retain top notch educators, from the teachers to the superintendent, throughout the district. 

I also believe that BUSD has been successful in creating an environment that is inclusive of the parents/community as evidenced by the district’s strategic plan which can be found on their website.  

One area that BUSD has fallen short has been the follow through on these efforts. The plan is not being reviewed or updated periodically and I do not believe it is being used successfully to tie all of the district’s employees and activities towards meeting the goals outlined in the strategic plan

BUSD is also falling short in meeting federal compliance guidelines evidenced by Benicia Middle School being identified as a Program Improvement School for failure to make adequate yearly progress for a subgroup of our children.  This area can be addressed by collaboration with other school districts and educators to find solutions that have worked in other communities.

It is important anytime an organization falls short that it complete and document a “lessons learned” discussion to determine what particularly worked and what didn’t so that corrections can be made. The “lessons learned” concept should be used in all situations (successes and failures) to facilitate continuous improvement.

Finally, why should Benicians vote for you over your opponents?

Benicians should vote for me over my opponents because it is important to have someone who really understands the finances on the school board.

In the face of more budget cuts it is also important to have someone like me on the board who understands how a large organization works and how each department whether close to the kids or seemingly far from the kids contributes to our school district.

I also have a true care and concern for not only my three children in the district but all kids in the district from a number of different socioeconomic backgrounds and will make sure that we are meeting every child’s needs.

Finally, I bring strong leadership and communication skills along with a “can do” attitude toward board work.

Posted by: David R Archer | October 17, 2009

David Archer: Questions and Answers

Here are my answers to the Vallejo Times-Herald Questionnaire on Oct. 16.   Feel free to leave a comment or drop me a note.
David Archer

Why are you running for the Benicia school board?

The school board has gone through a tough year financially and everyone agrees that the next few years will be much the same. The budget is the No. 1 issue facing the next board and I am the only candidate who has been hired by CFOs and a Fortune 500 company to be responsible for financial oversight of an organization. I am running to utilize my background and give back to the BUSD.

What would be your top priorities should you win?  

My top priority will be to ensure the board and the district are actively engaged in contingency planning so that we are prepared for whatever state funding issues we encounter over the next few years. My next priority would be to ensure the district is running as lean and efficient as possible to help facilitate programs and goals educators are actively pursuing. I am a big believer in lean management principles.

 Should Benicia High School students continue to be able to leave campus during lunch?  

This is a tough one. The safety of the students needs to be a top priority and I do not want the students engaged in unsafe activities. On the other hand, I trust our students and believe they have earned that. While I am still open to ideas I believe a system that allows students to earn off-campus privileges through their attendance and grades should be explored before completely closing the campus. 

How can the district best prepare for expected future budget cuts due to reduced funding?  

The same way every organization I have ever worked for plans for the future. At a high level of every organization contingency planning is completed to prepare decision- makers for best case and worst case scenarios.  It is important for the district to start contingency planning now so that tough decisions over the next few years do not need to be made emotionally or without adequate time for discussion and planning. 

What role should consultants play in district operations?

I believe consultants should be used whenever the expertise needed for a project does not exist in-house and/or the cost to keep someone on staff full time is not in the best interest of the district.