Dennis Franks

MATT RESNICK 

Dennis Franks envisions a bright future for the youth of Chanute, and wants to play an integral role in making that a reality. 

Franks is one of three candidates vying to fill a vacant seat on the USD 413 Board of Education. The board has called a special meeting for Monday, and is slated to interview the trio of candidates as part of the agenda. 

Franks, the CEO of Neosho Memorial Regional Medical Center, said one of his primary objectives is to give back to the community. 

“You work, and you pay back to the community live in,” said the Bartlesville, Oklahoma native. “And I’ve done that all of my career.” 

Franks further touched on the importance of education, noting that it’s typically a key component of one’s socioeconomic status. 

“The more education you have, the better off you’re going to be,” he said. “Whether it’s the traditional college education or a trade (degree). So it’s very important that we have all of those (educational) structures in place. When people come to a community, they want to have those things like schools and hospitals in great shape.”

Franks has six grandkids residing in the district, and a seventh due later this summer. 

“So, it’s important to me that they receive a good education,” he said. “And it behooves us to help with education for everyone. That to me is extremely important.” 

Franks said he has many years of prior experience serving in high-capacity roles on a variety of health-system boards. He said the boards he previously served on function in a similar capacity as a school board.  

“I have a lot of education with boards, how they should work, and what should happen,” he said. “I have a track record of being very approachable, and being a participating manager or person who wants to make things work right.”

Franks said he would look to ensure that major resources are being allocated in a way that is most beneficial to students and teachers. 

“You have to be very cognizant of dollars,” Franks explained. “All the time, there’s a problem with getting enough dollars to do the things that need to be done.” 

The global health pandemic has an adverse impact on the mental health of students, and Franks believes he can spotlight that. 

“Nationally, people are finally starting to look back at (students’) mental health issues, and saying we need to put more resources towards this,” he said. “And we’re doing that here. We have a strategic-planning meeting coming up, and we’re going to be talking about that a whole lot more.”

Franks added, “Even though COVID-19 seems to be coming to an end, (mental health issues) can (persist) long after that type of sustained trauma.”  

Franks lauded the 413 Board for their cohesiveness. 

“You never hear anybody saying anything bad about them,” he said. “They seem to be a board that really works together well and listens to the constituents of our community.”  

Franks said he’s attuned with the latest happenings of the school district.

“Part of my job is talk ask questions,” said the former (retired) Air Force colonel. “We have about 450 employees, so you can imagine how many different things there are that you have to have a handle on. And the only way you’re going to do that is to ask questions.”

Franks divulged a few details of his planned sales pitch to the board at Monday’s special session.

“When I get on a board I’m there to work,” he said, noting he does not have any type of hidden agenda. “I’m there to try to understand exactly what people are looking for. And is there a way to do the things that people want us to do? And at the same time, knowing that a lot of time there’s not because of other issues.”

Summed up Franks, “ I know the other two people who are running, and I’m sure whoever they choose is going to do what needs to be done. They’re great people, and it’s up to the board.

The trio of candidates have also filed to run for three open BOE seats in the November general election. 

Editor’s note: Feature stories on Alex Rodriquez’s and Heather Guernsey’s candidacies for the vacant board seat were published in recent editions of the Tribune.

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