School board elections are this coming Tuesday, Sept. 10. Eleven candidates are vying for positions on the school boards in the Tri-County Times coverage area. All positions, unless noted, are four-year terms.
BALLARD SCHOOL DISTRICT
Name: Tim Erickson (District 1, 2-year term)
Occupation: Senior Market Specialist – Sauer-Danfoss
Family members: Wife Susan; daughter Kelsey, her husband Carl, their children, MaryJane, Audrey and Judah; our son Jesse, and our daughter Lynnea.
How long have you lived in this school district? All of my life except for 12 years in Ames.
Why are you running for the board? We have a great board. We work well together. We all care for the children first and foremost. We are having financial challenges right now and I want to help the district work out of them.
What do you see as the district’s biggest strengths? People in our community are very strong supporters of the district. We also have such strong teachers, staff and administrators. Our facilities are great and our location is a real strength.
What things does the school district – in your opinion – need to work on? Our financial situation, of course. I also feel we need a more effective district employee review system.
If elected, what will your initial goals be as a board member? Working out of our immediate financial issues and working on long term solutions to our financial issues.
Name: Sara Hillebrand (District 2, 2-year term)
Occupation: owner/director of LilyPad Learning Center
Family members: Spouse: Jeremy Hillebrand; children: Lily (8), Brady (6), Tate (2)
How long have you lived in this school district? 8 years
Why are you running for the board? I am always looking for ways to give back to my community. I am very active with local community groups and see that it is important to be involved if you want to make the area you live in the best. We have an amazing school district and I want to help continue what we have.
What do you see as the district’s biggest strengths? Our community strongly backs our children and our schools. We have great teachers and administrators that put the children’s needs and interests ahead of their own agenda.
What things does the school district - in your opinion - need to work on? We are a district that is continually growing. We need to continue to plan for that growth so that we are able to meet all academic goals as well as the financial strains we may go through.
If elected, what will your initial goals be as a board member? To be the eyes and ears of our community and make sure we are working as a group to provide every opportunity for our children as possible.
Name: David Jackson (District 3)
Occupation: Senior Consulting Manager, Healthcare Payment Reform
Family members: Marian Kohut (spouse); children: Luke, Abby, Noah
How long have you lived in this school district? 15 years
Why are you running for the board? I am seeking re-election to serve the students at Ballard. Over the past several years our Board and district leaders were focused on improving facilities, shifting grades and buildings and addressing budget challenges. All of those things have been accomplished. If elected, I intend to place more emphasis at the Board table on student learning, and creating more opportunities for students in the Ballard District, especially in the upper grade levels.
What do you see as the district’s biggest strengths? Ballard has many strengths. The most important are:families and community members that value education;dedicated teaching staff; strong administration;cohesive school board that puts students first;top notch facilities
What things does the school district – in your opinion – need to work on?Creating more opportunities for students in middle school and especially high school grades;challenging ourselves to continuously improve teaching and learning;maintaining the discipline to manage district finances now that a new plan is in place
If elected, what will your initial goals be as a board member?Overseeing the district’s work to set short term goals to identify and create new opportunities for high school students;providing oversight to the new budget process that was established this past year
Name: Jean Saveraid (At-Large)
Occupation: semi retired - currently substitute teacher, adjunct professor at Drake University, Saveraid Farms - HR and Finance officer
Family members: Husband, David; sons Clint and Greg (Emily)
How long have you lived in this school district? 30 years
Why are you running for the board? My desire to continue the board work to gain financial stability in future years, support of student learning, safety and wellness.
What do you see as the district’s biggest strengths? Outstanding personnel from the superintendent to administrators to certified staff to support staff! Outstanding facilities to educate Ballard students in for the 21st Century. Unified school board working towards common goals.
What things does the school district - in your opinion - need to work on?
Would like to see a great emphasis on Professional Development. This is needed so Ballard can provide the best educational programs for all students and development of assessments aligned to the expectations and goals.
If elected, what will your initial goals be as a board member?Continued work on financial needs and projections for future financial stability;create a foundation for the Ballard District;support incentives to provide innovative school calendars and to evaluate and determine the impact on student learning.
Name: Kirk Peterson (At-Large, 2-year term)
Family members: Liz (wife), Lindy, Riley
How long have you lived in this school district? 44 years
Why are you running for the board? I have served on the board for over eight years and enjoy working with our current administration.
What do you see as the district’s biggest strengths? Great teachers. Current administration focused on student achievement.
What things does the school district - in your opinion - need to work on? Continue to work on school budget. Further investments in IT.
If elected, what will your initial goals be as a board member? Focus on school budget and strategic planning over the next 2-4 years.
COLLINS-MAXWELL SCHOOL DISTRICT
Name: Lowell Crouse (District 1)
Occupation: Director of Sales - Bimbo Bakeries USA
Family members: Jackie (wife), Justin (son), Jacob (son), Lanie (daughter)
How long have you lived in this school district? 22 years
Why are you running for the board? To continue to build upon the initiatives we have started in the district and see them through to completion. When I was first approached by a former superintendent about possibly running for school board many years ago, I looked at it as an opportunity to support and give back to the district and community.
What do you see as the district’s biggest strengths?An attractive teacher to student ratio which helps create a better learning environment for the students;We are financially sound;Excellent staff and administration;One to one with I-PADs
What things does the school district – in your opinion – need to work on?Developing a long-range plan that will enable the district to successfully navigate through all of the changes being implemented by the State, as well as the Federal government;Facilities
If elected, what will your initial goals be as a board member?Successfully transition a new potential member into the board as we have one board member who chose not to run for re-election;Continue the projects that the district is currently working on.
Name: Justin Boege (At-Large)
Occupation: refined fuel truck driver
Family members: Maggie (wife), Marissa (8), Austin (5)
How long have you lived in this school district? 9 years
Why are you running for the board? I want to be involved with future decisions and the direction of the district in the coming years.
What do you see as the district’s biggest strengths? Committment to furthering the education of its students through new facilities and curriculum standards
What things does the school district - in your opinion - need to work on? Communication with the community and taxpayers
If elected, what will your initial goals be as a board member? To educate myself on how the district is run and the issues at hand
NORTH POLK SCHOOL DISTRICT
Name: Brett Bruggeman (At-Large)
Occupation: VP of Crop Protection & Seed, United Suppliers
Family members: Married to Kelly for 22 years; four children: Morgan, 19, is in her second year studying education at ISU; Ben, 17, will be a senior at North Polk High School; Madison, 13, will be in eighth grade at North Polk Middle School; Abby Grace, 8, will be in third grade at West Elementary.
How long have you lived in this school district? 6 years
Why are you running for the board?Continue to strengthen the work on retaining and recruiting the highest quality teacher base;Continue to improve our facilities, district-wide, based on current and future growth;Continue to work at offering knowledge and skills for preparation of students after graduation at North Polk;Continue to drive communication between the district and administration;Continue the collaboration and teamwork with other board members seeking the good of our children
What things does the school district - in your opinion - need to work on? Continued growth from both ends of the district – we will need to prioritize & maximize space at all facilities
Name: Jason Koth (At-Large)
Occupation: Information Technology, Network Administrator
Family Members: Married 12 years to Sarah; two children, Larissa (Grade 1) and Levi (Grade 3), attend West Elementary
How long have you lived in this school district? 3 years, we moved to Polk City in 2010 because of quality schools
Why are you running for the board? My wife and I chose to move our family to Polk City because of the quality education available within the North Polk School District. I am running for the school board to ensure the district does all it can to continue providing a high standard of education despite the challenges facing the district. I feel my experience in education, coupled with a strong technology background, will make me a valuable addition to the North Polk School Board.
What do you see as the district’s biggest strengths? In my opinion, the North Polk District is very fortunate to have such a highly skilled and dedicated staff. Both teaching and support staff have impressed me with their professionalism and student first attitude.
What things does the school district - in your opinion - need to work on? Our district continues to experience significant growth of its student population. Even with the completion of a new high school, classroom space continues to be a problem in our elementary buildings. Until the district’s financial situation improves, the School Board must continue to hire and retain the most talented teaching staff possible, research and develop a plan to address space issues when funding becomes available, and build community support for the district’s long-range plans.
If elected, what will your initial goals be as a board member? I have two priorities. First is helping the other board members and administration find ways of improving communication between the district and its residents. I feel it is very important for the School Board to do all it can to make meetings, and the decision making process, as accessible as possible.
Second, I would like the School Board to begin the process of researching and planning for future space issues. While significant work has already been done with the construction of the new high school, I feel much remains to be done crafting a plan for both the middle school and elementary buildings.
Name: Diane Lackore (At-Large)
Occupation: Director of Des Moines Markets, with Pillar Technology
Family members: Husband Ed; three children: Jonathan, 17, Jared, 15, and Erik, 13
How long have you lived in this school district? 7.5 years
Why are you running for the board? I am running for the North Polk school board because I am passionate about North Polk, and I am proud of the role that I have had the opportunity to fill thus far in developing the district. I have enjoyed my first two terms on the board and the challenges that have come with serving. In partnership with the teachers, administrators, community and fellow board members, I wish to build upon what has been accomplished thus far. The student population at North Polk continues to grow, and the children will need additional facilities and a continued positive learning environment. With the new high school opening, I want to now give focus to the facilities needs for younger children. Additionally, I wish to continue my attention toward attracting and retaining the highest quality teaching and administrative staff as they are the key to the success of our children and our district.
What do you see as the district’s biggest strengths? I feel North Polk’s greatest strength is the involvement of our community and parents. The support that the district receives from the community is tremendous. Parents are extremely involved at all grade levels. There is much involvement from the parents and community as they assist teachers, volunteer in the classroom, participate in the PTA’s, are involved in music boosters and athletic boosters, spend their time and dollars to feed the students involved in athletic and music programs, become members of the North Polk Foundation, and attend the many school events and fundraisers. I know I have missed some as the involvement of our parents and community in support of the school goes on and on. Even little things are tremendous for our children. Our community travels so well in support of our teams and students. At any given away event, our supporters will often outnumber the host community. The pride and involvement that our community has of North Polk is our greatest strength.
What things does the school district – in your opinion – need to work on? Our biggest challenge continues to be the growth of our district. Growth is a positive challenge, yet still a challenge. We will need additional facilities for our younger children in the near future. We will also need to be able to attract and retain the highest caliber teaching staff for our growing student population. I will use my knowledge of our district facilities’ needs, district financials and population projections, as well as my knowledge of academic standards and teaching requirements, to guide the district through this challenge and continue what has already begun.
I will also work to create incentives for our teachers to pursue advanced education themselves; so that additional advanced placement courses are taught at North Polk, and children with special needs receive the support and assistance appropriate to their situation.
If elected, what will your initial goals be as a board member?
During this next term, I would like to continue to use my knowledge and experience to give focus to addressing the challenges that the district will face as we continue to grow. Growth is a positive challenge, but a challenge none the less. Many do not realize the size of our district as we cover approximately 99 square miles. As communities like Polk City, Elkhart and the northern areas of Ankeny continue to grow, we will quickly need additional space for our younger children. Busing and transportation will continue to be challenges. I have the experience and knowledge to address these challenges.
Name: Gary Reinhart (At-Large)
Family members: Wife, Deborah, and children: Melissa, Derek and Dylan
How long have you lived in this school district? 52 years
Why are you running for the board? I am seeking re-election because I want to be a part of the transition to the new high school. With a growing school district, I feel my experience can help us tackle the many challenges ahead of us. We must strive to keep classroom size optimal and improve student achievement. I feel our current board has done a good job of addressing these issues and I would look forward to serving this district again.
What do you see as the district’s biggest strengths? We are still what I would call a smaller district. We have a great staff of educators who provide our children with great opportunities to succeed. The new high school will be a great learning environment and alleviates the space problems we had been dealing with.
What things does the school district – in your opinion – need to work on? We have to continue to keep class sizes manageable even with the addition of the new high school. Another priority is to continue to monitor our children’s test scores. Finding a consistent testing system that gives us the most useful information is essential to improving our student achievement.
If elected, what will your initial goals be as a board member? I have already touched on some of my goals earlier. Keeping classroom size optimal and adding teachers when necessary is a high priority. Improving our student achievement will always be my number one goal. Planning for and prioritizing our future building needs would also be a goal of mine.