Oct 05, 2021 10:29 AM

USD 489 candidate profile: Curt Vajnar

Posted Oct 05, 2021 10:29 AM

Editor's note: The following questions were submitted to candidates for the USD 489 school board by the Hays NEA. The questions and answers are being posted as submitted with the permission of the Hays NEA and the candidates.

Three positions are up for election. Also running are Ken Brooks, Casey Herrman, Cathy Hopkins, Thomas Wasinger and Meagan Zampieri-Lillpopp.

Curt Vajnar

Curt Vajnar
Curt Vajnar

Please discuss your reasons for seeking a position on the Board of Education.
I want the best possible education for all students attending USD 489.   This would include my children (Junior at HHS, 8th Grader at HMS, & 3rd Grader at Wilson Elementary) as well.

What qualifications do you have that make you the best candidate?
I taught 31 years in USD 489, Kansas Teacher of the Year, National Board Certification.  Kansas teaching endorsements in: Agriculture Education, Biology, Drivers Education, & Administration.

What do you see as the greatest problem facing public education today
In Kansas?
Teacher shortages and retention, Loss of knowledge due to COVID, Curriculum
In USD 489? Teacher shortages and retention, knowledge loss from COVID, lack and quality of facilities, access to classrooms for educators prior to school.

How do you see your role as a member of the Board of Education in regard to accountability to patrons of the district?
The best and appropriate use of funds and facilities, Superintendents doing his/her jobs.
 … to teachers & students?
Help provide the best educational environment for every teacher and every student every day.

Do you see your role as overseeing policy or making decisions regarding day-to-day operations?
Overseeing and approving policy, which does affect day-to-day operations.

What philosophy/core belief will be the driving force behind your decision making if elected to the board?
Is the decision best for the students of USD 489?

What is your position on 1-to-1 technology for K-12? Technology is essential to education today. What changes, if any, would you like to see?
Technology staff availability to teachers and students, faster repairs or replacements, individual in-service or help for educators with technology & programs.

Describe the first change you would like to see enacted by the Board of Education.
Board meeting professionalism, use of meeting bylaws and rules, some sort of parliamentary procedure needs to be followed.   

We believe every student deserves qualified, committed teachers.  How do you feel due process for teachers affects this goal?
Due process for teacher improvement handled in a fair and supportive manner would be great. I know and have known many phenomenal educators at USD 489. But sadly, I know and have known a few teachers that need/needed improvement.

What is your vision regarding facilities in the district to provide our students with the best opportunities for success?
They desperately need improved or updated. Extremely disheartening when you visit the other schools in the Western Athletic Conference.  Would like our students to have the same opportunities; educationally, athletically, and with extra-curricular events as other schools.

What are your thoughts on previous and future bond issues/elections?
I think passing a bond issue is critical. It has been 30+ years since a bond issue has been passed. We’ve had bond issues fail in June 2016 and Nov. 2017. A survey conducted by Excellencek12, that was done in March 2021 does show that 68% would support a bond. Lincoln Elementary is over 90 years old and are newest facility is Hays High School is 40 years old.   If a bond issue is needed, then we keep proposing one often to hopefully convince the community of our need.

How can the board/district recruit and retain quality teachers?
Invest in student teachers a semester trial run is a better measurer of quality than a 30-minute interview.  Have teacher openings posted early – lets pick from the top of the class. I suggested a financial incentive for teachers to complete their retirement papers early when applying to fill Sophia Young’s vacated BOE position. I recently found out this financial incentive was part of this year’s negotiations.

What could the board do to improve teacher morale?
Hire dynamic and enthusiastic administrators. Teachers also play a big role in their morale.

How would you characterize your attitude toward collective bargaining?
Best method of negotiating that I have experienced as a teacher.

What role do you see yourself taking in this process?
First, I would like to see certified staff, classified staff, and administrative raises be stated in dollar amounts and not percentages.  A 3% raise on $15,000 and a 3% raise on a $125,000 salary is not the same.   I do care about all of our staff and feel they should all be treated fairly.

Other comments
I hope as a board member that I would be known for doing what right and fair to improve the education of all of our students.