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 Casey Herrman, Cathy Hopkins, Curt Vajnar, Thomas Wasinger and Meagan Zampieri-Lillpopp.
Please discuss your reasons for seeking a position on the Board of Education.
As a single parent for most of the last decade, I have seen the hardships facing teachers, students and families. I have also seen the benefits that have been provided to my daughters due to the great teachers and staff that have touched their lives over the years. I want to be a part of helping USD 489 grow into a school system that keeps great teachers and provides an excellent education for the students of our district.
What qualifications do you have that make you the best candidate?
I believe that I would do a great job representing all members of our district, from the students to the teachers to the administration to the taxpayers that vote for school bonds. I also believe that I have a desire to bring as much unity among all of these groups to be able to improve our school district. I am flexible and willing to learn by listening to all viewpoints.
What do you see as the greatest problem facing public education today?
In Kansas – Competing for good teachers. Teacher salaries in Kansas are always on the low end compared to other states. We need to be able to compete with the states around us or we will keep seeing our teachers leave for better pay.
In USD 489 – The high cost of enrolling our students. Families pay more to enroll children in USD 489 than any other school district in the state.
How do you see your role as a member of the Board of Education in regard to accountability to patrons of the district? … to teachers? … to students?
As a member of the BoE, I see my role as being one of being accountable to our patrons by steering our district towards good financial decisions; to our teachers by helping make sure that they are supplied with all that they need to be good educators without barriers; and for our students by helping to provide them an affordable education that fosters opportunities to better their lives.
Do you see your role as overseeing policy or making decisions regarding day-to-day operations?
I see it as overseeing policy. Good people have been hired to make day-to-day decisions.
What philosophy/core belief will be the driving force behind your decision making if elected to the board?
My decisions will be based on asking if this choice will benefit the growth of our school, if it will help our teachers, and if it will be good for our students.
What is your position on 1-to-1 technology for K-12? What changes, if any, would you like to see?
I think it is essential. We learned just how valuable it is in 2020 when all students were sent home to finish the school year. We saw that school districts that did not have technology available for all students were ill-prepared and were not able to finish the school year. Changes need to be made as newer tech presents itself.
Describe the first change you would like to see enacted by the Board of Education.
The passing of a bond.
We believe every student deserves qualified, committed teachers. How do you feel due process for teachers affects this goal?
Honestly, in my career I have not had to experience the need for due process. So I lack in knowledge but am willing to learn. I will start with the idea that not all decisions can be made just by listening to one viewpoint and that the teacher’s viewpoint needs to be heard.
What is your vision regarding facilities in the district to provide our students with the best opportunities for success? What are your thoughts on previous and future bond issues/elections?
I think better facilities are vital to the growth of our school district and that passing of a bond is essential.
How can the board/district recruit and retain quality teachers?
By working closely with FHSU and by offering a competitive wage.
What could the board do to improve teacher morale?
Start by asking the right questions to our teachers to try and understand what issues and concerns they are facing.
How would you characterize your attitude toward collective bargaining? What role do you see yourself taking in this process?
I would refer to my response on due process, I have a lot to learn. I would say that my role in collective bargaining is looking at what benefits the district, acknowledging that what benefits the district most is the continuity of good education by maintaining good teachers.
I have worked as a volunteer for children’s organizations and ministries my whole adult life. I want what is best for them. In my years of parenting, I have actively built relationships with my daughters’ teachers because I realize how important teachers are in their lives. I am ready to further these experiences by working for our students and teachers on the Board of Education for USD 489.