Five candidates for three M-P positions outline their views

Posted 8/26/99

The five candidates seeking to fill three positions on the Mid-Prairie Board of Education out…

By News Dept.

The five candidates seeking to fill three positions on the Mid-Prairie Board of …

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Five candidates for three M-P positions outline their views


The five candidates seeking to fill three positions on the Mid-Prairie Board of Education out…

By News Dept.

The five candidates seeking to fill three positions on the Mid-Prairie Board of Education outlined their views about education and their reasons for seeking a term with the Board. Of the five, only Elizabeth Curl of Wellman is an incumbent.

Elizabeth Curl

I want to thank everyone for the support given me in the last three years, a period in which we have seen many changes in our district, extensive additions to the buildings, increased use of technology and financial challenges.

The outstanding support of the public, business and parents has allowed us to provide excellent facilities in the district. I have tried to be diligent with my efforts to see that all buildings are developed and maintained at the best possible level. There has been a dramatic increase in usage of the many types of technology throughout the district.

We now have student representation on the school board, which I consider essential if we are going to meet student need. I also have made an effort to have contact with students, spending time with them in their learning environments. I have challenged myself through additional training and education and I have received the IASB Outstanding Boardmanship Award for two consecutive years.

As a district, we still have many challenges ahead of us. We have been unable to develop a long-term financial plan. The recent financial situation that required us to make cuts in the budget at the end of the last school year and cuts for this year is a perfect example of our being reactive instead of proactive in financial planning.

While cuts would still have been necessary, we may have been able to identify the situation earlier and perhaps also been able to minimize the impact on students and staff had we been proactive.

As we strive to continually improve the district, the need to communicate with the public becomes even more important. We cannot continue to make decisions based on information developed through town meetings of more than four years ago.

Another of our biggest challenges is providing safe, reliable transportation for students. We cannot continue to ignore the age and high mileage of our bus fleet. We require the minimum purchase of three buses per year if we hope to lower our average miles in the fleet. Our district must work toward a plan that allows us to have trade-ins that have more than just salvage value. This will be expensive, but attainable if promises made to the public concerning the PPEL funds are kept. The rest of our transportation fleet also is in need of attention. As we increase our charges for the drivers education program, part of this money needs to be put back into the program for the purchase of better vehicles.

Our district will not limp into the new millennium. We have an excellent school district and currently provide educational opportunities second to none. We need to focus on maintaining what we have and improving areas with specific needs. We should not be asking the public for more money based on the promise of new and better programs, additional technology and equipment, or additional facilities.

We must recognize the investment we have in people and the importance of having quality individuals at all levels. We must provide opportunities for additional education and training for our support staff. It is essential that we recognize our market base from which we draw applicants, and that we need to be recognized as a competitive employer if we wish to attract qualified individuals.

I ask for your continued support in my bid for re-election, I will work to see that our district continues to offer educational opportunities second to none.

Perry Hess

Perry Hess of Kalona, a former president of the Kalona Area Chamber of Commerce and former president of the Kalona First Responders, is the store manager for O’Reilly Auto Parts in Iowa City. He and his wife, Marla, have two sons who are students at Kalona Elementary School. He writes:

My reasons for running for the Mid-Prairie School Board are simple and straight forward. We need to provide the best education possible for all students in our district. We must provide up-to-date resources for this to happen. Financial responsibility is a key concern. I know if we use common sense we can make these things happen. I would like to participate during this time of transition.

James P. Hussey

Education is a three-legged stool, demanding the best of our families, schools and communities. If one leg wobbles, the whole stool falls over. Our job as potential members of the Mid-Prairie School Board, and your job as responsible Mid-Prairie voters, is to do what we can to help fix the stool before our schools and students come crashing to the ground.

Our families must commit themselves to placing education first on their list of priorities. Students need to worry as much about math as they do about MTV and the mall. Most do, but too many care more about what kind of car they drive than what kind of grade point average they carry. Before parents complain about the schools, they need to make sure their kids haven’t wasted their youth watching TV or playing video games, and that their children arrive in class well-rested, well-prepared and ready to learn. Good parents can overcome mediocre schools, but even great schools don’t have a chance if students and parents don’t put forth the time and effort required to succeed.

Our schools must provide a curriculum that prepares our students for the academic, professional and personal challenges of the century ahead. I believe in a curriculum that emphasizes mastery of the building blocks of learning— reading, writing and arithmetic— and then challenges students to tackle the basic skills of the 21st century, specifically, multicultural and computer competence. Ask any farmer— the Mid-Prairie School District is not only a part of rural Iowa, it is also a part of the global marketplace. We are crippling all our futures unless we teach our children how to compete in an economy in which goods and services are traded across the planet at the speed of light.

Finally, our community must demand that our school district demonstrate its ability to spend our dollars wisely— but then provide our schools with the resources they need to educate our next generation of leaders. I believe in spending money as close to the educational frontlines as possible— on teachers, books and other learning tools. While there is good reason to question several major decisions of the school district over the past several years, our kindergartners should not pay for the mistakes we may have made. We should. Then, once we have demonstrated the ability to spend wisely, we need to provide our schools with the resources they need to get the job done.

Last year, our schools provided a science textbook to some students that was written in 1954. That’s before AIDS, before personal computers, before moonwalks— and six years before me. That is also nothing less than shameful.

We cannot expect our children to learn if the tools we provide them to learn with are woefully out of date. If the curriculum is defined as “that which is taught,” what we’re teaching our kids is that actually knowing stuff isn’t all that important— or perhaps from a larger perspective, that our kids aren’t all that important. Either message dishonors the good people who reside in the communities which make up our school district.

Education is not only for the young, but for all of us. Through their talents and taxes, today’s students will soon be providing for you, the voter. If we do not collectively do our part to prepare our students to participate successfully in the next millennium, we will each individually pay the price.

Through this election, you have the rare opportunity to refocus our educational resources on the activities that best foster lifelong personal and professional success. Now is the time to do your homework. Get out to the polls and vote September 14.

Henry Lemke

I am running for the school board because I believe I have an obligation to my community to help provide a fiscally sound, economically responsible education system. I believe it is important (and completely feasible) to create and between excellent education and financial accountability. I’d like to encourage not only more open communication among the community, the board and the administration, but also a return to more authority and participation from the community in decision making for the district. There are a lot of issues that need to be resolved, but until these basic fundamentals are addressed, not much will change.

I have lived in this district since 1986. We moved here when I took a job at Case IH in the parts department. I made the acquaintance of many wonderful people while I worked there. When Case closed in 1989, I went to work at Kalona Plastics as an industrial maintenance mechanic. Janie, my wife of 26 years, also works at KPI in the human resources department. Both of our daughters graduated from Mid-Prairie and were very involved in music, drama, speech, FFA, etc. Leslie and Andrea are now both attending the University of Iowa. Leslie is pursuing a degree in botany and Andrea in education.

I believe in this community and in the excellence of our education system. I believe we all have a stake in making sure we continue to provide the best for ourselves and our children. I am interested in your comments and ask you to give me a chance to represent and express your views on the board.

Bonnie Nisly

Bonnie Nisly of Kalona writes:

My daughter just graduated from Mid-Prairie High School and I have two boys in the district schools, one in 9th grade at Mid-Prairie High School and one in 5th grade at Kalona Elementary School.

I’ve been involved with the Mid-Prairie School District for many years. As a past president and vice-president of the Kalona Elementary Booster, I have had to take a leadership role. I learned to listen to what the parents, students and teachers wanted, and I learned to work as part of a team to get things done. I am the secretary for the KES Boosters for the 1999-2000 academic year.

A reason why I am running for the board is that I am concerned about the way our money, as taxpayers, is being handled by the school administrators. I do not agree with the cuts the district made this year. To cut funds for education and have administration funds still in place is not the right thing to do for our children. We cannot cut funds that involve the education of our children since the education of our children is very important to the future of our country. I want to make education fun and as available as possible to our children.