1. Why did you decide to apply for the open position on the Bismarck School Board?
I have three children attending public schools in the district at each level of education. One in high school, one in middle school and one in elementary school.
I feel someone in my position is fully vested in the goals and objectives set by the school board. My family will be directly affected by the decisions I’m involved in and the stances I take.
2. What separates you from the other candidates?
I’m a small businessman. I crunch numbers, manage labor, create systems, minimize expenses and listen to customers in order to survive. That can involve some pretty tough choices on a day-to-day basis. I understand it’s easy to complain when you have the luxury of not having to make a decision. I look forward to being in the process, being accountable and communicating clearly the decisions made by the board.
I’m also a property owner and a local taxpayer. I’m keenly aware of the burden property owner’s bear. As a fiscal conservative, I welcome the challenge of providing our students and teachers with what they need to excel while ensuring that taxpayers are getting the best possible value for their tax dollars.
3. If selected, what would your priorities be for the district over the next 10 months?
My first priority will be to always hold myself accountable to the taxpayer. A member of this board must always take its stewardship role seriously.
The equity of facilities, programs and resources between schools is a huge issue as the district grows, additions are built and new schools are planned. This has to be a priority.
I am energized by the thought of helping the school board develop and implement policies that are sustainable. I feel the board is really close to adopting a new model of governance. Should that happen, it will quickly become a priority. I am also committed to improving the dialog between administration and teachers. I aim to work together with other board members for the common good of a growing district that presents many challenges. I’m an open book and have little tolerance for hidden agendas. I will lead by example when it comes to transparency.
4. Do you plan to run for a term after this 10-month period?
I feel elections are tough for a reason. You have to pound the pavement, you have to garner support and you have to take a stance on many tough issues. However, the election process should serve to hold you accountable.
Accountability is the reason I am committed to running in 2018. My intent is to serve on the school board as an elected representative. I would not have applied to fill the vacancy if I wasn’t completely committed to the upcoming election process.
5. What are the main issues facing the school district right now?
As our district continues to grow, new schools are pondered and additions are built, it brings a number of issues to the table.
I’m concerned with an equitable distribution of resources between all of our schools.
I’m perplexed at the notion of shuttering schools when we are in dire need of space.
I’m sensitive to the needs of those who are affected by boundary changes.
I feel strongly that teachers need to be in the fold: a valued part of the process, an integral part of policy and a resource for solutions.
That being said, I understand the challenges a growing district presents. I am eager to help find solutions that put our children first.
6. What is one thing the Bismarck School Board does well?
I think this board is on the cusp of adopting a cutting edge model of governance. This is a huge step in the right direction. The adoption of this model is only the beginning. The most laborious work is yet to come with decisions on policy and implementation. I’m extremely excited by this, and would love to be a part of the process. This model should allow the board to focus more on governing and less on managing. It is built to alleviate time spent on operational issues, and would free the board up to govern the district on policy-driven decisions. It would be sustainable and leave a legacy of leadership unprecedented in our district. I give this board credit for discerning the need and seeking out a model that works extremely well in other districts.
What is one thing you think it could improve?
Equity between schools is an ongoing concern. I would not say it needs to be improved, but more that it needs to be identified and acted upon consistently.
I would like to see policies written and implemented that are dedicated to teacher advocacy. We have great teachers with great ideas. I think in the midst of growth their voices have been muffled. Teachers are on the front lines of education. They often have more face to face time with our kids than we do as parents. Highly educated, skilled professionals shouldn’t need to be micromanaged. They should be a trusted resource that is frequently drawn upon. Their voices should be heard and should be valued. When that happens, morale goes up and our kids benefit.