1. Why did you decide to apply for the open position on the Bismarck School Board?
My wife and I moved to Bismarck from Fargo in 2012, because we thoroughly liked Bismarck for its economic opportunity, sense of community and lifestyle. It was, and still is, the perfect community for us. Since then we added two sons, ages three and one years old. At the same time, much of my work has involved both workforce challenges and getting students ready for the next step, post-graduation. The school board position opened at a time for me when all these factors combined. I look forward to the opportunity to serve our school systems for the betterment of the school system itself, the community and economy and for parents like myself.
2. What separates you from the other candidates?
The serious issues before the school district require an effective new board member, who can quickly understand issues without a predisposition, and who will work in conjunction with the other four other board members. I have that ability to promptly and properly study the issues, ask the right questions and dig beyond the first level of analysis. More so, however, I have the ability and mindset to address tough problems expeditiously and constructively, and to communicate those decisions to stakeholders within the school system and among the public. My primary concern is to continue and improve the educational quality, governance, financial management and public communications of Bismarck's school system. These are the capabilities I have delivered for more than a decade years to my clients in business, associations and elected leadership.
3. If selected, what would your priorities be for the district over the next 10 months?
In the next ten months, the school district will continue to answer challenges surrounding its tremendous enrollment growth and tighter budgets. It will involve tough decisions on policies and funding that will impact students, parents and property taxpayers. The board must be open and responsive in the redistricting process, it must work with administration and staff to take a scalpel, not an ax, to the budget, and it must be extremely communicative with the public.
4. Do you plan to run for a term after this 10-month period?
5. What are the main issues facing the school district right now?
Few would argue the the school district faces a tough few years of tight financial resources and rapid growth. We need to find ways to both increase output and improve quality of our education without demanding ever-increasing financial resources, because in many cases, they simply won't be there. The growth also means growing classroom sizes and the need for more classrooms and teachers. Year-by-year, there will be growing pains. Students, parents and teachers will bear the burden, and special care is necessary to satisfy parents and students and retain the teaching staff. The board and administration must actively listen and then address issues to the best of its ability. Not every challenge will have a satisfactory solution, but with flexibility and understanding, the board and administration can make the best choices or find alternative solutions to challenges.
6. What is one thing the Bismarck School Board does well?
The Bismarck School Board, with the administrators and teachers as well, is innovative in its approach to education and it holds. The Career Academy is fantastic. The discussion of an innovation school is equally promising. My career can be traced back to the opportunity I had to attend Governor's School at NDSU while in high school (in Jamestown). These give critical exposure to students. The more career-oriented experiences we are able to give a student, the greater chance he or she has to match interests, skills and real-world opportunities, and find a little luck of being in the right place, or meeting the right person, to shape whatever career path he or she pursues.
What is one thing you think it could improve?
There is a level of frustration across the community regarding the challenges before the system. Fortunately, the public, though wanting more, is still very supportive of the school system. Going forward, the board and administration must be more open to solutions to individual parental or student issues and must better communicate with the public.