By Tim Horan
Two candidates for an open seat on the Abilene Board of Education are seeking the at large position.
Amy Meysenburg is challenging incumbent Randy Gassman. They were asked to respond to five questions limiting the answers to 100 words.
Also on the Nov. 5 ballot for school board, in District 1 Position 1, Veronica Murray, District 2 Position 2 Robert Keener and District 3 Position 3 Jennifer Waite are all running unopposed.
The election is Nov. 5. Advance voting has started.
• What do you feel is the No. 1 priority of a member of the Board of Education?
• There seems to be a lack of interest in teaching skills such as journalism, auto mechanics and woodworking at our local high school, yet these are the business areas that need employees. Can that direction be changed?
• A concern has been the condition of the football stadium and the need for a baseball diamond. Where do those fit on your list of priorities?
• Has the new cell phone policy been effective?
• It appears the school district has been quietly looking at some type of preschool. What can you tell readers?
Qualifications: Seeking third term as member of USD 435 Board of Education; CPA and shareholder of Pottberg, Gassman & Hoffman, Chartered; married to Susie, parents of children Carly, Elliot and Olivia, all graduates of Abilene High School
The number one priority of the school board is to adopt policies for the management of the school system. These policies cover many areas, including curriculum, public relations, personnel, students, facilities and finances. As a member of the board I must continue to be actively involved in this process.
The current board and district as a whole have a great interest in teaching these skills. Our problem has been the ability to find qualified teachers for these areas. Our district is not alone in our inability to fill positions like auto mechanics. Not wanting this particular curriculum to end we have looked for help from Salina Tech. Partnerships like this may have to be part of the answer for our future. Our district will also have to be more creative in attracting and retaining quality individuals for not only these areas but for all of our teaching positions.
We are close on a plan for renovations to the vocational education building. Once all improvements to the educational facilities are complete, then we can turn our attention to the football stadium. This complex includes not only the field, but the track, seating, storage, restrooms and concessions. Most items are subpar at best, and in serious need of improvement. The baseball (and softball) diamonds are not district owned properties, so legally the district can not spend capital outlay dollars on facilities we do not own. This will require collaboration with the city, recreation department and the community as a whole.
It has certainly not been the lone answer to our problems, but I believe our administration does view it as helpful. Cell phones are used to engage in social media, which is the real distraction. This is and will continue to be a large problem in our schools, so anything we can do to limit this during school hours is needed.
As a board, we have had some discussions about preschool with our new superintendent, Greg Brown. With the recent news that Learn and Grow Depot will no longer accept children of non-hospital employees, preschool needs are now even more urgent for our community. As a district we hope to be part of the solution and are considering options. Of course, like the hospital, money issues will be a factor. We will need to find qualified teachers and room for facilities to house this program.
Qualifications: I hold a current Kansas Nursing License and have experience working in a school as a nurse. I have a bachelor’s degree in human development and family services. I am currently in graduate school pursuing a master’s degree in psychology. I have volunteered with Kids In Crisis for the past six years, and am currently the president of the board.
The number one priority of a board member is to be a sort of checks and balances between the school and the community to ensure an equal education for all.
I feel we have some good things in place when partnering with trade schools giving students opportunities to get degrees such as CNA within the normal school time setting.
I feel as if we have an adequate football stadium, as it suits the needs of those watching at this time. A baseball diamond would be top priority if I had to prioritize between the two. There is a definite lack of defined parking which can be confusing for visiting teams. In addition, the bleachers are run down and the facility needs updated. Baseball is and will continue to be a growing sport for our students, so I think we need to support that.
Without seeing the data on academic scores, it is hard to say how effective that has been. I would like to look into the consistency of teachers in enforcing this policy to evaluate its overall effectiveness before commenting on its effectiveness.
In our community, adequate primary and preschool type facilities are needed. We do have preschools, but do they align with our curriculum and mission statement? However if we were to offer something like this, we would need to look closely at qualifications to enter the program, so as not to discriminate any one sub category of patrons.
We do have HeadStart, but that is a program where there are strict qualification requirements to obtain the services.