|Six candidates contend for three school board seats|
By Jan Rahn
Three open seats on the Board of Education of Perkins County School will be filled on Nov. 2 when six candidates vie for one of the positions.
They include Ryan Hendricks, Amy Kroeker, Scott Osler, Jill Pelster, Michaela Potts and Shawn Stutzman.
Going off the board after several years of service to the district are Marian Glunz, Dan Hughes and Kent Kroeker. None of the incumbents filed for re-election this fall.
Of the three current members—Shawn Turner, Doug Beck and Jayson Bishop—only Turner has experience of more than one term. Both Beck and Bishop were elected in 2008.
The six non-incumbent candidates have answered six questions pertaining to their desire to serve the district, plus information on their families.
The answers for each questtion appear in alphabetical order.
1. Why and when did you become interested in serving as a school board member?
—Ryan Hendricks: As a 2000 graduate of Grant High School, I take pride in the strength of our school system and would like to contribute to its continued success as a member of the school board. I plan to raise my young family in Perkins County and would like to see the strong traditions of the school continue for our young people. I became further interested in serving on the board after being approached by a member of the community.
—Amy Kroeker: I actually became interested in the school board about three-and-a-half years ago when I was on the community committee that assisted in the interview process of the superintendent candidates when Mr. Buchanan was hired. It was a great experience, and the whole environment intrigued me immediately. I thought it would be a great fit for my background in business and marketing. At the time of the next election, I had a one- year-old and was pregnant, so I knew it wasn’t a good time for my family. Now that my children are a little older, this is a commitment my family and I are ready for me to make.
—Scott Osler: I became willing to commit the time required to serve on the school board when my daughters were in elementary school.
—Jill Pelster: I have been interested in serving on the Perkins County School Board since Wheatland and Grant merged. Many families from the east end of the county made the decision at that time to opt their children into neighboring school districts, while Ben and I decided to keep our family in the Perkins County system. Running for school board is my way of showing commitment to our school district and I believe I can help guide the school in a positive direction.
—Michaela Potts: I have been interested in this position since my husband and I returned to Perkins County to raise our family. Perkins County Schools is one of the most important assets to our rural area and it is a great opportunity to get involved and to invest in children and the community.
—Shawn Stutzman: I became interested in this position after talking with current school board members about their roles that they played on the school board. When I found out that the incumbents were not going to run again, I felt this was a chance for me to put my name out there and give back to the community. I also wanted to give a voice to the western side of the county and allow them to continue to have someone in the area that they know and can come and voice their opinions to.
2.What background or qualifications do you have that you feel makes you a good candidate?
-—Ryan Hendricks: I feel that I am a well qualified candidate for school board for several reasons. As a former teacher, I have a good understanding of the school system and the extremely important role it plays in the community. I have experience making financial decisions, such as budgeting, through managing my own agricultural pursuits and owning “The Plainsman Inn and RV Park.” Lastly, I have held a number of leadership positions and worked in various committees.
—Amy Kroeker: My background is in business and marketing, and now I am a local business owner. Our schools are a business. Money is tight in today’s economy for everyone, and a school is no exception. We have to continue to meet the needs of our customers—our students, parents, and community—with less money. I understand this and deal with these issues daily in my business. In addition, I am committed to Perkins County. My husband farms here, we own a business here, and we have children that will attend school here. We are invested in this community and want to see continued success from our school system.
—Scott Osler: I have served on and led many boards and committees including local, district and conference committees in the Methodist Church. I served on the Hi- Line Board of Directors for 21 years, most of which I was secretary/treasurer. I was elected to two terms on the Wheatland School Board. I am the immediate past president of the Nebraska Wheat Growers Association and am serving on the National Wheat Growers Association Board of Directors until March 2011 as a member of the Domestic and Trade Policy Committee. These experiences have taught me to do my homework and show up at the meeting ready to make decisions in the best interest for the organization I am serving.
—Jill Pelster: With a business finance degree and my work experience as a financial officer and insurance adjuster, I have the ability to understand and contribute on the budgetary process and help the Perkins County School run in a financially efficient and fiscally responsible manner. My strengths also include my ability to make good decisions using a common sense approach to problems as well as the fact that I am a good listener and very approachable.
—Michaela Potts: I have an education in finance and also am employed in the financial industry. I have worked for and with various boards. My husband and I were both raised in the area and graduated from schools in the county. Thus, as almost a lifetime resident, I know the majority of people and understand the desire for continued excellence in all areas of our school system. My background will greatly assist the school board to continue to provide and maintain exceptional administration/faculty, necessary tools and facilities, quality education, and financial responsibility.
—Shawn Stutzman: The first thing I feel helps qualify me is that I have a business administration degree from the University of Tulsa. I have used this education to help manage and operate my farm successfully for the past 10 years. I have served as a member of the board of directors with Midwest Electric for the past two-and-a-half years and I am also a member of the board for the Grant Golf Club. Being a board member for these two entities has allowed me to understand the role that boards play in making decisions based on sound business principles. I have learned that sometimes you have to make difficult decisions that may not be popular but may be more beneficial to those you are serving. It is also important to be able to explain why the decision was made.
3.What do you think you can contribute as a member of the board of education for Perkins County Schools?
—Ryan Hendricks: If elected, I would contribute knowledge of the school system from the perspective of a teacher. As a landowner, I am able to relate to the taxpayers of the county who are responsible for the majority of the school funding.
—Amy Kroeker: I am an objective and unbiased person, and I am budget-conscious. I have one desire—to do what is best for the students and the school while being conscious of the bottom line.
—Scott Osler: I can work within the group to make decisions which will make a positive impact for our district. I am willing to invest the time to be as informed as possible so I am an effective member of the school board. I have three daughters who attend Perkins County Schools which gives me greater insight into the school system.
—Jill Pelster: As stated above, I am a good decision maker, I have expertise in the budgeting process and I am a good listener which allows me to get feedback from the patrons of the district and try to incorporate that feedback into the policies of Perkins County Schools when applicable. I am comfortable speaking up and voicing the opinions/concerns of the patrons of our school district.
—Michaela Potts: I believe that I can contribute to any opportunity/challenge that may arise and would be able to offer additional assistance with matters of finance. I am comfortable in taking on the responsibility of representing the district and making decisions focused on providing our children the education and skills essential for lifelong success, while remaining a financially sound district.
—Shawn Stutzman: I feel I can contribute the most by just being able to give the board all the time that is necessary to continue to be as successful as they have been in the past. I will commit to the meetings and any extra meetings or seminars that may help me to learn new and better things and in turn then present these to the board to continue to provide the best education for our kids.
4. What important or immediate goals will you address if elected?
—Ryan Hendricks: My main goal in running for school board is to see that Perkins County Schools continue to provide high quality education to its students while keeping the best interests of the taxpayers in mind. A second goal of mine would be to help provide a smooth transition between the current board and newly elected board, as three of the six positions are filled in this election year.
—Amy Kroeker: I don’t have an immediate agenda. I want to get up to speed on what items the superintendent and staff feel are the top priorities, and then I want do the best job possible for the county, which I feel is providing a top education to the students in the most fiscally-responsible manner.
—Scott Osler: I want the best school we can have while keeping in mind the fiduciary responsibility board members have to the taxpayers of the district.
—Jill Pelster: I do not have a predetermined agenda. I think we have a strong school and we need to continue to improve upon that foundation to keep the school district something we can continue to be proud of.
—Michaela Potts: No immediate agenda items.
—Shawn Stutzman: The first goal I would like to see achieved is the continued successful relationship that has been established between the board, administration, faculty and even the students. I feel the communication between all levels in the schools is the key for success. Also, I would like to see technology continue to be implemented, allowing our kids and faculty access to the latest educational tools. Another goal is the continuation of improvements to the schools in updating the facilities and grounds as needed.
5. Are there other issues you wish to share?
—Ryan Hendricks: I believe that the past and current school boards have managed taxpayer money wisely, while maintaining Perkins County Schools as a leading school in the area. It will be important for the board to continue to manage the budget well, due to changes in the amount of state aid.
—Amy Kroeker: My family and I have been blessed by this community. In & Out receives support from this community daily. It is my duty to get involved. It’s everyone’s duty to get involved at some point—people are what make communities better and stronger.
—Scott Osler: I believe we have an excellent school system, administration and staff but my time on the Wheatland School Board taught me there are always areas which can be improved.
—Jill Pelster: I believe we need to monitor and control the spending of the school district. It is a delicate balancing act between keeping the school the best it can be while holding spending down. Taxes on real estate have continued to increase due to the increased valuation. Taxes have increased 10 percent to 20 percent in the last year. I believe we need to be very careful how much of a tax burden our local agricultural producers can withstand.
—Michaela Potts: None.
—Shawn Stutzman: None.
6. What is your current occupation and how long have you been there?
—Ryan Hendricks: I currently work in my parents’ agricultural operation, Walking Seven Feedlot, and have been employed full-time there the past three years. Along with my father, Cecil, I manage the day-to-day operations of the feedlot, farming, and cattle herd. My wife Taren and I purchased The Plainsman Inn and RV Park in October 2009. I manage that business, along with our personal land and cattle.
—Amy Kroeker: My husband and I own In & Out in Grant. We have owned the business for three-and-a-half years, since April of 2007.
—Scott Osler: I have been farming in Perkins County since graduating from college in 1973.
—Jill Pelster: I currently work as a field claims representative for Farm Bureau Financial Services and have been there almost a year.
—Michaela Potts: I work for Adams Bank and Trust as a credit analyst and have been employed with the organization since April 2009.
—Shawn Stutzman: I have been farming on the family farm near Venango for the past 10 years.
7. Personal: Wife or husband, their occupation, children:
—Ryan Hendricks: My wife, Taren, taught kindergarten in Ogallala Public Schools the past three years, but is currently staying home with our two children. Carter is two years old and Avery is two months.
—Amy Kroeker: My husband is Kasey; he is a farmer and rancher and also helps with In & Out. We have two children: Colton is three and Cade is 16 months.
—Scott Osler: I have been married to Debbi for 17 years. She is the financial manager for the farm. She also works part-time in business consulting. We have three daughters, Tori, 16; Mandy, 13 and Josie, 12.
—Jill Pelster: My husband, Ben, farms with his dad. We have two girls. Sydney is eight and is a third grader. Reagan is four. My parents are Steve and Ann Day of Madrid.
—Michaela Potts: My husband, Ryan, works for Great Plains Communications and also owns and operates an electrical business. We have two daughters Kailee, five, and Madison, two.
—Shawn Stutzman: Just me.