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Eight vie for Frazee School Board

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In August, for the first time, the Frazee-Vergas School District held a primary election for the school board.

Eleven people had filed for four open seats on the board. The primaries narrowed the field to eight candidates for the Nov. 2 general election.

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Here are their responses to a few questions, listed in alphabetical order. Four candidates hadn't responded by press deadline, so they will have the opportunity to appear in the Wednesday Tribune.

Matt Bauer

Age: 37

Occupation: National operations manager for LendSmart Mortgage

Family: Wife, Joyce; 3 daughters, Desiree, 13, Savanna, 9, and Alexis, 8. All 3 attend Frazee-Vergas Schools.

Why are you running for Frazee-Vergas School Board?

I am running for Frazee-Vergas School Board because I have a vested interest in this district, with my 3 kids attending school here. It is obvious changes are needed at the administrative/board level and I feel I have many strong qualities that can help with leading this district.

I currently sit on the Board of Directors for LendSmart Mortgage and throughout my professional career I have managed a large number of employees along with multi-million dollar budgets & facilities.

With state budget cuts and payment delays affecting school districts, how do you propose to keep a balanced budget without sacrificing programs and services?

To maintain this, you need to separate your needs from wants; it is not an open checkbook. We need to make the most of every dollar spent. To do this we need to communicate effectively between teachers, administration, and the board. We also need to aggressively apply for grants. Another key factor is drawing more kids into our district to increase enrollment.

If money were no object, what programs or changes would you like to see implemented in the school district?

If money was not an object, I would focus on implementing more "Gifted and Talented" programs/classes along with adding more teachers and paraprofessionals to assist students and provide more one-on-one instruction.

I would also like to expand the arts, languages and sciences. Offer more extracurricular activities and more hands-on classes. Give kids a broader range of choices so they can thrive and enjoy their educational experience. They are our future and they deserve the best we can give them.

Kenny Fett

Age: 53

Occupation: Account manager

Family: Married to Ta Fett, school counselor. Two daughters, Kendal Ware and Kiala Fett

Why are you running for Frazee-Vergas School Board?

I am running for the board because I care about kids and the Frazee district. Frazee is a great school and we need to improve the image of our school and get back the trust of the taxpayers.

With state budget cuts and payment delays affecting school districts, how do you propose to keep a balanced budget without sacrificing programs and services?

I will do my best to spend money wisely and make sacrifices that will have the least affect on students and their education.

If money were no object, what programs or changes would you like to see implemented in the school district?

I want to offer the students all the opportunities possible, including the best in advanced classes, the most effective special education services, more electives, small class sizes, innovative programming, more classes offered in the arts, and extracurricular activities fully funded.

I would like to see the staff fairly compensated for the job that they do and get the best staff possible for the students of Frazee.

Mary K. Lepisto

Age: 47

Occupation: Daycare provider

Family: My husband, Chuck and I have 6 children, who all are adults now, except our youngest who is still in the elementary school in Frazee. We also have 6 grandchildren attending the Frazee Elementary School. My husband is a truck driver, and we have a small farm in Evergreen Township.

Why are you running for Frazee-Vergas School Board?

I am running for school board, because I have been attending school board meetings since 2005 and believe things need to change. Our community has been divided over a variety of things over the past few years. It is now time to fix that so we can work together and create a stronger school.

With state budget cuts and payment delays affecting school districts, how do you propose to keep a balanced budget without sacrificing programs and services?

We will have to make sure we have our priorities straight and know the differences between wants and needs. Programs that are not utilized by many students may have to be changed to a program that will benefit more students. Compromises and common sense need to be big players in keeping a balanced budget.

If money were no object, what programs or changes would you like to see implemented in the school district?

I would like to see more classes to help the students that need help. Maybe have a math-only study class and one for English-only, etc. Make sure the teachers have the equipment, supplies and resources they need to insure all students are learning to their potential. More hands-on classes like the trades class that builds houses. Having more college classes available for the motivated students would also be a plus.

Richard Ziegler

Age: 48

Occupation: Attorney

Family: Spouse -- Mary Lynn -- married 22 years; daughter Rachel is a student at Arizona State University, Tempe, Ariz.; son Zack is a junior at Frazee-Vergas High School

Why are you running for Frazee-Vergas School Board?

I am continuing a family tradition. My father was on the Frazee-Vergas School Board for 10 years throughout the 1970s and early '80s. My uncle was a longtime board member of Lake Region Electric Co-op. My father has been on the Gorman Township Board for many years. I found out this past summer that my grandfather was on the equivalent of a school board back when there were country schools. I am running for the school board to give back to the community.

With state budget cuts and payment delays affecting school districts, how do you propose to keep a balanced budget without sacrificing programs and services?

School financing is a huge challenge for districts throughout our state. Our community came together a few years ago and passed a referendum. Without those dollars and that community support, I believe our programs and services would have been decimated.

Our district has a longstanding attitude for being very budget-conscious. I will work with our administration and listen to input from staff and citizens in our district for their ideas in keeping the budget balanced with as little harm to programs and services as possible.

If money were no object, what programs or changes would you like to see implemented in the school district?

To me, this question is somewhat difficult to respond to. The school board's mindset and the district's mindset is so focused on tight budgets, given the state and national economic situation.

I suppose it is easy for me to say that I would like to reinstate every single program that was cut and cut and cut during the years prior to the referendum passing. It would be a great thing to be able to reinstate staff development dollars so our staff could continue to improve their own skills through additional training.

With unlimited funding, the district could once again pay for so many extra curricular activity positions that are now being funded by booster clubs. I would love to have more funding for gifted and talented students so they could continue to show their excellence. This wish list could go on and on and on.

Unfortunately, the reality is that we have to be very frugal in all of our decisions given the current economic situation.

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