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Three seats up for grabs in Waubun-Ogema-WE

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Joe McArthur and Mina Spalla are challenging incumbents Allan Haugo, Jim Helliksen and Tom Teiken for the three seats up for election to the Waubun-Ogema-White Earth School Board.

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The top-three vote getters will serve four-year terms.

Name: Allan Haugo

Age: 45

Residence: rural Waubun

Occupation: farmer

Family: wife Vicki, three children.

Q: What can you do as a member of the school board to improve test scores in the district?

A: Making sure the administration and teachers work together and collaborate in workshops.

Keep an eye on it and get in going in the right direction.

Q: What other issues does the school district face?

A: I'm treasurer right now. The biggest thing is keeping up with the financial stuff with all that is going on around the country and state right now.

It's kind of scary on what's happening. Hopefully, we can keep it under control. Test scores and No Child Left Behind is another big issue.

Q: Why are you running for re-election to the school board?

A: I thought we got some things accomplished the last four years.

I'd like to keep seeing some things through.

Name: Jim Helliksen

Age: 48

Residence: rural Ogema

Occupation: farmer

Family: wife Lisa, three children.

Q: What can you do as a member of the school board to improve test scores in the district?

A: You direct the administrators to look into and decipher some of the tests and where they're struggling at, and where we are making improvement on.

Sometimes, when you look at it, you just say "Well, we're bad," but you have to analyze it and make sure you get to that point of understanding why certain areas are low.

Is it because we're not teaching that early enough in the year before they take their tests?

Sometimes when they test a kid, our curriculum doesn't line up to what they want a ninth-grader to learn. We might not know that until the end. Sometimes the kids may not have access to the materials that they're being tested until the end of the year versus until when they are taking tests toward the beginning of the year.

Some of it is, sometimes our kids struggle in certain areas. Some kids are good in math and some aren't so good in their learning environment.

Q: What other issues does the school district face?

A: I'd like to have the kids stay in the mainstream education and graduate with the rest of the seniors, and try to hold down the number of the ALP.

It's a good program, but sometimes it's too easy for some of them to get into that program versus toughing it out and graduating with their class.

I'd like to see is a little less use of that and a little more use of the regular schooling that we have.

Other things we could look is that we have a lot of nice programs that we have instituted in the past few years.

But a lot of them are grants and when the grants run out, how do you pay for them? With the state budget the way it is, last week they were talking that we're going to be in deficit again, so the funding for schools will probably be one of the first ones to get hit.

If that happens, then some of those programs that we have instituted with the grant monies may be in jeopardy.

Some of them are really good programs that reach out and help kids achieve better on tests at the state level.

Q: Why are you running for re-election to the school board?

A: I still have two kids in school yet. I still think I have a little bit to offer.

I'd like to ensure that the district keeps moving forward and not backward. Be progressive and look toward the future.

Name: Joe McArthur

Age: 46

Residence: rural Ogema

Occupation: captain, Becker County Sheriff's Department

Family: wife Diane, seven children.

Q: What can you do as a member of the school board to improve test scores in the district?

A: I think supporting the administration and the teachers in those efforts would be something that is very important.

I was on the School Board for a prior four years and test scores were always something good, and I think that is something they have to continually work on.

Any additional help we can give to tutor students and track students to make sure they are learning on a daily basis would help out quite a bit.

Q: What other issues does the school district face?

A: Student activities and keeping kids involved with the school system is something that is very important.

It's been proven academically that kids learn by taking an investment in the school, as they get older and being involved in activities. It gives them an attachment that helps them to do better with grades.

Also, early childhood education has always been important to me. Studies have proven, as it has in Waubun, that the disparity gap starts at a very young age (as low as third and fourth grade). Concentrating efforts with kids at an early age is important.

To get parents reading to kids and getting them exposed as much education and reading materials as possible will help kids in later years.

Q: Why are you running for re-election to the school board?

A: I have a vested interest. I lived in the Waubun-Ogema area. I came back here from the Minneapolis area because we liked the area and wanted to raise our kids here.

Five of my seven kids go to school here. Two have graduated and went on to further education. One has a college degree and the other is in the process of one.

Waubun does a great job of educating kids and has a great staff that cares about our kids and works with them. I want to see that it continues.

It also worries me that with the economic status of our country, that it is important to work with our legislature to make sure funding doesn't dry up because funding is imperative in helping the school district.

Name: Mina Spalla

Age: 32

Residence: rural Ogema

Occupation: nurse

Family: husband Jim, four children.

Q: What can you do as a member of the school board to improve test scores in the district?

A: I'm not really sure on how I'm going to change that.

I think trying to improve our parent involvement and educating them on where we are falling below the line. Getting them to participate in their child's curriculum and school activities.

I think that might improve and I'm sure there are other ideas out there.

A big jump is getting parents to help at home instead of just leaving it up to the teachers to teach their kids.

Q: What other issues does the school district face?

A: My first concern was the test scores.

Secondly, we don't have the parental involvement and the teachers are parenting the children, and that is a concern to me.

It's always been my motto that it's not one person that raises a child, but a community.

What I want to emphasize is to involve as many people to help our children succeed.

Q: Why are you running for election to the school board?

A: I'm running simply because I am a mom.

I've run into a couple of bumps of the road with different issues and I don't clearly understand why some of these decisions have been made.

I want to be in the middle and understand, and help others understand why some of these decisions are being made. Why cuts are being made, why money is going towards this and that.

And, obviously, my passion is my children and trying to continue to help our kids succeed is why I want to be on the school board.

I hope to have our children have a school in 15 years instead of having to go to DL or Mahnomen.

Name: Tom Teiken

Age: 61

Residence: Ogema

Occupation: farmer

Family: wife Janice, four children.

Q: What can you do as a member of the school board to improve test scores in the district?

A: I think one thing is to get parents more involved. Parents have a lot to do with getting their kids active and interested in school.

That has a big impact with test scores and attendance.

Kids have to be in school if they want good test scores.

Q: What other issues does the school district face?

A: I brought up one, the attendance. No Child Left Behind and AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress).

Naturally, we have to keep improving on our test scores and attendance because that will affect some of our Title I funding.

It's a big challenge because you can't just throw money at the situation either.

I think educating parents has a lot to do with it.

Q: Why are you running for re-election to the school board?

A: After 20 plus years of being on the board, I was thinking about retiring.

But several people, not just employees of the district, but voters and parents asked that I reconsider and run again.

I think I have a lot to offer with my past experience, especially with finances and past history dealing with negotiations and contracts.

I know the administration sometimes relies on what I know and what happened in the past.

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