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Waubun candidates talk budget, test scores

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news Detroit Lakes, 56501
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

Five new faces are vying for seats on the Waubun-Ogema-White Earth School Board in the general election Nov. 2.

With only one incumbent running for re-election, the rest of the candidates are hoping to replace Barb Fabre, Tammy Winter and Jim Helliksen for four-year terms.

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All six candidates, including incumbent Mark Rothschadl, were asked about their qualifications, their vision for Waubun Secondary School in the midst of a federal overhaul transformation and state budget cuts.

The following are questions the Detroit Lakes Tribune asked each candidate. They answer below in alphabetical order.

Stacy Bly

Age: 34

Occupation: Co-owner of Bly Dairy Farm, Inc.

Family: Husband, Travis; children, Brianna, 7th-grader; William, 4th-grader; Sydney, 3rd-grader; and Sofia, 1st-grader.

Question: Why are you running for school board and what qualifies you for the job?

Answer: I am running for school board because I am a concerned parent who wants to make a difference. Caring about my children and other children's education is my motivation for running. I believe the parents, teachers, and students need to start working together and step up to the plate. It's not just the teachers who have failed our kids but also us as parents. Parents need to become involved with their children's education and I am willing to do that.  

Question: How do you envision Waubun Secondary School when the three-year federal overhaul transformation is complete?

Answer: After the three-year period is complete my hope is that we meet or exceed the national average. I hope the students see they have the potential to do so. I hope the students gain a confidence in themselves, their teachers, and in their student body as a whole, that they can achieve whatever task is handed to them.

Question: In a down economy with state budget cuts affecting school districts in terms of payment delays and changing formulas, how do you plan to keep a balanced budget without sacrificing services?

Answer: There is no guarantee that I can give about a balanced budget without sacrifice. I wish I could but it would be dishonest of me. You can set a budget and try and stick with it but there is always going to be something that is working against it. We have to be able to adjust with the change of regulations and money as they come, taking things one step at a time.

Danielle Clark

Age: 32

Occupation: Financial specialist for White Earth Indian Child Welfare

Family: Husband, Jason; sons, Hunter, 12; Jaycee, 9; Loden, 7; and daughter, Cadence, 5. 

Question: Why are you running for school board and what qualifies you for the job?

Answer: I feel passionate about being part of a team who will help make decisions regarding students in my school district. I have four kids attending this district, and feel strongly about having a voice and impact on decisions that affect success in their education and future. I see room for improvement and without change we can't grow and help our children succeed in life. My qualifications include being a parent and community member; my current job requires me to deal with budgets, capturing revenue, quarterly reports to bring in revenue and reporting progress to state and federal agencies.

Question: How do you envision Waubun Secondary School when the three-year federal overhaul transformation is complete?

Answer: Hopefully, we'll come out of this overhaul with higher test scores that truly reflect the abilities of our students. Change is hard to accept, and is even harder to implement in a short period of time. Three years sounds like a long time, but with all the requirements that come with this plan, it's going to be tough for our district to implement and raise scores in that short amount of time. Ultimately, it comes down to each individual child. We need to find solutions for kids who are not able to conform to the testing requirements.

Question: In a down economy with state budget cuts affecting school districts in terms of payment delays and changing formulas, how do you plan to keep a balanced budget without sacrificing services?

Answer: Sacrificing services is something that will always have to be an option. As a board member, it's our job to prioritize what is necessary to ensure success for our students. If that means cutting services, it is a decision that has to be made for the greater good of the district and the education of our students.

Our district has always been a high poverty area, and money has always been tight; this is nothing new to our district and as always, we will continue to work together to do what is best for the academic success of the students.

Christie Haverkamp

Age: 42

Occupation: Tribal gaming manager, White Earth Tribal Gaming Regulations, White Earth RTC.

Family: Husband, Anthony Haverkamp; daughter, Lea, 15; and Andrew, 23, Juneau, Alaska.

Question: Why are you running for school board and what qualifies you for the job?

Answer: I would like to help guide public education for our youth. Throughout my personal experiences with family in the district schools, I have come to learn the strengths and occasional deficiencies that exist in the system. In addition, my employment experience and service on the reservation and in the private sector has given me the necessary understanding, decisiveness and objectiveness to be effective.

I especially want to improve communications between the school and the community. I have the experience and work ethic to find the answers while being fair, respecting others, and promoting advocacy for our families.

Question: How do you envision Waubun Secondary School when the three-year federal overhaul transformation is complete?

Answer: I see many more students pursuing a post secondary education, preparing them for their future and ours. This overhaul is in its first year and it is a work in progress.

There may be more changes that will come, after a thorough analysis of what is working and what isn't. We need to ensure money spent is done so to further the benefit and education of the students, educators and taxpayers. With those changes, I am optimistic that Waubun will move back to the forefront and become an excellent example of what hard work, dedication, and community involvement can accomplish.

Question: In a down economy with state budget cuts affecting school districts in terms of payment delays and changing formulas, how do you plan to keep a balanced budget without sacrificing services?

Answer: A school board director is elected to deal with these situations with objectivity and fairness to all parties involved. There will be times when hard decisions will have to be made, but I will work to ensure that we work for the betterment of our district as a whole.

This might mean streamlining some programs so they become more efficient and utilizing monies in other areas. Whether it be in college, vocational, military, etc. our primary goal must be preparing students for the future in all aspects.

Mark Rothschadl, incumbent

Age: 51

Occupation: Farmer

Family: Daughter, Annie, 14; son Sam, 11.

Question: Why are you running for school board and what qualifies you for the job?

Answer: I've had an interest in our school going back to the time I attended and graduated from Waubun High School. It was then, and still is, a great school with a fine staff. I'm proud to send my children there.

From a qualifications standpoint, this is the fourth year that I've had the privilege to serve on this board. As a member, I sit on different committees including teacher negotiation, school climate (our discipline rules), transportation, school forest, community ed. And Title VII (Indian Education).

Before serving on the board, I was a member of the White Earth Town Board for about 20 years, as treasurer, supervisor and chairman. With both of these boards, the members are responsible for setting levies or taxes and as a businessman, landowner and taxpayer myself, I understand the importance of these responsibilities.

Question: How do you envision Waubun Secondary School when the three-year federal overhaul transformation is complete?

Answer: Hopefully we will match ours with any successful secondary in the state. We have the people and resources to do what the state and federal people want.

Our goal, with the parents' help, is to prepare our kids for life after high school, in a safe and conducive environment.

Question: In a down economy with state budget cuts affecting school districts in terms of payment delays and changing formulas, how do you plan to keep a balanced budget without sacrificing services?

Answer: Like any school, it's a balancing act. You try to predict the money coming in and what we can spend. Our budget is based on several factors that are constantly changing, including enrollment and the state fiscal condition. Now with the state's mess, they are withholding our funds without interest for possibly years, leaving us to rely on our savings and other resources.

With those things in mind the board has had to pick between priorities. We've raised fees for certain activities and lunch. We've tried to keep salaries for all employees in line with what we can afford. The school board itself cut its wages in half two years ago and the administration agreed to a pay freeze at the time.

While doing what we can up to this point to maintain and improve WHS, including large grants upgrade technology and one to improve our secondary, we've added paraprofessional to help in classes, kept our class size as small as possible and included our teacher oversight and development. Even in a bad economy, our school is better now than it was before.

Mina Spalla

Age: 34

Occupation: Registered nurse, White Earth Home Health

Family: Husband, Jim; sons, Darius, 12; Treston, 10; Brok, 5; and daughter, Addison, 2.

Question: Why are you running for school board and what qualifies you for the job?

Answer: I've been a member of the community all my life and see this as being an opportunity to make a difference for my family and those within our School District. I'm not here to make promises I can't keep. I can tell you I promise to learn and listen to the needs of our families. I can't promise I can change things to go your way, but can help understand why things are happening and change the negative outcomes to positive. The qualities I hold are honesty, trustworthy, and approachable personality.

I'll bring a positive and yet culturally appropriate aspect to all discussion and decisions made for the Waubun-Ogema-White Earth School District. I will be the voice for those unable to speak and bring the hard-to-talk-about issues to the forefront.

Question: How do you envision Waubun Secondary School when the three-year federal overhaul transformation is complete?

 Answer: It will take all new elected members some time to learn and understand the direction we are going and the goals for the outcome in three years. With that said, I'm dedicated to learning and putting all I can into making the goals become a reality for the future success of Waubun-Ogema White Earth School District. It is a challenging time for our school district and would be happy to become a part of the team that is creating the change.

Question: In a down economy with state budget cuts affecting school districts in terms of payment delays and changing formulas, how do you plan to keep a balanced budget without sacrificing services?

Answer: Again it's hard for me to make any promises for the financial future of the district. I have a huge learning curve to accomplish and that again I can promise to commit to doing my best and becoming a key team player among the school board members. These cuts and planning are not new to the district and I have trust they are making the decisions that are in the best interest of the district now and I will become another motivational voice in the decision making process.

Jonathan Syverson

Age: 34

Occupation: Electrician

Family: Wife, Jennifer, children, Peyton, 12; Parker, 9; and Kendra, 5.

Question: Why are you running for school board and what qualifies you for the job?

Answer: With my children attending school in this district I am concerned about their education as well as the future of all the kids in the Waubun-Ogema-White Earth schools. This district has been very good to me so I would love to give back to a community that I am proud to call home.

 Question: How do you envision Waubun Secondary School when the three-year federal overhaul transformation is complete?

Answer: When this transformation is complete I think we will be a stronger school district because of it. Our students, staff and community have been given a very negative label over the last several months and I hope we can use that to become more focused and accept the challenges that our district faces.

 Question: In a down economy with state budget cuts affecting school districts in terms of payment delays and changing formulas, how do you plan to keep a balanced budget without sacrificing services?

Answer: That is a question that districts all over this state are trying to figure out. I do know that the board will have to work with staff as well as community members to budget the limited funds that we have. There are state and federal grants available and our district has benefited from these grants over the last five years, so I hope we can continue to work with our superintendent in searching for funding from other sources. We still need to look at what is best for our kids.  I think that by finding other financial sources and planning ahead as far as future spending we can keep our cuts and reductions to a minimum.

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