BISMARCK ALLIANCE FOR NEIGHBORHOOD SCHOOLS
QUESTIONS FOR THE CANDIDATES
Bismarck School Board Election will be held June 12, 2018
If elected, what would be your top three priorities?
Neighborhood integrity/Community Vitality
The neighborhood schools are the lifeblood of any vibrant community. Our older neighborhoods need the schools and families that attend them to remain in place where fiscally responsible.
School safety, not just for the children but for the staff and faculty as well. We can keep our children and schools safe a number of ways. Controlled entry points to facilities, metal detectors at the doors, enhanced training for faculty and staff and by bringing outside professionals into the schools so that our teachers can focus on teaching and less on mental health.
The key to success in any school district is ensuring that appropriate financing exists. We need to ensure that the state coffers are appropriately funding education in our communities, up to and including school board members testifying in front of legislative committees about the community needs.
How do you plan to address the projected continued growth of Bismarck’s student population, especially in north Bismarck?
First, while a new school in the growing area would be a boon to the neighborhood, what are the costs associated? Are we too quick to build? Or not building fast enough? Until it proves economically necessary, we should consider the use of busing to bring those children into the other schools in our community to bolster populations. We also need to ensure that we are retiring buildings once the structure has reached its lifespan. Pouring good money into facilities that need to be replaced is never a good idea. Feasibility studies need to take place to consider building removal/replacement, renovation or building entirely new schools. Closing a neighborhood school can lead to the devaluation of those properties. Something the community as a whole should work to minimize.
How do you plan to address the continually shifting school boundaries for Bismarck’s elementary students?
First, the role of the school board is policy driven. What is the current policy regarding school boundaries? Is it population based? Or are there other factors? What are the other factors? Students learn best when there is minimal disruption to their learning environment. Any changes to school boundaries need to reflect that first and foremost. Families should all be kept in the same school boundaries.
In the face of looming budget pressures, do you see it as a Bismarck school board member’s responsibility to advocate for K-12 education funding in state legislature?
There is a fine line between lobbying the legislature and testifying before a committee. I have a lot of experience testifying about mental health and the needs of our children. I would see the role as a pivotal part of our duty as a school board member. We need to ensure that we are meeting the letter of the law when it comes to presenting testimony to the legislature.
In 2017, BPS administration figures erroneously suggested smaller neighborhood schools are significantly less efficient than large schools on Bismarck’s outer edges, subjecting neighborhood schools to closure (the recommendation was later rejected by the school board). How do you plan to maintain the integrity of Bismarck’s neighborhood schools?
Candidate stated that his answer to this question was addressed above in question 1.