Bismarck School Board Election will be held June 12, 2018

Karl Lembke

Karl Lembke .jpg

If elected, what would be your top three priorities?

Hiring a new Superintendent, continued work to address the elementary facility needs and safety will be some of the top priorities for the Bismarck School Board. Communication with parents, educators, students and the entire community has been key to successful work on the school board. It will be important as the board makes decisions regarding these issues.

How do you plan to address the projected continued growth of Bismarck’s student population, especially in north Bismarck?

Elementary facility needs will be a priority. Bismarck schools is in a unique position that the growth has leveled off for the time being. I believe it has bought us some valuable time to look at long term solutions. 48% of Bismarck elementary students reside north of Interstate 94. Only 3 elementary schools are located north of Interstate 94. I along with the board have asked to look at the feasibility of adding to current schools as one idea to address the situation. We are currently in that process. Another idea I believe we should explore is the potential of new neighborhood schools in northwest and northeast Bismarck to address the situation long term.  This like all our work will require community engagement and partnerships with fellow government entities and stakeholders to determine the best solutions. I also believe that our decisions should include planning for as long term as possible. Although it is difficult to plan farther than 5 years with some accuracy, I think a 10-year plan that continually evolves is worthy of exploration with the idea that it is revisited and adjusted throughout the time span to account for changes in our community. I am not in favor of closing any of our schools.

How do you plan to address the continually shifting school boundaries for Bismarck’s elementary students?

Boundary shifting is extremely tough to do. I believe that with the process to identify solutions for the elementary facilities needs will necessitate boundary changes. Those boundary changes will have to be decided with a long-term vision so the boundary changes last as long as possible. The discussions of potential facility additions or new neighborhood schools will include discussions with the entire community and stake holders regarding potential boundary changes to come up with workable and agreeable long-term solutions.

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?

I think it will be very important to advocate for K-12 education funding. This will be important for all school districts throughout the state. We have worked together with other school districts through ND School Boards Association and ND Council of Education Leaders to coordinate efforts to advocate and testify at the legislature to protect and enhance current funding. The Bismarck School Board also hosts legislative meetings to directly meet with our local legislative teams to communicate and advocate for state funding.

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? 

I am not in favor of closing schools. Maintaining the integrity of Bismarck’s neighborhood schools will be important as we consider solutions to the needs of our elementary facilities. The latest data on student enrollment has really changed the way we will look at our elementary facility needs. As we continue the process we will work with the entire community and all stakeholders to evaluate the work we have started and explore potential opportunities such as new neighborhood schools in strategic locations that could benefit the district long term and ensure our current schools maintain integrity. The ideas and solutions will be a group effort from our entire community.

Additional Comments:

I am honored and proud to serve our community on the Bismarck School Board for the past four years. Currently I serve as the Board President. I want to continue representing our entire community as a school board member to ensure our kids have the best education possible. There has been much success but I feel there is more work to be done.

I grew up in Bismarck and my kids are growing up in Bismarck. I get to see how they learn and what they learn at all levels of our school system. Through involvement in community committees, advisory groups and civic issues, I see how school board issues and decisions affect the community and our kids. These experiences and effective communication along with common sense give me valuable skills to make necessary and responsible decisions as a school board member.

I am grateful for the opportunity to serve our community and excited for the potential to continue serving this great community to provide the best education for the future of our Bismarck kids.