1. Why are you running for office at this time?
2. What skills and strengths do you bring to the school board and district? What should people know about you and your qualifications for this office?
3. What makes you most proud of the school district?
4. What do you feel are the top three challenges for the district today, and how would you suggest resolving them?
5. What do you believe should be top spending priorities for the district’s limited funds?
BOARD MEMBER (1 two-year term) with 1 candidate:
BOARD MEMBER (2 four-year terms) with 4 candidates:
Tom Schreiner (incumbent), Brian Becker (incumbent), Kurt Helgeson, and Eric Helgeson
Barb Waldorf (2 years)
1. I am running for the 2-year term school board seat. I was able to be a part of the school board for one year. I would like to continue as a member and work on goals the board is working on and strive to make Kimball schools the best they can be. I do have two children in the schools right now and I feel this is a good way to be an active part of their education.
2. I am a small business owner in the area. My brother and I own a corporate foster home that has been part of our life for a very long time (20-plus years). I have worked with the state government in the business I run. I understand how rules, regulations, and policies from the state can dictate decisions that need to be made. I like to think I am a good listener, willing to learn, and willing to “think outside the box.” I feel it is so very important to hear all sides of a situation before coming up with a positive solution that will most benefit all.
3. I am very proud mostly of the last few years at Kimball Schools. The budget is being managed very efficiently, and the financial burdens of the school are decreasing. The teachers are working very hard to provide a strong, solid education for the students and this has shown as test scores continue to improve each year. Physical improvements have occurred throughout the school buildings. The administration and staff take great pride in making the school look the best it can with the limited resources available. I believe all these things contribute to the steady increase of student enrollment. Lastly the community taking pride and supporting the education of the students makes Kimball a place parents want their kids to be.
4. a. Retaining students: I think the administration’s work in advertising and marketing with mailers and billboards is working. We need to continue to “market” the school to parents.
b. Classroom safety: I think this can happen multiple ways. When someone hears classroom safety they think … cameras, locks, extra law enforcement. However, this also means teaching students tools to build character strengths, self-confidence, and identifying unsafe behaviors. It means teaching teachers and staff to identify mental health issues and possible bullying issues and how to effectively intervene.
c. Academic excellence: There is a need for administrative staff to continue to support teachers. Give them the tools needed to enhance learning in all students. Providing multiple ways of learning to best fit the child’s needs. Holding teachers, parents, and students accountable for reaching their full potential in learning.
5. Something I learned in just one year on the school board is that a lot of the funds are earmarked at the state level so many times that there is little control over how money can be spent and where. This is why it is so very important to be an educated voter and vote for politicians who will work towards making school districts have more flexibility in how they can use these funds.
Tom Schreiner (4 years)
1. First and foremost, it’s all about the students. I also want to be part of a team that ensures we are continually evaluating, challenging, and providing educational opportunities that prepare our students for their futures. I also want to see our district continue to move forward with good governance/policy, leadership selection, continued progress of the strategic plan, and maintain our focus towards long term financial stability.
2. As a current board member, I think a few necessary skills include being an active listener, and having an open mind on issues until all the information has been provided and an informed decision can be made. I believe I collaborate and communicate effectively with my fellow members, the administrative team, and community members. I want people to know that I come to the table with an open mind, without an agenda, and always ask myself what is best for the students in my decision-making process.
3. The success of our students!
4. a. Safety: The district continues to review, invest and upgrade systems at both Elementary and High School locations to provide a safer environment for students and staff. The district needs to continue to work with local law enforcement and fire/rescue teams ensuring that we are prepared if necessary.
b. Leadership: I believe everything rises and falls on leadership. Selecting the right individual to lead our district is the single-most important decision in the role of a board member.
c. Financial stability: Our district needs to continue to focus on the positive things that we offer and what we are looking to develop/expand and market ourselves attracting both resident and out of district students. Balancing the in/outs of students through open enrollment is critical for both short-term and long-term financial success.
5. a. From the elementary perspective we need to continue to monitor the class size and do what we can to keep them small. Those early years are the most formative in the educational process, and being able to provide more individualized instruction can make all the difference in the experience. Also, small class size in the early elementary years is a major influence of parents when shopping different schools.
b. Invest in more college courses offerings, technical/trade opportunities, and explore additional electives to keep our students engaged at Kimball through graduation.
c. Building/Facility and Technology Updates.
Brian Becker (4 years)
[did not return questionnaire]
Kurt Helgeson (4 years)
1. I had the opportunity to be on the school board for five years and really enjoyed it. I believe my background in higher education and manufacturing give me a good perspective for helping the school. My focus will always be what is best for the students.
2. I have worked with all levels of education from kindergarten to the university. I also have strong skills in planning and budgeting.
3. There are many strengths of the district. We have great teachers and staff that are focused on students. We also have very good students. This happens by having parent involvement in the school and the education of their children.
4. a. Recruiting, retaining and supporting quality teachers and staff: We need to make sure we hire quality teachers and evaluate what they are doing in the classroom for student success. We need to make sure we are giving the staff the resources needed in the classroom.
b. Budget is always an issue for schools: we need to manage the finances of the district by having priorities for the funds.
c. Academic programs for all students: Kimball has many opportunities for students. We need to make sure we are constantly reviewing the options and making sure there are options for all students. This is not just a focus on having college credit options, but also career skill development options.
5. We need to focus funding on the classroom. Having strong teachers and programs for all levels of students has to be the top priority. Research shows that the single-most important factor for student success is the quality of the classroom teacher.
Eric Helgeson (4 years)
1. I’m running for school board because I believe that public education is a cornerstone of our society. I was impressed with the leadership of our school making improvements and during this time of transition to new leadership I want to help ensure we continue on a successful path.
2) I grew up on a farm outside of Dawson, Minn., a town not much bigger than Kimball. My wife grew up and graduated from Kimball. We moved to Kimball to raise our four children in the same rural setting we grew up in. We value the small community, small school: knowing everyone in your class, being close to family.
I work as a Software Architect and Engineer for a small consulting company. Every day I go into businesses and gather information to evaluate and make sometimes tough decisions. I believe that my experience of quickly coming up to speed and gathering information will allow me to quickly be productive on the school board as a new member.
With my background in technology I can provide insight into technology purchases such as refreshing computer labs and new apps & software. I have negotiated many software contracts with vendors and have the experience to know if we are getting our money’s worth.
3) I’m proud of the Kimball school district providing many opportunities for kids such as robotics, college-level courses, and a variety of sports.
I’m proud of the small class sizes, though as we continue to grow we will need to keep an eye on how class sizes are growing.
4. a. Continue to improve finances: Kimball has done a good job at increasing open enrollment to improve the financial situation. We should continue to focus on open enrollment but also understand why families in the community are choosing to go to different schools.
b. Teacher and Para contracts: Our teacher contracts and negotiations keep getting pushed further with each cycle of negotiations. I understand compensation negotiations are hard, and I want to ensure our teachers and paraprofessionals are compensated fairly and working with a contract.
c. Keeping small class sizes: Our community is growing and, as a parent of four children going into elementary school, I see our preschoolers’ class size is increasing. As we continue to grow we need to continue to focus on keeping class sizes small to attract and retain families.
5. Funding is always a balancing act with limited resources. Even though we have limited resources we should continue to try to be innovative and try new things that may provide a good return on investment. A few areas I always think need more funding are early childhood since they attract children early on to our district, a strong preschool program, and fair compensation to our teachers, paraprofessionals, and everyone who works hard to support our children.