Nine vie for three Staples Motley School Board seats

To provide our readers with information to help them in their decision-making at the polls, the Record send out a questionnaire to each of the candidates for the Staples Motley School Board. Only candidates in races where the candidates outnumbered the seats available were sent questionnaires. In the Staples Motley School District, nine candidates filed to fill three seats on the School Board. Only three candidates responded to the questionnaire.

The candidates were asked to introduce themselves and to respond to the following questions. Each of the responses was limited to 100 words.

1. How would you assess the technology needs in your school district?  What are the district’s most pressing technology needs?

2. What can be done to increase the student enrollment count?

3. What steps does the district need to take to improve the rate at which students  pass the grad standards tests?

4. What percentage of the district’s overall revenue should be spent directly on classroom instruction? What is your rationale?

Chad Longbella, Incumbent
Introduction: Hi my name is Chad Longbella. I’m 49 years old and have been a lifelong resident of Staples. My wife’s name is Jody and I have three grown children that graduated from the Staples Motley School System. I work for Longbella Drug Inc. and have proudly served on the Staples Motley School board for the past 21 years.

Question 1: I believe our current school administration has our technology needs in good shape. The addition of iPads, Smart Pads and interactive TV has brought classrooms up to date, but it has also brought the financial challenge of finding a way to pay for the newest technology in every building. Question 2: Student enrollment in most districts has been a major concern. Parents and their children today have choices through open enrollment, post-secondary options and homeschooling. I believe that a school that encompasses a well-rounded curriculum ranging from special education to concurrent enrollment classes as well as extracurricular activities ranging from sports to music programs should be able to keep their district’s children in the school system and hopefully attract the attention of others. The district staff needs to recognize the children and the children in return need to respect the staff. The kids need to be felt wanted and the school needs to be enjoyable. Question 3: Early intervention, the sooner the school can identify a child’s needs the sooner they can try to help. As the old saying goes it takes a village to raise a child this saying can be applied to school. The school can’t do it alone, it takes the family to share the burden to educate their children as well as the community.

Question 4: I don’t believe there is a magic percentage of overall revenue that should be spent on direct classroom instruction. Buildings, transportation costs, etc. all plays a part in how much money a district has to spend on instruction. Percentages may vary because of how a district codes expenditures so comparisons can be misleading. What comprises of direct classroom instruction? Would it be regular, career tech and special education expenditures or regular, career tech, special education, library, paraprofessionals, etc.? The biggest problem is lack of funding for special education. School districts in Minnesota run in the red when the expenditures and revenues for special education are separated.

Eric Wallace, Candidate
Introduction: My name is Eric Wallace and I am running for a seat on the Staples Motley School Board. My family and I moved to the Motley area in 1996 to have a better environment in which to raise our family. We have two daughters currently enrolled in the Staples Motley school system.

Question 1: I am unsure of the technology needs in our school at this time. I am in the process of gathering information on this and many other issues so that I can assess how to best help our students in this area as well as others.

Question 2: I think what needs to be done to increase student enrollment is offering them quality academic courses. We need to be competitive in the type of courses and education we offer students. Parents want the best education for their children and with open enrollment it is easy to do just that.

Question 3: If the district is only worried about how many students pass the grad test then the obvious answer is to teach the test. I think the district needs to provide a good academic curriculum that helps them pass the test and prepare them for college and life after high school.

Question 4: As far as what should be spent directly on classroom instruction is a tough question. I don’t have a dollar amount that should be spent on directly classroom instruction. I think we need to spend our money wisely to get the absolute best education we can for our students.

Bryan Winkels, Candidate
Introduction: My name is Bryan Winkels and I am seeking a seat on the Staples Motley School Board. I live in the Staples area with my wife, Amy, and our three children. My wife and I are both graduates of Staples Motley High School. I am an occupational therapist for Freshwater Education District, which allows me to work with administrators, staff and students in six different school districts. I serve on the Dollars for Scholars Board of Directors and the Sacred Heart Area School Board. If elected, I will strive to make the best decisions for our students, staff, and taxpayers.

Question 1: Technology is definitely a pressing need in many districts. As technology changes so quickly, it can be difficult for schools to keep up. I believe that we need to encourage students/staff to utilize the technology available to them. Many of our    students/staff     own iPads, iPods, Smartphones, etc., which could lessen the need for the district purchasing technology. Let’s encourage these items in our schools and use them for student instruction. This generation of students is learning differently than past generations and we as a district need to embrace technology changes that will allow students to be the most successful.

Question 2: First, the Staples Motley District seems to lose a lot of students to open enrollment. I feel the biggest thing that can be done is to encourage administration to meet with the families that choose to open enroll and find out why they are leaving our district and try to capture those students back. Second, we need to work as a district to continue to build a positive school environment, a great curriculum and educational opportunities that exceed what is found elsewhere so that families will seek to send their children to school here.

Question 3: I believe our students will succeed on standardized tests if we provide them with a quality and well-rounded education. I do, however, feel it is important to provide students with additional support when necessary. In Staples Motley, I feel the additional support and opportunities that are provided to students through R&R, help increase the students confidence and overall scores with these standardized tests.

Question 4: I believe I would have to defer directly answering this question until I have more knowledge and information of the school finance involved in Independent School District 2170. The obvious answer is that I would like as high of a percentage as possible go directly toward classroom instruction, however school finance is a very involved process that includes many factors that I do not yet have complete knowledge of.