By Taylor Boyer
Candidates for the Wiggins School Board respond to questions from the audience.
The Wiggins school board will be seeing some changes this year, as Rena Baessler, Craig Harris, and David Ritchey have expired their term limits, thus leaving three empty seats open. Seven candidates look to fill those seats. Five of the seven candidates running to occupy the three open seats on the school board appeared at a public forum on Monday.
The public forum was organized and moderated by Casey Clay, a Wiggins High School Social Studies teacher and an adjunct professor at Morgan Community College. According to Clay, the forum was an opportunity to provide voters and members of the community with “a good source of information about the candidates and what they hope to accomplish should they be elected as members of the school board.”
The five candidates who participated in the forum were Laura Lambert, Corey Covelli, Nathan Troudt, Lance Kaufman, and Jerry Wolfswinkle. The forum was attended by nearly 75 people, many of whom had questions of their own to ask the candidates.
What motivated you to seek public office?
After taking their seats, the candidates were given a brief moment to introduce themselves to the audience, and then they were asked the first question: “What motivated you to seek public office?”
The first to answer was Corey Covelli. Referring to the recent ranking of Wiggins High School, Covelli said that he wanted the district to “shoot for number one.” Covelli, who has children in the school district, said that he was grateful for what the school has done to ensure his children’s success.
Nathan Troudt, who used to serve on the school board, said, “You know who I am, you know what I stand for.” Troudt said that he also wishes to see the district in the number one spot.
Jerry Wolfswinkle said that he wanted to “identify areas in the district that need work.” Wolfswinkle, one of the four candidates with children in the district, also attributed his desire for the improvement of his children’s education as a reason for running for a seat on the board.
Lance Kaufman wishes to hold “get-togethers” with members of the school board and the community to “help the faculty and the school.” One of his main goals is to hear from the students what classes they’d like to see in school.
Having graduated from Wiggins herself, Laura Lambert said that she was running for the kids. “I was prepared after leaving high school, and I want to make sure it stays that way,” said Lambert.
Would you make any specific changes in curriculum? If so, why?
Kaufman said he thought “the school is headed in the right direction.” Kaufman also said that he would like to see the school offering more foreign language and mechanics classes. “We need to meet where they [the students] want to go in life,” said Kaufman.
Lambert said that she would make no changes to curriculum; however, she said she would make changes to improve the school’s lunch program and offer more in terms of choices for the students. Lambert said that she thought the academics at Wiggins were “outstanding.”
Covelli said he would only make changes to school board policy. Covelli wants to make sure that the school continues to offer the ACT prep class and similar programs to help improve the students. “I want to sit back, listen, and learn,” said Covelli.
“We have two ears and one mouth for a reason,” said Troudt. “We need to listen.” Troudt, like Kaufman, said he would offer more industrial arts courses and encourage welding, construction, and plumbing.
Wolfswinkle said he wouldn’t make any specific changes to the curriculum as of now, and said he just wanted to support parents and teachers. “They can’t do it alone,” said Wolfswinkle.
In your opinion, what is the proper relationship between the school board and the community?
Troudt said that the school board is a “liaison between the administration and the community.”
“The purpose of the school board,” said Troudt, “is to support the staff.”
Covelli said that there needs to be a “cooperative spirit” between the school board and the community; Covelli doesn’t believe that the school board should be involved in the day-to-day functions of the school. “The board is there to create and enforce policy,” said Covelli.
Kaufman said that the community and the board needed to “get together” more often. Kaufman also expressed his desire for members of the board to sit in on classrooms and see how the classes function.
Wolfswinkle also believes that it is the board’s job to direct and implement policies. He also said that it was the role of the board members to act as “overseers.”
“We need to educate the public,” said Lambert, “and be a liaison to the community.” Lambert also said that the board needed to act as a team to “listen and give the community feedback.” Lambert emphasized the importance of communication, saying, “The board needs open lines of communication.”
If you missed the forum and would like to watch it, visit http://www.thecube.com/event/552474 to watch the complete forum.