School election covers board spots, bond issue

Central Building color

A school election will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 5 to elect three school board members for four-year terms. (NYA Times staff photo by Adam Gruenewald)

by ADAM GRUENEWALD
NYA Times

A school election will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 5 to elect three school board members for four-year terms.
The election will be held at the district office lobby of Central High School from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Board member Julie Karnes decided not to seek re-election, while board chairman Elroy Latzig and Rich Schug are throwing their hats into the ring. Also joining the race are Nicole Evenski and David Bleichner.
Also on the ballot is a school district bond issue for $3,330,000 of 15-year general obligation bonds to provide for the acquisition and betterment of school sites and facilities, including the construction and equipping of an addition to the Central Elementary School.
School Board candidates answered questions for the Norwood Young America Times, presented below.

1. Why are you running for school board?
David Bleichner: There needs to be a change. We as a school district need to look at better way of finding a balance between needs and wants. We have to provide for our students! That is number one. But in this economy we need to look at all of the community! We have many people struggling with bills. And that includes young adults, families and the elderly. I think that working with the school board we can find a way to balance and maintain with funds to get our needs.
Nicole Evenski: I am excited to be part of the future of our district.  I have seen it from many angles, from student to community member to parent, and now I would like to see it from the perspective of a board member.  Our district is striving for excellence and I would love to be a part of that going forward.
Elroy Latzig: I enjoy and care deeply about all the young people in our community and want to help to provide them with great opportunities to learn and experience things that will prepare them to be good citizens.  We have great programs that have made Central a successful school and our students well prepared for life.
Rich Schug: I am running because I feel I am contributing to the board’s efforts to move our school forward.

2. What makes you a good candidate?
DB: I am a local business owner. I talk to many residents and other business owners. I am very open to other people’s views and opinion. I will listen to you. Your opinions will be heard!
NE: I have a vested interest in the school, teachers and students, as the wife of a teacher and the mother of a new kindergarten student and soon to be preschool student.  Over the last year I have been involved in various facets of the school and community looking at the areas that can be improved as well as the areas in which we are already excelling.
EL: My sincere interest in our kids is what I feel is my strongest asset.  I also have nearly 40 years of business, financial, and leadership experience to bring to the board.  I’ve served on the ISD 108 Board of Education since 1997.
RS: I like to stay active in the school’s events to support the students and parents of the students. I feel that being at school events gives people the opportunity to talk tome about something on their mind. I enjoy going to sporting events, plays, etc even if I don’t have kids participating in them at the time. I really think the students appreciate that.

3. Regarding the general obligation bond request for Central Elementary School improvements, how would you vote and why?
DB: No. At this time I feel that people are already feeling the effects of the economy. People are challenged with the day to day expenses. Some in this district are also feeling the extra burden of street improvement tax. We really do not want to lose residents with students to other districts because taxes will eventually go up.
NE: I am going to vote yes for the general obligation bond.  Significant improvements have been made to the elementary school in the last few years and this will bring even more to the school.  These new improvements will bring more of our students into one building along with bringing increased security to our school.  This is just another area that we can improve and, as a result, this will bring more students to Central and better the experience that our current students are having.
EL: YES.  Asking our citizens to pass a special bond request should only be done after all other options are considered.  We have a definite need for more classrooms which this project will provide. Our current parking lot is too small and dangerous and will only get worse as our population grows and school usage increases. This needs immediate attention. Finally, we are all aware of the need to have controlled and safe entry into our school. This project will make our kids safer.  This carefully considered bond request will help our future growth needs and complete the whole district wide safety project.  I encourage everyone to vote “YES” for the benefit of this and future generations.
RS: I will vote yes. It makes sense to replace current leased space with owned space both financially and having buildings that built for the purpose of educating kids. Having those kids in one building will also make us more efficient. It also makes sense to add the needed additional space while a project is ongoing. Since the voters allowed us to remove the dirt from the elementary building, we are able to do many great things to enhance that facility.

4. In what areas does the district excel?
DB: Education has been our strong point! We continue to strive to bring a well-rounded program to our next generation. Our education should be why we continue to try and offer an excellent program.
NE: Our teachers and staff are incredible and our testing scores show their dedication to the education of our students.  We have a staff that is willing to go above and beyond to give the students all of the tools that they need to succeed inside and outside of the classroom.  We have a strong community that has supported the school and its staff over the years.  Together as a district we will maintain our focus to prepare all of our students for the future.
EL: Most important is that our kids are learning VERY well. Recent test results rank our kids’ scores as the highest in our conference and as the best or second best among all the schools in Carver County.  We are extremely proud of our students and congratulate them as well as our hardworking staff, and their parents for this achievement. I am also proud to say that we are in excellent financial condition and that the Board and administration have been good stewards of our resources and facilities.
RS: Our district in consistently improving our test scores every year. This is a tribute to our students, their teachers, and the administration. All three groups have done an extreme amount of work to get these results!

5. Where can the district improve?
DB: We need to find a good balance of controlling spending with offering a really good education. We sometimes have to think outside the box to teach quality education. And really looking at the cost of services and materials, researching viable alternatives instead of just going with what we have may save a lot of money and possibly lead to great opportunities that nobody could foresee.
NE: Technology is an area that our district could use some improvement.  The unveiling of the new website within the first quarter of the school year was a great step in the right direction and will increase communication between teachers, parents and the community.  Communication is an effective way to keep the community informed about the great things our students and teachers are practicing in the district.  As a member of the school board, I would be sure to take a more active role in my community.
EL: It would be absolutely terrific if we could provide more and different opportunities for all of our students.  But specifically, I hope we can expand programs for our kids who are on both ends of the learning chart: the gifted and talented students and our special needs students.
RS: I think our district must grow. There are too many good things going on that people don’t know about. We must communicate better and work together with the cities and townships we serve. We can bring positive results for each other.

6. If elected, what would your top priority be?
DB: Spending is a BIG issue! The residents in this and many neighboring communities are struggling within this economy! More alternatives should be researched to get the best value for our dollars. We need to look into all options.
NE: One of my top priorities if elected is to be the eyes and ears of the community.  There is no better way to make improvements than to use the input of those community members that are actively involved in the school. We need to showcase what makes us different from other surrounding schools and use that to draw in new students in our district that may be wavering on where to send their children, whether for ECFE, preschool, kindergarten or high school. Those of us that send our children to Central or even graduated from Central know what a great school it is. I feel that the best plan as a school board member would be listening to the ideas from the community as well as providing the best learning environment for our students.
EL: I’d like to continue our success in academics and all of our other school activities.  I’d like to keep building the great positive attitudes in all of our kids.
RS: My top priority would be to help make sure our district stays in good financial condition to allow us to grow.

7. How well do you feel Central has positioned itself for the future?
DB: We have a great building and staff. We do need to look at the spending so we don’t get any more debt or cause hardship to our present residents including the already low income and elderly.
NE: Central is always making improvements and anticipating the changes that are coming. We have great leadership in our district and we have overcome issues such as economy challenges, referendum issues and budget issues.  We need to continue our commitment to education.
EL: Proudly, I say “Excellent!”  Kids are doing well; we have great teaching and support staff and fine facilities with the completion of the new elementary project.
RS: Our residents have allowed us to keep our buildings in good shape, while not breaking the bank. Because of that, we are able to offer our students opportunities to leave school with college credits, participate in lots of activities and enjoy their time at school.

8. Tell me about yourself.
DB: I am a lifelong resident of NYA. I am 44. My wife Deb and I both graduated from Central. As a business owner (Dave’s Seasons All) I have been very concerned about the economy. I would like to do my share to help keep a watch on spending in our school district. I do also value the education of our future adults. But I think we need to monitor our spending of unnecessary expenses to help us have more money for the education needs.
NE: I am from Norwood Young America and am a 2001 graduate of Central High School.  I went on to further my education at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minn., where I received bachelor’s degrees in health fitness and psychology.  I also have a Master’s Degree in Community Health from Minnesota State University, Mankato.  For the last seven years I have been employed with Wealth Enhancement Group as an associate financial planner.  I am part of the District 108 Community Education/ECFE Board, Parks and Recreation Board of Cologne and Parent Advisory Committee at Central Elementary School.  I currently live in Cologne with my husband, Kyle, and children, Kyson (kindergarten) and Ashlyn (2).
EL: I am a lifelong resident of Norwood Young America and business owner. Almost all of my adult life I have found that serving my church, school or community has been the thing that gives enjoyment and purpose to my life. My family is so big that I can’t list them all – it’s all my church, all the kids and staff at Central Elementary, Middle, and High School, it’s the Plato American Legion, Stiftungsfest committee, other organizations I work with, my neighbors and, of course, my three nieces too!  The people of this district have allowed me to serve 16 years and I am grateful.  I know I can continue to bring positive leadership to our school.
RS: I live in Norwood Young America, I’m 53 years old. I am a nutrition and management consultant for United Farmers Coop. My family consists of my wife Sherri, daughter Jennifer, 23, of St. Paul, son Matthew, 20, of NYA and daughter Alyssa, 10.  I have lived in NYA for 46 years and graduated from Central. I am finishing my eighth year on the District 108 school board and also my eighth year on the Southwest Educational Cooperative board.

9. Is there anything else you would like to add?
NE: I believe that I possess the qualities it takes to be a great school board member.  I have a sincere interest in our community and in the success of all of our students in the district.  I am excited at this opportunity to think critically and act wisely for the better of our school and community.
EL: Being a school member is not just attending a monthly meeting but being on various committees and listening to what is happening in school from more than one source. Learning to acknowledge publicly that you have no power and authority as an individual board member; that only the as a board as a whole can make policies and decisions for the school district.  Recognizing the difference between setting policy (the board’s job) and administering the schools (the superintendent’s job).  That you represent all the students and staff. That the primary focuses of all board decisions must be student’s achievement. Thanks you for your support and I appreciate you vote.

Contact Adam Gruenewald at adam.gruenewald@ecm-inc.com.

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