H-BC School Board candidates answer questions



Ann Boeve

Name: Ann Boeve, Steen

Spouse/children: Glen, Matt and Andrea Boeve, Derek and Tara Venenga, Rex and Erin Metzger and five grandchildren

Occupation: Farm wife

Education: West Lyon High School, Morningside College

Community involvement: Member of Steen Reformed Church, member of Hills Community Theater 

How many years served on the board? 16 years

Why are you seeking election or re-election? I enjoy being involved with the education system. Working with administration and staff to provide quality education to our students at H-BC. By being re-elected I would bring experience and stability to the School Board.

Keeping administration and staff financially responsible: We have had a setback this year financially. Once discovered, the board took immediate action. We have hired a new accounting firm, administration and are working closely with the Minnesota Dept. of Education to remedy the district’s financial situation. With the help and guidance of Interim Superintendent Herb Benz and MDE, we have already taken great strides in the right direction. We have implemented new procedures and policies. The board reviews bills twice a month with business manager present at board meetings, removal of Debt Service Account from general bank account, and making reductions to programs when aware of a budget deficit. I am very confident the administration will keep us informed and will carry out proper procedures to get the district back on track and out of Statutory Operating Debt.

Referendum support, why or why not? Approximately 90 percent of all school districts in the state of Minnesota utilize voter-approved operating levies to balance their budgets. Over the years the state’s funding has declined, which has depleted reserved funds. Another impact on district’s funding is the 60/40 shift of funds, which means the district receives 60 percent of its monies and the 40 percent is determined yearly if it will be dispersed based on the state’s budget. This causes the district to have a cash flow problem and forces the district to borrow money through Aid Anticipation borrowing. It costs the district precious dollars to pay for this borrowing, with this shift of funding it is difficult for districts to maintain a reserve fund balance. When comparing H-BC to other districts in our area and their levies, we realized we are considerably low on our levy dollars. I believe in order to be competitive with school programs and continue to maintain a strong educational system it is important for our levy to be raised. The board looked long and hard at our current budget and made deep cuts for fiscal year 2013 which has asked educators to do more with less. It is necessary to ask the taxpayers to increase the levy to add dollars for the operating budget. A strong school district requires a healthy operating budget, unfortunately the state mandates more and funds less and the burden falls on the taxpayers.

Biggest challenge facing the district: Every district has challenges, but I would rather state district goals. Continue district’s plan for the Statutory Operating Debt. Implement small class sizes. Continue with staff development goals and support PLC (Professional Learning Communities). Place a high priority on improvement of MMR (Multiple Measurement Ratings), Minnesota Graduation Standards and ACT scores. Continue the benefits of the Flexible Learning Year. To review and revise curriculum and programs through PIP (Program Improvement Process). Continue to maintain a strong Title 1 program.

 


Gary

 

Name: Gary Esselink, Hills

Spouse/children: Spouse: Arlene. Children: Steve 31, Jackie (married) 27, and Aaron 23.

Occupation: Technical support lead for Raven Industries.

Education: High school graduate. One year of college.

Community involvement: Member of the Steen Reformed Church, member of the H-BC FFA Alumni Association.

How many years served on the board? 16 years. Board chair the last six years.

Why are you seeking election/re-election? To work to put the H-BC School District back on its feet financially and to finish the job of recovery that the board has started. My wife, my kids and I are all Hills-Beaver Creek graduates. I believe in this district. I want the children of this district, who are our most prized possessions and our future, to have the best education possible to allow them to become successful adults and citizens.

Keeping administration and staff financially responsible: I feel that the current board has already taken several significant steps to make administration and staff more accountable. Once the board was made aware of the financial issues last January, I feel that we have taken decisive action. A board is only as good as the information it is given. The information provided was at times incomplete and not always accurate. We first had to get to the bottom of the problems and from there come up with solutions to deal with them. Since then, some of the steps taken are: We have segregated and designated specific funds so that there is no temptation to float the money from one fund to pay another. We have hired a new auditor with specific instructions to show more emphasis on individual funding and fund balances — not just an emphasis on the overall net worth of the district. We have initiated a stricter set of checks and balances between adminstration, the business manager, and the board. We now review all bills bi-monthly, as opposed to monthly as was done before. Each bill is gone through individually with the requirement that the business manager is present for any explanation of said bills. We will continue to monitor our financial situation to see if additional measures need to be taken.

Referendum support, why or why not? Since the last levy referendum for H-BC was passed in 2004, the funding for schools has shifted dramatically from the state tax base to the local tax base. Current auditing has shown that in the last two years, the district has been operating at approximately a $150,000 deficit. If you compare our operating levy to other schools in our area or who would be comparable in size, we are at the bottom when it comes to local funding on a per student basis. Also, since the last levy referendum at H-BC was passed, most of these schools have all raised their levies at least twice if not more times than that. During that same time period we have not raised it once. We are also in Statutory Operating Debt. The increase in the levy referendum would help alleviate this issue. We as a board have made cuts, many of them difficult. I feel that now is the time to work on funding to make the district solvent and hopefully build up a bit of a reserve like there is in other districts.

Biggest challenge facing the district: Financial solvency, good student-to-teacher ratios in the classroom, keeping up with technology and safe, dependable transportation. But most importantly, maintaining a high level of quality education for the children of this district. I would use the experience and knowledge that I have gained in my years of service to work to meet these challenges. I will also strive to maintain the correct balance necessary to attain the needs of the district while still being fiscally responsible.


Name: My name is Amie Fick.

Residence: I currently live on our farm just north of the city of Beaver Creek.

Spouse/children: My husband of almost 20 years is Marlin Fick. Our son is Tyler Fick and he is currently a fifth-grader at Hills Beaver Creek Elementary.

Occupation: I am thankful to work for a large Christian, non-profit company serving seniors at the Good Samaritan Society. I have worked there over eight years and love what I do. I am a purchasing and contracts consultant. We serve over 25,000 residents and it is my role to help control spend and manage relationships with vendors. As a non-profit company, every dollar counts and I make sure we have programs and contracts in place that take care of the long-term financial needs of our locations across the United States.

Education: I have a bachelor’s degree in business with an emphasis in management from the University of Sioux Falls. Education is something you never lose. You take it with you no matter where you go in life. Those experiences have helped to create my motivation to keep a strong work ethic and to face any challenges.  

Community involvement: At my job I am a member of our STAR Team, which is an internal group that works on fundraising to support charities such as the United Way, Walk for Alzheimer’s, and the Banquet in Sioux Falls. I also love to volunteer at the elementary school and am a member of PTO. My husband and I are both active at church and serve wherever we are needed. We encourage our son to serve as well. Even at a young age kids can learn to be a blessing to others.

Why are you seeking election or re-election? I am seeking to serve our Hills-Beaver Creek schools because I believe a school is the heart of any community. I believe it is time for a new voice on our school board. We have so many needs right now that it is important to represent them with a balanced approach, incorporating the voices of taxpayers, teachers and yes, even kids. I believe somewhere along the way we have overlooked some of those important relationships. All of us care about our school and want it to be successful. But with that comes responsibility to ask the tough questions and hold people accountable. I believe change is needed to get us moving in the right direction.    

Keeping administrations and staff financially responsible: Financial accountability starts with asking the right questions and not settling on “politically correct” answers. Then standing for what is right, not easy. I know I can not speak for the policies and decisions of past leadership, I can only tell you I will serve with integrity and a professional perspective I get from working every day with budgets and constant financial challenges. I work to help our long term care centers account for every dollar and I promise to bring that same commitment and expertise to our H-BC School Board.

Referendum support, why or why not? I believe our community knows there are many challenges with our schools. Although I am personally in support of the operating referendum, I am only one voice and believe the taxpayers need transparency in this process. Giving people the information to know what is going on will offer them the opportunity to make their own choice. I have attended the board meetings and have specifics about the referendum that most people don’t have yet. So although I support it, I don’t expect our community to vote “yes” without the same facts and details. Each voter’s voice needs to be heard and represented equally.

Biggest challenge facing the district: The biggest challenge by far is funding. As we see both the federal government and state funding coming up short, this directly hits our bottom line in the Hills-Beaver Creek schools. We have to find ways to be creative in looking at balancing student needs, taxpayer funding and community impact. We are pretty lean as far as our spending today, but I do feel every inch of our budget needs to be looked at. From the products and services we use, to the daily operational expenses, we will need to take the time to ask the tough questions and be able to ask ourselves … “do we really need this?” or “can we do this differently?” I will bring my professional background to work for our school, finding areas to save and to listen to our teachers and taxpayers, representing them.


Jim

Name: James Kueter, rural Hills

Spouse/children: Kari, three sons, Josh, seventh grade, Kyle, fifth grade, Casey, third grade, and one daughter Jayden, pre-kindergarten.

Occupation: I am a shop supervisor in the HVAC fab shop at Frisbee Heating, Plumbing, Air Conditioning and Electric and have been there 23 years.

Education: High school and a two-year vocational degree from Northwest Iowa Community College.

Community involvement: I am a member of Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Hills and a current H-BC Board member

How many years served on the board? I am in my fourth year.

Why are you seeking election or re-election? I am seeking re-election because I feel I can help provide for the education of our children and also the district taxpayers.

Keeping administration and staff financially responsible: By asking questions and having discussion with fellow board members, administration, staff and the community making sure we always have an open line of communication.

Referendum support, why or why not? I don’t want to ask the locals to add the burden to our taxes but with the cuts in funding from the state we have to try and find a way to educate our children. With all the cuts that were made because of the SOD and the plan approved by the state, I feel we have to do this to be able to give the children at H-BC the best education possible. The future of our kids starts right here in our local community.

Biggest challenge facing the district: That’s a really hard question. The future holds things nobody can predict but one thing will be finance and not just at H-BC but all school districts. I would say we need to stay on our state leaders to fund schools but also we need to stay within our needs as well and make sure our obligations are met.


Karin

 

Name: “Hi” my name is Karin Moser.

Spouse/children: Our family lives on an acreage between Hills and Beaver Creek.

My husband Stuart grew up in this area and is an H-BC alumnus.  We have two daughters and two sons. Samantha is 8 1/2 and in third grade. Cody is 7 years old and in second grade. Jack is 5 1/2 and in kindergarten, and our youngest Hailey is 3 1/2 and currently attends Little Patriots Accedemy.

Occupation: Some would say my occupation is a stay-at-home mom; others may call me a homemaker, but in my opinion my occupation is the best in the world! I’m blessed to be able to stay home with our children and just be their mom. Being at home affords me the opportunity to volunteer my time at the elementary and help with classroom learning and activities. What fun!

Education: My education level is a high school diploma with an additional two years of college, graduating with an associate’s degree in marketing management.

Community involvement: The one main community program I participate in and am very passionate about is the PTO (Parents Teacher Organization) at H-BC Elementary. I was one of the individuals to help get the organization started and then served two years as vice president. Aug. 1 of this year I took over as president of the organization and we are looking forward to making this another successful year, thanks to the outstanding support we’ve received from the community.

Why are you seeking election or re-election? I’m seeking election because the success of our students and our school is very important to me. I’m willing to look at issues in a variety of ways to find the best solution for the school district as a whole. I bring a strong base of fair, open-minded decision making that gives an appropriate direction for education. I have listened to concerns of students, parents and faculty and will bring these issues to the board for discussion. I have a good understanding of the financials and how those decisions and issues impact the school district.

Keeping administration and staff financially responsible: With regard to the budget problems and keeping the administration and staff financially accountable I will bring to the table the ability to ask the tough questions and expect results. I believe in holding individuals accountable for their actions while keeping standards high and having a low tolerance for poor performance.

Referendum support, why or why not? I do agree a referendum is needed to further fund the district’s financial situations; however, I do not support the current $1521/pupil that the current board is proposing or the way they went about arriving at that number. My position on this issue has been solidified by the following; based off the information I’ve received these past months from going to school board meetings, special meetings and work sessions I believe there is an opportunity for more due diligence and tough questions to be asked and answered. I believe there has been a lack of transparency, accountability and careful planning where cuts were made and that there are more cuts available in some areas that were never looked at. Therefore I strongly believe more forward-thinking and long-term planning needs to be done. The public needs to be informed about future budgets before an accurate referendum number can be developed and proposed to the taxpayers to make a district decision.

Biggest challenge facing the district: I believe one of the biggest challenges the H-BC district will face over the next four years will be funding and the financial situation we are currently in. Here are a few things we do know:  There will always be issues that come and go in schools. They may range from funding, to the length of a school day or a district start date. The uncertainty of funding from the state and federal government — (You can never be sure of when and if you’ll get the revenue). We are currently behind and not staying competitive on curriculum advancement, our student-to-teacher ratio in the elementary (mainly K-2nd) has climbed to 25- to 30-plus students/teacher and our current (buses) transportation are not in long-term working order.

To address these issues I believe the district needs to be proactive and not reactive, so therefore I plan to hold people accountable and make good financial decisions for the school district as a whole. I’m willing to dedicate my time and energy to make a difference for the betterment of H-BC district and the taxpayers. I am very passionate that we need to make sure every student has every opportunity to have the best education possible and that every student knows that they are a valued part of the school and deserve the best!

Thank you for your vote and I look forward to working with you to make our school district stronger.

 

 

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