by Alan McArthur
For the North Platte School Board there are six candidates seeking to fill the three open positions. Only one of the candidates is currently on the board.
The following candidates are listed in the order their names will appear on the ballot:
The only incumbent seeking reelection is board member Debie Asher.
“I have worked well with the current board for the past six years and I am looking forward to working with Mr. Sumy, our new superintendent,” said Asher.
The district recently hired Jeffrey Sumy to be the new superintendent after current superintendent Francis Moran retires at the end of this school year.
Asher said she has the experience necessary to be on the board.
“I have six years of experience on the school board,” said Asher. “I am a team player with a positive attitude, which I think are attributes to being an asset as a board member.”
According to Asher, she will continue fighting for funding for the district and making sure the CSIP is implemented.
“I will continue to fight for the state funding needed to run our school efficiently,” said Asher. “Our Comprehensive School Improvement Plan (CSIP) is a very important too which was implemented as a district goal in the 2004-2005 school year. I will ensure this program continues.”
The North Platte CSIP was created by administrators, teachers, and the superintendent to assess district needs and several long range goals.
“I feel I have the ability to work well with the current board, Mr. Sumy, and the administration to help assess the needs of the students, staff, and schools to help them be successful, but also being resourceful while fulfilling those needs,” said Asher.
The next candidate for the board is George Hoeffner.
“I'd like to see continued support to maintain the level of academics and financial stability at North Platte,” said Hoeffner. “I work on several boards and am able to work with people. I work with Habitat for Humanity and am on the Planning and Zoning Commission for Platte County. I have also been a school teacher for 17 years.”
Hoeffner said there are several issues facing the district in the future including financing and old buildings.
“There may be a change in the formulas for financing in the future,” said Hoeffner. “There is also the aging of district structures. I can face that with my background in construction. We also need to keep up with technology to keep kids up to date.”
Hoeffner said he has the experience from his job as a teacher to be qualified for the school board position.
“With my experience I know the administrative system and have been a teacher,” said Hoeffner. “I am able to see issues from a different direction.”
One suggestion Hoeffner has for the district is to have the high school students create a career plan for after they graduate.
“I would like to see students in high school have a career plan,” said Hoeffner. “They would have a goal of where they'd like to see themselves two years after high school. Most students only look to graduate. It could be college, community college, or an apprentice school, it would be a goal to work towards, but not be binding.”
Another candidate for the school board is Jon McLaughlin.
“I have been very active in education,” said McLaughlin. “I think the patrons need a stronger advocate on the board. I have attended meetings for the last two years and I am one of the few people other than Dr. Moran who is familiar with the school board regulations and policies.”
McLaughlin said the district needs to focus on replacing the Intermediate School and also implementing the A+ program at North Platte.
“The Intermediate School has infrastructure issues and plans need to be started to replace it,” said McLaughlin. “The primary thing is the have the A+ program implemented at North Platte. We are the only school in the county that does not have A+. Our children deserve to have that program.”
The A+ program is offered by the State of Missouri. Through the program high school students do volunteer hours and must keep a certain GPA in order to qualify for the benefits. The program pays for two years at a local community college, and helps students later transfer to a four year college.
Another issue McLaughlin said he would like to see improved is the public comment time during the board meetings.
“I would like to see members of the public come in and be able to face their elected officials, without having it filtered through the superintendent,” said McLaughlin.
The fourth candidate on the ballot for the school board is Vince Roberts.
“There is a large changing of the guard this year,” said Roberts. “There are lots of people retiring. I like where the district is with faculty and I want to see that it stays where it is at. When there is a large turnover sometimes there are changes and I want to maintain the district's finances and education.”
According to Roberts, he is qualified for the position because of his management experience.
“I have been in the management business for 20th season,” said Roberts. “I know how to work through a problem. If there is an issue I tackle it to get a resolution. I have a working knowledge of people and business management. I am a good people person.”
Roberts said the district needs to look for different sources of income rather than the government.
“Within a few years we will have the high school paid off and the Intermediate School is in dire need of attention,” said Roberts. “I want to tackle the facilities. We need to look for other sources of income for the school district. I grew up in the 80's and I feel we are headed for another recession. Instead of relying on government funding we need to look at alternative sources of income to continue growth.”
Roberts said he thinks he is the best candidate because he is not selfish and thinks about the district as a whole.
“I will do the best job I can for the best outcome,” said Roberts. “I look at the whole district and not just myself. I am not a selfish person at all. I feel I am one of the best candidates.”
Another candidate on the ballot is Cathy Hill.
“I have been active in the school for a number of years now,” said Hill. “The next step in participation is being a school board member.”
Hill said there are a lot of changes facing the school district in the next year and she wants to make sure the transition is easy for students.
“There is a lot of change because of the new superintendent and principals,” said Hill. “My goal is to make it as smooth as possible for the kids. I'm the type of person who is proactive not reactive. I like to see how to fix things before they happen.”
Hill lists several issues facing the district including replacing the Intermediate School and making lunches healthier.
“There are several issues before the board,” said Hill. “One is school lunches, and being sure to follow the state guidelines. The Intermediate School is old and it's time to look at what needs to be done next.”
The district is currently implementing new measures to make the school lunches offered healthier for students.
“I'm here for kids, they're the number one priority to a school district,” said Hill.
The last candidate on the ballot is Bill Matney.
“We have got good schools here,” said Matney. “I ran last year and tied, and was asked to run again.”
According to Matney, he is available to be a school board member and is qualified because he knows how to run a business.
“I am an independent farmer and can get away when I need to go to the schools,” said Matney. “I do my own bookkeeping so I am very aware of costs.”
Reducing costs for the district's energy usage is a goal for Matney.
“I would get an energy audit to get savings on gas,” said Matney. “Some people are saying energy costs will double in the next five years. Eventually we'll have to replace the Edgerton building, I'm not saying in the next several years, but it will have to be done eventually.”
Matney said that implementing the proposed A+ program at North Platte would not be beneficial to the patrons of the district.
“I've heard some people have an agenda to do A+,” said Matney. “After talking with Dr. Moran I don't think it's good for us. It would cost the school district about $25,000 to $30,000 for a part-time person. If we get 10 students to sign up that's 20 years of schooling and divided out it's about $1,500 per student the school district has to pay. It sounds good until you find the cost to school district; if we had lots of money it would be fine.”
According to Matney, the district has done a good job so far and he hopes to continue their work in the next years.
“The board has done a very good job, there are few school districts in the state that have received recognition,” said Matney. “I want to continue without making too many changes. I'm not running to micromanage, I would be there to give guidance.”