Sunday 20 April 2014
 

One incumbent in field of four candidates on ballot for three CL seats

 

 DEB BETZ
My husband, Dave, and I have four children and two grandchildren.  Dave is an Insurance Representative with Pro Advantage Services in Clear Lake. Drew graduated from Clear Lake High School in 2004 and is married to Nikki; they have two daughters, Alexis and Ava.  Drew and Nikki are the owners of Custom Pro Audio/Video in

Clear Lake and Mason City, and they reside in Clear Lake.  Devin graduated from Clear Lake in 2007.  He is currently employed part-time and receives services from Opportunity Village in Clear Lake; he is living independently in Clear Lake.  Dailey is a junior at Clear Lake High School, and Darby is an eighth grader at Clear Lake Middle School.  I graduated from Twin Rivers of Bodeas valedictorian in 1985 and then raduated with honors from the clerical program at Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge in 1986. I have been employed as Office Manager for the Clear Lake Mirror-Reporter since January 2006.  I am a member of the Redeemer Lutheran Church in Ventura and I am the Secretary/Treasurer for the Bayside Court Homeowners Association in Clear Lake.  I am also involved with Clear Creek Connections, a new group that started last year at our elementary school, as well as the C.A.R.E.S. Post Prom Committee.
    Why have you decided to seek election? Being on the school board for the past four years has been a great learning experience.  It has also been very rewarding for me, and it has been a wonderful way for me to give back to the school and the community.
    Job experience or qualifications you feel relate to your candidacy: Serving on the school board for the past four years has definitely given me the experience to continue my service on the board.  Since two of our other board members have decided not to run in this election, I feel that re-electing me to the board would be very beneficial to our district at this time.  Another qualification for this position includes being the parent of a son with special needs.  I truly believe that every child deserves the best possible education, no matter what other issues arise.
    What is the most important quality you would bring to the School Board? My most important qualities would be my honesty and integrity, along with being a very committed school board member.  I have taken part in many learning opportunities and conferences over the past four years, and I am willing to put in as many hours as needed to remain an effective board member.  I obtained my ABLE (Academy of Board Learning Experiences) certification last year, which required extensive learning of key concepts on school governance in Iowa.
    Please identify the top three challenges you see facing the Clear Lake School District in the next four years: 1) The biggest challenge for our district in the next four years will be balancing the budget.  The most difficult part of being a school board member is making necessary budget cuts, especially when it involves cutting school personnel.  2) The second challenge will be declining enrollment, which unfortunately has been the trend in this area of the state for many years.  3) Our final challenge is that not enough of Iowa’s children are receiving the world-class education they need to succeed in the global economy, and Iowa has started slowly falling towards educational mediocrity.  Many states are now outperforming Iowa, but the Clear Lake School District is committed to helping students achieve the necessary survival skills for the 21st century.
    The district is in the second year of a superintendent sharing agreement with Mason City.  Do you feel the shared position is working for Clear Lake?  Are you in favor or continuing the shared superintendent position? Why or why not?  I am definitely in favor of continuing the shared superintendent position with Mason City because Anita Micich has proven over the last year that she is passionate about student achievement.  She doesn’t just “talk the talk,” she “walks the walk.”  She shares that same excitement and vision for the Clear Lake School district that the board has been working on since I became a school board member four years ago.  She stretches our imagination as to what is truly possible for students in our district.
    What about other sharing opportunities?  What additional positions or programs do you think could, or should, be shared with another district?  We should continue to explore sharing opportunities for positions and programs with our neighboring school districts.  We should also keep the lines of communication open at all times and constantly be thinking of ways to help all students receive the best possible education.
    Do you have any new ideas for ways the district could save money? Although this isn’t a new idea, I believe that  continuing to share our resources with our neighboring districts is the best way for the Clear Lake School District to save money now and in the future.
    Are there new programs or curriculum you would like to see the district pursue? We will continue to pursue more opportunities for students to gain 21st century skills through technology and improve student achievement as they become independent learners.  We have a three-year plan for increasing the technology access and tools for students and teachers that will lead to a 1:1 initiative in grades nine to 12 and eventually in grades seven to 12.
    What areas do you feel the district should concentrate on to stabilize or increase its enrollment numbers?  We should continue to focus on student achievement and survival skills for students in the 21st Century, which include:  Critical Thinking, Collaboration, and Communication.  We should also continue to do work around formative assessment, the Iowa Core, and the use of technology to expand learning opportunities for our students.  Ultimately, parents and students will see that Clear Lake is providing the necessary tools for all students to build a productive future and reach their dreams; and they will definitely want their children to attend the Clear Lake School District.
    In these tough economic times, what can the School Board do to assure student academic achievement doesn’t suffer?  If Clear Lake can engage parents and the community in the accomplishment of the district’s student learning goals, we will be able to get through these tough economic times. We are reaching out in many ways to ensure that student achievement doesn’t suffer.
    Additional comments: My passion and desire is to ensure that our district is doing everything possible for our students to become successful adults. The mission of the Clear Lake Community School District is to create lifelong learners and responsible citizens through quality relationships, quality programming, and quality staff.  Please remember to vote on Tuesday, Sept.  13.  Your support is greatly appreciated!

 

CHAD KUHLERS
I live in Clear Lake, Iowa with my wife, Amy, and our two children.   My wife is an adjunct instructor for NIACC.  Our children are Christopher (15) and Anthony (9).   I have been employed as the chief operating officer at Golden Grain Energy, LLC in Mason City, Iowa since 2004.   Prior to coming to Golden Grain Energy, LLC I was employed by Koch Hydrocarbon Company in Medford, Oklahoma.   I am a graduate of Iowa State University with a degree in electrical engineering.  I also have completed graduate work toward a MBA.   In addition to my work at Golden Grain Energy, LLC I am on the board of directors of Homeland Energy Solutions, LLC, which is an ethanol plant in Lawler, Iowa.

 

Why have you decided to seek election? I felt it was my civic duty to run for the school board after learning that very few applicants had picked up their election materials.
    Job experience or qualifications you feel relate to your candidacy: My experience in working with a board of directors at my current job at Golden Grain Energy, LLC as well as my experience of being a board member at Homeland Energy Solutions, LLC should be beneficial. 
    What is the most important quality you would bring to the School Board? I believe my business skills and decision making would help to direct the administration of school board during these challenging times. 
    Please identify the top three challenges you see facing the Clear Lake School District in the next four years: 1)   Compliance with state and federal academic expectations; 2) Declining enrollment; 3)  Financial challenges with lowered state funding.
    The district is in the second year of a superintendent sharing agreement with Mason City.  Do you feel the shared position is working for Clear Lake?  Are you in favor or continuing the shared superintendent position? Why or why not?  The shared superintendent position makes a lot of sense.   It allows both districts to reduce their overhead and lower their administration costs.   I believe it makes sense for Clear Lake to continue to use the shared position as long as both districts believe they are getting value from the relationship.
    What about other sharing opportunities?  What additional positions or programs do you think could, or should, be shared with another district?  It seems to make sense to share as many administrative positions as possible.   In addition, if there are specialized low enrollment classes at both districts, it may be an opportunity to reduce both districts’ costs.
    Do you have any new ideas for ways the district could save money?  I believe it is important to keep the lines of communication open with neighboring school districts.  The school district may be able to arrive at some agreements that would benefit both of the districts in the future.   In addition, the district needs to continue to make those students that open enroll into the district feel welcome and appreciated. 
    Are there new programs or curriculum you would like to see the district pursue?  It would be nice to offer additional college-level programs or advanced classes to seniors at the high school.
     What areas do you feel the district should concentrate on to stabilize or increase its enrollment numbers? I believe the district should focus on improving the academics.   Most decisions to open enroll or move to the district are not based on extra-curricular activities.   Instead they are focused on providing the greatest learning opportunities for the students.
    In these tough economic times, what can the School Board do to assure student academic achievement doesn’t suffer?  The district can ensure that the district has as many quality teachers as possible and any budget cuts have the least possible impact on student learning.
    Additional comments: None.

 

MICHAEL LOLLAR
My name is Michael A. Lollar.  I was born in Joliet, Ill., and lived there until I was 18 years old.  I graduated from Lockport Township High school in Lockport, Ill.  My dad was promoted in his job, bringing him to Clear Lake in 1991 and I followed soon after.  I lived in Garner for a few years, working at Winnebago Industries before finding my job with the Union Pacific Railroad (formerly the Chicago Northwestern).  When I hired on, I moved to Boone with the rail road for a few years.  When the opportunity to return to Clear Lake arose I jumped at it and have been back in Clear Lake since 1999.  I have taken various college courses at Joliet Junior College and NIACC, but they have been mostly personal interest courses and never added up to a degree.  My beautiful wife and I have three children: A son in third grade, a daughter starting preschool, and a soon to be three year old.  I also have two children from a previous marriage in Joliet who are 13 and 15.
    Why have you decided to seek election? I have decided to seek election because I saw a need in the community for someone to step up and fill this position.
    Job experience or qualifications you feel relate to your candidacy:  The vast majority of my work experience has been with the rail road and my rental properties.  I believe the similarities in the two lie in being self-motivated.  My job at the railroad is 95 percent unsupervised work.  The company tells my conductor and I what they need us to do and depends on us to get it done.
    What is the most important quality you would bring to the School Board?  That same quality would serve me well on the board.  I’d like the challenge of hearing what the community would like its school to be, and trying to make that happen.  I have a good work ethic and the drive and ambition to see things through to the end.
    Please identify the top three challenges you see facing the Clear Lake School District in the next four years:  1) Reduction of state funding for education.  2) Making sure all four year olds have a place to attend preschool if desired.  3) Finding more ways to ensure Clear Lake schools remain a safe crime free, weapons free environment for our children to grow and learn.
    The district is in the second year of a superintendent sharing agreement with Mason City.  Do you feel the shared position is working for Clear Lake?  Are you in favor or continuing the shared superintendent position? Why or why not?  I feel the superintendent sharing agreement is working just fine for us.  I haven’t noticed any ill effect in my dealings with the school.  I have seen much larger school populations effectively run by one superintendent.  As long as good supporting staff is in place, and the superintendent is effectively leading them and the district is still saving money, I can see no reason not to continue.
    What about other sharing opportunities?  What additional positions or programs do you think could, or should, be shared with another district?  I think our best sharing opportunities are with the Ventura school district.  I believe the important thing to consider when sharing is that you not only consider money issues.  Sharing can and should be used to offer a better educational experience than either could achieve by themselves.  Sometimes we look at sharing only as a cost cutting tool, when it could be used to make our school better.
    Do you have any new ideas for ways the district could save money?  Saving money for the district when sitting on the outside looking in is a difficult question to tackle.  I’m sure for years the board has been going over everything looking for new efficiency.  Sometimes the small things can add up to big numbers though.  Do we have printers in place that use both sides of the  paper and are they configured to do it?  Instead of printing and writing on paper could we digitize more forms and store them electronically?  Maybe a better use of email to correspond with parents and students.  Interoffice memos could be done via instant messaging.  Paper, printer ink, postage, envelopes all add up.  Some of these things are already fully or partially in place, but the point is to look in unexpected areas where things might have been missed.  I think it’s important also that we engage our teachers, and the schools’ staff when looking for ways to trim the budget.
    Are there new programs or curriculum you would like to see the district pursue?   I am a big fan of practical, hands on learning.  I’d like to see opportunities for internships in the community.  We have a lot of skilled people in our community who could offer good insight to our students and perhaps inspire them in their future aspirations.
    What areas do you feel the district should concentrate on to stabilize or increase its enrollment numbers?  The school district is going to grow or shrink.  Population changes are out of the boards’ control.  I think the best things our district can do is make sure when people look to move in to our community that we show them we care.  By that I mean we do the things necessary to make Clear Lake the most successful school system in the area.  We need to seek out the best teachers we can find, maintain our facilities at a top notch level.  Be proactive in addressing our short comings, and anticipate our future needs.
    In these tough economic times, what can the School Board do to assure student academic achievement doesn’t suffer?  Encouraging a family centric education is essential to a student’s success.  That doesn’t require any money from the government, or anybody else.  Even when the learning gets over our heads I think it’s important for parents to sit down and try our best to help our children.  If that means finding a video online to explain a geometry problem or just being there to help talk them through something they don’t understand we need to do that.  The resources are there for anybody to learn anything they want, we just need to point them down the right path after school has let out.  The board can encourage this by keeping up with information resources and making sure that information gets passed on to the parents.
    Additional comments: Clear Lake is a wonderful place to call home.  My family and I are blessed to live here.  I would like to take this opportunity to give back to this town which has provided a beautiful place to raise my family.  I can only hope to pay back a small portion of what the City of Clear Lake has given to us.  Thank You.

 

JILL WILHELM
I was born and raised in the Ventura/Clear Lake area.  Graduated from Ventura High School and from Hamilton Business College; worked as a legal secretary for 11 years and have been employed at the Clerk of Court’s office since December 1987.  I have two children, both who graduated from CLHS.  April (daughter) is in her fourth year in medical school at Warren Alpert/Brown University in Providence, R.I.; DJ (son) is in his second year of college at the University of Colorado (Boulder).
    Why have you decided to seek election? To give back to my community and to Clear Lake schools, who gave my kids a very excellent education.
    Job experience or qualifications you feel relate to your candidacy: I am very dedicated to my family and job.  Hardworking, down to earth with common sense and know how to budget.
    What is the most important quality you would bring to the School Board? Compassion for and dedication to Clear Lake students and wanting what is best for those students.
    Please identify the top three challenges you see facing the Clear Lake School District in the next four years: 1) Budget.  2) Keeping top notch teachers in place (which is very hard because of budget cuts).  3) Making sure students get a good education so they can go on to college and achieve their life’s goals/dreams.
    The district is in the second year of a superintendent sharing agreement with Mason City.  Do you feel the shared position is working for Clear Lake?  Are you in favor or continuing the shared superintendent position? Why or why not?  I believe the shared superintendent agreement is working and I am in favor of keeping that agreement.  I feel that it is saving the school system money and feel the superintendent is a strong leader who loves what she does and is concerned for students’ welfare.
    What about other sharing opportunities?  What additional positions or programs do you think could, or should, be shared with another district?  Vocal music instructor, band instructor, sports (coaching).  We need to do whatever we can to maintain the foreign language opportunity to assure students they can get four years of foreign language in high school.
    Do you have any new ideas for ways the district could save money?  1) Sharing more teachers and more administrators with other districts.  2) Consolidation with smaller districts to bring more students into our school district.
    Are there new programs or curriculum you would like to see the district pursue?  1) More volunteers to help out in the classrooms because of all the teacher aides that have been cut.  2) After school program for younger (elementary) students.
    What areas do you feel the district should concentrate on to stabilize or increase its enrollment numbers?  Make sure art, band and vocal stay as options for classes to give students the opportunity to be creative.  Make sure foreign language is kept as an option for students.  More AP (Advanced Placement) classes.
    In these tough economic times, what can the School Board do to assure student academic achievement doesn’t suffer?  Make sure class sizes stay within reason.  Employ top notch teachers.  Keep the computer system up-to-date (latest technology).
    Additional comments:  None.