Local schools hold candidate forums
Moose Lake Community Schools
With numerous seats up for election on the Moose Lake, Willow River, and Barnum school boards, each school held a candidate forum to help voters learn more about each candidate. A brief synopsis of each forum can be found on this site.
Moose Lake Community Schools:
A school board candidate forum was held at Moose Lake Community Schools Thursday, October 25. The event was hosted by the Moose Lake School PTA.
PTA President Sara Thiessen introduced the candidates. Candidate Lisa Anderson-Reed was unable to attend the forum. Superintendent Robert Indihare gave a short “State of the School” address before turning the meeting over to moderator Adam Kamp.
The candidates — Byron Kuster, Jamie Jungers, Scott Benoit, and Kristi Skelton-Weisert — were each asked the following series of questions.
What is your vision of the role of technology?:
Jungers: “We need to keep up with all of the new technology. We have just invested $300,000 in rewiring the school for a wireless system. The system can be removed and taken to a new site if need be.”
Kuster: “The role of technology is important. The SMART Boards are good. We need iPads for teachers. One of the great ideas is for 'flipped classrooms.' The lecture is pre-recorded and the kids listen to it at home, then do their homework in the classroom. The teacher is free to walk around and help, if necessary. There are many educational apps. Apps can make learning fun.”
Skelton-Weisert: “Technology is a wonderful thing. But, we need to keep a balance between technology and books. Students need contact with teachers.”
Benoit: “We need to make sure that technology is seen as a tool. It does promote cost savings. Can use SMART Boards to read. We need to keep up with the time. Teachers are what makes learning successful.”
Best use of the land on County Road 10?
Kuster: "I see a lot of positives for the land. There is an increased need to look at possibility of building a new school out there. The Alco is the third largest volume store in the country. It is a big draw to people — brings a positive new dimension to the land use.”
Skelton-Weisert: "I don’t really have a vision. I like selling a strip of the land. I would like to reserve some for residential use and land for the school. The flood changed ideas of building on the current location. We are lucky we own 200 acres free and clear.”
Benoit: “We need to look at development of land for the school. We need to do what is best for the school district.”
Jungers: "There has never been a time when the school and the community have been so intertwined. The land is essential for the town, the school, and the community. It’s an opportunity to bring the tax base up. It makes good sense to build a building up there. Selling 13 acres to a developer would bring business to town and lead to the building of infrastructure, roads, sewer, and water. We are reconvening the Building Task Force. There is discussion on split campuses or K–12.”
Options for a balanced budget?
Skelton-Weisert: “ We have done what we needed to do at the time. We have felt obligated to keep a reserve. We have done a prudent job financially and have made tough decisions.”
Benoit: “The creative means to a balanced budget is declining. We can only analyze a budget to a point. I like the idea of exploring child care based at the school. It is something to explore as well as selling land for income.”
Jungers: “Budget cuts were made by a previous board. Taxes are a necessary thing. At the local level they are needed. The state keeps cutting funds. When we ask for a levy, we really need it.”
Kuster: “This district does need to keep a balanced budget and be fiscally conservative. Schools are an investment. The ideas of child care/day care is a possibility. We could also encourage people in the community to look at a financial gift when they are estate planning. Perhaps have a community garden.”
What makes Moose Lake School District marketable?
Benoit: “Location. It is centralized for large employees like the MSOP, CIP and the hospital. We need to get the facts and information out to the big businesses. Get folks moving into our area.”
Jungers: “The school is dated. We need to change this. Let’s start talking about remodeling or building. We need to start attracting young people to raise their children here in Moose Lake.”
Kuster: “A new building is a big draw and puts us on par with other schools. We have excellent teachers. The sports program and extra curricular activities are an attraction. We need to make it possible for people who work here to put their kids in school here.”
Skelton-Weisert: “We have history here. This is important for a lot of people. We have incredibly wonderful teachers — 75 percent of the teachers have a Master’s Degree. They are highly educated and motivated.”
Sharing athletics cooperative with Willow River?
Jungers: “It’s a huge cost savings, connects our kids, combining of schools only cooperative in Minnesota. It does affect us when students from both schools don’t participate in a sport. Number one way of getting out in the public is sporting games. Be accessible.”
Kuster: “It helps with open enrollment and it helps with ideas to attract new students. The economist Demming helped the Japanese to promote their car industry by determining what customers want.”
Skelton-Weisert: “People need to feel they are listened to. Make a connection with Moose Lake using assets we have.”
Benoit: “Need to push information. Need to be available. School sports are an opportunity for this. Texting and e-mail are also a resource. Have an Advisory Board, welcome input, vote based on community members' wishes, not personal.”
Why should people vote for you?
Kuster: “I am a licensed teacher with a BAS Degree in teaching physics and chemistry and a Master’s of Education degree from UMD. I have worked with students from all ethnic backgrounds of varying levels of academic skill. I have served on the Moose Lake-Windemere Sanitary Sewer Board for the past 16 years and I understand the importance of long term planning, budgeting, and goal setting. I know how to be a positive, active board member.”
Skelton-Weisert: "I have been a member of the Moose Lake School Board for two terms. It takes a bit of learning to have a sense of what you are doing. It took about two years for me. I would like to continue involvement with the district. I am a licensed Teacher and have been a substitute teacher in Moose Lake. Currently, I have been working as a social worker with flood relief in the area. I have a passion for our children, a passion for education and a passion for our community.”
Benoit: “As a third generation Moose Lake alumnus, I am interested in investing in the success of our students. I listen to people and what they want for their school. I would fully plan to explore block scheduling. In using this system, electives will increase for students creating individualized educations.”
Jungers: “I have been an active member of the school board since being voted in four years ago. I have participated on several committees. I have had four children in the district over the past five years. I graduated from Moose Lake in 1984. As a board incumbent, a parent, an alumnus, I am qualified to continue to serve on the local school board because I know our school, students, and staff. I am aware of the areas that need improvement, and I am a staunch supporter of what the district is currently doing right.”