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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

SL school incumbents foresee a term of challenges

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

The incumbents

Dr. Mark Schultz and Ed McKenna have been serving the Storm Lake School District as members of the school board for the past nine years.

Each of their terms is up this year and each has decided to serve again. The well-seasoned duo are unopposed in the upcoming election.

"This is a very rewarding thing to do," commented Schultz on his decision to run again. There is a "learning curve," Schultz said, adding it takes a new member one to two years to familiarize themselves with complex funding and regulation. "I've been through all that and feel I can contribute to this board."

There are several issues that the board deals with on an ongoing basis such as the push to boost reading scores through the "No Child Left Behind" program or the "excellent" EEL program. He enjoys seeing the progress these two programs continue to make.

He sees the next term as one filled with new challenges as the superintendent, high school principal, middle school principal and an elementary principal "near retirement age."

He added, "I have no knowledge of any administrators leaving but they will be eligible for early retirement in this term. That will be an important decision the board will wrestle with." He added he would like to be a part of the team that finds quality replacements if the situation does occur.

A new grade school and performing arts/gym are "important for our future," he commented. "We've put a lot of money into the grade schools.

"They are really inefficient - economically and educationally. They're becoming increasingly deficient in those areas. We need to look at a new school. There will be important decisions."

"The big reason I have wanted to stay on this board all this time is that this is a great board," McKenna said. "I have never been on a board or committee that works so well together." He pointed out that he has worked with three members besides present members.

"It's a good feeling when I walk out of a board meeting. Not everyone always agrees but when we do disagree we always come up with solutions that will benefit the kids and the school."

McKenna says this will be the last term he will serve. He knows he won't see a new elementary school built, if voters approve, but he said he is glad to be on "the ground floor" of the planning stages.

He has seen a great change in the numbers of students taking part in EEL classes over the nine years. During his first term, 10-15 percent were involved in English education; today, there is 50 percent or more of the students involved. "When I go to graduation and see the kids that came in not speaking English and they are graduating with honors and are fluent in English, it makes me so proud that I have been a little part to help the program be successful. The teachers and administrators work hard to accomplish what they accomplish. We've got to be proud of them. I feel the teachers need compensation. This year their raises went for the 32 percent cost increases in their insurance. We need to ask many questions of those insurance companies."

He also realizes the school has several goals to meet in regard to raising scores in reading and math. He is pleased with the programs and the assessments the teachers are using. "The teachers and administrators are real workers here. They have done such a good job. I'm proud to be part of the school system. And starting at the top, I don't know if everyone knows how blessed we are to have Bill Kruse as our superintendent. He is excellent to work with."

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