Herald Journal - Voters' Guide '08

Four seek positions on Lester Prairie School Board

Four candidates are running to fill three positions open on the Lester Prairie School Board, including incumbent Karla Heigl, Joe Miller (former school superintendent), Rollie Radtke, and Corbey Hentges.

Karla Heigl

Why are you running for office?

I believe our school is the heart of our community. My own children (ages 13 and 9) attend the school. I have many very close friends whose children also attend the school. My husband and I grew up in this community and both graduated from LPHS. I want to do everything possible to ensure that our school is a success. We have a great staff, very supportive parents and new administration, which I believe will lead us into the future to provide for the best education possible for our children. I will work very hard to do what I believe is best for the future of our children, our school, and our community.

What do you think are two major issues at this time, and what do you propose to do about them?

1. School finances. Our community has done an outstanding job supporting this school throughout the years. A few years back when we were facing possible statutory operating debt, the community stepped up to the plate and delivered the funds needed by the District to ensure that we can maintain the level of education for our children that they deserve. We need to be fiscally responsible as we continue to face the challenges of maintaining a steady enrollment, maintaining our building by making repairs when needed, as well as constantly upgrading our curriculum and technology to meet the needs of our students as we prepare them for college or the workforce.

2. Adequate Yearly Progress as required by the No Child Left Behind Law. One of the greatest challenges I believe we, as well as most other schools, will be facing is meeting the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Law. I believe we have the staff and administration that are able to meet these requirements, but it will take a lot of time, energy, and dedication to achieve these very aggressive goals. I believe, as board members, we need to listen to the needs of staff and the administration and provide the tools necessary to ensure we can meet and exceed the expectations of the No Child Left Behind Law.

Why should you be elected?

I believe I should be elected because I have proven my commitment to our school and community through my actions. For the past seven years I have been active in various school and community programs. Following are some of the programs I have been involved with:

• Lester Prairie Foundation for Education board member, 3 years

• Organizer of volunteer ticket sellers at all home sporting events, 3 years

• Assist with organization of youth sports programs, 3 years

• Member of the Vote Yes Committee for the operating levies for our school

• Sunday school teacher, 7 years

• Church Board of Education, 3 years

In addition, I have over 22 years of experience working for a variety of private businesses in various capacities, which has given me valuable experience in how businesses are run and what needs to be done to ensure success.

How will you ensure that each and every student in the school district has equal access to programs and funding available?

I believe as a school board member it is my responsibility to work with our administration and staff to ensure all children are receiving access to all programs and funding. I also believe as a school board member it is my responsibility to be educated on what programs and funding are available to our district. In addition, I believe it is the responsibility of the parents in our community to be involved in their children’s education. We all need to take responsibility – parents, administrators, teachers, paraprofessionals, and school board members all need to work toward the common goal of ensuring all the children of our district have equal access to the programs and funding available.

Joe Miller

Why are you running for office?

I want to see our district continue to be a special place for students. I believe I have had many experiences that will help me to be a good board member. I also believe that I can be of assistance to the new superintendent as he begins his tenure here at Lester Prairie.

What do you think are two major issues at this time, and what do you propose to do about them?

The two main issues I see are the continuing challenge of declining enrollment and improving student performance on mandatory tests. I will use what I know about school finance to advise the superintendent and the board. In regard to testing, I will strongly support the new initiatives that the district is trying, to improve performance.

Why should you be elected?

Experience is a key component to making our district a better place. After working for the district for 34 years, I believe I have the expertise to help guide the decisions of the board.

How will you ensure that each and every student in the school district has equal access to programs and funding available?

As a board member, I will hold the administration accountable to maintain equal access. I also will expect that the administration will present to the board appropriate financial information in a timely fashion. I also expect that the administration will do everything possible to manage the district in a fiscally-responsible manner.

Rollie Radtke

Why are you running for office?

Having attended Lester Prairie Public School from kindergarten through 12th grade myself, having two children of my own (Spencer and Madisyn), and being a life-long resident of Lester Prairie, I have a passion for the school district and how important it is to the children and this community. We need to make sure that the school will always be here and offer the best education and facilities to do this.

What do you think are two major issues at this time, and what do you propose to do about them?

1. Communication

The board, administration, parents and citizens all need to try to be on the same page. The simple solution is to listen to the people of this district’s concerns and make the best decisions I can from the input I receive.

2. Facilities

The district definitely needs to look at adding more gym space. The existing gym is bursting at the seams with all the different activities offered today.

Kids today don’t only use the gym for phy-ed; there are teams, sometimes two (2) per class that start using the facility at third and fourth grade all the way up to the boys’ and girls’ varsity teams. I don’t think it’s right for an 8- to 10-year-old kid to be practicing on a Sunday or until 9:30 at night on a school night because that is the only time the gym space is available. I know as a district we can do better than that.

This facility would not just be for the kids, it would have a walking trail and exercise area for everyone in the district to use and enjoy. It could also serve as a place for community education programs, for senior citizens to meet, possible extra class rooms and office space.

Why should you be elected?

I look at the school district as a business; it has income, expenses and employees, etc. (just like any other business). As a business owner myself, I’ll bring the knowledge that it takes to make the right decisions when it comes to setting a budget or just dealing with the day-to-day issues.

Also, my kids are currently in the school program. Therefore, I have a strong desire to keep and improve our existing programs, and whenever possible, add new opportunities for the kids in both academics and athletics.

How will you ensure that each and every student in the school district has equal access to programs and funding available?

All students must have access to our programs. We must communicate what is available, promote and encourage students to participate. The programs must be easy to access and funded so that money is not a roadblock for those who want to participate.

Corbey Hentges

Why are you running for office?

I have two children in Lester Prairie Elementary. I want my children to have the best opportunities and education possible. I feel, in order for that to happen, I need to get involved and work with the school, community, and other parents who feel the same.

What do you think are two major issues at this time, and what do you propose to do about them?

I think two of the major issues are enrollment growth and upgrades of the school’s facilities.

I know when my husband and I were looking for a place to build a new home, Lester Prairie was not on top of our list. The perception we had of the school district was that it was potentially lacking many programs and technologies that other surrounding schools may be able to provide. However, after talking to various parents with children in the school, we decided to try it with the idea that if we were not pleased, we would send our children to a different school.

With that said, we have been pleased to this point with the outcome of our decision. However, the stigma is still there for other potential families. We need to educate potential residents, existing residents with children in other schools, and surrounding communities of the strong points, unlimited potential, and community support our school district has to offer.

It is hard to get new families excited about the school itself because of the aging and need of repair and upgrades. There are several areas in the school that need attention. Obviously the funds are not readily available to do a total makeover of the school, but we need to start by making a list of what needs to be done and prioritizing from there. We start at the top of the list, and go one-by-one until it’s complete. It’s not all going to happen right away, but at least we can set a goal to work towards for the future of the school.

I feel one issue directly affects the other. If we can increase school enrollment, this will allow for additional operating income, which could partly be used to address the “marketing” of the school district and improvements in the building itself.

One person, alone, cannot do this. I would encourage other school board members to work for the common goal of a better education and environment for our children – it is easier to get things done with a group of people working together than alone. It will take a strong commitment and active involvement from the school board, community, school administration, teachers and other parents to get these tasks done, but I really feel it can be achieved if we all pull together. We need to better promote our school and the programs available, we need to come up with a marketing plan to get the word out that Lester Prairie has changed, and will continue to grow and change with the times.

Why should you be elected?

I feel I should be elected because I do have two children in school and I truly want to see both of them graduate from Lester Prairie. One of my fears is that the school won’t survive and will end up combining with another district. I don’t want my children to get lost in the shuffle and become just another number. I want my children to know I care about their education, as well as the community, and the only way I know to bring about growth and change is by getting involved.

How will you ensure that each and every student in the school district has equal access to programs and funding available?

I believe it is the duty of all board members, teachers, administration and parents to make sure that each and every child has the opportunity to participate in any and all programs available. We need good communication between all parties to get this accomplished. We need to have the administration detail the programs and funding available in a consistent manner; we need input from the teachers to make sure the programs we do have are benefiting our students, additionally we need feedback and involvement from the parents. The responsibility falls upon all of us; we all need to be held accountable for our children’s education.