Lowell’s First Look met individually with all 8 candidates running for a position on the School Board for Lowell Area Schools, and who will appear on the ballot on Tuesday, November 8, 2022. There are three seats up for election by voters. In addition to our interview, we sent each candidate the same set of questions. In the weeks leading up to the election, we will bring you responses to the questions we asked in addition to a candidate profile. Answers are published verbatim and have not been edited. We asked candidates to keep their responses to around 200 words.
What are your top three priorities for the district, if elected to the school board?
Transportation, school safety and academic excellence are my top 3 priorities for LAS
My top priority is student achievement. Another priority of mine is to ensure we are providing a safe and welcoming environment where students can learn, and teachers can teach. My last priority is to remain fiscally responsible with our budget to continue to do what we are doing.
Priority 1 – Preparing all Lowell Area Schools students for life after high school and helping them develop the tools they need to be successful in whatever path they choose
Priority 2 – Attracting and retaining quality teachers and staff because a business or organization is only as good as its people
Priority 3 – Maintaining safe and secure buildings and facilities that our students, families and community can be proud of
My top three priorities for our district would be to get and maintain the best administrators, teachers and support staff, expand and retain curriculum that helps our kids be successful in their future with either higher education or skilled trades and make sure that all students have an opportunity to participate in some sort of extra curricular activity.
1) Close the learning gap that took place due to the Covid shutdowns (the biggest issue I hear from teachers and administrators). For some students, virtual learning was a great option, but many students essentially missed an entire year of school. Summer school enrollment was at a record high this year to get students caught up, but we need to continue to look for creative ways to help them get back up to grade standards and make sure our schools stay open for in-person learning.
2) Keep our students safe and secure, both physically and mentally. The Covid shutdowns did major damage to many students’ mental health, especially those who come from a tough home environment. We need to look for creative ways to partner with mental health experts to provide those students with assistance. Lowell does a good job providing physically secure schools overall, but we need to continue to do everything we can to support systems that both prevent active-shooter type situations and deter other forms of physical violence. Partnering with local law enforcement and developing creative funding opportunities to provide the right security is critical.
3) Ensure our school system is free from any political bias or social agendas. We want our kids to learn subjects and skills in an environment where those types of agendas are not pushed. Schools should foster an environment of respect and kindness toward everyone but allow parents to be the ones to instill their values and worldviews into their children.
My first priority as a member of the Board of Education would be to help build a vision and plan that will help LAS continue to be one of the top performing districts in the area. I do not believe it is the job of the BOE to micromanage day-to-day operations, so I would want to help build a vision and plan that uses practices and policies based in evidence-based research that will benefit all students that walk through our doors. My second priority would be to ensure that the district has the right people in key positions starting with our superintendent. I will be a highly-involved member of the evaluation and feedback process for the superintendent; if appropriate, I am willing to work through the process of finding the best people to help develop the strongest leaders of tomorrow through our students. Finally, my third priority is to ensure that transparency is found in as much of the district’s operations as possible. The concept of transparency is important to me since it fosters not only accountability in our schools but also participation by families and other invested individuals. I believe transparency leads to a combined commitment that ultimately leads to success in our students.
- Maintain academic excellence: Lowell Area Schools has a strong and multi-faceted academic program to prepare our students to be productive citizens. I want to continue this academic excellence so all students can be equipped with the skills and knowledge they need for the future.
- Be a good steward of the public’s investment: The citizens of Lowell have built many excellent academic facilities over the years. They have also approved building programs and a sinking fund to maintain and improve these facilities. It is important that the Board maintain a healthy financial balance and protect the community’s investments so the work of education can be successfully accomplished in our district.
- Hire great employees: The school system is only as strong as its people. It is crucial that the district has a strong administrative team, excellent teachers, and other capable staff. The district needs to continue to cultivate educational leadership and make sure that we have strong leaders in place for the future.
Calvin Vander Boon (Note: Calvin Vander Boon’s name will appear on the November ballot, but he has notified us that he is withdrawing his candidacy for the LAS school board.)
- Ensure school board members and LAS employees are following state and federal laws/constitution as well as LAS board policies.
- Ensure that parents are given the autonomy to direct the care and education of their children, as the law requires.
- Ensure that spending and resources are aligned with the priorities of the community.
I would like to know the political affiliation of each candidate. I know it’s not required but is still a vital and very important aspect of peoples decision.