Voters in the Deer Lakes School District will choose from five candidates to fill four vacant school board seats in the Nov. 2 election.
Four of the nominees are newcomers: Brian Brown, Jeremy L. Love, Jonathan Majernik and Traci A. Stotler. The other candidate is Kristi Minnick, who is running for a second term on the board.
Candidates were asked what they thought was the most important issue they would like to see addressed at the new board meeting, what goals they have if they are elected, and what they would do to improve communications with voters and involve them in the decision-making process.
School board members are elected for a four-year term and are unpaid.
Brown said the new board must focus on getting children back to school after the coronavirus pandemic ends.
“One of my main concerns as an educator is making sure that we address any academic issues that students may encounter due to multiple modes of learning that have forced them to switch between in-person and hybrid.” , did he declare.
Brown said testing and reviewing the data is needed to create an one-on-one approach to helping students who may be struggling.
“We have to take an individualistic approach because every child’s situation will be different,” he said. “We can have students who are lagging behind in school, so we need to know where they are academically if we are to help them. ”
Brown said his experience as an educator coupled with the training he received to obtain a letter of eligibility from the superintendent makes him ideal to be a school board principal.
“I have an understanding of school law, the financial process and how the school works,” he said. “And I am someone who can articulate complex issues so that they are understandable to the public.”
Jeremy L. Love
Love said his long-term goal if elected would be to focus on the budget process to ensure services are provided without the need to raise taxes.
“I looked at the budget, but I can’t wait to really get in there, dig in to see what works and what doesn’t,” he said. “When you look at it from the outside, it can be easy to tell that it needs to be cut or that it doesn’t matter. But when you go inside it can be different.
Addressing the academic delay that resulted from the pandemic shutdown and meeting the mental health needs of students due to the pandemic are among Love’s primary short-term goals.
“I hate to say it, but I think a lot of kids have fallen behind in school and need to catch up,” he said. “We have to jump on it. ”
Love said that while the district was already discussing offering things, including after-school tutoring, he was concerned that this was not enough.
“There have been mental health issues that have been overlooked for years,” he said. “But now we are starting to see more children suffering from things like anxiety and depression as a result of the pandemic.”
Love said one of the reasons he’s running for the school board is because “there’s a lack of a voice for the people” and he promises to be accessible to voters.
Majernik said the most important issue the new board must address is the emotional well-being of students as they make the difficult transition back to school after the pandemic.
“Having three young children in the district, I have seen how difficult the past 18 months have been developmentally, emotionally and academically,” he said. “So I would really like to focus on those needs with additional support and resources. ”
Majernik said it is especially important to look after the mental health of students at the elementary level to help them catch up emotionally.
“Elementary isn’t just about learning your ABCs,” he said. “It’s also about learning to socialize, deal with peers, and foster confidence. These little things are important, but the kids missed a lot by not always being in class. ”
Majernik said the school board principal when communicating with residents and involving them in the decision-making process should be “transparent.”
“We not only need to provide a level of detail and information throughout the process, we need to make sure that we allow our constituents to have their voices heard and be part of the process,” he said.
Minnick said the most important goal of the new school board will be to “re-engage our focus on educating our students and treating the pandemic as a side issue.”
She said that although the district had no problems switching to virtual learning because students were already equipped with computers and other devices before the pandemic closed, many students suffered from the changing learning environments.
“We know we’ve had some learning loss over the past two school years,” she said, noting that although much of the standardized testing was skipped in 2020, some data has been collected. to support the need for remedial programs.
Minnick said one of his short-term goals was to ensure that the district continues to be “financially responsible” and that district finances could play a role in its ability to create “a learning environment. stable”.
“Our teachers’ contract ends at the end of the year and we have to make sure there won’t be any disruption in work,” she said. “Our teachers have worked tirelessly during the pandemic, so we need to collaborate with them and maybe be creative to put together a deal that we can support.”
Traci A. Stotler
Stotler said one of the reasons she decided to run for the school board is to counter how the district has handled the coronavirus pandemic.
She said she would “absolutely” defy state orders requiring masks and contact tracing.
Although students have returned to in-person teaching this year, Stotler said the district “has not returned to normal.”
“It does not make sense that they are still being forced to wear masks and undergo contact tracing,” she said. “Show me a clinical study that proves that hiding these kids in school all day long works and I won’t be so skeptical. But there is no proof.
Stotler said the masking and other demands affect academics and the mental health of students. As a result, she said, she removed her three daughters from Deer Lakes and enrolled them in a private school.
“How is it that students can have lunch together and attend sporting events without a mask but have to sit in class wearing one all day?”
Stotler said she has conservative views and hopes those who share them will support her candidacy.