Why are you running?
Jennifer Hokanson: I am running because my daughter just started her first year at Cleveland Public School (second year of pre-K). I just want to be apart of her education and make a difference in the school.
Andy Jindra: One of my main reasons for running for School Board is to be a part of a great school district with making decisions and for our students to get the best education possible.
Scott Miller: I am once again running for School Board to continue to support the kids in our community by helping to give them the most opportunities possible in order to prepare them for life beyond public school education.
Michael J. Omtvedt: I am running because my wife and I have experienced firsthand the value of the relationships and education our four boys received while at Cleveland Public School. I learned from my father the importance of giving back to that from which you have been blessed. Cleveland Public School has been and will always be a blessing to our family and how thankful we are for the teachers, staff and students at Cleveland who have had such a big impact in the lives of our four boys now all graduates from Cleveland.
What do you consider to be the biggest issue facing the school district and how would you address it on the board?
Hokanson: In my opinion, I feel like COVID is the biggest issue facing the school district right now. The School Board and school is doing an outstanding job with this issue currently. I just want to be part of the decisions and making sure we are following all the regulations that are out there for school and keeping out students safe.
Jindra: I think one of the biggest issues facing the school district right now is with the COVID-19 pandemic and all the additional expenses to comply with all the regulations for in school learning and also with hybrid learning. I believe the district is handling it the very best they can at this time.
Miller: As a small school district, it is often cost prohibitive to be able to give students all of the same opportunities kids in large districts receive. As a district we have done a great job being creative when it comes to providing opportunities in the past. If we can continue with the steady increase in growth we have seen in the last five years we will be able to provide more learning and extra-curricular opportunities such as STEAM education, agriculture education and trade industry opportunities. I believe we can accomplish all of this all while keeping our small class sizes which gives kids one-on-one access to their teachers and other learning supports.
Omtvedt: Currently the biggest issue facing our school district and every other school district by far is navigating through all the challenges caused by the COVID 19 pandemic. What is vitally important in dealing with an issue of this magnitude is clear communication and keeping a pulse on the facts, feelings and opinions that our students, parents, teachers and community share. Tough decisions must be made by the board knowing that this has been and will be a very polarizing issue however with a clear understanding of the state mandates vs. guidelines and an open communication policy I am confident that as a community we can move forward showing strong support for the best interests of all our students, teachers and Staff.
What additional tools/programs can the School Board provide to improve student achievement?
Hokanson: I don’t know what is currently offered right now as far as tools and programs go, but I will definitely make it a priority to look into it and see what could be improved.
Jindra: Student achievement is more than data from standardized tests. Cleveland Public School has done well in the MCA standardized tests in both proficiency and growth. In my opinion, the goal of a school is to have every student have a years growth every year. With that being said, the board can work collaboratively with the administration and staff on different programs. One of those programs is PBIS. This is a program that establishes a culture of positivity with students and staff. Cleveland is well know for its relationships and the culture of a school is the first thing you need to have student achievement. Communication is important and with the use of Infinite Campus it allows for student, parents, and staff to be Able to be on the same page to help.
Miller: The School Board worked very hard over the last four years to help educate our community on why we needed additional learning space. We will very soon be putting this new space to great use for all of the activities I outlined earlier plus we will have some room to grow into the new programs which will give kids great insight preparing for life after high school.
Omtvedt: Any tool or program provided by the board must emphasize an environment of mutual respect and accountability. There must be a focus on the thinking that is behind the choices and decisions being made. I also believe we must remember that people do not care what you know unless they know you care. Our Students, our teachers, our staff and our community must know that as a board we care about them. What leads to improved student achievement is when a community comes together and strongly encourages, supports and provides for a healthy learning environment where continuous growth for all can happen.
In the wake of rising COVID case numbers, the district has moved to a partial hybrid model for the month of September. Do you agree with this? How should the school approach education as the pandemic continues?
Hokanson: I do agree with this. Going hybrid still makes it possible for students to get into school and be in class in person. I also do like how the school came up with the plan to make the students accountable while they are at home. Still having to check into school in the morning and attend their classes during the day.
Jindra: I believe our school district is working very hard to keep all of our students and staff safe and healthy with the decisions they have had to make with the different learning methods.
Miller: As a board we take very seriously the health and safety of our students, faculty and our community. I agree that we need to take a sensible approach to keeping kids in physical contact with one another and their teachers. Kids feed of this interaction and it is very important to their overall development. I believe we have accomplished this with our learning models all while protecting those who may be at a higher risk. How should the school approach education as the pandemic continues? We should continue to track the facts, listen to the experts and use common sense when it comes to putting kiss in the right positing to learn and grow.
Omtvedt: The success of any decision relies on the support of those it impacts. A decision was made by the board based on the information, facts and opinions surrounding COVID at the time. The question should not be whether I agree with this or not but how can I support the decision made in order to give it the best chance of success possible. Moving forward will require us as a board to listen twice as much as we speak and to communicate clearly what we believe the best plan for moving forward is. I realize that not all may agree with what the board decides but every individual can certainly find a way to support those decisions the best they can in order to help them be as effective and successful as possible.