With the election now just days away (Tuesday, April 9), candidates for the Waterloo School Board presented their ideas and answered questions from district teachers during a candidate forum held Wednesday afternoon in the Waterloo Junior High School library. Around 20 teachers were in attendance. Candidates present for the forum were Tom Schrieber, John Caupert, Steve Wheat and Gary Most. Not present were Dwight Boehm and Kevin Wheat. The latter candidate did issue a written statement about his desire to be on the board, which was read by event moderator Rich McDermott.
The first question, asked by McDermott, was simply “Why are you running?” Schrieber replied that education is the “vital link to our community” and he wants to use his skills for good in serving the school district; Caupert said he is doing it “for the 2,800 souls” that walk through the school doors every day; Steve Wheat said he is proud to have helped the school district in various ways over the years and simply “wants to go to the next level.” Most replied he’s “not running against anybody… I’m running because I want to.”
The candidates also tackled the issue of finances and the school district budget. Caupert said he has experience managing budgets with the challenge of dwindling state and federal aid. Keeping the school district budget balanced is key, he said.
“You can only kick the can down the road so far,” Caupert said.
Steve Wheat said he sees areas where he could save the district some money on the expense side. Candidate Most stressed that communication would help immensely in dealing with this issue, as the school board sits squarely in the middle between teachers and taxpayers.
Schrieber answered that district expenditures are still at 2010 levels, so “it’s the revenue we’re not getting from the state” that is causing problems. He stressed that “we can’t let student achievement drop” when deciding how best to manage district finances.
Waterloo Junior High School teacher Deb Clinebell touched on what she said is perceived by some teachers and the general public as a lack of openness at the school board level. All of the candidates in attendance agreed there should probably be more open discussion and collaborative efforts to engage the community on school district matters going forward.
Other topics such as class sizes and collective bargaining agreements were also addressed in the 75-minute session. For full candidate profiles of each of the six school board candidates running in Tuesday’s election, pick up this week’s Republic-Times newspaper.