Elkhorn School Board candidates eager to serve, shape district
ELKHORN An incumbent and two newcomers are competing for two seats on the Elkhorn Area School Board in the April 5 election.
Common among the three candidates are their concerns on expected cuts in state revenue and the impact on the Elkhorn Area School District. The candidates are incumbent David Ketchpaw, David Stebnitz and Matt Wallace.
They are running for three-year terms. Board members are paid $50 for each meeting attended. Board officers collect $60 and the president gets $80.
A fourth person—Laurie Ann Kyle—will be on the ballot. However, Kyle said, She is no longer running for office because she works for the district. Being on the board might be a conflict of interest, Kyle said.
Q: How should the school district deal with the expected loss of state aids that could create a $2.4 million hole in the district budget for 2011-12?
Ketchpaw: The board must wrestle with where to make large reductions.
“We need to absorb the cuts while maintaining staff and curriculum.”
Stebnitz: Does not want the district to slip in stature.
“I think it’s a great school district, and I want it to stay that way,” Stebnitz said. “I don’t have any agenda, but I see future issues that are tough.”
Wallace: New programs “that haven’t taken a foothold in our district will likely need to be placed on the back burner” until they can be afforded. He mentioned 4-year-old kindergarten as an example of what may have to go on hiatus.
“I realize it will be a challenge for a first-time member, but that can be overcome with common sense and due diligence.”
Q: Why do you want to serve on the school board?
Ketchpaw: He said he has empathy for district employees because he was a county employee.
“I provide diversity to the board as a retired deputy,” Ketchpaw said. “As a former government employee, I bring empathy to the staff, which is more important now.”
Stebnitz: He has five grandchildren in Elkhorn schools and said he would enjoy serving on the board.
“I feel my experience as a teacher, a business owner and former elected official will help in working with teachers, taxpayers and other school board members to make sure these changes always keep the best interests of our children in mind.”
Wallace: He has four children attending schools in the district.
“I have served on past school board committees, and I want to help facilitate growth and the education of children,” Wallace said.
Q: What is your vision for the Elkhorn School District?
Ketchpaw: He said program and curriculum cuts are unlikely. An expected round of retirements provides the board opportunities to reexamine curriculum and develop it in more efficient and economical ways.
“We need to make sure that we remember whatever we do it’s all about the kids,” Ketchpaw said.
Stebnitz: He said the district must be on the leading edge of innovation and work to maintain current class sizes.
Students have computer labs, special learning programs, updated buildings and excellent teachers, he said.
“My vision is to keep this as tradition as we move forward,” he said.
Wallace: He said the board will need to determine the role technology will play in the classroom.
“How will we set our district apart from other districts to become innovators in educating our children not only in our state but throughout the nation?” Wallace asked.