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Seven running for School Board, election April 14

Seven candidates are running for two at-large seats on the Haakon School District 27-1 Board of Education. The election will be Tuesday, April 14.

Five questions have been given to each candidate. Their answers have been printed in successive issues of the Pioneer Review.

Question #5. What are your views on how much money is needed for the district's education and how it is being spent?

Jodi Kammerer: "I believe the budget is going to be a major concern in the near future. The economy is already affecting everyone in our community in one way or another. People can't afford more taxes to make up the short falls that may be coming. We all need to live within our budget and make due with what we have."

Lori Quinn: "I think at this time we need to make sure we are carefully developing and following a budget. Given that funding for education is continually changing and shrinking, we need to make sure that we focus on giving our children a well-rounded education. The money should be spent in a manner that makes it possible for our children to compete in society. The only way to do that is to make sure that the education they receive is the very best one possible. If that means making tough decisions to cut programs, teachers or extra activities, then that is what we need to be able to accomplish this."

R. Mark Radway: "I'm not sure how much money is needed for the district's education. I am sure that the district needs to spend the money they receive wisely. We need to give our students the very best education that we can. It is an investment in our future and our students' future. I do not know how all the money is being spent now, but if I am elected, hopefully I can ensure you it will be spent wisely."

Tonya Jo Berry: "I think our district as a whole is very efficient, considering the number of students we have. As a general rule, the smaller number of students you have in a district, the higher the cost of educating each student. With this fact, our district ranks right in the middle out of all the districts in South Dakota. With regards as to how much money is needed to run our district, that's a very broad question. We have to have enough money to keep up our facilities, we need to keep a wide variety of classes and activities for our children to partake in, and we need to keep high quality teachers to educate our kids. I'm sure probably every person in the county has a different opinion on how much or how little is being spent on each individual program, but we all have to realize that the bottom line is our children's education. Of course, none of us wants the district to spend money foolishly on unneeded activities, but neither do we want our kids to graduate from high school and not be able to enter the college of their choice because of lack of academic skills. The money we put into our children's education will benefit the rest of us in time."

Mark Nelson: "How much is needed? However much it takes to give the students a high quality education. That doesn't necessarily mean that we need more than we are currently spending. I feel that sometimes we spend money on technology and neglect supporting the human element, in effect teachers and staff. I think we also need to look at what to dispense on extra curricular activities and prioritize this against basic education needs. I feel that the funds should be spent where the maximum number of students benefit."

Kelly Blair: "Last year it cost approximately $6,700 to educate each student in the district. There are 168 school districts in South Dakota. We rank 82nd in enrollment, and 84th in what it costs to educate our students. The general fund budget is about $2.2 million. Over 80 percent of this money is spent on fixed expenses, wages, benefits building maintenance, etc. Five years ago the board of education cut the school's budget by $225,000. We accomplished this without cutting any programs or staff positions, in fact we were able to bring back industrial arts classes, a program which I feel is very important to many of our students. I am very proud of what we have accomplished as a board in this area. We have kept our spending low, while still maintaining high educational standards for our children. Eighty percent of our graduates go to college, and 76 percent of students grades 7-12 are on the honor roll. I would like to close by thanking the Pioneer Review for providing the candidates with this opportunity to express our views. I hope that everyone will go vote for the candidates of their choice on April 14."

Michelle Butler: "Those involved know the exact numbers of what it takes to educate a student. The budget is followed very conservatively to make sure that ALL students receive the best education possible. It is important that all educational needs are met and that the money allowed is used properly. It costs a lot to educate our students today, with the cost of books, technology, teachers' salaries and general utilities to run the schools and it is the boards job to make sure that money is spent the best ways possible."