In the only competitive race for the North Platte school board, two women are squaring off for the Ward 2 seat that Mike Morrell has held for several years. Morrell is retiring from the board.

Ward 2 is generally the north side of the city.

Here is closer look at the each of the candidates through their answers to the same questions.

 

ANGELA BLAESI, 40, Family Childcare Provider

Blaesi’s business is state licensed and Step Up To Quality rated.

Experience & qualifications

I have been a girl scout leader, a Sunday school teacher and a soccer coach. I am a very involved mother. In addition to my daycare, I have served on Parent Teacher Organizations for every school my children attended.

I am an active member of the high school booster club and serve on the Community for Kids team. I am an active member of Rooted in Relationships (an initiative in Nebraska that focuses on early childhood social and emotional development.)

I am a part of the Leadership Academy with the Nebraska Association for the Education of Young Children, and I am the director for the Miss Nebraska Organizations Little Sisters Program.

 

Motivations 

My girls went to Hall school north of town. The year before they closed, we were told about a week and a half before school ended that our children would be transferred to a different school for the following school year. We were told we had no choice where they went because the transfer period had already passed.

I immediately left that meeting and looked up board members. My daughters and I knocked on doors and made phone calls to talk with the board members, telling them how we felt.

It was decided at the following board meeting that the school would stay open one more year. Later they decided to close our school after that year.

The fact that they listened to us, explained how financially they couldn’t keep the doors open, and gave us that next year to say good-bye and choose a new school for our children, impressed me. I was very appreciative of how the board listened and explained to help us understand a hard situation.

I immediately wanted to be on the board. When I heard Mr. Morrell was not seeking re-election, I decided now is my time.

 

If elected, what would you strive for?

I want the teachers and the community to feel and know they are heard, and I want to hear from them.

I want the public to feel I am approachable when they need to talk. When dealing with our children’s safety and education, the whole community needs to know the board is here to listen and help. Instead of being upset and confused and getting on social media, call or email me. I want to hear your concerns.

 

How best to respond to economic challenges (layoffs, business closings, students who option to other districts)?

Talk to the constituent, maybe a coffee with the board and ask what people would like to see the school district do. Ask parents why they are sending their children to other school districts, don’t assume. The school board members are elected to be the voice of the people, find out what the people want. Listen!

 

High property taxes vs. need to generate revenue

As a single mom I know the struggle of tight finances. I completely understand the frustration of higher property taxes. When it comes to educating our future leaders and for their safety, I understand spending the money. I feel we do need to be held accountable in our spending and be responsible. It is hard line to walk. I will walk it with both side in view to remain a healthy balance.

 

Family

I am the daughter of Robert and Christine Rosane. I am a single mother of three — Dustin Wonch, a 2016 graduate of NPHS; Evelyn Blaesi a NPHS sophomore; and Zarah Blaesi a NPHS freshman.

 

Also

I think the board needs to be filled with a diverse set of people. I have struggled to put food on the table for my children, I have lived paycheck to paycheck. Because of these things, I feel that I have a different perspective to offer the board. I want to be that person to represent North Platte School Board Ward 2.

 

BROOKE LUENENBORG, 42, Physician assistant & office manager

Experience & qualifications

Member of task force for merger of Buffalo and Lincoln schools, parent member of PBiS team at Buffalo Elementary, community member of team for Adams and Madison reconfiguration, PTO officer at Buffalo Elementary.

 

Motivation

I care about the education of my children and all the children in North Platte. I want the students, staff, teachers and administrators to have a safe and healthy learning/work environment. I believe that good schools lead to great towns and increase the sense of community in the town. I want to be better educated on the issues in the school that are faced by teachers, staff and students and I want to help be part of the solution to those issues.

 

If elected, what would you strive for?

I am still learning about the issues, asking teachers, staff and administrators to help educate me on issues they want addressed. I would like to see better support for pre-K through 8th grade students that have difficulty learning in a traditional classroom.  I would like to see other opportunities or ways to educate these students that benefit them while maintaining the continued learning of students in the traditional classroom.

Although the safety and security initiative did not pass, I think we need to pursue it.  This is a problem that will not go away. As a community, I think we should be proactive in this matter and not reactive.

I am also interested in learning about how our district compares to districts of similar size. How does teacher pay compare, how does the number of para to students compare, etc.

I would also like to see different options for students who do not learn well in a traditional classroom. Some students can sit in a desk for long periods of time and learn and other students cannot. We need to provide optimal learning conditions for all types of students.

We need to teach to the students that excel and to the students that need more help.

 

How best to respond to economic challenges (layoffs, business closings, students who option to other districts)?

The economic challenges the district is facing is a very difficult problem. The district has already made some changes like combining the elementary schools.

When there is less money, the district has to make decisions on how to spend it best for our students and staff.  These are hard choices and the solutions will not always make everyone happy.  The district has to do more with less and that is not easy in any situation.

I also hope that parents and city officials get involved and educated on what is going on and what positive impact we can try to make together.  It should not be a district versus parent/community member situation.

Education should be a community issue and we should all work together for the students and staff.

 

High property taxes vs. the need to generate revenue 

The schools use tax money, there is no denying it. But the schools aren’t the only ones that use this money. So it is not just a school issue, it is a state and city issue.

As far as the schools needing money, maybe other avenues of raising money need to be looked at. If people don’t want higher taxes, maybe they would be willing to donate money to a capital campaign for the schools. Maybe there are other ways of making money for the schools that has not been done yet.

Going back to my previous answer, if the city can attract more jobs, it will attract more people and that will help our schools grow also.