Nampa trustee candidates speak out

The candidate field is crowded for Nampa School Board trustees as the district deals with millions of dollars in financial problems.

Here’s why the seven people running for trustee say you should vote for them.

The election is May 21. Early voting starts May 6. Trustees are elected for four year terms by voters in their zones.

Zone 3

Robert John “Bob” Otten (i)
Retired elementary school teacher.
Children in Nampa School District: None

Why are you running for trustee?
I am a 35-year resident of Nampa. The community has given me so much over the years; I want to give back. I believe the students of Nampa deserve the highest quality education. I believe school trustees play an important role making sure our school system is top-notch. I would like to continue on the board to finish the work that has been started and to ask hard questions and demand answers.

What is one specific thing you would do to improve the Board of Trustees’ oversight of the districts budget and finances?
I would have the business manager meet with the board each month to inform the trustees of incoming revenue, expenses and any other financial items that may be of concern to the district. This will allow for questions, and the board will be better informed about the district finances.

What is a key difference between you and your opponent?
I spent 40 years teaching elementary school before retiring in 2010. Not only do I have a firm understanding of the education system, I also have experience on the board and I will provide continuity throughout this time of crisis so that we may once again have a financially stable district.

Clayton Trehal
Teacher outside the Nampa School District
Children in Nampa School District: None
Why are you running for trustee?
I am running because I feel my background and experience will help me guide the district through the current crisis and in the future. The immediate future for Nampa School District will be pretty austere, and as cuts are being made it will be critically important to have people who understand education helping to make the difficult decisions ahead. Nampa is an excellent place to live. We deserve an excellent school system with capable leadership.

What is one specific thing you would do to improve the Board of Trustees’ oversight of the district’s budget and finances?
I would like to see regular public financial reports and would also recommend periodic reports directly from district financial officers to the school board. School districts are stewards of extremely large budgets and do work that is too important to miscount money and overshoot their budgets by as much as the Nampa School District did. We are supposed to be able to trust our school district.
What is a key difference between you and your opponent(s)?
I have extensive background in education and unique perspective concerning school districts: I have worked in five school districts — including Nampa, Meridian, and Boise — and by seeing the policies and approach of very different school districts, I am in a good position to know what works in schools and what doesn’t. District leadership plays a primary role in the health and success of schools and classrooms, and I’ve seen both good and bad.

Zone 4
Brian J. McGourty
Owner Eyecare Associates of Nampa; former trustee
Children in Nampa School District: None

Why are you running for trustee?
I became re-engaged with Nampa School District through my involvement with the Superintendent Search Committee. That experience illustrated the lack of understanding and leadership of the board. The challenges we face needed to be identified earlier and required immediate attention. Key responsibilities of a school board are to hire the superintendent, establish performance goals and objectives for the superintendent and oversee district fiscal operations. The current board needs leadership and experience in these areas.
What is one specific thing you would do to improve the Board of Trustees’ oversight of the district’s budget and finances?
I bring a more comprehensive understanding of the complexities of public education funding than the existing board. That allows me to review past, current and proposed budgets while asking the critical questions to ensure the accountability of the district administrative leadership. A board is only as good as the information it receives and the information it receives often is only as good as the questions it asks. I am not afraid to ask tough questions.

What is a key difference between you and your opponent(s)?
I served on the Nampa School Board from 1991 through 2000, including three years as chairman. These were trying times. The district had lost the confidence of staff, parents and community. We faced serious budget deficits and needed to make sweeping changes in leadership. These tasks and more were accomplished during my tenure. That experience provides me with the ability to hit the ground running. As a community, we have no time for on-thejob  trustee training.

Kimiko Rost
Structural engineer.
Children in Nampa School District: 2

Why are you running for trustee?
To ensure our children are provided the resources to succeed without overburdening taxpayers.

What is one specific thing you would do to improve the Board of Trustees’ oversight of the district’s budget and finances?
I will ask the tough questions and think out of the box to ensure every line item is researched thoroughly.

What is a key difference between you and your opponent(s)?
My children, my involvement in PTA, and my volunteer substitute teaching, provides firsthand daily communication with teachers, students and parents.

Cate Tedeski
Small business owner
Children in Nampa School District: One.

Why are you running for trustee?
Recent events have undermined the trust between the community & the district. We are $5 million dollars in debt. This board’s answer has been to make pay cuts to the folks who show up every day to serve our children. Teachers are expected to take furlough days, thus cutting their pay. They have stopped paying substitutes. They’re cutting from  custodians by contracting out those services. We must restore trust. This is why I’m running.

What is one specific thing you would do to improve the Board of Trustees’ oversight of the district’s budget and finances?
I plan to look for additional sources of income such as grants. I will also look for ways to cut from the top first. Big salaries are paid to the administration, while the superintendent callously recommends to the board to make cuts to our hard-working teachers and staff. This takes from our children. It hurts our local economy. These are our friends and neighbors. They have families and mortgages to pay.

What is a key difference between you and your opponent(s)?
One of my opponents is a district insider. He was a former chairman of the board & currently serves on a financial committee. He was involved in the hiring of the current superintendent. We don’t need more of the same.
As far as I know my other opponent hasn’t said anything yet. Perhaps she doesn’t want to make waves.
Crucial times call for bold actions. I will do what’s needed for our children and our community.

Zone 5
Mike Fuller
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints seminary instructor
Children in Nampa School District: 2

Why are you running for trustee?
I simply want to help the district. I want to help ensure that we maintain a focus on kids and learning while we navigate through the current fiscal challenges we are facing. I am not running because I think I have all the answers to our problems, instead I want to involve as many community members as possible in finding creative solutions.

What is one specific thing you would do to improve the Board of Trustees’ oversight of the district’s budget and finances?
The current board has done a great job by hiring two new CPAs and forming a new independent auditing committee of highly qualified community volunteers. The only thing I would suggest is that they increase the level of training for the board members. I am impressed with the changes that the new finance officerMichelle Yankovich has made to overhaul the financial reporting system.

What is a key difference between you and your opponent(s)?
My experiences and background are in education. I have ten years’ experience as a classroom instructor; a master’s degree in literacy; and a doctoral student at BSU. I also teach online for BSU’s EdTech master’s program. As we navigate through the current fiscal challenges, I hope to maintain a focus on kids and learning. I think my educational background and experience will help me with that.

Dale L. Wheeler (i)
Retired from Union Pacific Railroad 2008
Children in Nampa School District: None

Why are you running for trustee?
I feel with my longevity and experience on the school board I can continue to make a difference in getting the Nampa School District financially stable again. I listen and have an open mind to all sides of issues before making a final decisions. I have the time to devote to the Nampa School District.

What is one specific thing you would do to improve the Board of Trustees’ oversight of the district’s budget and finances?
Get more detailed information on specific items in the budget process and financial reports.

What is a key difference between you and your opponent(s)?
I have experience and knowledge of the duties of a school board trustee. I have served on the Nampa School Board for 12 years. The only agenda I have is to improve student learning.

Posted in In The Classroom, Our Towns