Teamwork, volunteerism drive school board candidates
October 16, 2001
By JOSH NICHOLS
Daily Press writer
With four years under his belt, District 2 school board candidate, John Wellman thinks his past experiences as a board member will make him an effective representative the next fours years.
The first two years of his term were a learning experience, he said, and that experience has enabled him to be a more effective member the past two years.
“I’ve learned teamwork,” he said, “as well as the roles and duties involved in considering our policies and procedures.”
The school board’s role is to make policy, then pass that policy onto administrators for implementation, he said.
“Moffat County is on the right track as a policy making rather than a decision making board,” he said. “Our job is to make policy and allow administrators to implement the policy.”
Wellman said he originally ran for the school board because he thought his background in education would enable him to contribute to the board.
Wellman earned a bachelor of science in vocational agriculture education then taught 2 1/2 years in Brigsdale.
He also just wanted to be involved.
“I wanted to be a public servant and donate my time,” he said.
Wellman has his eye on several issues for the upcoming term.
The main issue board members will face in the upcoming year will be whether or not to open the superintendent position, he said.
Also, he said, he would like to see the district improve communication with the state in regard to finances.
“There’s no doubt Moffat County is a rich district but unfortunately a lot of the taxes industries pay don’t get returned to the district,” he said.
Wellman said he would like to see the district work toward improving student achievement.
“I want students to increase achievement but not take away from other programs in order to accomplish it,” he said. “I want students to have skills so they’re prepared for any entry level position, but we also need to offer programs that allow students to go beyond that and enable them to go to any major University.”
Wellman said salaries for educators in the district are competitive, and he thinks this has resulted in a strong staff.
“Teachers aren’t paid in line with accountants but they are getting salaries close to the same as other jobs in the public sector,” he said. “All in all we have a hard staff to beat.”
He also said the community as whole has a strong attitude toward education in Moffat County.
In his next term, Wellman wants to look into the conditions of buildings in the district.
“Most facilities are well over 25 years old and they are beginning to show it,” he said.
Last, Wellman wanted the community to know that board members are there to talk to them.
“The purpose of a school board member is to serve the children and the tax payers of the community,” Wellman said. “We need to be a link between the district and the community.”
Cindy Sorensen has been thinking about running for the school board for a few years. When she saw the district 2 seat was up for election this year, she saw her chance.
“A couple of years ago when Donna Reichs left, she asked me if I would be interested in running for the school board and that kind of put a bug in my ear,” Sorensen said.
“At that time I thought I was too busy,” she said. “When I saw my district had an open seat I thought it would be a good time to run because soon my children will be done. This was my chance to get involved.”
Since her children have been out of elementary school, Sorensen said she hasn’t had the same opportunity to get involved in her children’s lives at school.
“It used to be I could volunteer at school when my children were younger but I can’t do that as much now that they are older,” she said. “It’s my way of feeling that I am doing something for my children and the community.”
In addition to being more involved with her children’s education, Sorensen said she decided to run because she would like to see a woman on what is now an all male board.
She stressed that she is not a women’s rights advocate, but simply thinks a woman’s perspective would give the board a more diverse outlook.
Sorensen thinks the present board has done a good job.
“I really don’t have an issues saying I want to change this and that,” she said. “I don’t have any problem with the way the board is run now. I just want to be active and take part in my children’s lives.”
She does have a few issues she said she would want to monitor as a board member.
Making sure district money is going where it should and making sure classrooms have a good teacher to student ratio are two issues with which she is concerned.
“When a classroom has too many students it is not good for a teacher or the students,” she said. “Just five extra students in a classroom can make a big difference.”
She understands what it’s like to be a teacher, she said, because she’s spent time in classrooms when her children were younger and experienced what it is like to work with class of over 20 students.
“An advantage for me would be that I’ve spent many hours in classrooms as a volunteer,” she said. “I have the perspective of a teacher who must deal with children on a daily basis.”
This day in age, Sorensen said she thought it was important that students are prepared and encouraged to continue their education after high school.
“I hope Moffat County schools are giving children an incentive to go on to college,” she said. “From what I’ve seen, they’re doing that.”