Candidates for school board discuss priorities at forum hosted by MCHS

Candidates for Moffat County School District board of directors, from left, Jnl Linsacum, Lynne Seely, Krystal Fedinec and Cindy Looper, speak at Moffat County High School during a forum held by the students of the high school.
Eliza Noe / Craig Press

Community members and school district stakeholders gathered at the Moffat County High School auditorium for this year’s school board election forum. Hosted by the Moffat County Education Association, MCHS AP government class and student council, the forum featured four out of the five candidates running for seats on the board.

Students presented questions for candidates, ranging from priorities, their relationship with the school district and what they hope to accomplish on the board. When asked what their biggest concerns were, candidates had varying answers.

Though some mentioned COVID-19 as the number-one issue that the district is facing, they focused on different aspects of strain that it has put on the school district and the community. Jnl Linsacum, an incumbent holding an at-large seat who is running for the District B seat, said that her priority will always be to keep kids in school instead of sending them home to learn virtually. This, she said, is one way she hopes to combat the “COVID slide,” or the potential decline in a student’s educational performance as a result of learning during the pandemic.

“(Masking has) been controversial in our community, and trying to get everyone to agree is just not going to happen. I feel like our district has worked very hard to work with the health department and the community to make sure everyone’s satisfied,” she said. “I think we have a plan with the COVID dashboard, trying to keep track of cases, and hopefully we don’t have to wear masks but you know, that’s something that we might have to face. I just have to tell myself that is what’s best for students — to be in the classroom, with a teacher in front of them.”

Lynne Seely, who is running for the District B seat, echoed concerns about COVID-19’s effects on learning. She commended the district’s reopening plan’s policy to have each school independently wear masks, if needed, instead of district-wide mandates. In addition to COVID, Seely added that maintaining the district budget and better school buildings is one of her concerns.

“I know probably the Number 2 concern for the district is their budget and also passing the bond (to increase) revenues so that we can maintain our facilities and improve them,” Seely said. “And I really do support maintaining our school buildings and facilities that we have in order to make them a safe place for everyone to come and learn, so that it’s practical that those facilities provide the proper areas for (school activities) to occur in.”

Krystal Fedinec, who is running for the board for the first time, said that she wants to see the district’s progress surrounding COVID-19 and funding continue in a positive direction. Fedinec, who went to school in Moffat County, added that she supported the district’s upcoming bond initiative that could bring in around $6 million in grant funds from the state along with $36 million that would be paid back through local property taxes over time.

“I am happy with the way things have gone so far (in terms of COVID),” Fedinec said. “And I would love to see things continuing in that direction. As (Seely said), I think the second challenge would be our budget. I’ve been looking over some of the bond things and all the hard work that’s been done for all that is exciting.”

Cindy Looper, a current board member running unopposed to retain her seat, said that her main concern was staff shortages in the school district. Looper said that the district has lost teachers to other schools in Wyoming, where they are paid more, and attracting quality teachers is something she wants to focus on in her next term.

“I’m going to say that one of our biggest challenges is getting people out here,” Looper said. “And a lot of that is involved in their spouses having to like to live here, as well. We found that when the teacher comes, they might like it, but if the spouse doesn’t like it, it doesn’t work out so well. So I would say staffing is one of our biggest areas that we consistently have issues with.”

Heather Cannon, the city attorney, is also running for a seat on the board, but was unable to attend. She is running for the District A seat.

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