Three candidates, two seats
Forum held for I-S School Board candidates
By Holly Neumann
Iola-Scandinavia School Board candidates Kristen Hoyord, Paul Huettner and Diana Jones met in the high school auditorium on March 13 for a candidate forum.
Huettner is running unopposed.
Hoyord and Jones are running for one seat to represent the village of Iola.
Candidates were asked why they want to be on the school board.
“Because of the staff and the kids,” Huettner said. “It feels good to be a part of that. This is a good way to give back to the community and do my part.”
Huettner believes his patience, willingness to listen and hear people out and thoughtfulness make him a good candidate.
He believes his role on the board is be part of a team.
“Nothing on the board gets done by an individual,” he said. “It takes the entire board to hash things for our district and provide direction.”
Hoyord hopes she will serve a third term.
“We have done many great things here, and I want to successfully see those complete,” she said. “We have an amazing staff here. We have new leadership and administration that works well together collaboratively. And we, as a board, work well together and have created a relationship will all of them.”
She believes her experience, knowledge of the district and rapport with the staff qualifies her to be on the board.
Hoyord also believes board members should work as a team.
“A good board member collaborates well with others and is respectful of other board members even if they don’t agree with the decision,” she said. “They want to see the community through the rough patches and look at the future of the district.”
Jones wants to be on the school board because she cares about the district.
“Talking with the teachers and seeing their hearts for the kids, it blesses me so much,” she said. “They have given so much for my children, and I am so grateful for them. We have a great school, we have a great district and we have good education here and I want to see that continue.”
Jones believes running JP Media, working with the students through the post prom committee and regular attendance at both board and committee meetings qualifies her for the job.
She sees the role of a school board member as a listener.
“Listening, and thinking through what is said and being able to share your opinions,” Jones said. “I would like to be able to do that and provide insight.”
Candidates also spoke about safety and security.
“I think we have done a great job to where we are right now,” Huettner said. “We have gotten to the point where students in the high school things are now opened up.”
He believes the addition of cameras, radios and keeping staff informed and trained on the most up-to-date practices are key to keeping students safe.
“Our doors are now locked, and we have door monitors present at every entrance,” Hoyord said. “I know this is not perfect. We are looking at changing the entrances, but it is a start.”
She noted telephones have been added to every classroom and the tip line called ReportIt will also be added.
Jones liked what the other candidates said.
“I also believe in the three-prong approach,” she said. “Equipping the school with the proper equipment, training the teachers, staff and students what to do if something happened, and providing stronger solutions for those that are being bullied and in need of mental health treatment.”
Jones said she was happy with the changes that have been made, but suggested having law enforcement come in and look for weaknesses and also asking staff about concerns.
One community member questioned the candidates about what the board is or is not doing that they would like changed.
“Communication,” Hoyord said. “We are working on this and we need to get better at this. The district is a partnership made up of our community, our district, our staff and the board of education. Communication is key to this partnership.”
She said open community forums would help bring the community back together.
“It takes an entire board working together to make communication happen,” Jones said. “I have ideas about communicating. People care, but you don’t realize it until something happens. I think you can prevent something from happening by making sure communication is clear and effective.”
Huettner agreed but prefers open forums over social and other types of electronic media.
“I am more in favor of an open forum,” he said. It’s a lot more personal and a lot easier to reach people than social or electronic media. Communication is the only way to help the community and the board work together to make this school district continue to be the great district that it is.”
Another question was in regard to confidential issues that could result in legal actions and if the candidates would do anything differently.
It was agreed that sometimes this has to be done to protect the district.
“I don’t think I could necessarily do anything differently,” Jones said. “I do think that if you are communicating through the entire process, there is a trust that is built. Whether difficult or easy, you have to protect the district.”
“Communication is key,” Huettner said. “When you are dealing with legal issues, there is only so much you can say. You can be polite and respectful and understand the communities’ frustrations.”
“There are frustrations on both sides, because you want to share,” Hoyord said. “We need to start from the beginning. We are all here for the same thing. We are all here for the students and if we work together we can get through anything.”
The forum was organized by high school senior Collin McNamara.
McNamara, along with Britteny Tuszke, moderated the event.