School Board candidates discuss enrollment, new elementary school at forum
Three out of eight candidates for Beatrice School Board debated issues at a forum on Tuesday, including the future of a new elementary school.
Candidates Doris Martin, Monte Lofing and Eric Book answered submitted questions with Jim Nelson moderating. Jim Nelson said that most candidates were unable to attend due to parent teacher conferences scheduled at the same time.
The candidates were asked a series of four questions ranging from tax issues to the preschool. One question all of the candidates agreed on was if they would support the building of a new school. All three agreed now is not the time to bring that to the public with the recent tax levy hike related to the Beatrice 6 payment.
Martin has served on the school board for three terms and has an extensive background in education. Lofing served on the school board from 2008 to 2012 and said he’s a truck driver by profession with two part-time jobs. Lastly Book is a Marine Corp veteran who said he would bring a fresh face to the board.
Although Martin comes from an educational background and works currently as the Executive Director of the Education Foundation, she believes it is good to have some people on the board that do not have an education background.
“I would not want a board made up of all educators,” Martin said. “I think that it is important to have at least one person on the board that can bring that focus, or that thought process to the board.”
Each candidate had the opportunity to answer what they thought was the biggest issue in the school district. The main issue Book hit on the most when answering his questions was the budget.
“We couldn’t afford textbooks this year,” Book said. ”...So basically we’re not giving the teachers the tools that they need necessary that are up to date with the textbooks.”
Martin and Lofing both brought up enrollment issues.
“We were losing enrollment there for a while, and I found out it just kind of leveled off,” Lofing said, “Last time, I was told there were like 120 some students [that] were living in our district, but they were going to schools outside our area.”
Lofing said that enrollment is hurting funds too. Beatrice is missing out on about a million dollars in state aid because of these students opting to go elsewhere, according to Lofing.
In her closing statement, Martin said she would like to continue to serve the community and keep students in the forefront while she serves on the board.
Book said that if people are happy with how the school board is then they should vote for like-minded people, but if the people want change they should consider him. Book promised to listen to what the community has to say and act on complaints.
Lofing asked that the people of District 15 come out to vote instead of complain about what the board has done. He said that those who vote have the chance to change the school board.
“You could put four new people on this board,” he said, “that’s four new ideas, four new different ways of thinking, so they could change a lot.”
Candidates unable to attend the forum were Matt Langley, Jon Zimmerman, Eric Trusty, Erin Chadwick and Andrew Pinney. There are only four seats open for election on the school board on Nov. 6.