School board candidates favor new buildings

Tuesday, March 27, 2007
From left, Marshall Board of Education candidates Kathy Green, Sherrie Stouffer and Keith Ward. Candidate Cindy Brandt was unable to attend the public forum hosted by the Marshall Community Teachers' Association Monday, March 26, at Marshall High School. One theme of the candidates' comments and audience questions was how to convince voters to approve funding for new school buildings.

The consensus of Marshall school board candidates seems clear: The biggest challenge before the board is convincing the community to fund new buildings.

Three of the four candidates for Marshall Board of Education participated in the forum sponsored by the local Community Teachers' Association. Candidate Cindy Brandt was not able to attend because of an illness in her family.

Incumbent Kathy Green and challengers Sherrie Stouffer and Keith Ward each made brief remarks about their goals for the district and their qualifications to serve on the board before fielding questions from the audience.

Each candidate emphasized the need for the district to continue striving to provide all children with the best possible education, and adding space was mentioned by each as a top priority.

The first question from the audience asked the candidates to say how they thought that goal might be accomplished. Voters have rejected bond issues for new construction three times in recent years. The last time the issue was on the ballot was in April 2003.

Green said when she began her first term on the board six years ago she felt there was a problem with credibility but that the current board had worked hard to regain the trust of the community.

She said the board has been talking about the bond issue and has preliminary ideas under consideration.

Another member of the audience asked what the candidates would propose doing immediately.

"We can't wait for a bond issue if we're going to provide our children with a quality education," said Deb Foreman, a music teacher in the district.

Stouffer, who teaches second grade at Blackwater School, said she thought adding paraprofessionals to school staffs would be a good way to help until more resources are available.

Stouffer said she believes strongly in smaller class sizes, especially in the lower elementary grades, because students need more attention and getting them off to a good start in school will help them succeed throughout their school careers.

Another questioner wondered how the candidates would increase diversity among the district's staff.

Each candidate said that was a difficult issue for the board to influence because it isn't involved directly in the hiring process.

Ward, who has served for several years on the district's Multicultural Advisory Committee, said the question of how to foster diversity is a top priority of the committee and that it seeks to provide suggestions to district administrators about addressing such issues.

Contact Eric Crump at

marshalleditor@socket.net

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