Candidates talk about spending

With three seats being contested in Tuesday’s Fort Dodge Community School District school board election, the seven candidates are speaking this week about issues important to the community.

Randal Funchess, Lisa Shimkat, William Offerman, Troy Schroeder and John F. Williams, as well as incumbents Brian Forsythe and Stuart Cochrane, recently offered statements about district spending.

Shimkat said prioritization is important to her.

“When it comes to district spending a big thing I hope to focus on is staying within the strategic plan and to make sure that we are arming the teachers with the tools and resources to help them help our students, especially with all the additional requirements we place on the teachers,” she said.

Funchess is aware it is an issue, he said, but had not formed an opinion.

“I’ve heard there’s some concerns with the way the district has been (spending) while I was gathering signatures for my petition,” he said. “But I don’t have an opinion at this point.”

Offerman said he would like to see greater transparency.

“I think that would be great for our community, to really feel a part of the decision-making process,” he said. “I don’t necessarily know how our district is spending the money. As a community member, I would love to have a further understanding of the ins and outs of school spending, what that looks like and how it can really be curtailed, to see what’s in a budget but also continue to have our community involved with decisions.”

Schroeder approves of the board’s spending practices, he said.

“I think that the money our district spends is for all the right reasons, to better either education or the experience, whether it be for school kids or teachers,” he said. “I have no bad feelings toward what we do spend currently at the district.”

Forsythe, a member of the FDCSD board for seven years, described the board as fiscally conservative when it comes to spending.

“If you take a look at the district as a whole, we’re in a very good financial position as compared to a lot of other school districts our size,” he said. “I think that says a lot about the board, that they’ve made the tough choices in being proactive on some budget cuts and reduced spending in certain areas. It has not been easy, but I think it’s been a necessary evil.”

Cochrane, FDCSD board president and member for 17 years, said he is comfortable with the district’s spending.

“I think our district spending is right now where it should be,” he said. “I’m comfortable that the resources of the district are being allocated in the manner that is best suited for our children. In terms of overall, as it relates to spending, I don’t think we should be spending less, I think we need to prioritize how we spend the limited resources that we have.”

Williams did not respond to email requests for a comment.