Candidates talk about staffing

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 staffing.

Offerman said the issue was a tricky one.

“I understand the need for the budgets and where that comes into play,” he said. “If we could have every teacher in our area employed by the Dodger district, that would be fantastic, because that would lower the teacher-student ratios, make for more interactive, one-on-one learning opportunities for teachers and students. But I do understand that budget constraints can cause some staffing concerns too.”

Shimkat advocated greater efficiency when it comes to staffing.

“What we need to make sure is, when it comes to the staffing, we’re maximizing as much as we can and not cutting ourselves too short to where it affects the kids,” she said.

Funchess said he approves of the way the school district is staffed.

“I believe the district currently has in place an exceptional staff. You can never have too many staff for our children to provide a maximum education,” he said. “The concept of having the students the entire week have half days as opposed to other options that have not been brought up may have been a concern for myself as a parent of children in the Fort Dodge school district.”

Williams approves, he said, of not only how the district is staffed, but also professional development time.

“I feel our system for the most part has a very good group of professionals,” he said. “They kept up with constant professional development to keep up with current information.”

Schroeder said he does not have any concerns with staffing.

“From what I see as a parent, I think we have a well-trained staff,” he said. “I don’t have any feelings towards any one staff member or kind of staffing.”

Forsythe, a member of the FDCSD board for seven years, said staffing is a major part of the district’s budget.

“They kind of go hand-in-hand. It has fluctuated a little bit as enrollment has gone up and down, which actually went up for the first time last year after about seven straight years of decline,” he said. “I believe we’re staffed very well for the amount of students we cover.”

Cochrane, FDCSD board president and member for 17 years, extols the district’s staff and hiring practices.

“The district has been doing a good job of staffing by hiring the most qualified individuals for each position within the district,” he said. “I think it’s always a challenge in terms of trying to elevate people from within, but at the same time while we want to certainly reward current district staff, we want to make sure that we’re still hiring the most qualified people for every position.”