Five candidates seeking three seats on School Board

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Five candidates are seeking three seats on the Sibley East Board of Education. The candidates are Brian Asmus of rural Winthrop, Brian Brandt of rural Le Sueur, Jodi Hanson of Gaylord, Brian Rodning of Gaylord, and Daryl Thurn of rural Green Isle. Asmus and Hanson are incumbents.

Candidates recently responded to questionnaires distributed by The Gaylord Hub. Below are summaries of their responses.

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BRIAN ASMUS

Biographical information: I graduated from Gaylord High School in 1983. My wife Diane and I live west of Gaylord. We farm and have a commercial egg production farm. We have two sons, Adam, a junior at MSU Mankato, and Michael, a senior at Sibley East. We are members of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Gaylord.

Why are you running for the school board? I want to see that our students remain competitive in their future endeavors. I enjoy being involved in the education process – seeing that our school stays in good financial standing and helping implement the strategic plan and address our school’s future facility needs.

What do you see in Sibley East’s future? Replacing the temporary structures and updating the school facilities is something we need to work towards. While the buildings are still functional, they do need to be updated. Maintaining curriculum as we presently have it is important. Growth in technology will continue to be a challenge to keep current, and the amount of revenue we receive from the state will pose financial challenges.

What qualifications do you have that will help you serve on the school board? I am currently finishing my fourth year on the school board so I have that experience. I have a good understanding of how the school system works and make decisions based on student and school impact and input from members of the communities. Running my own business and understanding finance also is a plus.

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BRIAN BRANDT

Biographical information: I am a lifelong resident of the Sibley East School District. I graduated from Gaylord High School. I am married and have five children, four of them are enrolled at Sibley East. I am self-employed as a crop farmer and run a custom calf-raising business.

Why are you running for the school board? I would like the opportunity to work with the faculty, staff and administration to increase our student’s educational programs and opportunities so that they are well prepared for college or other work challenges. I would also work with other local organizations on projects that the school would not be able to fund.

What do you see in Sibley East’s future? I believe that there will always be challenges involving funding, enrollment, and facility repairs to name a few. I also believe in the administration, staff and the teachers, that they will always work through these problems to give our children the best education possible.

What qualifications do you have that will help you to serve on the school board? I have been involved with the Gaylord Area Jaycees for 20 years, serving on numerous committees and holding many offices. I have served on church council, American Dairy Association, and DHIA boards. I have volunteered for many youth programs involving sports and 4-H.

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JODI HANSON

Biographical information: I have lived in Gaylord for nine years. I have two daughters, Cassandra – 7th grade, and Courtney – 9th grade. Both attend Sibley East. My husband Paul works for Cemstone and I work for the Sibley County Sheriff’s Office.

Why are you running for the school board? I am concerned about the future of our children and want to make sure I do everything I can to improve it.

What do you see in Sibley East’s future? We have a school district that is fiscally responsible and I believe that can continue, especially in this difficult economic time. However, we are in dire need of more space for our students. It is not feasible to cram kids into classrooms. We need to seriously think about the future of our buildings and ensuring we do the very best for the kids.

What qualifications to you have that will help you serve on the school board? I have thoroughly enjoyed serving on the board for the past four years. I believe that I have been very open to the district residents and their views. I have always been available for questions or comments from the people. Though I haven’t always voted along with the board, I have always voted my conscience. I will continue to do what is right and speak out against what I feel is wrong.

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BRIAN RODNING

Biographical information: I am 42 years old and a resident of Gaylord since age 6. I graduated from Gaylord High School in 1985. I am married to wife, Tiffany, with two sons attending Sibley East Public Schools (10th and 7th grades). I am a farmer on the family farm outside of Gaylord and attended Mankato State University.

Why are you running for the school board? With my kids attending Sibley East, I wanted to get more involved in the district and felt that this was the perfect time for me to take an active role in decisions that will have a direct impact on our children’s lives here at Sibley East, as well as provide opportunities for all students to succeed in the future.

What do you see in Sibley East’s future? During difficult economic times, it’s especially important that we refocus our priorities and recommit our efforts to ensure the effective and responsible use of resources. Sibley East’s mission statement strives to “maximize the use of community resources to prepare today’s students to meet tomorrow’s challenges.” I would like to be one of those community resources and will make every effort to ensure that this mission is carried out. I believe that preparing our kids for future success hinges on an environment of collaboration between parents, communities, businesses, district staff and administration. We have tremendous teachers and staff working with our children and the board must focus on continuing to provide the necessary resources to support the efforts in the classroom. Finally, meeting the requirements of federal No Child Left Behind legislation, and the Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) mandates is and will remain toward the top of the list of important issues for the next several years.

What qualifications do you have that will help you serve on the school board? My experience during six years of serving on church council taught me that the most important skills a board member can possess are communication and the ability to listen. These are areas of strength for me and I look forward to hearing from community members about issues important to them. Other strengths that I possess include a passion for public education, the ability to make decisions, a commitment to my district and the communities it serves, a willingness to listen and learn, and the ability to function as part of a collaborative team.

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DARYL THURN

Biographical information: I was raised on a small grains and dairy farm in South Central North Dakota. I have lived in the Sibley East School District 10 years, and in rural Green Isle at our current residence seven years. I am married with three sons and one daughter and attend Zion Lutheran Church in rural Green Isle. I hold of Bachelor of Science degree in industrial engineering and am employed in the medical device industry.

Why are you running for the school board? I am running for the Sibley East School Board because I believe that the Sibley East School district is a business whose products are highly educated individuals ready to face the challenges life has to offer. I believe we need to allow our teachers the ability to develop their own instruction plans based upon their class’ needs – not a plan developed and directed down by either a state or federal agency. We need national standards that our children must surpass, but the tests to evaluate our student’s understanding should be developed at the local level.

What do you see in Sibley East’s future? We have a declining and increasingly transient student population, aging infrastructure, increasing utility costs, and a fragile and inconsistent funding base. It is my belief that we can not ask the taxpayer to give more, for they are also facing these challenges in their own homes and businesses. We will need to perform a hard review of what we as a community want our school system to accomplish. The most challenging issue facing our school is advocating and maintaining parental involvement in their child’s education.

What qualifications to you have that will help you serve on the school board? My 20-year career as an engineer has been to develop more efficient and effective methods to perform processes in the work environment, including design, manufacturing, logistics, and administrative processes. The lessons learned from these experiences can be applied to our school system to make it more efficient and effective. I have implemented change throughout my career by listening to new ideas, listening to rationales for maintaining current policies, and expressing my own perception. I foster team work to create and implement new processes and ideologies, and base my decisions on fact and logic. I am a homeowner and a taxpayer who understands the constraints rising costs place on a household. I am a father of three children enrolled in the Sibley East school system (a fourth has already gone through). I pledge to address the issues presented by the Sibley East School System with respect; decisions based upon logic and fact, and uphold the interests of a solid educational foundation for our children.

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