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home : news : news Tuesday, September 30, 2014

9/4/2013 Email this articlePrint this article 
Four candidates seek four seats on Calamus-Wheatland school board
Four candidates are running for four seats on the Calamus-Wheatland Community School board: three incumbents and one newcomer.

Scott Knutson of Wheatland is running for re-election in Director District 1; Kevin Garland of Dixon is running for re-election to Director District 2; Shelley Weiss of Calamus is running for re-election to an at-large position; and Matt Boeckmann is running for election to an at-large position.

Scott Knudtson,

Director District 1


Scott and his wife, Angi, have four children. Two of their children have graduated from Calamus-Wheatland schools, and two currently are enrolled. He and his wife both are graduates of the Calamus-Wheatland School District.

Knudtson is employed full-time as a motor vehicle enforcement officer with the Iowa Department of Transportation, where he has worked for 17 years, and he also has worked as a part-time officer for the DeWitt Police Department for nine years.

What do you think the role of a school board member should be?

School board members represent the residents of the school district. In that capacity, we set policies for the school district to follow and hire a school district administration to carry out those policies.

We decide on the budget for the school district and make sure that budget is followed. We also set the property tax rate for the school district.

Given that school property taxes are the biggest part of your property taxes, it is important we make budget decisions carefully and deliberately.

Why do you want to serve on the school board?

Since I still have two children who are attending Calamus-Wheatland Schools, decisions made by the school district directly affect the education of my children.

I feel we have an excellent school system, and I want to do my part to make sure that tradition continues for the children of our district.

As a school board member, I feel I help keep the lines of communication open among parents, students, staff and administration. Doing this is necessary to keep our school district strong and our school board effective.

What makes you qualified to be a board member? What skills would you bring to the board?

In my one term on the school board, I have learned a lot about our school district. Of course, I am still learning. I learn something new at every school board meeting.

One of my strengths is I am a good listener. I always listen to several points of view before deciding what would be the best choice for our students.

I have a lot of experience working and communicating with the public. I have served on many committees and am a former Wheatland City Council member. I am currently the president of AFSCME Local No. 3568 and a vice president on the AFSCME Iowa Council 61 executive board.

Most importantly, I make sure to act in a fair and impartial manner when considering issues pending before the school board.

What are the most important needs in the district at this time, and what would you do as a board member to meet those needs?

Money always is an issue. We need to continue to work with the legislature in Des Moines to stress the importance of deciding the allowable growth rate a year in advance so local school boards can set their budget in a reasonable time frame.

We need to continue to evaluate new ideas for the district and weigh the benefits those ideas have for our students versus the cost to taxpayers in our school district. The students need and deserve to be the priority.

I feel we need to continue to keep our kids safe in school. We need to continue to uphold our policy against bullying in all forms. Our children need to feel safe and comfortable when they go to school.

We also need to continue to keep our students' academic standards up so they continue to excel in all areas.

What are your thoughts on the district's budget and financial priorities?

The Calamus-Wheatland budget is in excellent shape right now. Last year we were not in the same pinch as some of our neighboring districts that were dealing with declining student enrollment. Our enrollment increased from the year before.

We have been able to lower the tax rate the last four years and still provide an excellent and challenging learning environment for the kids.

Are there any other issues you would like to see addressed? How would you address them?

We need to continue to stay the course and build on our successes.

I believe Calamus-Wheatland has excellent administration and staff. I want to be able to help our administration and staff give the children of this district the best education we can by opening as many doors to success for our students as possible.

What makes you a better choice for the voters than the opposing candidates?

Although I do not have a contested race, I wish I did. I believe our school district becomes stronger as more people become interested in and involved in our school district.

•Is there anything else you would like the voters to know?

The school board election in your district affects your taxes more than any state or federal election. Please consider serving on your local school board.

Kevin Garland,

Director District 2


Kevin Garland is a graduate of Rock Island Alleman High School and Hamilton Technical College. He has worked at RK Dixon for the past 17 years as a service technician. His wife, Jan, is a fifth-grade teacher at Walcott Elementary. They have two daughters who attend Calamus-Wheatland schools.

What do you think the role of a school board member should be?

I believe the role of a school board member is to work collaboratively with the school administration and the other school board members to make the Calamus-Wheatland Schools the best they can be in order to prepare our students for life after high school.

What makes you qualified to be a board member? What skills would you bring to the board?

My past board experience probably is my best qualification for continuing to be a board member. I am a supporter of the Calamus-Wheatland schools and will work to make it the best district possible.

What are the most important needs in the district at this time, and what would you do as a board member to meet those needs?

I believe the most important needs for our district are to strive to make us the best district in the area. We need to stay competitive with our neighboring districts so we can draw families to our school.

We are a small district, but we have been a leader in very important areas, particularly technology. We, as a board, need to continue to work together in the best interest of the students of our district.

What are your thoughts on the district's budget and financial priorities?

Fortunately, Iowa is financially sound, therefore making the district's budget manageable. As I stated earlier, we need to set our budget and financial priorities to reflect our desire to keep our district competitive with neighboring districts in the curricular and extra-curricular areas, along with keeping our buildings welcoming.

Are there any other issues you would like to see addressed? How would you address them?

I believe the school board and administration have worked well together in the past, and it is my hope this will continue with the new school board.

What makes you a better choice for the voters than the opposing candidates?

I have a vested interest in the Calamus-Wheatland schools. With two daughters currently attending the schools and beginning to think about their future career plans, I want them to be as prepared as they can be. Therefore, I will work my hardest with the board and administration to make Calamus-Wheatland schools the best it can be.

Shelley Weiss,

Director at large


Weiss is a graduate of Calamus-Wheatland schools and attended Central College in Pella. She is employed at Orkin Pest Control and is a member of Faith Lutheran Church in Calamus.

She has served on the school board for eight years and has a son who is a freshman in the district.

What do you think the role of a school board member should be?

School boards should be a supportive role for the community, students and the school district. They should have the fiscal responsibility to do what is best for the district, community and students of our district.

Why do you want to serve on the school board?

To provide our students, teachers and administration with the best possible experiences a small school can offer, preparing them for the future they want.

What makes you qualified to be a board member? What skills would you bring to the board?

Experience and knowing what some of the fiscal responsibilities are throughout the year.

Caring is the biggest. I truly want to see all the students do well and provide them with a positive, educational and fun experience while supporting our dedicated staff in any way I can.

What are the most important needs in the district at this time, and what would you do as a board member to meet those needs?

Funding always is a key, whether it be for building needs, student needs or teacher salaries. The more funding, the easier it is to provide what is needed, to provide the best educational experience possible.

Looking for grants or funding that will help the district in providing those needs is very important. We need to take advantage of the monies offered. Even if we may not get a large sum, every bit helps.

What are your thoughts on the district's budget and financial priorities?

I feel our staff does a great job in budget preparation. I honestly can say, from day one on the board, the staff always has tried to keep their finger on the pulse of the community while keeping the students' and teachers' needs a top priority. We are fortunate in that area of having a very conscientious administration.

Are there any other issues you would like to see addressed? How would you address them?

Our board needs to continue to look for avenues in assisting the students attain and achieve educational goals, provide classes that are educationally stimulating, college courses that will help further our students education needs and assist teachers in ways to help advance our district needs.

What makes you a better choice for the voters than the opposing candidates?

I truly care about the students, staff and community and want to keep our district alive and fiscally responsible to our community.

Is there anything else you would like the voters to know?

I always appreciate the community's input on ideas regarding the district. It provides us with different views our community has.

Everyone is important to our district, no one person is of lesser value, so I would truly like to see more attend the board meetings to voice their views and concerns. Get involved!

Matt Boeckmann,

Director at large


Matt Boeckmann is a 1994 graduate of Calamus-Wheatland High School. He received a bachelor of science degree in agronomy from Iowa State University in 1998 and has been employed with River Valley Cooperative as an agronomy account manager for 15 years.

He and his wife, Amy, have three children. He has been an officer with the Calamus-Wheatland Youth Ball Organization for four years and also is a member of St. Paul's United Church of Christ in Wheatland.

What do you think the role of a school board member should be?

I believe the role of a school board member is to ensure the students' best interests should be the No. 1 priority of the school board.

Why do you want to serve on the school board?

I am running for school board to serve the students, teachers, staff and parents of the Calamus-Wheatland School District.

What makes you qualified to be a board member? What skills would you bring to the board?

I have been a resident of the district my entire life and have three children attending the school district. I will bring to the board the ability to be open-minded, and I work well as part of a team. 

What are the most important needs in the district at this time, and what would you do as a board member to meet those needs?

Maintaining a quality education for our students while making sound financial decisions.

What are your thoughts on the district's budget and financial priorities?

The board has a done a great job of maintaining quality staff and continuing to incorporate technology into students' daily activities while dealing with decreasing state funding.

Are there any other issues you would like to see addressed? How would you address them?

At this time I do not know of any issues that need to be addressed. The administration and board have done a good job quickly addressing any issues as they arise.

Is there anything else you would like the voters to know?

I am interested in serving as a board member to help ensure the interests and needs of the students continue to be the No. 1 priority of the school board.




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