From the pages of
Pinedale Roundup
Volume 105, Number 43 - October 23, 2008
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

School board candidates address crowd

by Mari Muzzi

The six candidates running for the three open seats for the Sublette County School District #1 answered questions to a full crowd during Monday night’s candidate forum at Sublette County Library in Pinedale.

The candidates for the at-large seat position are Greg Anderson and Ken Marincic. M.L Baxley the former board member decided not to run again. The candidates for the rural west seat are former member Jim Malkowski and Maggie Palmer and the candidates for Pinedale second district are Mark Pape and Dr. Tom Johnston. Former Pinedale second district member Bret Kingsbury decided not to run again. The terms last for four years and voters can vote for all districts.

The candidates were asked what they felt was the greatest challenge teachers face and their answers were similar; keeping children focused, maintaining classroom sizes and increasing parent involvement.

It’s a challenge for teachers when they have students who are not receiving any type of involvement from their parents, said Pape.

The biggest problem for teachers is the student growth rate, which has been about 10 percent in the last few years, said Anderson.

It is a harder challenge in larger classes for teachers to keep students interested, said Marincic.

The goal is to maintain the classroom size so that it stays under 20 students, said Malkowski.

One question asked was how they view the special needs education program.

“The school board is responsible for all children no matter what their needs are,” Dr. Johnston said. The candidates agree that special needs education is important.

“We have one of the better programs in the state,” Malkowski said.

Anderson said he can relate on a personal level to the special needs program because his son is currently involved in it.

Candidate Maggie Palmer said there is a flaw in the system when dealing with special needs children, because they are expected to meet the same standards required by the No Child Left Behind Act.

The need for special education is growing and autism is on the rise, said Anderson.

Another question asked was how the candidates regard teaching “sensitive issues” such as sex education, and should it be the school’s role or the parents’ when it comes to these topics.

“Parents have the first line of defense,” Pape said.

The candidates said that parents should come first and be involved in their children’s education.

“Parents have the right to decide whether their children should receive sex education,” Palmer said. “But I don’t think we should pull the programs out of the schools.”

The candidates agreed that parents should have a choice regarding sex education. The programs should also be age appropriate, said Marincic.

Dr. Johnston said that as a medical doctor, he thinks it is important children learn about the human body, and since children are maturing faster teaching them about drugs, alcohol and sex education should be included.

The candidates also discussed the gifted program. It is important that we find ways to challege the over-achievers, said Palmer.

Malkowski said there are enrichment programs and the middle school has a new science program that allows students to create science projects and compete at a state level.

Dr. Johnston said the school should provide gifted programs that reflex various areas, such as math, English, reading, music and the arts. That way, it will allow more children to get involved.

Marincic said that the AP program is also designed for gifted children.

All the candidates agreed on the importance of sports and after-school activities.

“We have to balance desires with what we can afford,” Marincic said. The high school had started a soccer team, but it fell apart because they didn’t have enough students who wanted to play.

After-school activities, such as sports, force kids to manage their time, said Malkowski.

Teaching kids skiing and golfing is important, since most business deals occur on the golf course or while skiing, said Dr. Johnston.

Sports provide great opportunities for kids and help them learn responsibilities and teamwork, said Palmer. Others activities should be added such as speech, debate and more arts.

“I learned a lot about life from playing sports,” said Anderson. Anderson said he worries about the time taken away from class and the ratio of coaches to students.

Another question was how to handle the below average writing scores in 11th grade.

“It’s a matter of parents getting involved and making their kids read,” Palmer said.

Parents need to start reading to their children at an early age, the candidates said.

“Team teaching needs to be expanded,” said Anderson. How team teaching works is that experienced teachers mentor teachers and prepare students for the required tests.

The candidates agreed on the importance of reading programs. Parents need to spend more time working with their children, said Malkowski. The math program had been suffering for a few years, now it’s getting better.

The school has literary and math coaches that are funded through the state, he said. The school also does a lot of staff development for its teachers, said Malkowski.

Teachers have benchmarks that they have to meet, which is reflected by student tests. The school board doesn’t have much to do in the day-to-day basis of the classroom said Dr. Johnston.

“All we can do is make sure we hire very competent teachers,” Dr. Johnston said. “We can provide them with money for the classroom and time.”

Another question dealt with after-school care and what role the school should play.

“I stand up for after-school programs at the school,” Palmer said. “ I believe that as a community we can work together to find a community-based solution.” After-school programs increase parent involvement, she added.

There are unutilized funds that can be used for after-school programs, said Palmer.

The difficulty in using the school facilities is that they need to have staffing during afterschool hours, said Malkowski. Providing sports and other activities are things that the school does.

The proposed new community center will help by providing more programs, said Anderson.

He also suggested having high school students who aren’t involved with sports volunteer in the elementary school during after-school hours.

During the closing statements, Malkowski said that community involvement is important and that the school board has made tremendous progress. He said he would like to continue his work with the board.

Marincic said he has served on the board before and would like to have the opportunity to be on it again. Pape said that he could bring his diverse background to the board and Dr. Johnston said that if on the board he would try to find the best possible solutions for the problems. Palmer said that she would invest in Pinedale’s children because they are the future and Anderson said that he has a strong interest in the issues facing the schools.

Here is the breakdown on the candidates:

— Mark Pape is running for Pinedale’s second district. He grew up in Pinedale and graduated from the University of Wyoming with a degree in business. He has worked in business related fields all over the country. He was vice president of a children’s manufacturing company in New York City.

He decided to move his family back to Wyoming for the educational opportunities that they would receive here that they wouldn’t get elsewhere, he said.

He has had two children graduate from Pinedale High School. Pape also has children currently in Pinedale high school, middle and elementary.

“I would like to think that I have vested interest in the direction our school system goes in.” he said. He would like to bring a business mentality to the school board. Maintaining classroom sizes and parent involvement are important to him.

— Greg Anderson is running for the at large seat. He grew up on a ranch in the northeastern part of Wyoming in a small town.

“There was 17 people in my graduating (high school) class,” he said. He attended the University of Wyoming and received a degree in engineering. Anderson has been in Sublette County for the past 14 years and worked in the school system for 11 years, as a teacher, middle school football coach and high school track coach. While working in the school, Anderson attended every school board meeting.

He was also the director of technology and is familiar with the special education program because he has a son involved in it.

He has four children in the school system.

“I have a strong background with what’s going on at the school,” he said.

He is familiar with the curriculum at the school because he helped design it while he was working in the school system. Anderson has worked with four different superintendents at the school and was involved in the hiring process for three of them. He was also involved in the hiring process of two administrators.

Maintaining classroom sizes and after-school activities are important to him.

— Maggie Palmer is running for the rural west district seat. She grew up in a small dairy town near San Francisco Bay and saw the character of the town change due to heavy growth. She moved to Pinedale 16 years ago for the small-town atmosphere.

Her son graduated from Pinedale High School in 2005. She also has another child in the elementary school. Palmer said she has had a diverse career. She worked in the human resources field, ran the Pine Creek Hotel, sold real estate and made pizza at the Wind River Pizzeria. She has served on the Chamber of Commerce Board and the Elementary School Parent Advisory Committee.

“I am solution-driven and can take on projects that benefit our children.”

She said she will take a strong stance in supporting after-school programs and wants to increase after-school activities.

— Ken Marincic is running for the atlarger district seat. He was born and raised in Pinedale and graduated from the University of Wyoming. He lived in Colorado for a while and 15 years ago he returned to Pinedale. Marincic has two businesses in Sublette County, one a windshield repair service and the other in the gas fields. His children went through the Sublette County schools and he has served on the school board for four years.

“I really enjoyed the school board and I would really enjoy being back on there. I know I was an asset.” Keeping students focused, parent involvement and after-school sports and activities are what Marincic feels are important.

“I’m running against Greg for the at-large seat and either one of us would be good. I’m better looking though,” he said with a smile.

— Jim Malkowski is running for the rural west seat. He has served on the school board for a number of years and has been involved in community service activities in the county. He served on the Board of Directors of BOCES and is on the County’s Planning Committee. Maintaining classroom sizes and programs that help with reading and math are issues he finds important. His children graduated from Pinedale High School. One son is serving in the Army and the other is an engineer.

“I think I’ve been a asset to the school district.”

He is also a member of the school board members’ association for the state.

— Dr. Tom Johnston is running for Pinedale’s second district seat. He has been in the community since 1958. His educational background includes medical school in Philadelphia and training in Denver. Dr. Johnston spent eight years on the school board in the late 70s and two years where he was filling an empty slot.

“It’s a labor of love, I have no particular agenda for running. I was asked to run by a number of people,” he said. He has worked with Malkowski, Marincic and Anderson.

“They (everyone running) all are really qualified people.”

He feels classroom size, sports programs and hiring qualified teachers are important.

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