Four to vie for board spots next week
Two vacancies up for grabs as April 10 election draws near
April 04. 2012 9:00AM
As two positions on the school board have opened - the seats held by board president Brian Davis and member Troy Randall - voters within the Dell Rapids School District will choose from a crop of four candidates to fill the seats at the April 10 election.
Keeping education innovative and budgets appropriately balanced are two items of interest for Amanda Downs. As a Sioux Valley Energy accounting manager for the past 12 years and a holder of accounting degrees from Dakota State University and the University of South Dakota, Downs is running with what she deems the appropriate experience to bring a fiscal mind to the school board. “Funding cuts are the number one issue,” Downs said. “The district needs to be fiscally responsible in its spending. Every penny matters, and, in order to make good decisions, the board needs to be armed with accurate and reliable information.”
The candidate said she believes there are ways to decrease costs without adversely affecting education. “The district needs to maximize the use of all available resources and have accountability for doing so.”
Among her applicable skills are administration, forecasting, budgeting and business management, according to Downs, who has additionally served on the school’s kindergarten committee. “I want to ensure our children are going to receive the highest quality education possible,” Downs said. “I want them to be challenged, while still being excited about learning. ” Implementing a new crop of Common Core Standards and keeping the community informed on board decisions are also priorities for the school board candidate.
The strength of education in Dell Rapids was a major reason Downs, along with her husband Mark and four children moved to the city. “Students need to be given the necessary tools to succeed in the real world and to become critical thinkers, not just test-takers,” she said. “We moved to Dell Rapids eight years ago because we saw the potential of the school district and the community. I want to build upon that strong foundation.”
With nearly 25 years of experience in the education system, Glen Kruger hopes his past roles and focus on budgets in the face of rising taxes and graduate job markets will make him an asset as a school board member.
Currently employed at the Carnegie Library, Kruger was formerly an admissions counselor , as well as a school board member in former hometown Little Rock, Iowa, for six years. The board candidate received an education degree from Northwestern and a Master’s in counseling . “I have been involved in education as a teacher, college recruiter and school board member for almost 25 years,” Kruger said. “I enjoy seeing positive things happen in school systems and have been interested in education my entire life.”
Among the issues Kruger deems pertinent at this time are school budgeting and building a relationship with the community. “School budgets and rising taxes are something that need to be addressed,” he said. “Providing varied opportunities for students in regard to the changing job market and how to prepare students for life after high school should also be a priority.”
Kruger stressed that board transparency toward the community is necessary to build a working relationship. He also cited his time spent on two superintendent search committees in the past as qualification for a potential board role. Kruger and his wife Linda have four grown children and are members of the Reformed Church in Dell Rapids. Kruger additionally works with the Dells Forward Youth and volunteers at Avera McKennan Hospice.
A 1990 graduate of Dell Rapids High School, incumbent Troy Randall is coming off a three-year stint on the board, having served in that capacity since 2008. Randall, who runs Randall Enterprise as a cattle feed yard and grain farm, graduated from the University of Sioux Falls in 1995, with a finance degree. The board member’s goals for continued time spent in his office include ongoing budgetary work and the search for a new school superintendent, who Randall deemed the “public leader” for the school district.
With an approximate decrease in state funding of about 8.6 percent this past year, Randall said his experience in working under budget constraints is evident. He said that experience greatly helps in public offices such as this, where it can take a new member two to three years to find his or her footing. “We had to make some really tough choices there,” he said of the funding decrease. “We want to make sure we don’t head back to that.”
The board member’s reasoning for running for his position included a desire to take part in local education. “I wanted to be involved in my children’s education,” he said. “I think Dells is a wonderful school district, and I wanted to be involved in trying to keep it that way.” In addition to time spent on the district board, Randall has served as president of the Sioux Basin Cattlemen and on the leadership board for Quarry Rock Church. He and his wife Robin have two children.
Hailing originally from Iroquois, S.D., Steve Stofferahn, CEO of Air Guard Federal Credit Union, is running for the Dells School Board with a focus on funding and budgeting, citing the two items as “critical.” “We must be diligent in exploring our options and the impact of those decisions in both the short-term and long-term,” Stofferahn said. “I tend to be conservative in these areas but do not support short-term fixes that cause long-term negative implications.”
Stofferahn, who graduated from the University of South Dakota with a business administration degree, previously served on the city council from 2004-05. “I believe my experience in business coupled with the fact that both my parents were in education allows me to be objective in making decisions that affect our school system,” he said. “I believe we have a great school system and want to do my part to maintain and improve education for our children.”
In addition to work at the city level, Stofferahn, who’s a father of four, has been involved at the Lutheran church in town, as well as Junior Achievement and youth basketball and softball volunteering.