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USD 398 Board of Education candidates address the issues

Staff writer

Hoch Publishing Company, owner of the Marion County Record¸ Hillsboro Star-Journal, and Peabody Gazette-Bulletin, asked all candidates in Marion County to respond to questions regarding the reason they are seeking election or re-election.

Position Two

Terril L. Eberhard

1) Why do you want to be re-elected to office?

Eberhard: “The children are the most important assets we have in this community. As a member of the school board, I am allowed an opportunity to be a part of that future.”

2) Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the current administration? Why?

Eberhard: “I am impressed with our administrators. They are innovative in approaching the challenges they are dealt.”

3) What is your background and/or qualifications for office?

Eberhard: “I participated in Marion County Leadership training, served on Marion County Planning and Zoning Board as vice chairman, and currently am president of Doyle Creek Watershed Board. As an employee of the Farm Credit System, I had experience working for board of directors.”

4) What are your goals for the school board? How do you plan to accomplish them?

Eberhard: “I would like to see the board work together in developing the future of our school system and not personal agenda items.”

5) What is the most important issue facing the school board? Why?

Eberhard: “We are faced with declining enrollments, budget crunches, and economic crisis affecting the viability of the school system.”

6) Tell us about yourself — career, family, residence, etc.

Eberhard: “I own a grain and livestock farm northwest of Peabody. I have a degree in ag education from Kansas State University. Prior to returning to the farm, I was in the Army Reserves, worked for the Farm Credit System in several capacities as a loan officer and auditor in a four-state area.”

Position Four

Barry Peter

1) Why do you want to be elected to office?

Peter: “I would like to give back to the community. The school district is an area that has my interest and I have the desire to be a part of that.”

2) Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the current administration? Why?

Peter: “I am very satisfied with the current administration. I believe we have a group that works well together and works toward a common goal of making USD 398 the best it can be. I would look forward to assisting the administration to reach the goal of making USD 398 the best it can be for our students.”

3) What is your background and/or qualifications for office?

Peter: “I am the parent of two students that have graduated from USD 398. I also have served on the site council for six years. The site council is a group of parents, teachers, and administrators who work together to give input on how to solve issues within the district. This group is an advisory group.”

4) What are your goals for the school board? How do you plan to accomplish them?

Peter: “My goal for the school board is to work together to find the best working and learning environment for staff and students. I hope to accomplish this through quality communication within the board, staff, students, and community. I feel if the lines of communication are open between all involved parties we will reach our goal.”

5) What is the most important issue facing the school board? Why?

Peter: “The most important issue facing the school board is the budget. There are issues caused by the current downturn in the economy. The school district’s budget will be cut substantially. I look forward to working as a board to figure out ways to deal with these cuts and minimize the effects on staff, students, and programs.”

6) Tell us about yourself — career, family, residence, etc.

Peter: “I was born and raised in Goodland. I moved to Peabody in 1996 with my wife, Beth, and children, Stephanie and Willy. My career has been in the auto recycling business since 1993. I have been with Don Schmid Auto Salvage since 1997 and manager since 2001.”

Position Five

Julia Ensminger

1) Why do you want to be elected to office?

Ensminger: “I want to be able to support my daughters in all of their school endeavors.”

2) Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the current administration? Why?

Ensminger: “I am very satisfied with Mr. Watson and our building principals. I feel they are very forward thinking and imaginative in helping our district grow in this 21st century.”

3) What is your background and/or qualifications for office?

Ensminger: “I substitute taught for the district for 10 years. During that time I also was a class sponsor. I became very close to our teachers and students and I still would like to be a part of the success of the Peabody-Burns school system.”

4) What are your goals for the school board? How do you plan to accomplish them?

Ensminger: “I want to have a close relationship with my fellow board members — mutual respect and trust among the board is a must. I will consider the views of the students, faculty, and community when making my decisions.”

5) What is the most important issue facing the school board? Why?

Ensminger: “Trying to find creative and innovative ways to utilize limited resources and still provide good educational opportunities for our students and community.”

6) Tell us about yourself — career, family, residence, etc.

Ensminger: “I am a life-long Peabody resident. I have two daughters — Taylor, a sophomore; and McKenzie, an eighth grader. My mother lives with the girls and I. I work in the Marion County District Court office.”

Position six

Rhonda Loucks

1) Why do you want to be elected to office?

Loucks: “Serving on the school board is the best way to serve the community’s future.”

2) Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the current administration? Why?

Loucks: “I am satisfied with the administrators we have hired, and am especially pleased with the new programs that have been established in the past four years.”

3) What is your background and/or qualifications for office?

Loucks: “I served 17 years as a public high school English teacher, coach and sponsor.  I also have worked as a curriculum writer and teacher advisor.”

4) What are your goals for the school board? How do you plan to accomplish them?

Loucks: “Many school districts will not survive the declining enrollment of rural America.  My goal is to continue strengthening the board by listening to the concerns of our district’s population and then striving to produce practical solutions that will last.”

5) What is the most important issue facing the school board? Why?

Loucks: “The most important issue facing the school board is finding viable solutions to the problems of rural decline and national economic stress, with as little effect on each of our students as possible.”

6) Tell us about yourself — career, family, residence, etc.

Loucks: “I am a wife of 21 years and mother of seven children, and serve part-time in the community at the library, food pantry, Peabody-Burns Booster Club, and teaching Bible studies.  I live in the Burns city limits.”

William J. Spangler

1) Why do you want to be elected to office?

Spangler: “I realize the difference a dedicated school board can make to the education of our youth and would like to make a significant contribution as a member of the USD 398 board.”

2) Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the current administration? Why?

Spangler: “I have mixed feelings in this area. Generally I am pleased with the faculty and administrative staff and feel they have made rather significant strides in the recent past, although there is always room for improvement in both areas. I am somewhat dissatisfied with some aspects of the current board, however, and feel more progress could be made if some members were replaced with those who would cooperate and work constructively with the new principal and superintendent as well as the faculty in general. I also feel that personal interests of some members have diluted the productivity of the administration, staff, and board in general, and change is warranted. I feel that more emphasis should be placed on the primary responsibility of the school board and that emphasis should be the education and development of our youth, whether or not they plan to continue their education beyond high school. Anything that helps a student to be better prepared for a life beyond high school should be encouraged.”

3) What is your background and/or qualifications for office?

Spangler: “I have always recognized the importance of good education, at the elementary and high school levels, in an individual’s development; especially if one decides to continue one’s education beyond high school or college. In elementary and high school in the, then, Burns system, I decided early I wanted to pursue a career in science. Had it not been for a few forward-thinking, dedicated teachers, I would not have reached my goal. Although very difficult in coming from a very small community and school system, I was able to finish college at Kansas State University and graduate schools at KSU, Oregon State University, and Hood College. I obtained the necessary credentials (B.S., two M.S., and Ph.D. degrees) to pursue a career in science for nearly 40 years. Upon retirement I returned to my roots in Burns and have been interested in helping to educate youth since then. I served on the USD 398 board during 2003-07, then stepped down to run for the Kansas legislature where I thought I would make a more significant difference. Unfortunately I was not elected and wish to return and continue at the school board level.”

4) What are your goals for the school board? How do you plan to accomplish them?

Spangler: “I would work and cooperate with the school board, faculty, and administration to provide the most and best education possible with the resources available. I would especially like to see more emphasis on science and math in the Peabody-Burns system and would work with the board, faculty, and administrative personnel to accomplish this end. I would be available for tutoring those who need extra instruction. Peabody-Burns is implementing the Plato tutorial program to be used to assist students in the district who have not completed high school and wish to do so. I am interested in helping anyone in the district who wishes to take advantage of this excellent opportunity.”

5) What is the most important issue facing the school board? Why?

Spangler: “The most important issue facing the school board is providing the best education and training possible in the face of decreased funding and declining enrollment. We must make the most of the limited state funding available and seek ways to bring in new programs and funding. The areas of retraining and educating former students who didn’t graduate but still could if they were encouraged to do so is an area where more funding would be available for providing this much needed service by USD 398.”

6) Tell us about yourself — career, family, residence, etc.

Spangler: “I am a retired microbiologist, biochemist, environmentalist, and toxicologist. My career spanned nearly 40 years of basic research and program directing and management. For about 20 years, I worked in basic laboratory research. For USPHS, I worked to develop media for detection of fecal coliforms in waste and wastewater. A medium was developed in 1962 which still is in use today with minor modifications. I worked with the USDA in Beltsville, Md., to determine the effect and mode of action of pesticides on soil microorganisms. At Midwest Research Institute in Kansas City, Mo., we researched the methylation and demethylation of mercury in the environment. My small group of researchers almost single-handedly solved the problem of mercury contamination that was a scare in the ’70s. During the last 20 years of my career I contracturally reviewed toxicological studies submitted to the EPA by manufacturers in support of registration of pesticides. I am married to Deanna Spangler. We are living in Burns and building our home ourselves on the land I grew-up on and repurchased after my parents passed away. We have five grown children and 10 grandchildren in Maryland and the Kansas City area. I enjoy woodworking and the collection and restoration of antique tube-type radios as hobbies.”

Last modified March 5, 2009

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