Editor’s Note this is the last article in a series looking at the candidates running for the Fort Madison Community School District Board of Directors on Sept. 12. Repeated attempts to reach Brad Menke for this article were unreturned. Menke has turned in papers to seek a spot on the board.
BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – After serving her first year on the Fort Madison School District Board of Directors, Gayla Young wants to keep building on the board’s momentum.
Young, who lives in the Denmark area, said she wants to continue to be a representative for the rural district residents and living in the rural area allows her to bring a different perspective to the board.
“Sometimes when you’re living in different areas you can bring a different perspective. When you’re in FM you hear things and when you’re in the outer areas we hear things, too,” Young said.
“I want to continue to represent the rural areas and smaller communities so everyone’s opinion can be heard. I’d like to be re-elected because we’ve got so many great things going on right now with the new superintendent and we’re seeing that continuity. We’ve got some ideas and we want to get the community involved. I just think our work isn’t done.”
Like Tim Wondra, a current board member seeking re-election, Young feels financing the district is the toughest hurdle facing the board and she said she doesn’t think it’s going to get better any time soon.
“What the state has done with cutting their money to us has a trickle down effect. Something has to give. Whether it’s programs we hate to cut or don’t want to cut – we have to be very good stewards with our money. Lots of people don’t understand how we get money,” she said. ” We get it, but it can only be spent in certain areas. People tell us we get the money and why we can’t do things, but they don’t understand that it has to go in certain spots and the state has restrictions.”
With the state financial picture projected to stay bleak, Young said it’s very important at this point for voters to let their legislators know they are unhappy with the direction the state is headed. She said Iowans should be contacting their legislators and letting them know how difficult it is to fund education with current funding allocations.
“We will continue to educate the students of Fort Madison as best as we can, but we won’t be able to provide everything we want to,” Young said. “Without the allowable growth we have to use that same money we did two years ago.”
She also wants to keep working on improving the communication between the district and the residents it serves. She pointed to the bond referendum, which she is still in support of, as an example of the work that still needs to be done to get the community involved in district goals.
“When we had the bond referendum we wanted people to ask us questions, but people wouldn’t come – we didn’t get the turnout. We want to see community involvement. We don’t just want to hear that they’re unhappy about something, we want them to come tell us why,” she said.
“The bottom line is what is best for our students and families of the district. What can we do to make sure we’re getting the prepared for the 21st century, whether that’s college or work. It’s our job to make sure we can work with the staff and the state and our administrators.