Letter to Voters – Tim Wondra, candidate for FM School Board

Editor’s Note: All candidates for the Sept. 12, Fort Madison School Board were invited to send in a letter to voters to be posted on our website, social media outlets and published in our e-edition.

Kids first! That is my #1 focus. Having served on the Fort Madison School Board for 2 terms I understand the time requirements and commitment required. I want to see the board continue with their professional development and set high expectations for our staff and students. I want to make sure we continuing to improve the quality of the education our students receive and continue increasing the opportunities our students have to succeed in life.
Our district has made incredible strides forward the last couple years and I want to see that continued. I feel Fort Madison has some of the best teachers and administrators in the state. We have to continue to find ways to give them the tools they need to succeed. One of the ways we have helped the teachers is finding an excellent Superintendent that wants to work with them, support them and bring new researched based ideas to the district. Superintendent Slater has been here for a year and done an excellent job.
We continue to improve the trades programs offered at FMHS because not every student will go to college and we need to prepare them for other job opportunities that are out there. About 6 years ago we started a welding program that partnered with Southeastern Community College where our students could get a welding certification upon completion of our course from SCC. Then a couple years later we added a building trades program and partnered with Mohrfeld electric and Habit for Humanity that gave our kids the opportunity to build the walls for the habit homes in our class, then they take the walls on site and put them up and help build the homes on site, real world experience. Then 2 years ago we partnered with Indian Hills to add a culinary program.
For the students who are going to college we continue to add and improve our honors and AP courses, this year we have added an AP US history class. We continue to improve the technology available to our students, with the 21st century media room and the makers space.
Having served on the board for 8 years I understand school finance and the budget process. The money the district receives from the state is a set amount each year based on the number of students enrolled in the district and we have to stay within that amount. It’s not like the district is a business that can sell more widgets to make more money to give to our employees. The only ways to increase the district’s income is to increase the number of students or to increase property taxes. I’m proud of the fact that Fort Madison Community School District’s tax rate is in the middle compared to the rest of the districts in southeast Iowa. We tried to be very cautious about raising the rate. Being a homeowner and commercial property owner I’m very aware when the property rates goes up. I don’t think people realize that board members receive no pay, it is strictly a volunteer job. So when I’m trying to balance between pay raises and what is best for the students, I’m truly trying to do what is best for the students.
I realize the time requirements necessary to do a good job on the board. It’s more than just 2 meetings a month, there are also committee meetings, IASB regional trainings and attending the IASB State convention in Des Moines in Nov. Training to learn about school finance, which is very complicated and professional development for the board plus trying to attend events in the district. I have a proven track record of being at the meetings, getting the training, and attending as many district events as I can. Please Vote for me to continue to improve the district and put students 1st!
Tim Wondra

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