- Fairbury News staff
Candidate forum held at PCHS
The four candidates running for three spots on the Prairie Central Board of Education participated in a public forum Thursday evening hosted by the Prairie Central Education Association.
Brad Brown, Dana Kafer, Tim McGreal and Lori Schahrer are all running in the April 2 Consolidated Election. During opening comments, all expressed a willingness to serve.
McGreal considers his time on the board rewarding while Schahrer believes the district can continue to grow. Kafer highlighted a passion to serve while Brown feels a school district is an important backbone of the community.
Emcee Nicole Joiner, president of the Prairie Central Education Association, asked questions on behalf of the PCEA and those submitted by members of the public attending the forum.
One question asked how the candidates would approach decisions that could result in change at Prairie Central.
“There are going to be some tough decisions,” acknowledged Brown.
“A lot of people don’t understand the resources and time that goes into making those decisions,” McGreal said.
“I think information is really powerful,” Schahrer replied.
“It’s very important to help educate the community,” said Kafer.
When asked how they plan to be accessible and visible board members, all seemed to have an open door policy on the matter. The candidates threw out several ideas to build more of a relationship with the staff but were more reserved when answering a question about the effectiveness of the high school’s block schedule.
Brown, Schahrer, and Kafer all admitted they didn’t have much experience with the block schedule issue but McGreal suggested the possibility of working toward more of a blended schedule.
Another question asked if funding from grants or windmill profits would be a good opportunity. McGreal noted the many aging buildings within the district.
“We are always on the lookout for grants,” he said.
Schahrer believes there are opportunities but urged more investigating and communicating to make sure it is a good match for the district. Kafer noted the monetary benefit from windmills for the Ridgeview school district.
“It’s a lot of money that could help our school district,” Kafer explained.
Brown said opportunities would need to be explored to see if it would be possible with the resources the district has.
A more complicated question asked where priorities fall when it comes to cutting staff or programs.
“You have to look at the individual or group situation of what’s happening,” Schahrer said.
“You’d definitely need more information to make that decision,” added Kafer.
“If you are going to cut a program that may end up cutting some teachers also,” said Brown.
“Hopefully, when that time comes we can move forward with a decision that brings things closer together and we can help everyone,” stated McGreal.
One audience question asked how to attract good applicants when there have been minimal to no raises in recent years.
“Our good kids,” answered Brown.
“We’ve negotiated some pretty tough contracts but there are still opportunities,” said McGreal.
“It’s a nice place to live,” Schahrer noted.
“(Teachers) have a passion to teach these kids,” Kafer said.
“I think we have some wonderful candidates and I hope everyone goes out and votes April 2,” Joiner concluded at the end of the forum.
Current board secretary Ann Steidinger and member Corey Steffen have terms expiring in April along with McGreal. Terms for board president Mark Slagel and members Ted Bachtold, Brian Plenert and John Wilken expire in April 2021.