Six candidates competing for four open seats on the Altamont Unit #10 Board of Education answered questions at a candidate forum Tuesday night held at Altamont Grade School. Due to township representation on the board, three candidates Kerry Wolff, Adam Huston, and Alan Kollmann, are running for an unexpired two-year term, vacated by Tammy Runge. Candidates Ross Cornett, Clint Reardon, and Darren Feldkamp, are running for three four-year seats. Alan Shumaker and Laura Reardon are also running for the four-year seats but were unable to attend Tuesday’s Community Forum.
The forum was hosted by the Altamont Chamber of Commerce and consisted of four stages. Each candidate introduced themselves; answered one randomly selected question from moderator Nathan Scholes; answered one question selected from submissions from the audience; and made a closing statement.
Kerry Wolff, who is running for the two-year seat, answered a question about how he would manage a tight budget as a school board member. He said that his experience on the A.L.I.S. Board as well as experience in financial advising would be an asset in district budgeting. The question from the audience that Wolff answered asked what he would do in response to sports being funded less and less by the district and more and more from private sources. Wolff said that he would prefer to avoid that situation, if possible, as it could lead conflicts of interest with sponsors and players. In his closing statement, Wolff discussed the importance of maintaining a high-quality school system without “breaking the bank.”
Allan Kollmann, also running for the two-year seat, was asked about whose interests are most important when governing a school district. He replied that the student’s interests were the most important. Additionally he discussed student success and ensuring that no one was left behind. Kollmann’s question from the audience asked about his opinion on the outsourcing of certain school staff. While he couldn’t comment specifically on the situation, he did say that it’s essential to put the right people in the right places and commend them for their work. In his closing statement, Kollmann focused on keeping taxes “in check,” as well as making sure that staff continue to do their jobs well.
Adam Huston, running for the two-year term, was asked how he would handle an issue brought to him by a principal or parent. He said that board members had a responsibility to listen to taxpayers and staff. Also, that board members should work with administrators to get to the bottom of any issues. “Ultimately the board is still accountable to do the background and also do their own investigation to make sure that they’re making the correct choices as an administrator.” Huston said. His question from the audience was about what he would do to keep everyone happy. While he acknowledged that no board can keep everyone happy, he did understand that everyone has an opinion. In closing he said that he wanted to make sure the board members were kept informed, that he will be conservative with district spending, and that he would endeavor to continue educational excellence in the district.
Darren Feldkamp, who is running for reelection in a four-year seat, first answered a question on how he would evaluate district faculty and staff as a board member. Feldkamp said that he would rely heavily on school administrators as they are in the building with staff every day. He also advised not to rely entirely on performance metrics. “You can’t just pigeonhole them [the staff] and say you have x amount of time and your done,” Feldkamp said. Feldkamp also answered an audience question about how he would like to see the relationship between A.L.I.S. and the Public Schools. He said that the relationship between the schools was great and that he would like to see them continue to work together. In his closing remarks, Feldkamp emphasized the importance of having good churches and schools in the area as well as being able to communicate with community members about district issues.
Clint Reardon, running for a four-year term, was asked about what qualifications he would look for in a superintendent. “I would want to know his business background.” Reardon said. “Since it’s really running a business.” The question from the audience for Reardon was if an individual inspired him to run for school board. He said that there wasn’t and that he just wanted to help improve the school system. In closing, Reardon said that he would like to continue to see Altamont schools rise in the ranks and that he would be receptive to community comments.
Ross Cornett, running for a four-year seat, was asked what he would do to enlist support from the community for school funding through bonds and taxes. Cornett said the idea is to the find the line between money the school collects, versus the value of education it provides. He referred to a culture of safe and quality learning as a high value of return for tax dollars. His question from the community asked about what assets he would bring to the board. He cited his experience in running a business along with skills in listening, negotiations, and cooperation. In Cornett’s closing statement he once again emphasized the need for high value of return on taxes and keeping them down.
After the forum was concluded candidates stuck around to talk with community members.