School board election set for April 11

School board election set for April 11
Voters in the Vermillion School District will go to the polls Tuesday, April 11 to select two people among three candidates to fill the upcoming vacancies on the Vermillion School Board.

The terms of Tom Craig, school board president, and Mark Bottolfson, school board member, will end in July. Both are running for re-election.

Dave Stammer, a Vermillion resident, also is seeking office on the board.

Citizens will be asked to choose two of the three men to serve a three-year term on the board. Polls for all voting precincts in the school district will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday in the National Guard Armory at 603 Princeton Street.

Dave Stammer

Dave Stammer is an emergency dispatcher for the city of Vermillion, and works as an apartment manager.

He has lived in Vermillion since 1990. He and his wife, Nikki, are parents of two daughters.

Stammer earned a secondary education degree from USD.

"I've been interested with my own kids' education, and with them being in the second grade and fifth grade," he said, "I believe that I've seen enough and I've gained enough insight to benefit the entire school district."

Stammer said he learned last year that the last time someone had run for school board was in 2002. "The voters need a choice. I believe it's great to give voters a choice, and I guess now on election day they can either decide to try to make a change or they can decide to leave things the same."

Stammer said he has heard accounts of the school board having difficulty with its finances years ago.

"I think the public has lost a little bit of trust with the school board," he said. "I would only be one person on the board, but I hope to bring back a little bit of that trust."

Mark Bottolfson

Mark Bottolfson has been on the Vermillion School Board just short of nine years. He was first appointed to the board when an incumbent moved away from the community, and has been re-elected since then.

Bottolfson said the success of last year's opt-out of the property tax freeze here isTurn to ELECTION on Page 12

allowing the school district to maintain certain programs. Finding funds for new education requirements, however, is a challenge, he said, because the opt-out wasn't designed to help enhance education.

"We will have a couple more credits required at the high school level," Bottolfson said, "and we will need to keep on making yearly progress in all of our subdivisions for No Child Left Behind."

Local people have stepped up to the plate, he said, by approving the opt-out to provide needed education funding for the school district.

"In my opinion, the state still isn't funding education like it's supposed to be, and we have to keep working on that," Bottolfson said. "Opt-outs were supposed to be for enhancing education. In the time I've been on the board, we've cut roughly $1 million out of the budget, and had to go with an opt-out to maintain. You shouldn't be relying on opt-out dollars to give kids the education that is necessary."

Tom Craig

Tom Craig has served for nearly a decade on the Vermillion School Board. If he's re-elected, he said, he expects to face fewer challenges in the next three years than he has in the previous nine.

"We've dealt with the expansion at the high school, two expansions at Austin (Elementary), three opt-outs of which I was involved with two, cutting $1 million from the general budget where you are talking about cutting people's jobs and the quality of education � they've all been very, very emotional and successful."

Last year's successful opt-out in the school district, he said, gives the school board a chance to re-group.

"We can make sure we're doing what we can to provide a quality education, and at the same time, be fiscally responsible," Craig said, "and that's a huge challenge locally."

Education, Craig believes, is a foundation of life.

"It's not static," he said. "If you're not improving, then you are probably digressing, so the goal is always to be looking for new approaches, new techniques, so you are doing a better job for your students. Right now, we are doing a good job."

Craig said when he joined the school board, everyone involved in providing education was focused on excellence, and that hasn't changed.

"There's been a history of taking care of the whole package of public education here," he said. "We continue to provide excellent education here across the board, and to me, I think that's what the mission is."

Craig said his number one goal is to always take care of the children of the district. "If push comes to shove, then my mission is to go out and say, ?we need more money.' I'm just not going to try to make cuts to make the budget balance at the expense of the children."

He said he and other board members are slowly making some headway by visiting the state Legislature each year to appeal for additional education funding.

"Ultimately, the state has got to step up, and I don't think they are going to do that without pressure from the various school districts," Craig said. "We're either going to save education, or we're going to lose it."

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