POLK COUNTY — We are starting our coverage of local school board races with the Dallas School Board. Both posts up for election on the Dallas board attracted candidates, with Position No. 2 bringing in three candidates, incumbent Matt Posey and challengers Leland Schlenker and Scott C. Short. Mike Bollman is running for re-election to Position No. 5.
Short did not return our questionnaire or respond to phones messages left Monday. Responses below had to be edited for length. For full responses go to polkio.com.
Position No. 2
Matt Posey, 60, of Dallas
CURRENT EMPLOYMENT: General Manager Kizer Excavating Co, two years.
EDUCATION: Graduated Dallas High School 1977.
POSITION SOUGHT: Dallas School Board Position No. 2.
PREVIOUS GOVERNMENT SERVICE: Dallas School District Budget Committee Member 2006-07, Dallas School Board of Directors 2007-current, OSAA Executive Board of Directors Member as OSBA Representative 2011-17.
CAMPAIGN PHONE NUMBER: 503-931-8992
HOW LONG HAVE YOU LIVED IN THE AREA YOU WILL REPRESENT? 56 Years
WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR OFFICE? Serving on the Dallas School Board for three terms, I wanted to make a difference. I want the public school experience to be the best that it can be. It is a constantly changing system with federal and state mandates that are not always funded, which creates critical budgeting issues.
WHAT ARE THE CRITICAL ISSUES FACING EDUCATION?
Uncertain state funding is the driver for many issues school districts face. The state budget for funding K12 education continues to get a smaller percentage of the state budget.
Managing students with social and emotional and behavior issues. Student behavior and emotional needs are increasing on an elevated scale and funding needs to increase to help deal with this issue. Classrooms with too many students per teacher ratio. Ideally classrooms should have around 25 students. Increased state funding for education is the only real way to help this issue by bringing in additional staff.
HOW WOULD YOU ADDRESS THOSE ISSUES IF ELECTED?
In my three terms (12 years) on the Dallas School Board, I have worked closely with fellow board members and the district superintendent to support many efforts to support increased state funding. That continues every year and even today and will continue if elected again.
Social, emotional and behavior issues may well be our biggest challenge yet. It is increasing each year and we need additional financial support from the state to support teachers with behavioral student issues.
Class room overcrowding needs additional funding as well. There are only enough staff as money allows, and we need additional Staff.
WHAT EXPERIENCE OR TALENT DO YOU BELIEVE YOU WOULD BRING TO THE OFFICE? I’ve been in the construction business all my life, and a huge supporter of athletics. When the girls softball team needed a new field, we volunteered time and efforts to build them a field. When Dallas High School needed a new turf football field, there was a large group of people that gave huge amounts of time and money through the Booster Club to make it happen. I have a calm personality, my experienced in construction helps with work on our facilities, I am a lifelong resident of the area. I take the business of the Dallas School District very serious.
ANYTHING ELSE YOU WISH TO NOTE ABOUT THE POSITION YOU ARE SEEKING? Being elected to the Dallas School board three terms. I have solid experience as a board member. I have been involved in years where there were budget cuts and years where there were small increases. I am passionate about my school board service.
Leland “Lee” Schlenker, 73, of Monmouth
CURRENT EMPLOYMENT: Retired Middle School teacher.
EDUCATION: High School grad 1963, Oregon State University 1968 BS Engineering, University of Nevada, Reno, Secondary Education Teaching credential 2001.
POSITION SOUGHT: Dallas School Board Position No. 2.
PREVIOUS GOVERNMENT SERVICE: None.
CAMPAIGN PHONE NUMBER: 503-623-0112.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU LIVED IN THE AREA YOU WILL REPRESENT? Eight years.
WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR OFFICE? The National Education Association says that too few elected officials at the local, state, and federal level have the in-depth knowledge of public education that only comes from working as an educator. Their policies and their budgets show it. I understand the issues teachers face in the classroom.
WHAT ARE THE CRITICAL ISSUES FACING EDUCATION? Three of the main issues facing education today are: funding, teacher salary and retention and challenges presented by poverty. First, fully funding public schools is the only way to ensure all students get the education they deserve, regardless of ZIP code. Second is teacher salary. Fair wages allow educators to provide for their families and do what they love without going into debt. Third is poverty. Students from low-income families have trouble concentrating when they are hungry or they have medical problems that go untreated.
HOW WOULD YOU ADDRESS THOSE ISSUES IF ELECTED? The first two issues go hand in hand. We need to let legislators know the current level of funding is not effective if we want our graduates to be competitive. The district needs to find additional sources of funding and the board needs to lead that search. With increased funding, the district can increase the number of school days to 180 to match neighboring states over the next four years. Finally the issue of poverty will take time to resolve, but with a better education our students will qualify for higher paying jobs.
WHAT EXPERIENCE OR TALENT DO YOU BELIEVE YOU WOULD BRING TO THE OFFICE? Not only am I a retired middle school teacher who taught computer skills and physical sciences, but I entered that field after spending 35 years in manufacturing. As a Manufacturing Engineer I was using the same skills I used in the classroom to help workers be successful in building or creating products for consumer use. For the past two years I’ve been involved with the Career and Technical Education program at Dallas High.
ANYTHING ELSE YOU WISH TO NOTE ABOUT THE POSITION YOU ARE SEEKING? I love being back in Oregon and I am involved with the community via the Master Gardener program, Rotary, Polk County Sheriff’s Department SALT program. I am for all students, all parents, all staff and all schools.
Position No. 5
Michael J. Bollman, 52, of Dallas
CURRENT EMPLOYMENT: Funeral Home Owner/Director, 33 years.
EDUCATION: Dallas High School Graduate1984, Chemeketa Community College studying Business Administration 1984-86, Mt. Hood Community College, Funeral Service Education Degree 1986-87.
POSITION SOUGHT: Dallas School Board Position No. 5.
PREVIOUS GOVERNMENT: Dallas School Board 2007-19, Dallas Cemetery Board 1997-present, Dallas Public Library Board previously.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU LIVED IN THE AREA YOU WILL REPRESENT? 52 years.
WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR OFFICE? I was raised in a family that has always given back to community through community service. I followed my grandfather, who served in the 1940s and 1950s, and my father who served in 1980s and 1990s, both on the Dallas School Board and graduated from Dallas High 1929 and 1956.
WHAT ARE THE CRITICAL ISSUES FACING EDUCATION? School funding, specifically full school funding using the Quality Education Model Funding for our schools. This would allow additional teachers and classified staff that would reduce class size, increase mental health and behavioral support, social and emotional help, as well as trauma-informed teaching practices. This would also allow additional electives that have been cut to be brought back.
HOW WOULD YOU ADDRESS THOSE ISSUES IF ELECTED? I am very optimistic right now with the work the Joint Legislative Committee on Student Success has accomplished. They have listened to students, teachers, staff and community members on what issues they face on a daily basis in our schools around Oregon. Our Oregon State School Board Association has lobbied extensively for more adequate state school funding. I am hopeful the legislature will pass a funding package that will positively benefit our entire school district. Our school district has used priority based budgeting to add back important priorities if we get additional funding, which will benefit all students.
WHAT EXPERIENCE OR TALENT DO YOU BELIEVE YOU WOULD BRING TO THE OFFICE? I have served for 12 years and during that time I have served on the finance committee, licensed bargaining committee, and budget committee. I have dedicated myself and made a commitment to serve the district fully. During the past 12 years I have been involved in positive collaboration throughout the district. I believe there is still work to be completed throughout our district including our current school bond. Continuing to prioritize the future needs with future bonds will ensure preservation of our schools and grounds.
ANYTHING ELSE YOU WISH TO NOTE ABOUT THE POSITION YOU ARE SEEKING? This position takes dedication and a strong commitment. Our school board works year-round and attendance to meetings and school functions is critical. I have enjoyed serving our students and community. I look forward to continuing working for our students future and helping them find success with their education and graduation.