Four candidates are running for three spots in Tuesday's Marshalltown School Board election. They are Kendall Derby, Bea Niblock, Lucero (Ma de la luz) Padilla Solis and Jennifer Wilson. The Times-Republican asked each one of the candidates a set of five questions and below are their answers.
How do you think the district should address dealing with the high level of poverty among families here?
DERBY - I think we are doing a reasonable job. I think we need to understand it better and see all perspectives and not just look at it from the non-poverty level.
NIBLOCK - I believe the district needs to inform or train its teachers in how to deal with the learning style of children who come from homes of poverty. All children can learn.
PADILLA - Visiting with people in their homes and give them books to get the kids reading. That's what we are doing in the Rogers (Elementary) neighborhood.
WILSON - We just have to continue to work with the community and business partners. That's a huge factor.
What programs need more attention in the district?
DERBY - Summer learning would be my No. 1 and more bilingual instruction for everyone. Have more opportunities for bilingual instruction at younger grade levels.
NIBLOCK - I think it's important for the district to understand the needs of the individuals and the groups and serve those needs.
PADILLA - Teachers need to make sure the students are understanding everything with the kids and their education.
WILSON - Personally, I would really like parents to support their kids even more with the daily grind of school. I would also like to see Project Lead the Way expand.
Should the school district do more to improve its English Language Learners program?
DERBY - I'm sure we can always do better because we have such a broad range of languages we are dealing with. I would like to see everyone learn two to three languages like European countries.
NIBLOCK - We have a wide variety of nationalities in our community. Improving the program means meeting those individual needs.
PADILLA - We have a lot of people who don't speak English but they are trying. Working together with the parents and having meetings with the parents can help.
WILSON - (District ELL Director) Rachel Inks does a very good job. What we've learned is that the ELL population - and how to teach that population - is a revolving door.
What do you think of the increased focus on summer learning in the district?
DERBY - I think it's awesome. I they need to continue the focus on that and help close the summer learning gap.
NIBLOCK - So much is lost in knowledge acquisition during the summer months. We need to look to have more summer programs or a year-round calendar. I think a variety of options need to be explored.
PADILLA - This is a good idea. Extending what they are doing at Rogers University to other schools is important.
WILSON - I think what we need to do is look at what works and intensify what really works.
What skills would you bring to the table as a school board member?
DERBY - Probably my best skill is that I ask questions and get information before I make a decision.
NIBLOCK - I think the best skill that I can bring would be my ability to communicate with the constituents in the district.
PADILLA - I've been working all my life helping with schools. I think I can help get the parents more involved.
WILSON - I'm pretty savvy with the facilities plan and the capital plan in the district. Another thing I bring is the parent role.