Candidate Q&A: Niko Aguirre
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part one of a five-part question-and-answer series on the Marshalltown School Board candidates.
Part one is dedicated to candidate incumbent Nicolas “Niko” Aguirre, 36, of Marshalltown. Aguirre is the human resources director at JBS Marshalltown and moved to town in 2017. He has served on the Marshalltown School Board since July when he was selected by the fill the seat vacated by Ross Harris.
Originally from Grand Island, Neb., Aguirre received a bachelor of science degree in secondary social sciences education from the University of Nebraska, and a master of science degree in higher education from the University of Central Missouri. His family members include his mother, three siblings, 10 nieces and nephews and eight non-blood related babies that are very important to him.
The other candidates running for four seats on the school board are Sara Faltys, incumbent Sean Heitmann, Jan McGinnis and Bob Untiedt.
The election will be held Nov. 5.
Q: The Marshalltown Community School District currently has more than 550 students that have chosen to open-enroll out of the district and attend area schools. What do you think are the main reasons for students leaving the district? What do you propose to change that trend?
A: With more than 500 plus students open-enrolling, I would imagine there are a slew of justifications. Some may be their parents’ alma maters, some may want a smaller school environment. Others may feel there is more one-on-one attention in the rural school districts. Regardless of one’s perspective, it’s up to the MCSD and Marshalltown community to be the cheerleaders and proponents of our great educational system. We need to get out in front of the community more and be proactive with getting parents and students to realize the great opportunities we have.
Q: Besides open-enrollment, what do you consider to be the top three goals you would like to see the school district accomplish?
A: Since I work at the largest employer in Marshall County – JBS, I understand we have some direct correlation to some opportunities within the school district. For instance, I feel student retention and decreasing absenteeism goes hand-in-hand with those goals at JBS. The more we can do to educate the community and parents on daily attendance and staying in the same school district, the better results and retention we will see. Also, I’ve discussed the importance of us pushing STEM, vocational studies and opportunities for our students. We need to help make them as ready for the real world as possible.
Q: How will you exercise fiduciary responsibility and oversight?
A: By continuing to be a community citizen and advocate. I’m accessible and available. Constituents can reach out to me and voice concerns. Granted, we won’t be able to please everyone, every time. However keeping the best interest of the masses in mind should be my and our intent. I am a genuine person whom prides myself on my approachability and my ability to be personable.
Q: Since the school budget is millions of dollars, what is your background in financial concerns or how will you gain understanding of this major component?
A: There is the annual Iowa School Board conference held in mid-November that offers beneficial sessions and education on the finances and budgets that I would plan to attend. I definitely need some assistance on this front, admittedly so. I have an elementary-level understanding of financial budgeting due to my current role with being responsible for a much smaller budget within my departments. However, it is nowhere near the grandiose size of the MCSD.
Q: Have you visited any school facilities? Explain.
A: Woodbury Elementary for my Junior Achievement volunteering. I have visited MHS such as during the Roundhouse renovations, as well as volunteering for the teacher appreciation events through the Chamber of Commerce as well as a few meat fundraiser through JBS.
Q: What course of action should the school district take to install air conditioning in to the high school? How soon should that process begin?
A: I feel that with the early outs from early in the 2019-20 academic school year, it was reason enough the show the priority this must have on our agenda. I think the budget will need to reflect this. However as discussed previously, I am not yet in an educated place to say where these funds would be coming from and what may be taking the hit to make the air conditioning installation a possibility.