Two seats on the Paola USD 368 Board of Education are contested in the Nov. 2 election.

Position 2 incumbent Scott Golubski is challenged by Frederick Poetter and Michael Yocam, and Position 4 incumbent Kelly Franke is challenged by Connor McDonald.

In order to give voters insight on each individual, The Miami Republic recently sent questions to each candidate. Their responses are printed below. (McDonald did not return responses)

POSITION 2

Name: Scott Golubski

Age: 55

Occupation: Automation/Instrument and Controls technician

Family: Wife, Nancy, three kids who graduated from USD 368 (Melanie, Brett, and Kurt)

If elected/reelected, what would be your top priority?

Continue safe operation of the schools during Covid. Increase our technical education programs. Work with county and city leaders to increase affordable housing to move young families into the district to increase enrollment that has been declining in the past few years.

Why should voters elect/reelect you?

I’ve provided over 25 years of service to the community as a leader of recreational youth sports in Paola. Now that I don’t have kids in the school system, it is easier to see things objectively. I also have a daughter who is a teacher in another district, so I can see things from a teacher’s perspective. I’ve worked in industrial manufacturing for over 30 years, so I have a lot of problem-solving skills, can think outside the box, work as team, and understand how the private sector works. Since I’ve been on the school board for the last four years, I’ve learned a lot about how the school district works.

How do you think USD 368 has handled the pandemic?

Very well. We were able to keep kids in the classroom the entire 2020-2021 school year and we’ve continued to do the same this year.

What are USD 368’s strengths and weaknesses?

Strengths: We have a small district that can adjust quickly to issues. USD 368 works well as team; BOE, administration, teachers, and parents all work together well.

Weaknesses: Our smaller district does not have the resources to offer more programs/opportunities for the students.

Name: Frederick Poetter

Age: 44

Occupation: Vice President and Global Chief Estimator of Power for a large Engineering & Construction firm.

Family: Ivy Poetter, wife & 5th Grade Teacher at Sunflower Elementary School, Dominick Poetter, 7th Grader at Paola Middle School, and Ava Poetter, 5th Grader at Sunflower Elementary School.

If elected/reelected, what would be your top priority?

Accountability. Accountability to the students that we are providing the best education possible for them. Accountability to the staff that we give them the tools, training and resources needed to do their jobs. Accountability to the taxpayers that we are maximizing the return on their tax dollars.

Why should voters elect/reelect you?

My wife teaches and my children attend school in this district, so I would say that I have a vested interest in seeing that USD 368 is as successful as it possibly can be and provides an education that supports either attending college or a trade school/apprenticeship. We need to make sure our children have an education that allows them to grow and be successful in life.

I’m a businessman that understands numbers, people, key performance indicators, negotiations, safety, and many other things that would bring value to the board.

How do you think USD 368 has handled the pandemic?

USD 368 has handled the pandemic well, and many schools in Kansas have modeled their programs after what the district accomplished last year with staying in person all year long. This year has been a little rough, but the district is looking out for the well-being (physical & mental) of both our students and staff. I would like to see the district change from a universal district policy to a policy/procedure by school building with a dashboard for each building that is based on current and accurate data.

What are USD 368’s strengths and weaknesses?

Strengths:

The staff that care so much and have worked so hard through the last two years of this pandemic to make sure our children are still learning and growing.

Our community that supports this district in so many different ways.

Weaknesses/Concerning:

Enrollment decline

Continued decline in testing scores

Name: Michael Yocam

Age: 78

Occupation: Retired from the Clorox Corp. Operate family farm.

Family: Married to Patty Fieldman from New Lancaster in 1978. Three children: Sara, Kristy and Levi, who are al Paola High School graduates. Three grandsons: Elijah, William and Oliver, who was born on Sept. 26.

If elected/reelected, what would be your top priority?

Working with board members, administrators, teachers, parents and students to provide elective classes that help with individual needs and dreams. They should be designed to help students think for themselves.

Why should voters elect/reelect you?

I have a great deal of experience working in education and grew up in a home where my mother was a seventh-grade teacher. I have a degree in Agriculture Education from Kansas State University. I taught vocational ag at Paola High School for four years. In my military unit, I was in charge of training and communication. My previous school board service includes six years as vice president and was elected president a number of times by fellow board members. In past years, I spent many hours working with individual students in schools and foster children.

How do you think USD 368 has handled the pandemic?

During these difficult times, teachers, administrators and board members have worked very hard following the science and county health department recommendations keeping students safe. Many parents have been consulted by school personnel and allowed to speak at board meetings. I think all of these efforts will help the district return to its primary function of educating students.

What are USD 368’s strengths and weaknesses?

The main strengths are the teachers, coaches and administrators who work with students. Many building and ground improvements have also been made over the past 10 years.

A district weakness is the pandemic, which has taken much time away from basic education teaching and hands-on experience.

POSITION 4

Name: Kelly L Franke

Age: 48

Occupation: Paralegal, Miami County

Family: Husband Damien Emley and his three children

If elected/reelected, what would be your top priority?

The last 2 school years dealing with Covid have been the most stressful since I was elected to the Board. So many things have taken a backseat to the virus. While we have begun to work on closing the learning gap for some students caused by the pandemic, my hope is that soon we will be able to make this a #1 priority. Our students have missed so much and, while I know we can’t get it back, I pray we can get back on track educationally. We also must find ways to address staff shortages in food service, busing, and maintenance, teacher compensation and retention, and our declining enrollment.

Why should voters elect/reelect you?

I feel I still have more to give to the community and to the district. I am a strong advocate for vocational education. We need to continue to expand offerings in this area, as well as utilize the mostly vacant Hillsdale Elementary School. I believe we must continue to pursue offerings for students from all community colleges and not just the one in our area.

How do you think USD 368 has handled the pandemic?

We have done the best we could with the situation that was thrust upon us. Did we make mistakes? Could we have done things differently? Yes. I believe every government entity and private business has struggled with the same issues. It is impossible to make everyone happy, but we have strived to do what was best for the 1,800 students in our system. We were one of the few schools in the KC area to keep students in the classroom, in-person, the entire 2020-2021 school year.

What are USD 368’s strengths and weaknesses?

Strengths for our district include community support and pride in our schools, strong leadership, innovative teaching staff and a district-wide commitment to education and the educational process.

Challenges include broadband access for all students and competition for teachers and staff with districts to the north of us. Another challenge is declining enrollment and the budget ramifications this will cause.

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