Newell Candidate Forum School Board Candidates

Newell News

NEWELL-School Board candidates met before a large crowd at a candidate forum sponsored by WIT Coalition held in the Newell Community Hall April 2. John Heisler introduced the candidates to the community and followed up with questions sent in by concerned citizens.

Karl Hoyal was not present as he had realized that because of his job obligations, he would not be able to serve on the school board to the fullest of his abilities.  Each candidate stood and presented reasons for wanting to be a candidate and answered several questions.

Randy Oliver began the evening by telling the crowd that as a life-long Newell resident, he wanted to be part of the solution and was deeply invested in the community and the school.  “I can help,” he said.

When asked what three of his goals are as a board member, he listed the financial situation, student enrollment, and getting students more involved in the community and school.  According to Oliver, funds have been found in the Capital Outlay fund that can be transferred to the General Fund to operate the school for perhaps another year or two. He would like to encourage kids who have left the District to return and entice others to come.

“We don’t excel at anything and have been reduced to a participation status,” Oliver said. He went on to say that it is going to take everyone to get involved.

The next question concerned his philosophy to make students life-long learners. Oliver said that goals need to be set and that it is necessary to make every student successful.

When it comes to the negativity toward the school, Oliver said that there are changes starting.  There is a need for more transparency by taking more time to provide information to the public.

Oliver sees that there is good staff in place at the school now. A great community and outstanding community members are a plus to build on what’s there already.

Tyrel Bonnet is the present President of the School Board. He is a Newell graduate and would like to see the school keep going in the right direction. As a five-year Board member, he believes the school is “moving in a positive direction and wants to keep moving.”

Bonnet’s three goals include getting the school on stable financial ground. He believes the Opt-Out plan can be postponed another year at least. He would like to see teacher pay increase.

“We are one of the lowest paid Districts in the State,” he said. And he would like to increase teacher and staff retention. According to Bonnet, when staff members stay relationships are formed with the students.

Bonnet’s philosophy for the school is to lead by example. Board members should be willing to volunteer and be involved in community affairs. He is always willing to learn more as a board member.

To improve the negativity seen by the community, Bonnet said it’s important to stay involved and be pro-active. A priority should be to put out correct information. A board member should always be able to answer questions or to find the answer.

“It’s our duty to give correct information,” he said. “Our students are phenomenal,” Bonnet said. That’s the most positive point he could see in the Newell School.

Transparency is important to school board members, however, Bonnet said that there are times that information cannot be shared with members of the community. Bonnet explained that although there’s been discussion about moving classrooms and offices from the main high school building, there has been no decision made.

Kristin Bonefield is new to the community, but desires to make an impact at the school. Having learned the struggles of the school, she would like to move the school forward. According to Bonefield, it can’t be done alone but must be done as a team.

“I’ve dedicated my kids’ life to this school,” she said. Bonefield combined her goals with seeing that students become life-long learners. Accountability, reliability, safety, and security, and culture and climate are important to improving the school, she pointed out.  “It’s important to make people feel seen and supported,” she said.

Students need to be excited to succeed in sports and academics. Bonefield noted that an environment that students expect to be held accountable is vital.  “Attitude is a choice,” Bonefield noted.

It is very important that things are done as a community whenever information is needed or involvement is necessary. The community and teachers are great in Newell. She has seen how the teachers care for students and says that it’s important to foster that attitude.

Bonefield also noted that she would like to know why students are leaving so that it’s possible to move forward. She encouraged more use of the FB page and school website.  She would do a lot of studying on ideas to make future decisions.

Amber Erk believes that the Newell School can and will be great, but it will take getting people involved. Her desire is for her child to have a chance at a future in Newell.  It’s important to believe in the school,” she said.

Her three goals for the district are straightforward as she pointed out that teacher housing and a better playground are needed in this area.

“Stop playing the blame game,” she said. “Morale needs to change.”

Erk would begin by improving the Code of Conduct for students. She believes that students learn better with structure. Academics must be the focus.

“The more we can structure their learning, the better they can learn,” Erk said.

According to Erk, it’s important to change the stigma surrounding the school. This begins with parents supporting the staff and school.

There is a lot that people have put into the school and Erk would like to see parents be in more support of the school.

Erk believes that sports are important, but academics must be the focus. She believes that if students are ineligible, then sports are not important.

“Respectful adolescents are respectful to others,” Erk pointed out when asked about the possible combination of high school and middle school students.

The school board election will take place April 9 in the Newell City Hall from 7 am to 7 pm.