For those who vote for the two seats up for grabs from the Danville School Board, their choice from among the candidates is an even split between two district veterans and two potential newcomers.
Current board chairman Sandy Dockendorff, Burlington High School high school teacher (and Danville alumnus) Jon Paul Van Buskirk, Quantum Land Design machine control specialist Taylor Eisenmann, and banker and owner of company Jason Samples are all hoping to land a seat on the board after the Nov. 2 election.
The Hawk Eye asked each of the candidates to answer a series of questions before election day. Here’s what Dockendorff had to say:
Work and training
Sandy Dockendorff: With a degree in psychology and nursing, I have worked in several healthcare careers, both providing direct patient care and as a care coordinator for a health insurance company. I also have experience as a grant writer and in financial management, as a budget analyst and other accounting areas. My previous experience and skills led me to coordinate social service projects for children and families. Over the past few years, my time and talents have focused on volunteering for my local school district, including representing our district on school board organizations statewide. Other volunteer efforts were made with the Risk Management and Quality Improvement Committee for our local community health center and the Government Relations Committee for the Greater Burlington Partnership.
What can you tell us about your family and how long have you lived in the school district?
Dockendorff: My husband graduated from Danville High School. He returned to Danville after living in Virginia where I met and married him and we started a family. Bringing our four children to Iowa in 1992 was an accomplished goal as I wanted my children to grow up in a community with strong family roots and a commitment to looking out for one another. Three of my children got married and are staying in Iowa with their children. My youngest daughter is getting married here in December.
Why do you want to serve on the school board and what made you decide to run?
Dockendorff: I served the district as a board member for twelve years. I had not planned to represent myself once my current term ended, despite the registration of young grandchildren in Danville. I was persuaded to run once again to help build a stronger and more open communication strategy within the district and between the district and the community as a whole. We took the first steps in this process earlier this month by expanding our labor committee to include representation from all labor classifications in the district. This is an important goal that could have a lasting positive impact on the district and the entire community of Danville, but it will take time to build the capacity to trust and get along.
Why should people vote for you?
Dockendorff: My goal as a board member has been to provide the best educational experience for all of our children. The first step is to ensure that the neighborhood continues to exist. The financial situation of the district my first term was bad. Our team made tough decisions that turned our finances upside down and we are currently in a strong financial position. Yet using resources effectively and efficiently is always a high priority for me. I also believe that we need to provide a strong and challenging program that prepares students for the path they choose for themselves after graduation. We have added courses in science, engineering, technology and agriculture. We have also strengthened our CTE programs for students moving into careers in practical areas like welding and nursing, and opened up avenues for students to excel in our building and in partnership with local colleges and universities. other leadership programs. Developing our early learning program was one of my top priorities when I started my tenure with the school board. I know that the children who attend our programs in our early learning center are more successful in our K-12 classes. If these are priorities for the voters, they should vote for me.
What school district issues are you most concerned about and how would you work to resolve them?
Dockendorff: Communications within and between the district and the community. We must be able to face uncomfortable problems without destruction. Disagreement can be the basis for better decisions, rather than the basis for dividing our community and causing harm. We’re going to have to be very deliberate in building trust and the ability to grow together.
What specific goals would you like to work towards achieving if elected to the board of directors?
Dockendorff: I want to keep working to bring people together to solve problems with respect for different opinions and backgrounds. Our students have a lot of catching up to do, pedagogically, since the COVID interruptions. We need to focus on their Needs.
What do you think of the mask warrants and other COVID prevention measures?
Dockendorff: There are competing ethical considerations. It’s difficult to balance our responsibility to maintain security and provide access / success in education – and then there are legal responsibilities to specific student populations, such as those with educational plans. individualized, which may require masks to meet.
School boards have just as much “right” to adopt a mask mandate as they do a dress code … and about as much frustration and instructional time wasted trying to enforce one.
I hope anyone who thinks they’ve been exposed to COVID will have enough personal integrity and respect for others to limit their contact with people without needing an authority figure to force them to do so.
As a nurse, I know that masks help prevent the spread of disease. There is a fundamental misunderstanding of who is protected by wearing a mask, however. We can (and have) put in place other mitigation measures, including increasing the air filtration rate and access to vaccines.
My recommendation to the administration has been, and continues to be, to define protocols that meet the Needs of all of our staff and students, wherever they are on this safety vs academic success continuum.
Do you agree with how Iowa and the state legislature handled the pandemic in public schools?
Do you think the COVID pandemic has been politicized and, if so, how do you think your personal opinions would guide your decisions if you were elected to the board of directors?
Dockendorff: Yes. However, it is my knowledge as a nurse that guides my decisions regarding the pandemic, not my political views. COVID is not a political issue unless you choose to make it.
Do you think that the parents in your district are sufficiently represented? Are their views heard by the board?
Dockendorff: I would prefer that board members be invited back to our school improvement advisory committee. SIAC meetings that I have attended as a board member in the past have provided a window into the concerns of parents and other members of the community. Still, I reach out to community organizations to provide a way to find out more about what people in the community think about the issues affecting the school. I think most people in the district know how to get in touch with all of the board members and I continue to support maintaining a public comment line on our monthly board agenda.
What do you think the board should do to improve and ensure equity among students?
Dockendorff: We need to educate people that fairness is not the same as equality and focus on meeting the needs of every child. As long as we focus on meeting the needs of each child, we will overcome the achievement gaps of the student subgroups identified at the federal or state level.