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Paynesville Press - Oct. 31, 2012

Paynesville School District #741
Cheryl Veldkamp

Cheryl Veldkamp

Cheryl Veldkamp, 61, is self-employed in the apparel/embroidering industry - she owns Cheryl's Apparel - for the past 21 years. A Coon Rapids High School graduate, she has taken courses in child rearing and development. She and her husband Arnie have three adult children (Kevin, Dusty, and Mellody Weber), nine grandchildren (six who currently attend the Paynesville School System), and one great-granddaughter.

Why are you interested in serving on school board?
I would like to see our schools become the best that they can be. Being on the school board is my best opportunity to achieve that goal. I have wanted to run for several years and have finally decided to put my hat in the ring.

Hopefully, I can bring some new ideas and energy to the board. My three children graduated from PHS, and I now have six grandchildren in this system. I would like to see Paynesville schools prepared to educate them and many generations to come.

Describe your experiences with kids and explain how these will help you make decisions on school board.
I ran a licensed daycare in Stearns County for a short time and later a licensed daycare in Kandiyohi County for many years. Wonderful children from four weeks through school age taught me a lot about how children learn, live, love, and interact. I learned many of these things from our own children, but the daycare kids gave me some new perspectives.

Our family has chauffeured, coached, kept the books, chaperoned, raised funds, taken tickets, joined clubs, donated, and much more with this school system. We have tried to stay active in both the community and the school. I can relate to the children's needs, the parent's wants, and the community's demands. I hope this background will give me the insight to make intelligent, informed decisions on the board.

What new ideas do you think you can bring to the school board?
I don't know how many new ideas I can bring, but perhaps a new perspective. Sometimes looking at the same old problem from a new angle will bring new answers and insight. I think our hiring practices need to be re-evaluated. Bullying is an issue that needs to be looked at again. I would like to see more of the community bringing their thoughts and ideas to the board. Sometimes a bit of communication is all that is really needed.

Why should (or shouldn't) district voters support the operating levy referendum on Tuesday, Nov. 6? (With its $415 per pupil levy expiring, the district is asking voters to approve a new 10-year levy at $723.)
I strongly advocate supporting the new levy. We have cut back in so many areas that there aren't many left to cut. Just because the cuts were not very visible doesn't mean they weren't there. Our students will suffer if this levy fails. Without taxpayer support, we won't have a school system. Without a school system, our community will suffer.

If the operating levy referendum passes on Tuesday, Nov. 6, what would you see as funding priorities for the school district?
If this levy passes, we will be able to maintain the present system and have a little left to spread around. We have a few repairs that need attention. The technology area needs to be assessed so our students can work with up-to-date equipment. Keeping our extracurricular activities funded. There is a long list of possibilities to look at. I would just like to stretch all of those dollars as far as possible.

If the referendum fails and the district needs to make additional spending cuts, what areas would you target for reductions?
There aren't a lot of extra cuts to be made without impacting the classroom in some way. I'm afraid we would see larger class sizes and fewer electives. I really don't have an answer for this question because I think all of the existing programs and classes are important. I don't want to cut anything. Give me some input; I'm going to need help with these decisions. If I am elected, I will be making some phone calls for advice, so be prepared.

What do you see as the district's most pressing facility needs?
We need to look into repair of the boilers and look into the air movement system to get optimum usefulness from our present system. We have some windows and flooring that need replacing or repair. Even with limited funding, we still need to provide a safe, healthy environment for our children to study in.

How should the district address these needs?
At the present time, with the levy in flux and no prospects for extra funding, we should prioritize and work with the funds we have. A bonding referendum will probably be a necessity at some point. I would like to make sure that every dollar is spent wisely and not wasted due to misinformation or lack of research.

What should the district do to deal with the impact of declining enrollment?
Declining enrollment is due to two things. First is the lack of new young families moving into the district, and second is that some young families move out or transfer their children to another school. The school board can only impact this decline by helping to build an enticing, desirable school system. Young parents want to be confident their children have the best educational experience possible. Providing that experience is part of the school board's domain.

How important are strong extracurricular programs to our school district? What should the board do to encourage and enhance these programs?
Our extracurricular programs help our students become more rounded individuals. We have so many choices for kidsŠfrom choir to wrestling and chess. Every students should be able to find an activity to fit their needs. The educational values of these programs aren't on a report card, but the value is there. The ability to win or lose gracefully, to perform confidently, learning to lead, learning to follow, teamwork, health benefits, how to strategize, learning to set goals, and the list goes on and on. When we put our best coaches and advisors in charge, they can teach life values. Keeping funding available and making sure our coaches and advisors are the best we can provide is important.

How should the school board and school district maximize community support for the Paynesville Area Public Schools?
We already have a lot of support from our great community. They do so many things to help our children. The best way to maximize this support would be with better and more information to let everyone know what is needed and why. Communication breakdowns are the fastest way to initiate lost interest or enthusiasm. With the internet in every home, we could probably better utilize it in the future to keep pertinent information flowing.

What's your view of the leadership role of the school board?
The school board should direct, oversee, and manage the affairs, business, and concerns of the school district. The school board should be involved with all issues that would have an impact on the schools or the district. They have a large impact on the lives of our students and their families and in that respect also on the community.

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