Candidate responses are posted exactly as we received them and have not been edited.
Question 1: Why are you running for office?
Fiona Libsack: I am running for the North Platte Public School Board because I am passionate about education and believe there is no greater purpose than to ensure that our children develop the skills they need to become successful, respectful adults. As a mother of four (one still in the North Platte Public School System), I want to ensure that we eliminate unnecessary barriers and deploy innovative, effective strategies to deliver education to learners of all kinds.
Mark D. Nicholson: I believe education is a fundamental building block of our civic society. It is the responsibility of everyone to make whatever positive contribution they can to our city. I feel like my experience, education, and background make me an ideal candidate to aid in this undertaking.
Question 2: What experience do you bring to the office?
Libsack: In addition to being a parent who cares about the wellbeing of children, I am in a career that has helped prepare me for a School Board role. For most of my career I have been involved in strategic planning, development, public relations, marketing and professional education. Currently I lead the Great Plains Health education department and serve as an adjunct professor at Creighton University. Education: Bachelor's in political science. Master's in public administration. Univ. of Wyoming.
Nicholson: I have a master's degree in history. I have taught at the college level. I am a union officer and political organizer in my union. Though I have not held a public office, I have been involved with a local political education group that encourages voter registration and active political participation.
Question 3: What makes you the best candidate?
Libsack: As the daughter of a U.S. Air Force B-52 tail gunner, I spent my childhood moving from school to school and now as an adult, my career has led me to raise our children in multiple communities where our children have attended school. I have witnessed first-hand the successful habits and programs of good schools and those of bad. This type of exposure to other school systems will be helpful as I go through the decision making process that needs to objectively occur at the Board level.
Nicholson: I am a hard worker who will take my duties with the utmost seriousness and concern that they deserve. I am willing to listen to all constituents on matters related to the school district and schools. I will do everything to represent the public's best interests in these matters.
Question 4: What changes do you wish to see if you are elected?
Libsack: As a school board member, I would like to be part of ensuring implementation of the following:
-Innovative solutions to exposing more children into tech and skilled-labor professions
-Greater college readiness in math core competencies among our students
-A consortium with builders and other skilled-labor employers for a combined training/work track
-Greater number of internships for high school students & not just high level exposure
Nicholson: I think the most important change that we need to have is how we see the operations of our education system. It is so fundamental to our community. If we are not producing students capable of entering college or career fields, our system must be reexamined and altered to make those things happen.
Question 5: How does the school board control spending?
Libsack: Strategic planning helps ensure that the highest priorities receive necessary funding and that lower priorities aren't funded just because the vocal minority think it's a good idea.
Controlling spending requires a keen eye on the budget and eliminating those items that don't have direct impact on delivering quality education. It's important that we deliver salaries that are competitive enough to attract the best and brightest yet stay in a salary array that is comparable to like-size schools.
Nicholson: The most important thing for the school board in terms of spending is ensuring that money goes toward preparing kids for the future. Teachers must have the ability to teach with the necessary resources. Control of spending must be considered in only those things that do not make positive contributions.
Question 6: What are your funding priorities?
Libsack: My biggest funding priority is to ensure that students receive the highest value for the education dollar spent and that the cost per pupil remains on target with comparable communities.
Nicholson: Programs that help the students prepare for the paths they intend to take once they enter college or the work force should be what is given the bulk of our attention. Math, science, English, trade skills, and other basic knowledge should be top priority.
Question 7: What curriculum changes should the school make to continue to make students successful in the work force?
Libsack: Schools, businesses and colleges must collaboratively ensure that our education system is meeting the mark for local employers to recruit and retain graduates. Students should be given every opportunity to grow marketable skill sets no matter the route the student wishes to take: direct-to-work, trade or college bound.
-Stay current with tech and skills programs.
-Working with colleges to ensure that duel credit classes transfer to colleges as the course was intended and not as an elective.
Nicholson: Particular changes to the curriculum should be considered with the evolving needs of the staff and students who are subject to it. Job needs in the market should also be viewed in consideration to give the students the best opportunities.
Question 8: What are your thoughts on student drug testing?
Libsack: I support it. Having worked in the healthcare industry for the past 20 years, I see first-hand the devastating impact drug use can have on an individual and the community as a whole. The earlier a drug issue can be identified and treated, the greater the chance that treatment will be effective.
Nicholson: I simply believe that if a student needs help with some kind of drug or alcohol problem, the school should do what they can to help in cooperation the families and appropriate organizations. If it is necessary to help the student body become more productive, drug testing may be something to consider.
Question 9: What are your thoughts on school security?
Libsack: In today's world, we have no choice but to make school security one of our highest priorities. Our children should be protected.
We have enjoyed our home in North Platte for the past six years and intend to stay as we love the safe feel of this close-knit community. However, awful things happen everywhere. We need to equip our schools with the ability to prevent or minimize the impact if incidents ever occur in any of our facilities.
Nicholson: I believe the security of our children is always something we must consider as a society. Responsible agencies such as the North Platte Police Department and Lincoln County Sherrif's Department should be worked with to ensure that. Any other measures can considered as brought up.