Candidates for School District 1 Trustee
School Board Trustee terms are four years; there are no term limits. The county-wide district is supported by a 31 mill property tax levy, plus an additional 12 mills that goes to the state and is equalized and redistributed to local districts. The nine members receive no salary or benefits. Candidates must live in the area they represent (two at-large seats cover the entire district) but all the voters make the choice of candidates in each area. There are three Area A seats available this year, and one at-large seat.
1. What is your background, and what qualifies you for this office? (100 words)
Jim Hoflund (Area A): I have been a resident of Albany County for 13 years. I grew up and received most of my schooling in Cheyenne. After two years of college I served four years in the United States Marine Corps as a Combat Engineer. I have been a firefighter for 18 years with 13 of those at the Laramie Fire Department. I have two sons in the school district, one at Slade Elementary and one in the Junior High. I have been active in my son’s education and served as a PTA President for one year.
Greg Lundvall (Area A): I graduated from UW and taught for six years in Wyoming. I was the Technology Director for six years in two Districts including Albany County. I currently am a small business owner in Laramie consulting for the Wyoming Department of Education managing the Wyoming Equality Network. I have two children in the District. I want to be on the School Board to encourage the positive initiatives that are taking place in the District as well as help to reform those areas that aren’t doing as well. My ties to education in Wyoming make me a strong candidate for this position.
Lawrence Perea (Area A): I am a native of Wyoming and a 22 year resident of Laramie. I graduated from the University of Wyoming in 1993 with a degree in Administration of Justice. I worked at Laramie Junior High School from 1993 until 1995 as a special education para-professional. I worked for the Laramie Police Department from 1995 until 2007. As a police officer I taught many educational classes to the local schools. I worked with Jim Kyritsis and the Coalition to Prevent Substance Abuse on issues facing our youth when it comes to substance abuse.
Julie Radosevich (Area A): I have been volunteering at my children’s school for seven years and have witnessed the dedication of our teachers and staff. I try to follow their examples while assisting with reading, math, and other areas in the classrooms. I’ve organized Book Fairs and Enrichment Nights with the goal of keeping learning exciting. My experience on School Board committees has expanded my understanding of the varied needs of our children. Our educational system, like our children, needs nurturing and constant care. I know the components that must come together to make the school system work for its students and employees.
Clarence Unruh (Area A): I served the Laramie/Albany County School District 1 for over 30 years, beginning as a mathematics teacher at Laramie Senor High for two years. I was then asked to be Vice Principal of Laramie Junior High. After five years as Vice Principal, I was the Laramie Junior High Principal for 13 years, responsible for hiring quality teachers and being an advocate for students, parents, and teachers. The remainder of my employment was as the ACSD Director of Purchasing and Director of Federal Programs, positions I held concurrently. I received my Masters and Doctorate degrees in Education Administration from UW.
Charlie Ksir (At Large): Ph.D. in Psychology from Indiana University (1971). Professor at UW for 36 years. A total of 12 years of previous service on the Albany County School Board, including the past two years. Four years as Dean of the UW College of Education, which included participation in the Wyoming School-University Partnership and serving on the Wyoming Professional Teaching Standards Board.
Mary Thorsness (At Large): I have 10 years of experience with the school district through volunteer activities at my children's schools. I have experience in school administration through my previous participation on the Open School Board and my current participation on the Laramie High School Design Team. Finally, I have significant personal educational experience, with undergraduate and graduate degrees in biochemistry, and employment as a research scientist at UW. Education is an extraordinary gift, and I will work hard to assure that our district continues to provide high quality education to all children.
2. What might Albany County SD 1 do to enhance career preparation for those students who are not college-bound? (75 words)
Jim Hoflund (Area A): There are many vocational classes in the school district right now and I believe they are doing a great job in preparing our children for trades who are not college bound. I am also an advocate of mentoring or shadowing programs. Sitting down and visiting with someone involved in a specific trade is a great start. Shadowing different careers for eight hours at a time can be a rewarding and life changing experience.
Greg Lundvall (Area A): I have seen that Albany County SD 1 has a strong commitment to the career vocational programs. The vocational programs that have been implemented over the past two years are growing strong. As a board member I would support the continued focus on career preparation programs as well as encourage the District to continue to grow these programs. The growth in the internships program has been strong and I would continue to promote these internships.
Lawrence Perea (Area A): Students of ACSD 1 should be provided the opportunity to succeed regardless of their career path. Students and their parents/guardians must be given all the information they will need to make an educated decision as to what they will pursue. Once the decision has been made, a clear and concise plan must be established for each student to follow in order to achieve their career path. Teachers must ensure students meet their particular standards.
Julie Radosevich (Area A): Our district has programs to enhance the future careers of our non-college bound students. The CNA and EMT programs through the hospital and Whiting High School, the culinary classes at Rock River, Whiting High School and Laramie High, and computer certification through LCCC are examples of vocational skill courses. We need to continue to create and support these alternatives and partnerships, while still providing a rigorous secondary curriculum in language arts, mathematics, and science.
Clarence Unruh (Area A): We need to ensure ACSD hires the highest quality teachers and uses the best possible curriculum. It is extremely important all students receive excellent education in all academic areas, with emphasis on computer science, mathematics, science, and language arts (reading and comprehension). Quality education throughout K-12 not only prepares students to excel in college, but also for vocational studies and life after high school. All students should be encouraged to excel beyond high school.
Charlie Ksir (At Large): Career preparation should include specific skills that are marketable today, but we also should develop an aptitude for acquiring new skills as techniques change. The pace of change in all areas of work will probably continue to accelerate. Basic communication and computation skills will always be valuable in allowing people to adapt to these changes, so we should invest extra effort to ensure that our graduates have solid skills in reading and numerical calculation.
Mary Thorsness (At Large): Our School District strives to prepare students for success after graduation. It requires a firm foundation in core classes, essential not only in college, but in all of life. Our high schools offer a wide variety of vocational classes, and utilize community partnerships to provide health care certification and college credit. Strengthening such partnerships to allow internship or work-study opportunities with local business would go far to augment the existing opportunities to non-college bound students.
3. Fewer than 25 percent of Wyoming High School students who took the ACT exam in 2008 are prepared for college, according to newspaper reports. Do you think the performance of Albany County students is satisfactory, and if not, what might be done to make changes? (75 words)
Jim Hoflund (Area A): According to the ACT website, the National average composite score is 21.1 percent for 2008. The State of Wyoming had 80 percent (4,361) of its students take the test with an average composite score of 21.1 percent. Is the performance of Albany County students satisfactory? We meet the National average. Can we improve on these scores? Absolutely, and we have several thousand educators and administrators in Wyoming working on this right now.
Greg Lundvall (Area A): Given that all 11th graders now take the ACT test, I would expect to see these numbers change. Testing is only one indicator of how well students perform in college. Dialogues between the School District and UW need to continue so the School District can better prepare students for college. If we are going to educate the whole child we also need to look at the whole picture when it comes to analyzing data.
Lawrence Perea (Area A): We want all students who graduate from ACSD1 to be prepared for their future. If students are not prepared for their chosen career path, we, as a district must figure out where the deficiency is. Once the deficiency has been identified the district must implement the best practices to correct the deficiency. This takes “buy in” from the students, parents/guardians, teachers and administrators to make the necessary changes that ensure the success of every student.
Julie Radosevich (Area A): Much work in recent years has been directed towards reading and mathematics. Scores in those two areas show good improvement, with Albany County above state averages. Science and writing are two other important areas where work is being done to advance students’ knowledge and performance. Core programs such as these must be strong,
K-12, to well prepare our children for whatever path they choose after high school. We should always strive for excellence.
Clarence Unruh (Area A): A student’s score on the ACT does not necessarily determine that student’s success in college. However, quality instruction and a strong K-12 academic program is the foundation for both. Again, the ACSD having the best teachers and best curriculum is key, as is a strong focus on computer science, mathematics, science, and language arts. Like any exam, students must prepare and study for the ACT in order to achieve scores that reflect the knowledge they possess.
Charlie Ksir (At Large): Wyoming students are better prepared in English and less prepared in math and science. We should not immediately blame the curriculum, because many students have decided that they do not need to take college prep courses in math and science. However, this year we are putting increased emphasis on teaching science at all levels, and improved approaches to high school science instruction will heavily influence the design of the new high school building.
Mary Thorsness (At Large): The core areas tested by the ACT (English, math, reading, and science) are critical for both college and work-readiness. While the ACT assessment tool is not perfect, it does point to the need to focus on these areas even as we provide students with other skills. This effort must start early, developing interest in elementary school, building it through junior high and providing the rigorous courses in high school that allow for student success.