Candidates respond to questions

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 27, 1999

The small crowd at Tuesday night’s school board candidate forum allowed for interaction between voters and candidates.

Wednesday, October 27, 1999

The small crowd at Tuesday night’s school board candidate forum allowed for interaction between voters and candidates

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Although much of what candidates said at the forum, sponsored by the American Association of University Women, was the same as things previously said at other forums, the question and answer session allowed people like Shelley Cummins and Peter Tangren to get some answers to their concerns.

Cummins asked the candidates about a possible drug problem at Austin High, Tangren asked them if they would support random drug testing of athletes.

Incumbent Carolyn Bogott noted that any drug problems at Austin High School aren’t just the responsibility of the school, they are the problem of the community.

"The parents are most important," Bogott said. "We need to empower the parents."

On the issue of drug testing, all the candidates said they would need to look more into the legality of the issue, and some had problems with singling the athletes out.

Lew Aase put his support behind testing students who had previous drug problems. Kathy Green wondered if random drug testing should be administered to all students in co-curricular activities.

"Doing the whole population wouldn’t be cost effective," Green said.

Incumbent Brian McAlister said he too would have trouble singling out the athletes. Arnold Lang supported it as a possible early intervention and identification of students with problems. Bev Nordby said she could support testing if it were extended to all co-curricular activities. Incumbent John Ulland said he couldn’t endorse anything without further research.

Bob Vilt said he didn’t support random drug testing, instead wondering what is available in the system for students who feel they have a problem.

Asked about dropout rates, Susan Fell Johnson noted that the actual rate had been underreported by the business office, but that it has been a decreasing number in past years, even as enrollment has risen.

Lang called for more meaningful education and more multicultural education to keep students in school, and also called for exit interviewing of students – asking them why they left the schools. Sally Vogel noted that the problem actually starts early in school, and intervention should occur before high school.

Asked about the Wescott renovations, most of the candidates supported the renovations as a civic pride measure, also noting that the funds were privately raised from people who might not have given that money to any other cause. McAlister sounded the lone sour note on this topic, feeling that the site was renovated for sentimental reasons, while common sense dictated that the lack of parking and other drawbacks might have just moved the whole setup.

Sue Maus was actually at Wescott Field at that point, watching her son play football. She left the forum after a brief address to the audience.

Bruce Loveland was the lone candidate to mention putting a student on the school board in his speech, however, when queried, nearly all the challengers were in favor of this. Bogott, however, said it was something the board has tried in the past with two students, who asked to be let out of their duties. Instead, the board tries to make once a year visits to each school to hear student concerns.

"Maybe we should try it again," replied Vilt, noting that the Sentinel is also a good opportunity to hear the voice of the students and should not be ignored. Jean Spenske suggested getting a variety of different students involved.

"I like the idea, but the mechanics could be difficult," Larry Anderson said.