6 file for 4 school board positions, deadline passes

Published 10:02 am Thursday, June 2, 2011

Ruzek, Wangsness choose not to seek another term

Six candidates is just right.

There are six applicants who filed for four Austin Public School board member seats. Kathy Green, Angie Goetz, Don Fox, Carol McAlister, Jeff Ollman and Gary Larson all filed by Tuesday, before the deadline passed. As of last Thursday, there were three candidates. Because there are only six candidates, there won’t be a primary for the election.

Out of the four seats up for re-election, only Green and Fox are incumbents. Board members David Ruzek and Diane Wangsness did not file for re-election. Ruzek said previously that he wasn’t seeking re-election.

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Goetz, one of the new candidates, is a property manager at Western Manor Apartments, has lived in Austin for 13 years and has three children, one a preschooler and the others Sumner Elementary School students. Goetz said last week that although she’ll have to catch up on school policy issues, she’s focused on making Austin schools the best they can be. She also supports the potential new school and renovations at Woodson Kindergarten Center, which board members have discussed for the past two months.

“I think the idea of having a 5-6 grade building is fantastic,” she said. “I know that it’s an investment for our community to make but I think it’s a worthy investment.”

Ollman ran for a board seat in the 2009 election, the same year he retired from Austin Public Schools as a speech and language pathologist after 31 years. He has a Master’s degree in Speech and Language Pathology from Mankato State University and says he wants to still be in education.

“I just wanted to become more involved in a global sense,” he said. “I’m used to working as part of a team, and the board is a team. I guess that’s the main reason.”

Ollman is also in support of the new school project.

“That right away is an issue,” he said. “We’ve got space issues.”

Ollman would also like to see the district focus on teaching critical thinking skills more.

Green is a longtime board member and ran for state representative of District 27B last November. Fox, a former principal at Southgate Elementary School, has also been on the board for several years.

“With the new school and everything else that’s going on, I want to be a part of it,” Fox said. Aside from the new school, Fox hopes to see a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) program started at a new 5-6 school.

Calls made to Larson and Wangsness were not immediately returned.