School Board Candidates Talk about Levy

By KBJR News 1

October 4, 2011 Updated Oct 4, 2011 at 9:44 PM CDT

DULUTH, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - School Board candidates squared-off tonight in Duluth tackling tough questions about the future of the city's public schools and how they would resolve problems facing the district.

There are three board positions on the November ballot.

Those include an At Large seat currently held by Gary Glass, a Second District seat held by Judy Seliga Punyko, and a Third District seat held by Tim Grover.

Of those, only Judy Seliga Punyko is running for re-election.

The candidates answered questions ranging from how to deal with disagreements to the achievement gap.

With the operating levy on the ballot this Fall, all but At-Large candidate Ryan Stauber openly stated how they plan to vote on the referendum.

While Stauber says he would support a future levy, the others support one or all levels of the upcoming three-tiered levy, which could raise taxes either $5, $7.50, or almost $10 a month for the average household.

"I want you to vote for it, I hope you do, but don't put yourselves in a situation you can't afford," said 2nd District Candidate Loren Martell.

"We, as a community, need to step-up and provide that funding," said 2nd District incumbent Judy Seliga Punyko.

"I have to be a realist, and that's why I'm going to go with the lowest amount, to fit my budget," said 3rd District candidate Jon Donahue.

"We need these just to do the things we really want to do and also the things we need to do in this district," said 3rd District candidate Bill Westholm.

"It's a choice between them and their ballot, how much they can afford," said At Large candidate Ryan Stauber.

"I think it's needed. We have flat-lined for a long time," said At Large candidate Michael Meirnicki.

While former educators spoke-out about their perspective from the classroom and knowledge of the system, others such as Loren Martell and Jon Donahue, spoke-out about restoring trust and the voice of the people in the community.

While being questioned on the achievement gap, many said the district was moving in the right direction, and all pointed out, more work needs to be done.

Three candidates were endorsed by the Federation of Teachers: Judy Seliga Punyko, Bill Westholm and Michael Meirnicki.

All three have worked in the district in the past.

Posted to Web by Jena Pike