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Four candidates are vying for two seats from District 1 on the North Adams Community Schools’ board of education in the first-ever public elections for board seats.
The top vote-getter in the District 1 voting will receive a four-year term that will start Jan. 1, 2013. If the incumbent board member is the top vote-getter, he will automatically earn a new term on the board, effective Jan. 1, 2013. Their vacated seat would then be filled by a vote of the school board.
The second-place vote-getters in each district, if not appointed to fill a board vacancy, would take office on July 1, 2014, during the phase-in period between appointed and elected positions. The North Adams school board will expand from its current five-member makeup to a seven-member board beginning January 1, 2013. Here are the four candidates:
Alan A. Converset resides at 741 E. Monroe St., Decatur. He is the sales/promotions manager for WZBD Adams County Radio. He is president of the St. Joseph Catholic School Home/School Association.
Tim Ehlerding resides at 1718 West Monroe, Decatur. He is executive director of the Wells County Economic Development Corp. Ehlerding currently serves as president of the North Adams school board, having been appointed by Decatur City Council to that position in June of 2010.
Bob Thomas resides at 602 Indiana St., Decatur. He is retired from International Harvester/Navistar and is the owner/operator of Bob’s Auction Barn. Thomas was a candidate in May for a seat on the Adams County Council. He has eight years of experience on the township advisory board.
Derek Vrablic has been a resident of Decatur for the past 13 years. His work and life experiences, according to information submitted by the candidate, encompass “various jobs and services which include military, entrepreneurship and public service.” He is making his first bid for elected office.
Each candidate was submitted a list of questions pertaining to their candidacies. Their answers follow:
Q. What is your main reason for seeking this office?
THOMAS: While at different sporting events I had several people ask me if I would think about running for the school board. I check out everything before I say yes or no.
EHLERDING: The success of our schools in educating our youth is the most important task we must face to assure the future of Adams County. As a tool for economic development, a top-rated education is mandatory for growing our existing industries, and attracting new, high-wage and advanced manufacturing jobs. As a board member, I feel I can positively add to the discussion, and help lead what is already an “A” rated school system to even higher levels of achievement.
VRABLIC: The main reason in seeking any office is to be part of the process of improvement. My children attend NACS and I believe they should have the same opportunities afforded to them at North Adams as they would have if they were to attend another school system in this county. I am also aware that any decision that I’m willing to make directly affects my family. It is with my creativity, enthusiasm, education, and life experience that I can be a part of the solutions with budgeting, curriculum issues and any other challenge that may arise.
CONVERSET: To assure that teachers have an exceptional environment in which to teach; students have an exceptional environment in which to learn; and taxpayers get value for their tax dollars.
Q. List your top two priorities if elected (re-elected)
EHLERDING: First, to work with North Adams specifically and all of the school systems in Adams and surrounding counties to assure we are providing our communities the best-trained, highest-skilled students possible, giving the students skills necessary to succeed in either the workforce now or as they pursue post-secondary degrees. Second, to assure we have the funds necessary to meet this exciting challenge.
VRABLIC: I believe that the NACS school board’s responsibility is to identify and correct any shortcomings that may exist in NACS and to make the necessary changes for the betterment of the students.
THOMAS: To help all students get the best education possible. To do something about the bullying problem. The person doing the bullying can not do their best in school and the person being bullied is really hurt.
CONVERSET: To understand the real value and needs of students, teachers, administrators and faculty while maximizing all resources; assuring common sense in taxing and spending.
Q. What do you see as the primary role of a school board member?
VRABLIC: The primary role as a school board member is to be a voice for the students. The parents have a responsibility as well to be engaged in their children’s education. The board has a responsibility to ensure that the atmosphere, curriculum, technology not only meet state and federal standards but exceed them.
CONVERSET: To analyze all aspects of the school corporation and balance needs and resources among all areas. Education will continue to evolve dramatically over the next few years, so in as much as the state and federal government will allow we must position North Adams to be a leader in education, not just talk about excellence but expect it, while supplying the resources needed.
THOMAS: To obtain and make possible the best education for all students, looking for 100 percent graduation, or help with GED.
EHLERDING: It is to provide our students, staff, teachers, and administration with the tools necessary for success; remove roadblocks obstructing that educational pathway; and dedicating the time necessary to assure these items become a reality.