Glenwood School Board Candidates Square Off At Forum

From left, Glenwood Board Of Education candidates William Painter, William Bruce Wray, Tony Winton and Kellie Stewart. Incumbent candidate Eva Krueger was expected to participate in the forum but did not attend.

Four of the five candidates seeking to represent the Glenwood Community School District on the Board of Education faced off Sunday evening during a two-hour forum at the Mills County Historical Museum’s Zeum building at Glenwood Lake Park.

More than 50 spectators attended the meeting to hear the candidates make a case for themselves and take questions submitted via social media.

Two board positions are open on the ballot this year. Eva Krueger, who was appointed last year when Tim Becker stepped down, is the lone incumbent running. Current board member Curt Becker is not seeking re-election.
William Painter, Kellie Stewart, William Bruce Wray and Tony Winton are all seeking seats on the board. Krueger, who was expected to participate in the forum, did not attend.
Painter, Stewart, Wray and Winton took a series of questions provided by moderator Stephanie Patzer and were given 90 seconds to answer.

Topics for discussion included the upcoming $40 million bond issue – all four candidates in attendance expressed support for the measure – as well as questions on age-appropriate curriculum in classrooms and libraries, LGBTQ and diversity issues, private school vouchers, teacher retention, social emotional learning, standard reference grading and separating personal bias in board decisions.While some of those issues discussed have been controversial and the candidates did offer differing perspectives on them, the forum was a mostly light-hearted affair. However, Senate File 496 was a frequent topic of discussion.

The candidates faced multiple questions about the broadly written “parents’ rights” measure that was passed last May in the legislature, and its impact on education, students and teachers in Glenwood.  The law bans books that depict visual or written depictions of sex acts from school libraries, with exemptions for religious texts while also prohibiting instruction and materials involving gender identity or sexual orientation for students in kindergarten through sixth grade.

Glenwood resident Candella Foley Finchem spearheaded the forum. SB 496 and recent stories of school board’s dealing with political pressures from parents and other activist groups has had her attention since last year.

“When things started to get crazy and political on school boards, I started focusing on our school board and I was pretty impressed, but I knew people rotate out,” she said, adding once her grandchild started school last year, it spurred her on to consider a run for a seat. Health problems prevented that but encouraged her to organize Sunday’s candidate forum.

The forum was as much an education for public in attendance as herself on who the candidates are and what they might bring to the board.

“I don’t have the energy to do it (run for school board) myself, but I wanted to very closely vet who I want to support,” she said. “I also wanted to get the community involved and help try and make this the best school district possible for my grandbaby.”

While Finchem would have liked to see even more of the community in attendance, she was happy with the turnout, the good questions and some of the responses she heard.

“I feel like it was helpful to get an idea of who they are and where they stand,” she said. “You want to get a perspective on who is there for politics and who is there for the kids. I think we got a good view of what they see as important as far as their decisions should they be elected in how they will be there for the teachers, the students and the community. You want to know who is in this together.”


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