Putting themselves on the front lines for our kids

Mark DeLap
Posted 11/9/22

OP ED by Mark DeLap

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Putting themselves on the front lines for our kids


As the election is upon us, there is one election category that is crucial to the younger heart and soul of our community and that is the kids.

We have heard so many times “we are doing it for the kids,” and there are groups of adults here in Platte County that are taking up that cause and they are the not often recognized by members of our communities.

In these economic times, a threat of recession and depleted teaching staffs nationally are a perfect storm for crisis. It’s no secret that in Platte County we have had some very grave challenges and have put band-aids on areas that need surgery.

The candidates running for school board this year are: in PCSD No. 2 - for the remainder 2-yrs of a 4-yr position are: Michelle Fross, Robert Ibarra and Kevin Gross. Candidates for 2, 4-yr positions are Shawna Reichert, Luke Zapf, and Blaine Ayers.

In Wheatland, those running are Amanda Fox, Glenda Lu Lay, Shawn Hoffman, Travis Witt, Zach Gill, Merry (MK) Burnett and Chase Irwin.

We have been flooded with information on the candidates through our published election guides, public meet and greets and your opportunity to call and talk with any of the candidates who are running or who are currently serving. Instead of just reading about the candidates, talk to them. That’s on you.

Those running for school board are very brave people, but within the minds and hearts of these candidates are new ideas along with an introduction to the rigors of something that a lot of people don’t realize or understand.

The job is huge. It’s consuming. Many don’t realize that a school doesn’t run itself. From budgeting to teacher employment to disciplinary issues, to curriculum and classroom planning, there are those who step in and realize that it’s not just creating a school calendar or planning social events.

The entire nation is at war in the educational system, fighting financial phantoms, kids coming out of college that just don’t want to teach, many in the educational system are retiring and here in Wyoming, finding good teachers who want to live and work in rural areas.

The school board members give up hours of their personal time in the dedication to the welfare of our children and the continuation of our schools. It is not a position that they choose because they want to get rich or famous. It’s for the kids. Not only of this generation, but for the generations to come.

If you visit the National Center for Education Statistics https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=619, you will find alarming numbers of schools that have closed. In 2019-20 alone 1,130 schools have closed. In most of those districts, kids had to rerouted to other districts and many of the parents were heard to say, “I never thought it would come to this.” Closures because there were no solutions to some of the problems out there today. We are navigating uncharted waters facing some of the problems we are encountering in the past 10 years.

What our school board and the new members who are being elected this week need, more than anything else is support and positive encouragement from the communities we live in.

Depending upon the results of the midterms and even long after, America is heading uphill. This is not going to even out or get easier anytime soon. As the saying goes, “if you want something sugarcoated, eat a doughnut.”

Four words that can be highly effective and helpful in times like these are, “how can I help.” Instead of going behind the backs of those who have put their own personal lives and families in harm’s way, let’s go TO them. Instead of criticizing them with whisperings in back alleys and local pubs, have the same courage that they have to come into the light and help find a solution to some of the problems that we are facing in the school systems.

And then there is the bottom-line answer to the decisions of the school board, “if you want be on the board, run for a spot in the next election.” And that may not be such a bad idea anyway. The challenge is to walk a mile in their shoes.