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D-50 hopefuls split on levy

7 candidates seek spots on Harvard school board in Tuesday’s election

Published: Saturday, April 6, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Saturday, April 6, 2013 8:57 a.m. CDT

HARVARD – A couple of candidates for District 50 school board support freezing the tax levy, and a few others would consider it.

In written responses to Northwest Herald questionnaires, the controversial subject split Harvard candidates, with sentiments ranging from strong approval to considerable opposition.

“I would support freezing D50’s taxing district’s levy,” said Rebecca Klein, an incumbent candidate seeking her second term. “I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask a district to live within their citizens’ means.”

Incumbents Klein, Diana Bird and school board President Richard Stoxen join Dennis Reilly, Sam Finfrock, Steve Garrels and former District 50 Superintendent Richard Crosby in running for four seats on the district’s school board.

Klein and Finfrock say they support freezing the levy until housing prices rebound. Stoxen and Reilly said they’d support the decision if other conditions were right.

Crosby and Garrels are hesitant that a freeze is the right decision, and Bird said she’d need to research the topic more thoroughly to make a decision.

“I would not support freezing the levy solely based on housing prices,” said Garrels, an accountant. “I understand the hardship individuals may have regarding the value of their homes (I am one of them), however, the cost of educating our children does not go down based on a decline in housing prices, so I feel the two are unrelated.”

Regarding advancements in student achievement, candidates for the board lauded last year’s passing of new strategic goals. Crosby, who served as superintendent for 14 years, said he would make it a priority as a school board member to study and support those goals.

“The primary role of a school board member is policy setting and hiring the most qualified staff to administer and work with our children,” he added.

Finfrock, a retired Harvard citizen who said his “good common sense” makes him a strong candidate for the job, said he’d look to improve education at Harvard schools.

“Maybe smaller classes. More teachers,” he said. “Our children are the future.”

Bird is seeking her third term on the board. She said she believes in District 50’s goals and wants to continue supporting greater student achievement.

“I strive for honesty, transparency, open communication, diversity and success within our district,” Bird said.

Reilly, an electrician for the Union Pacific Railroad, also places a premium on transparency, and said he would like to improve community relations and checks and balances districtwide.

“I believe transparency leads to accountability which creates trust,” Reilly said. “Trust is vital to improving the working relationship between our community and our district.”

Stoxen, a Harvard farmer who was first elected to the school board in the 1970s and started his current stint in 2004, said his business background gives him a solid foundation in finance and government regulations.

“The people of Harvard need sensible, forward-thinking, professional people to lead the district through these tough financial times,” Stoxen said. “It is important to have both parents of students and people without children in the district, on the board, as we need that balance.”

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