This Q&A is part of our ongoing coverage of the 2013 elections. For a complete list of races, endorsements and other candidate Q&As, please visit our Elections Center.
Position 2 is the only contested race for the Pomeroy School Board. Challenger Ed Fruh is running against incumbent Paul Ruark. Both candidates submitted responses to the Union-Bulletin’s questions, along with biographical information. Fruh did not submit a photo.
Occupation: Owns and operates an auto repair store.
Personal statement: I am a lifelong Pomeroy resident. I have four grandchildren ages 13, nine, eight and four who attend Pomeroy schools. I have been very active in the community as a servant and leader for over 40 years. One service was building and maintaining three community ball fields, and most recently, organizing the placement of American flags on the graves of our Veterans. Currently I serve as the Assistant Chief on the Garfield County Fire Department.
Occupation: Sixth-generation farmer
Education: B.S. in Agronomy from Washington State University, 1989
Personal statement: I’m Paul Ruark, a 47 year old graduate of Pomeroy High School in 1984 and WSU in 1989 with a degree in Agronomy. I am a 6th generation farmer and have been married to Kerri Cassetto for 21 years. Our daughter, Savannah, is a junior. I have 12 years of experience on the school board.
The district recently switched from having two administrators to one. Do you believe this change was beneficial, and how do you think the board should assess the impacts of this change?
Fruh: I believe it is still too early to tell how the new system is working. This is a practice that the school board must monitor carefully in the future. I do, however, have some concerns that I will monitor closely as a newly elected school board member. A primary concern is to ensure that our teaching staff is receiving the support they need to provide a quality education for all students and that the supervision of the various school programs is adequate. With the reduction to one school administrator, the school board will need to ensure that teachers and staff are receiving the support they need.
Ruark: Restructuring our administrative team has been beneficial to our district. Success will ultimately be measured over time, in part by having anonymous evaluations of the administration by our employees. Whenever an employee leaves the district we have a fiscal responsibility to evaluate that position. Is it essential? Can we adsorb the position with current personnel? How can we better invest the potential savings into educating our kids? This restructuring has allowed us to put more resources into the classroom.
Why are you choosing to run against incumbent Paul Ruark?
Fruh: As a concerned citizen with a history of serving our community, I see this as an opportunity to bring a fresh set of eyes to the operation of the Pomeroy School District. A key aspect of our school system is to reflect the values of our community and to educate our students so they are prepared for a successful future. As a school board member, I will be able to ensure that the needs of our students come first and that our school system reflects the values of our community.
Why do you believe voters should elect you for another term on the school board?
Ruark: I am asking the voters in Garfield County to re-elect me for my common sense approach to being a board member. Volunteering in the elementary classroom is how I first became involved with the district as a parent. Taking tickets at the fair and athletic contests, chaperoning dances, and attending many of the school events are some of the ways I continue to support our school. I make difficult decisions based on all the knowledge, information and advice I have at the time. I always try to make these decisions based on what is best for kids and that our community will support. It is not the job of any board member to run the day-to-day operations of the school district. We are your voice, sharing your concerns within the district to the administrative team. It is the role of the board, based on community input, to provide the district with the overall framework in which the district will operate.
What do you believe should be the district’s top priority, and how would you gather support for it from district staff and the community?
Fruh: Students must be the top priority of the Pomeroy School District. We must continue to produce well educated and productive citizens to ensure the future of our community. We must keep students and their education as our top priority and ensure they are receiving the education they deserve in order for them to lead a successful future. The students of today are the community leaders of the future. We must, as a community, support our students and create the strongest school system possible in order to secure a bright future for our young people as well as our community.
Ruark: The district’s top priority is educating kids. That is the business we are in. We support our staff by providing a safe working environment, time for professional development, and collaboration time among their peers. We visit with and listen to our community members everyday, building personal relationships that help support our school in Pomeroy.
What is the largest shortcoming in the education provided at Pomeroy’s schools? How would you address this as a school board director?
Fruh: I think the Pomeroy School District needs to continue to focus on providing educational opportunities for all students. The district must continue to ensure that all students receive the education they need to be prepared to pursue their future goals. This includes ensuring opportunities for both college bound students as well as students interested in vocational education. The Pomeroy School District needs to continue to explore ways to provide career and technical education in the junior high and high school setting in order to provide opportunities for students who may not be interested in pursuing a four year degree. The district should look into opportunities to partner with local business operators to provide learning opportunities for our students and increase the amount of career and technical education classes in our schools.
Ruark: There are no shortcomings in the education provided by the Pomeroy School District. Our staff works hard everyday educating our kids, holding them to a high standard. The shortcoming is the way our public school system is funded by Federal and State Government. We continue to work with our elected officials, helping them to understand how their decisions affect our school district.