Four candidates are seeking three open seats on the Spring Grove Board of Education for District #297 for a four-year term, and one is seeking a two-year term as part of a special election. Challenger Stephanie Jaster is facing incumbents Kristy Folz, Christian Myrah and Aaron Solum for the three four-year spots while Eric Bjerke is running unopposed for the two-year seat he currently holds.

All candidates but Aaron Solum responded to the questionnaire from the Spring Grove Herald. Below are their responses listed in alphabetical order. Each response was limited to 150 words.

Stephanie Jaster

age 43 - Daycare Provider

1.) Please tell us about yourself and why you are running for office?

I am married to John Jaster, and we have three children - Jaquelyn, 19, Jordan, 14, and Josephina, 3. I am an in-home daycare provider who loves spending time with the kids and teaching and exploring with them. I spend most of my time either working or attending events for my kids or helping out where I can with the kids and/or community activities. I am running for school board because our school and our kids are very important to me, and I think our community offers a lot to our kids to make them well-rounded individuals. Our kids are our future, and I want to make sure that they are all given every opportunity available.

2.) What short-term (5 years or less) and long-term (more than 5 years) goals would you like to see for the school?

Short term goal would be that we keep marketing our school and drawing families to our community so that we can continue to offer even more class offerings to our children. I would love to have classes where we have two sections at every level, which in turn we would be able to have even more full-time teacher positions for those already here and hopefully have to hire more teachers and bring more families to our community.

Long-term goal is that we continue to offer all/more of our classes over distant learning and that we have the equipment and space to do this for all our classes. We have amazing teachers and other children in other school districts I feel would benefit learning from them and in turn our kids get perspectives from other students from other districts in a supervised setting.

3.) Right now enrollment seems to remain strong, what steps do you think the school can take to continue to encourage students to enroll in the school?

We have to continue to keep our test grades high and be a leader in education. We need to continue to be on the forefront of technology and to always be thinking outside of the box with ideas that are innovative and fresh to attract the students. We are very fortunate to be able to offer so many academic, sports and fine art activities that larger schools are not even doing. We need to keep turning out well-rounded kids and keeping kids excited about learning.

4.) What do you think are the district's top-three strengths and why?

Fiscal accountability - Our district watches and is always trying to think of ways to have as many offerings for our children as possible while looking for ways to keep the cost down. Our teachers, principal and superintendent are always looking for grants to assist us in funding current and/or different activities for our students. We have a great district accountant who helps manage our finances and keeps the council abreast of upcoming expenses and communicates well with the council.

Classes/extracurricular offerings - For a small school we offer a lot of different academic classes at a lot of different academic levels. We offer many sport programs at our school and even more through our sports co-ops with other towns, and we offer fine arts activities at many different levels, from individual to group activities.

Technology our school - with the assistance of Spring Grove Communications, is in the forefront of offering every child in 7-12 laptop computers and offering the younger grades more opportunities on desktop computers and iPads in the early elementary. We are very fortunate to have community business and individual interest in our school.

5.) What do you think are the district's top-three weaknesses, and how can they be addressed?

Dropping enrollment is always a weakness and there is never a guarantee that one can bring the numbers up. This year has been amazing, and I hope it is a trend we see continue for many years. I feel the excitement our students have for learning helps and brings in a lot of neighboring districts' kids. When people are excited about something, it is easy to jump on the bandwagon.

One must be always thinking outside the box and looking for different ideas to keep the kids engaged and upbeat about learning.

Being able to address the needs of every student so no child is truly left behind is a huge concern. The state addresses gifted and talented children, but what about those who are at the lower end of normal and do not qualify for help or those at the upper end of normal who just don't get a little extra which could push them into the talented programs.

There is always work so no child is truly "Not left behind".

6.) If elected, what are the top three issues you want to see addressed in the next four years?

If elected, I would like more addressed towards the "No Child Left Behind" and more innovative ideas to offer our kids in academics to assist with learning (i.e. flipped classroom).