Five candidates are seeking four three-year terms on the Rutland School Board of Commissioners on March 7.
Incumbents Kevin Kiefaber and Cathy Solsaa are running against newcomers Mary McDonald, Heather Hauke and Ryan Carney as Alison Notte, the chair of the board, and Peter Fagan, who was nominated to the board in May, aren’t seeking reelection.
Incumbent Cathy Solsaa, 55, has lived in Rutland for the past 25 years.
She said the biggest challenge facing the schools is Covid pandemic recovery.
“I’m running for my second term to continue the momentum we have gained, particularly around the strategic planning work we’ve done and will continue over the months to come,” she said.
Incumbent Kevin Kiefaber has lived in Rutland 34 years.
“The biggest challenge we face is trying to balance giving our students a solid base of knowledge while also teaching the critical thinking skills they’ll need to navigate the future’s ever changing technological landscape,” he said.
Newcomer Heather Hauke, 38, has lived in Rutland for 13 years. She graduated from Castleton State College and now works part time at Killington Resort and is involved in human resources and bookkeeping.
Hauke has four kids in school, ages 14,12, 8 and 4. All are active in sports and Hauke is involved in all school activities.
“I’m an invested consumer,” she said. “I’ve always been really passionate about being there for all the things.”
She said she’s concerned about school violence.
“Schools should be a positive, safe environment,” she said.
Newcomer Ryan Carney, 32, has lived in Rutland for 12 years. He said he wants to focus on art education.
“As the parent of two young children, I want to make sure they and all students have the best opportunities we can offer,” he said.
Newcomer Mary McDonald, 43, has nine kids and owns a pre-school, which she runs out of her home.
McDonald has also been a substitute teacher for Rutland City Public Schools and a paraeducator for 30 years.
“A few challenges that I see and have been approached about are the lack of staff members in the school systems to support our teachers,” she said. “Each teacher should have a paraeducator in their classroom at all times. Teachers should have access to help and assistance throughout the day.”
She said more life skill teaching is needed and she wants to integrate services offered through Rutland Mental Health, Chaffee Art Center, Wonderfeet, Stafford Technical Center, Mentor Connector, 4-H and other programs.
“I think we need to utilize what we have in our community to make our community stronger by building on what we have,” she said.