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Kearney Public School Board, Dist 7

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    Steve Gaasch

  • Justin Simmons

Biographical Information

How can your school district improve its use of technology, including broadband access, to foster better equity and educational outcomes?

What can be done to ensure the safety of students and teachers in your school?

As a school board member, how do you best advocate for your district's teachers and students in preparing students for the 21st century job market?

Occupation Buffalo County Facilities Director
Education University of Nebraska Kearney
Volunteer experience Youth soccer coach for Kearney Soccer Club Youth soccer and basketball coach for Kearney YMCA
Marital Status Married
Age 57
It is important that each student have a computer and broadband access outside of the school environment, no matter what their social and economical status is. It is equally important that the students know how to utilize these tools, the teachers have clear and understandable instructions that not only the students can follow, but also the parents are able to understand and assist with at home, and it's important that there is some uniformity between teachers so that there is a common method for the students and parents to follow. The sudden shutdown for the pandemic this last spring pointed out a shortcoming in the preparations. There was a wide disparity in how well each class/teacher was able to provide remote learning for the students. Remote learning is a very real possibility for us again at any time. Computers, broadband access, and proper preparations need to be a key focus in order for our students to be successful.
It's important to have a safe and secure environment for our staff and students within their building(s). I think we do a pretty good job of that now, but it is something that continually needs to be monitored and updated. Emergency planning needs to be thorough and up to date, with continual training. Again, I think we do a good job with that. We emphasize "be kind" to our students, and that's a critical point, with bullying always a potential problem. One thing that I do really think we need to take a look at improving upon is the traffic patterns around our schools. There are literally hundreds of cars moving around each of our school buildings every day, especially at drop off and pick up times. It's amazing that we have not had some major accidents, with the "organized chaos" that is typical during these times. Before we do have some serious incidents, we need to see what we can do to simplify, and better organize this traffic.
As a school board member, I need to do my best to make sure that we have the resources needed to maximize our educational opportunities. This involves several things. We need to have facilities that meet today's needs, but are also ready for tomorrow. We need the highest quality staff and curriculum available. We need to protect our financial resources and make the most out of the money that we spend. We need to make our education as practical and up to date as possible, partner with resources in the community (people and business), and give our students every opportunity they can get to be a part of the society outside of our school environment (band trips, sporting events, internships, tour outings, volunteering, etc.). In short, being successful as a board member means to have a great staff, give them the direction and resources they need, stay out of their way so that they can get their job done well, and cheer them all on throughout the process.
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