District 55 School Board Election, Position Five Candidate Diane Gerson

Diane Gerson, 72, is intent on seeing the implementation of School District 55’s strategic plan during a new term in office.

She has served on the school board for seven years and is the incumbent for position five, at large. Her opponents include Billie Weber, Melany Glossa, Travis Luttmer and Larry Angland.

“New people on the board are good,” she said. “But the board needs some history.”

She also has some unfinished work, she said. “I’d like to see that strategic plan implemented. I think it gives us very solid directions, and the board can make decisions based on that. I’ve been very much in favor of this strategic planning.”

The strategic plan provides comprehensive planning for everything from facilities to academics, she said.

She also is involved in the budget process and the budget cutting underway now.

“I’m a very thorough person,” she said. “I just finished going over the budget. I have some ideas, but I think it needs to be consensus. There are ways we can cut that are severe and ways we can stay true to our vision and keep it away from the classroom.”

A big part of the cuts are because of declining enrollment, she said. “You can’t staff a 2,400-student district when you have a 2,200-student district.”

She also supports protecting sports programs, she said.

“I think sports needs to take its share of the cuts. At this point, it hasn’t.”

Some 10 percent of the instructional budget is on the block, she said. Principals have given up discretionary funds. She suggests that sports take a 10-percent cut like everything else.

“I feel like the sports program is expensive, but if we look at in the broad perspective, it’s good for our kids,” she said. “The kids who participate keep their grades up, and I think it’s very important for the kids in this community. It keeps them engaged, not just in academics €“ It keeps them engaged, period.”

Given the budget cuts, she wants to stabilize the education program, maintaining stability and consistency, she said. “And then I want to address the strategic plan.”

She also wants to plan for bringing back programs that get cut, using the plan as a starting point, to figure out the best way to do it and in what order, cuts like PE teachers or 10 percent of high school extracurricular activities, before funding is available again.

“I’m experienced,” she said about why voters should look to her. “I’m dedicated, and I’m principled. I really believe in the

process. I’m truly conservative, a fiscal conservative. The school board needs to be responsible in making every dollar count.”

Gerson, a retired teacher and administrator, is married to Gus Gerson. They have three adult children and eight grandchildren. They have lived in the Sweet Home area for 15 years.