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Centre school board candidates tell of background, views, priorities

Staff writer

Centre USD 397 is the only school district in the county in which election runoffs will be necessary. Three positions are in contention.

Sherri Pankratz, Position 5

Sherri Pankratz of Lincolnville is running for election after being appointed by the board last fall to finish out the term of Lincolnville area representative Clay Simons after he resigned.

She and her two daughters are Centre graduates.

Pankratz sees herself mainly as a representative of the community because without community support a school will fail.

She has been a member of Lincolnville City Council 10 years, which she says has taught her the ins and outs of how some government agencies operate.

“This past year, I have learned a lot about how schools run, and I’m eager to learn more,” she said.

Pankratz is concerned about keeping the school growing and producing successful students who are proud of where they came from.

“We have strong staff members,” she said. “We need to stay focused on keeping teachers that want to make a difference in our young people’s education. I feel if our students can relate to our teachers, then our teachers can help them become successful.”

She is employed by Kansas Department of Transportation and says she has learned to manage her time wisely so she can provide as much time as necessary for all school board issues.

One of the things she has learned since joining the board is that schools don’t just exist for nine months out of the year.

“You also have to keep focused on the future and where the education system is heading and get two steps ahead of it,” she said. “School finance comes into play at every turn.”

Eric Carlson, Position 5

Eric Carlson of rural Lincolnville is running against Pankratz to be representative for the Lincolnville area.

Carlson is a graduate of Centre. His three oldest children are elementary school students and his wife, Bethany, teaches pre-school at Centre.

“I hope to represent my community and work with other board members and the administration to continue to provide a high quality education experience for USD 397 students,” he said.

Carlson believes his education and work experience make him capable of providing sound judgment and an even temperament in making important decisions. He has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and a minor in business administration. He worked seven years in engineering and has spent the past five years as a full-time farmer and rancher.

He is committed to spending the time necessary to serve as a board member.

Carlson sees the district’s strengths as having a dedicated staff, being fiscally sound, and having excellent facilities.

“Our local school district is the backbone of our community, and my hope is that it can continue to remain strong for the future,” Carlson said.

Yvonne Burhoop, Position 4

Yvonne Burhoop of rural Burdick is running against incumbent Rick Basore to represent the Burdick community.

She has a long history with the Centre school district, beginning in 1982 as a teacher and coach. She was a special education teacher for grades seven through 12 and coached volleyball for 34 years.

“I want to continue to make a difference in the lives of the students at USD 397,” she said. “I possess knowledge of the educational system from a teacher’s perspective, knowledge of the educational programs available, and the ability to research current trends in education.”

As a potential board member, Burhoop sees herself as a representative of the students first, teachers second, and school system third.

“Our school can’t exist without the first two,” she said.

After attending several board meetings, she sees the students, teachers, and virtual school program as strengths.

“The senior class has three individuals out of 22 who will represent the school at the Kansas Honors Program this year,” she said. “The teaching staff includes a number of teachers who have 25 or more years of experience plus others who have chosen Centre as their place of employment.”

Burhoop is retired and thus could devote as much time as necessary to board service.

She has no specific concerns but would work to make sure that Centre will be a school in which students, parents, and teachers feel welcome and important. Along with a strong faculty, that should ensure Centre will be part of the community for a long time, she said.

Rick Basore, Position 5

Rick Basore is running for re-election to represent the Burdick area. His wife, Angela, is a math teacher at Centre, two children have graduated high school, and two are still in school.

He has served on the board for 5½ years after being appointed to replace Bud Peterson and elected for one full term. He is the current board president and reports on governmental relations.

“Serving on the board has been an eye-opener for me,” Basore said. “There is so much the public doesn’t see. The school district is an intricate part of the community, and serving on the board has given me a perspective on how things are done.”

Basore has been a strong advocate for advancing Centre’s Kansas Online Learning Program, noting the many opportunities it provides for people of all ages.

He praised the board, past and present, for pursuing conservative fiscal policies that have put Centre in a strong financial position now and for the future.

He feels it is important for him to give a voice to the community and to do everything possible to keep the district going. Consolidation isn’t a concern, he said, because the district is strong enough to stand on its own.

“I believe we have a lot of years ahead of us,” he said. “We will continue to create opportunities for everyone, regardless of their future intentions.”

Heather Steiner, Position 6

Heather Steiner of Pilsen is running against incumbent Jeff Bina to represent the Pilsen area. She is a special education teacher at Oasis.

Her three children attend Centre, and her husband, Kelly, a Centre graduate, is a teacher and coach there.

Steiner said she would bring a positive presence to the board.

“I am a team player and want the best for our school district,” she said. “I am willing to listen to the members of my area along with any other patrons or school staff who may have concerns or questions.”

With degrees in sociology and education and a master’s in special education, she understands the dynamics within a school district and understands the state standards students need to meet in order to be successful. She said she is willing to devote as much time as necessary to represent her area to the fullest.

She sees excellent teachers and supportive families as the district’s strengths and wants to learn how best to serve her community. She also pledges to make herself available to all patrons to listen to their questions or concerns.

“I want to ensure our school is giving students the best and most up to date education possible,” she said. “Along with this, I would make sure we get and keep the best teachers in the district.”

Jeff Bina, Position 6

Jeff Bina of Pilsen is running for a third term as representative of the Pilsen area.

Bina is a Centre graduate, has two sons who are graduates and three children still in school. His wife, Terri, is school secretary.

Bina looks at his part in establishing Centre’s virtual program as one of his biggest accomplishments.

“We had a lot of long meetings, and it’s been pretty successful,” he said. “It has the right personnel.”

He has been involved with adopting new curriculum for the district, making sure it coincides with state accreditation requirements. He said Centre is a strong district with good personnel and good finances.

“The superintendent keeps us well informed,” he said. “We don’t always agree, and sometimes we have to meet in the middle to get things accomplished.”

He helped to approve recent facility improvements including new carpeting and sound system.

Bina serves on the Technology Excellence in Education board that meets monthly and oversees wireless communications services to schools in Marion County.

Polling places

District 4

Delavan Community Building, for those living in Burdick and Burdick Township and part of Diamond Valley and Grandview Townships in Morris County.

District 5

Lincolnville Community Building, for those living in Lincolnville and Clear Creek East Township and part of Clear Creek West and Clark Townships.

District 5 and 6

Eastmoor United Methodist Church, for those living in parts of Centre North and Grant North Townships.

Cottonwood Falls Swope Park Community Building, for those living in Diamond Creek Township in Chase County.

Voters may request an advance ballot by mail by contacting the Marion County Clerk’s Office at (620) 382-2185 or coclerk@marioncoks.net.

Last modified Oct. 19, 2017

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