The next target for change in USD 443 has been determined.

Four candidates for school board positions attended a forum on Wednesday night at The Learning Center where they answered questions submitted by the audience and the general public. At one point, all four attendees — Pam Preston, Lisa Killion, Jason Coffey and Joe Finley — mentioned the need to move administration offices.

"The administration building is falling down," Finley said. "It’s very obvious that any immediate capital funds would need to address the administration building."

All four candidates made mention of the administration offices on 2nd Avenue across from the Dodge City Public Library.

"I’m pleased the bonds passes to do what is necessary for the schools," Coffey said. "But, it’s pretty clear where any new funding would have to address."

Killion, who is the current USD 443 Board of Education president, said she’s proud of getting a bond passed to update and renovate schools.

"I’m very proud of getting the bond passed," she said. "I’ve been serving on the school board for 8 years and it’s one of my proudest moments.

"Now, we have to find a way to help the administration with its building."

Preston, who had a career in education as a teacher and administration, said Dodge City has done well in many areas, but believes communication will make things better.

"If elected, I would listen and learn," she said. "I would listen to teachers, administrators and anyone else to make sure to have the right information to help in any situation.

"I’d also keep learning to make sure I’m doing what I can to help the district."

Coffey, a former Kansas Teacher of the Year who recently stepped away from teaching at Dodge City High School, believes the best way to help students is to make sure they have everything they need.

"Poverty is the toughest thing we have to overcome as teachers," he said. "If we can make sure kids have food to eat, a jacket when it’s cold, the things they need each day, it will make it easier for them to learn and become better students and eventually, better people."

Each candidate — including Killion — said dealing with multi-million dollar budgets will take some help.

Coffey mentioned he has experience with his own household budget and a degree and background in business. Finley echoed Coffey’s statement.

"Like Justin, I have experience with my own budget," he laughed.

"It takes a while to figure it out," Killion said. "It’s like a household budget with a lot more zeros with it."

Brian E. Mashak, Tammie West and Killion are running for re-election with the top four vote getters being named to the board. Other candidates are Finley, Coffey, Preston and Jamey Lewis-Gonzales. Barbara Lundin is not running for re-election and Joyce Warshaw, whose name will be on the ballot, has pulled out of the USD 443 race.

Forums for Dodge City Community College Board of Trustees candidates will be Oct. 17 at DCCC Little Theater and Dodge City City Commission will be Oct. 18 at the library.


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