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ELECTION Q&A: FOR FREEMAN SCHOOL BOARD

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Cody Fransen challenging incumbent Kerry Hofer

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    Cody Fransen, left, and Kerry Hofer

CANDIDATE PROFILES

Cody Fransen 

Age: 38

Occupation: Wastewater Supervisor for City of Freeman

Family: Katie (wife), Taylor, Cami, and Samantha (daughters)

Kerry L. Hofer

Age: 39

Occupation: Farmer

Family: Wife, Lori; Children: Cadence (11), Reeslyn (9), Jamison (6), and Kendric (3)

WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR ELECTION/RE-ELECTION?

Fransen: I whole-heartedly believe our current school board has made some very positive changes for our school and our community. However, there is always work that needs to be done and difficult decisions to be made. I am running for election, because I want to make sure those decisions are made with the best interest of our current and future students, staff, and community members in mind.

Hofer: I am running for re-election because I highly value education and the Freeman community. I feel that my educational background, experience and love for the community equip me to help guide Freeman’s continued achievement of academic excellence. Having been a graduate of FHS I have an understanding of the school and the community.

WHAT QUALITIES DO YOU/WOULD YOU BRING TO THE FREEMAN SCHOOL BOARD?

Fransen: I will be a new face around the table. New people bring new thoughts and perspectives which may not have been thought of in the past. While I have never served on the school board, I have been very active on numerous other boards and committees in the community such as the Freeman Fire Department, the summer rec board, and the consistory at my church.

Hofer: I have 15 years of experience being on this board to help navigate the difficult decisions facing our district. I have a firm grasp of current financial considerations as well as an understanding of where the district has been in the past to help us move forward. I am looking forward to the process of strategic planning to help further understand what this district must do to continue providing quality education. Having young, school-age children helps me to focus on current and future academic needs.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE STATE OF THE FREEMAN SCHOOL DISTRICT? WHY?

Fransen: Considering the challenges all school districts are facing, I believe Freeman is holding its own. It is consistent with where other schools our size are sitting. Fortunately, I believe our administration and school board is aware of the situations and have been planning for the future. Even though these challenges will be ongoing, my position on the school board would be to keep in mind the best interest of both the students, staff, and the taxpayers.

Hofer: The community of Freeman has shown time and again that having a good education is something that we as a community value. I feel that the Freeman School District has done an excellent job of educating our youth. We at FHS have also done a good job of making our school a safe environment to learn and grow. Our board and administration have made difficult decisions to help ensure the safety of our students and staff. I feel that one of our biggest strengths is our quality teachers. They provide an excellent education while having a genuine concern for our children and their success. Also, they have shown a willingness and ability to adapt to rapid changes in education, technology and our world. We are currently in a good financial position. The community supported an opt out with the understanding that we would continue to provide quality education and be good stewards of the money. The board and the administration have been responsible with this funding and for the current year didn’t take the full amount of the opt out funds available. I believe we need to continue to look for ways to be as efficient as we can especially considering current economic conditions.

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE CURRENTLY FACING THE DISTRICT?

Fransen: Trying to keep up with the educational needs of our students with the limited amount of funding we have to work with is our biggest challenge. We need to continue to keep our program strong and offer opportunities to attract prospective students while at the same time not over taxing our staff.

Hofer: The answer to this question has significantly changed in the past 30 days. The COVID-19 pandemic has and is shaping the current plans for our district. The administration, teachers, and board have been forced to change what education looks like for our district for the immediate future. I have seen the effort put forth to continue educating our children during this unprecedented time.

ATHLETIC COOPERATIVES AND SCHOOL CONSOLIDATION HAVE BEEN TRENDING THE LAST 20 YEARS. HOW CLOSELY SHOULD FREEMAN BE PAYING ATTENTION TO ONE, THE OTHER OR BOTH?

Fransen: I believe Freeman needs to strongly look at an all sports cooperative now. Participation is down in all our athletics. Understandably, this may force our teams to change classes which is a scary thought. However, we need to look towards the future. If we establish a strong athletic cooperative now, we secure the future of our school with the relationship built between another school in case we need to move towards consolidation.

Hofer: I think we as a district should be willing to look at any opportunity to work with neighboring districts. This approach allows us to maximize educational and extracurricular opportunities while being financially responsible. I believe we should continue looking for opportunities that can be mutually beneficial like our current football coop with Canistota. The board needs to continually look at student participation numbers and should be proactive for the future.

IS THERE A PIECE OF THE CURRICULUM THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE BOSLTERED OR PAID CLOSER ATTENTION TO?

Fransen: I agree with the direction the school board is taking by adding in elective classes. I would like to see that continue to grow with the addition of industrial arts (welding, plumbing, electrical, carpentry, etc.) and life skills classes (changing tires, checking oil, personal finance, taxes, healthy cooking, etc.). We need to prepare our students the best we can for whatever they plan to do and wherever they plan to go with the hopes many will want to live and work in our community which offers so many opportunities.

Hofer: We at Freeman Public are doing a great job in many areas of education. I feel that technical education is one area where we should add additional classes. I would like to see more Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses. Offering these types of classes would help us do a better job of preparing our students who aren’t looking at going to a four-year university and prepare them for their future. This has been an area that we have made cuts to in the past. I would like us to be intentional about finding ways to add these courses to our current curriculum.

IS THERE PART OF THE PHYSICAL PLANT THAT NEEDS ATTENTNION? IF SO, WHAT?

Fransen: With the allocation of capital outlay, the Freeman district has done a good job of updating and caring for our facilities. Our community should be proud of our facilities and grounds.

Hofer: I believe that the physical plant of our school is in excellent condition. The administration and the board have done an exceptional job of keeping things in good condition. This is one area I feel we are at an advantage over many other districts of our size within our state. We should be proud of our facilities.

FINALLY, WHAT ELSE WOULD YOU LIKE THE VOTERS TO KNOW?

Fransen: I feel the Freeman School District is an essential part of our community and want to see it around for years to come. If I am elected to the school board, I will strive to do what is best for the students, staff, and community of Freeman.

Hofer: I am very thankful to have served this community for the past 15 years. I am proud to send my children to Freeman Public Schools. In the past 3 years through coaching and my children’s activities, I have been able to experience firsthand the great children and families our community truly has. I would appreciate the opportunity to continue serving our district.