Four community members offer service as School Board members, election is Nov. 2

Deb Moldaschel
Redwood Falls Gazette

There are four candidates for a vacant position on the Redwood Area School Board, with a term that expires Jan. 2, 2023. A special election is on Tuesday, Nov. 2 at the Redwood Falls Community Center with polls open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The candidates are featured here with their answers to the following questions from the Gazette: • Provide a brief bio about yourself. • Why do you want to serve on the RASD School Board? • What are the top issues the school board is facing in this next year?

David Allex 

David Allex

• I grew up in Danube and graduated from BDRSH in 1998. I went to South Dakota State University and earned a degree in Manufacturing Engineering and Technology. My wife Erica and I have lived in Redwood Falls since 2008. We have one daughter who is attending school at Redwood Valley. I am engaged in the community as a member of the Friends of the Park board.

• I love to be service to the community that I live in. I would like to be a liaison to make sure the needs of the community are taken care of by the school district.

• I feel we need to look into our options to provide a better facility for our younger kids. The elementary school doesn’t meet the needs for students and staff.

JoDee Altmann 

JoDee Altmann

• I am a mom, wife, Registered Nurse and community member. I live on a small farm outside Redwood Falls with my husband Mike. We have four children, three currently in the RVMS/HS, while the oldest is attending Minnesota State University-Mankato. I am currently Working on my Master's Degree in Nursing Forensics while I work at the ED and ICU in Willmar. My family is actively involved in Redwood County 4-H in which I have held various leader roles. Within the school system our children continue to be active in various sports: football, wrestling, basketball, as well as band, drumline, the play, NHS and many other programs. I had the privilege of serving on the RASD School Board for a few months as an interim member a year ago. It was a very challenging time because it was at the beginning of COVID and all the uncertainties and unknowns. 

• Why do I want to serve on the RASD School Board? I am not one to keep quiet and will speak my mind as I am going to do now. It may be my demise in returning to the school board but it may also spark thought and discussion. I will state that I do not hold any negativity towards any of the current school board members. They were voted into their position by the community. My question to the community is this: Why do you, the community, continue to fill the positions with males on the RASD School Board? Yes, there it is, the elephant in the room no one wants to speak of. It has been studied and proven that females continue to be the primary caregiver, decision maker and support person for households with children. Think of your own house — who made/makes the doctor, dentist, or orthodontic appointments? Who took/takes them? Think about school issues — who is the first phone call  in your home made to when there are issues to discuss, good or bad? Females by nature are more nurturing and often the "go to" when personal/social issues arise. So I ask you to think about in your household who knew/knows more about what is going on in the personal lives of children? I am not a women's liberation activist but I believe 100% that to have an impartial and unbiased decision making group there must be representation from both men and women who provide care for the individuals in which the discussions and actions taken are being centered around. In this case those individuals are our children.   

• Top issues that I feel are facing the school board this year? The September meeting minutes show that the RASD financials and tax referendums were topics addressed. These are not areas in which I have expertise but in my interim time I learned and educated myself about the areas discussed. My expertise is in caring/raising my children and healthcare. Both areas which are not black and white and open to scrutiny. I am extremely concerned about the number of our RASD children that are vaping in and out of the school. I am interested in the retention of our current teaching and support staff as well as recruitment of new staff at RASD. I support the efforts of the school nurses who are working tirelessly to keep our children/school staff and community healthy during this time when there is lack of belief in science and little guidance. I am not afraid to tackle subjects that make people uncomfortable. Being on the School Board is not just about numbers and money.  

Andrew Lueck 

Andrew Lueck

• Born and raised on a small family farm in the Redwood Area School District, I attended all levels of pre-secondary education as a student in the district graduating in 2012 with highest honors. I attended North Dakota State University from 2012-2017 earning minors in Human Development and Family Sciences (2015), Horticulture (2015), a bachelor's in Crop and Weed Sciences (2015), and a Master's Degree in Plant Science (2017) while working full time in extension for the University of Minnesota and North Dakota State University (2015-2017) as a research specialist. 

Upon returning home to the school district I worked in management for Bayer Crop Science (2017-2019), taught high school agriculture in the district (2019-2020), and started my own agriculture research company, Next Gen Ag LLC (2017-current). My company collaborates with global industry partners to advance agriculture for the future while educating my local communities about modern agriculture through social media.

I am fortunate to come home to a beautiful and healthy family every night which includes my wife, Katie, and children, Henry (age 4), Olivia (3), and twin daughters Eliza and Aria (1). 

• The role of a school board member is to ensure all major decisions are a result of well-established ideas supported by positive passion and proper motivation. My main motivation running for school board is to be able to provide perspectives from a different point of view based on my experiences as a business owner, manager, and former teacher. I want the fine arts and agriculture programs to continue to be supported. I want to be part of the discussions surrounding the next steps related to Reede Gray Elementary as that building continues to age. I am a strong supporter of our teachers and staff and believe my relationships with former co-workers can allow me the ability to represent their views and perspectives more collectively. 

• Top issues facing the school board in the next year, in my opinion, include continued evaluation of options for Reede Gray Elementary and navigation of the looming presence of COVID-19 in hopes of regaining a sense of normal. I approach issues objectively with a research-based background, but also a sense of balance and understanding from all perspectives as there is rarely one simple solution to any problem.

Erica Plaetz 

Erica Plaetz

• I have been a resident of Redwood Falls since 2011. I am married to Jonathan Plaetz who has been a longtime resident and business owner of Steve and Son's Painting. We have two children in the school district, a junior in high school and a third grader at Reede Gray Elementary. I have been running an in-home daycare for the past seven years and currently have 10 children enrolled in my care. Prior to opening my daycare, I was a pediatric home care nurse who took care of medically fragile infants and children on tracheostomies and ventilators, among other disabilities. I chose to open my daycare based on not only wanting to be home with my kids, but recognizing a community need for providers to care for the children in our community. The childcare shortage has been an ongoing issue and I have been happy to help fill that shortage. I continue to also keep up with my nursing education with continuing education and implementing what I have learned into the care I give to my daycare children.  

• My desire to serve on the RASD school board has been one for several years now. I grew up with a father who was an educator and heavily involved in the school district outside of being a teacher. I always admired his passion to make a difference and affect change in the community he served, not just at the local level, but the state level as well. He served with such grace and dignity and I watched how he fought for the teachers and students at every level. I wanted to follow in those footsteps when my own children started school. Being a part of their education has been an important part for me since they were born. Being on the school board is just a part of that. Not only that, but to also be a part of helping get our educators what they need to successfully do their job is also a big part of me wanting to be on the board.  

• I think our biggest issue we are facing as a district this school year is the current referendums needing to be voted on. Both are incredibly important in order to continue to provide the education needed to make every student successful. If the first one is not passed, it means cuts in the school district, which is NOT what we need right now given the fact that we can't afford to lose anyone at this point. Our staff and teachers are already cut thin as it is while trying to provide an excellent education. Losing staff would only add to the burden they already face. The second part of the referendum is also important because it will add and build on what we currently have in place for our students.