Class sizes, district buildings at top of BOE candidate's list
By JUDY SHERARD
Danielle Robben describes herself as a team player if she's elected to serve as a Hays USD 489 Board of Education member, and she's willing to find answers to questions.
Maintaining class sizes and decisions about the district buildings are among the biggest challenges facing the school board.
Consolidating schools takes advantage of the buildings the district already has in use while staying within its budget.
"I feel what they did with Felten (Middle School), turning it into Hays Middle School -- adding on the classrooms -- was an achievement for the school district and is going to help out a lot," Robben said.
She is one of five candidates for three seats on the board of education in the April 2 election. The other candidates are Richard Kraemer, Josh Waddell, Lance Bickle and Kathleen Fischer.
Robben understands the public's concern about class size if schools consolidate.
"I feel the one-on-one time with teachers and students, that's going to stay," she said. "I feel like the small class sizes is one of the things that makes this school district great. Parents like that."
She favors keeping the structures the district has, and "looking more toward renovating and updating rather than closing schools down and building a new high school."
The cost for new buildings is high, and "everybody is already worried about their taxes," Robben said.
The board should take the facilities needs committee's recommendation into account, along with their own opinions.
"There are a lot more voices out there that need to be heard. People on the committee are active. They have people who respect their opinions and listen to them," Robben said.
A strategic plan should be in place and occasionally checked for changes in needs and to categorize them in importance.
Staff and community members' opinions should be solicited early in the strategic planning process.
"Sometimes where the community thinks sports takes precedence over music and art, if we were able to plan ahead, we could give attention more equally and be more fair about it," Robben said.
Board members should discuss issues to let the community know what is happening.
"I think it's only fair to voice your opinion," Robben said. "Not everyone is going to agree with you. That's just the way it is, but I don't see the harm in that."
Discussing issues as they come up lets people know they are being heard.
Robben is willing to learn and doesn't think age should be a factor.
"I'm young and inexperienced, but most of the candidates have never served on a board. We all bring something to the table. ... You have to start somewhere. The current board had to learn."
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Danielle Robben was born and raised in Hays and attended Wilson Elementary, Felten Middle and Hays High schools.
She works at Glassman Corp. in the human resources office, a job she's had since graduation from Fort Hays State University. She is engaged to Taylor Lang.