De Smet School District will be conducting a school board election June 15. A position vacated by Norm Koehlmoos was temporarily filled by Evan Buckmiller, who wishes to remain on the board. April Rusche has chosen to run for the same position, causing the election. Voting will take place in the community room of the high school gym from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on that Tuesday. The election for that position is expected to cost the school district an estimated $1,000.
The Kingsbury Journal has invited both candidates to answer a series of questions and to write a statement to help voters make a more informed decision in the upcoming election. We asked each candidate to limit their responses to no more than 75 words. Responses were edited for spelling and grammar only.
April Rusche: My husband and I have two kids: Jordan is 20 and will be a junior at SDSU this fall. Matthew will be a junior at DHS and is 16 years old. Teaching art to children and adults is my passion. I also very much enjoy photography and creating artwork.
Evan Buckmiller: Grew up in Canistota, S.D. Went to Mitchell Technical Institute for Utilities Technology. Worked for a powerline contractor from 2006-2010 when I moved to De Smet to work at Kingsbury Electric Coop. in April of 2010. My wife, Ann, and I have two kids, Hadley (8) and Carter (5).
April Rusche: Holding a position on the De Smet School Board is a way that I can continue to be a part of the school and to help ensure that De Smet continues to provide an excellent education for our students.
Evan Buckmiller: My biggest goal is to help the kids have the best education and the best facilities to learn in as they prepare for college and life. Having two kids myself in the school system, I have a vested interest. If I am elected to the De Smet Board of Education, I will work with the team and the teachers and administration to accomplish that.
April Rusche: I have spent 24 years as an educator; twenty-two of those years were spent in De Smet. This background provides me with a unique perspective on what it takes to effectively educate our kids and how to work with parents.
Evan Buckmiller: We have two kids in the public school system, so when I was asked to fill a seat when a board member retired last year, I was excited to learn more. There is still more to learn, but I am confident I can represent the De Smet School District and work with administration and the school staff to achieve our goals.
April Rusche: I strongly believe that the purpose of education is to cultivate and provide experiences for every student to give them the best possible chance to be well-rounded, confident, productive members of society. That is my vision and what I will strive for.
Evan Buckmiller: I think everyone can agree, we want to see the students succeed at whatever they do now and in the future. When students look back, they can say they had the best education right in our small town of De Smet.
April Rusche: To me, the most important responsibility of a school board member is to act in an informed way that best suits the needs of ALL students. That means asking questions to help make the best decisions for both students and taxpayers.
Evan Buckmiller: To make the best decisions for the school district that will help the students be successful.
April Rusche: I believe that the school board and its individual members need to work with the community, staff and administration to create the best possible environment to prepare students for their post high school lives.
Evan Buckmiller: To make the best decisions with the information we have as a board. If we cannot work together and voice our opinions to each other, a board does not work. I have worked well with the board for time I have been a member, and I would like to continue to work as part of the board and help make the De Smet School succeed.
April Rusche: My priorities are to make sure that De Smet students continue to receive the best possible education. There is a need for better communication between administration, staff, and the community.
Evan Buckmiller: Education, and getting things back to normal. The pandemic has been stressful. Administration, teachers, custodial staff, cooks and bus drivers all had more work in their day. I think we need to look at how it went and use it as a learning experience so if it happens again, we have an action plan in place. We are also looking at facilities; if you want a quality education, we need have to have the facilities to make it possible. Technology is always improving, and if we can better utilize the technology available right here in De Smet, the students will be able to better prepare for life after high school.
April Rusche: The school’s finances are a daunting responsibility and something to be taken very seriously. My involvement in school finances has been that of a teacher, but I am also a taxpayer. My intention will be to ask good questions in order to guide decisions.
Evan Buckmiller: I do not have experience, but I have learned a great deal over the last year with school district financials. I have experience with a multimillion-dollar electric cooperative and can apply my background with that to the school board. It is different, but, in the end, we want the same thing, to succeed and be fiscally responsible. The De Smet administration and seated board members have a wealth of knowledge, so if you have a question, you just need to ask.
April Rusche: As an educator, I have a unique perspective on the education of our children. I am concerned about continuing to maintain high standards for both academics and extra-curriculars. A culture of excellence takes a long time to develop and can easily be lost without continued focus. I am concerned about staff turnover and making sure that De Smet is an attractive option in the age of open enrollment.
Evan Buckmiller: Facilities, the LIW building is in need of a lot of work, we need a facility for the young students to learn without buckets to catch water or a bathroom that keeps getting band aids. We need to give the teachers a facility to teach, want them to stay and give them the ability to give everything they have to teach OUR children.
April Rusche: Those who know me know that I will not be a “yes-man.” I will ask the tough questions and expect honest answers, or I will find them on my own. I was blessed to have Marv McCune as a mentor, co-worker and friend for 22 years. He supported me in the classroom and encouraged me to run for a seat on the De Smet School Board.
Evan Buckmiller: Thank you for your consideration for the De Smet School Board. I hope I get the opportunity to continue serving you and the school district.
Those are the two candidates running for the De Smet School Board Election. Election will be held Tues., June 15 in the Community Room of the De Smet High School Gym from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.