GREEN RIVER — The Sweetwater County School District (SCSD) No. 2 Board of Trustees conducted three interviews for a vacant board position Monday night in which they selected Tom Wilson to fill the position.
The other two candidates included Darren Casey and Brandon Mandros. These three candidates were narrowed down from eight applicants for the board position. Wilson will finish out Robin Steiss’s term, who announced her resignation in December. The term will last through the remainder of this year.
Steiss had a career in education prior to her position on the board. Wilson said he believes the board is currently very eclectic, which he sees as a bonus for the board, but with Steiss gone they no longer have that education representation.
“I think the one thing that Robin brought to the board that left is experience in the classroom and in education in general,” Wilson said.
Wilson said he has over 41 years of experience in education, and 14 of those years were spent as an administrator. Working as the athletic director for the school district, he said he has experience in decision making, leading, working on boards and working as a team to accomplish goals.
The board asked the candidates what they believe the biggest challenges facing the district are, to which they all mentioned the COVID-19 pandemic. Casey and Mandros both said the biggest priority with facing the pandemic is watching out for students’ and staff’s mental and physical health, and ensuring they are listening to state and CDC recommendations, along with the students, staff and parents.
Both Wilson and Casey said distance learning and technology are another challenge to work on. Wilson said with the pandemic that is ever changing and will continue to persist, the district needs plans for offering opportunities for educating students in the event that they have to stay out of school.
In addition to distance learning, Casey said that technology has been advancing and he be believes it will be a challenge to ensure the technology is benefiting students and their academic progress.
The other major challenge the candidates believe the district is facing is education funding. Casey said it is going to be a challenge to find funding sources and obtain and maintain that money. Wilson also pointed out that the recent additional funding through programs such as the American Rescue Plan Act, they will have to figure out what to do when that funding runs out.
“Historically we’ve seen a tax on education and funding. That’s a huge piece, we need to be proactive in addressing senators and legislators,” Wilson said.
The board also asked what the candidates believed their role should be in the community as a board member. Mandros said he would like to be an advocate for parents and kids, as well as for the board. He said he wants to understand the relationship between the board and the community and act as a facilitator for open communication.
“I want to bridge the gap and let everyone know that the kids and the education is front and center for everybody,” Mandros said.
Casey said a board member should be actively engaged with the community and the community members, and would like to get a feel for what they want with the district.
“I’d want to know how they want the district to look and to feel, so I’d go out into the community with that in mind,” Casey said.
Wilson said his role as a board member in the community would be to be “visible and approachable”. He said going to the school’s activities all the way from athletic events to band concerts to elementary Christmas programs would be ways to make himself visible and available to the community.
“We need to be out there, we need to be a positive role model in the community,” Wilson said.
Wilson was sworn in by Superintendent Craig Barringer and will begin duties immediately.