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Five hopefuls chase four seats on Wind River school board

Nov 4, 2012 - By Eric Blom, Staff Writer

Five candidates are running this year for four open seats on the Fremont County School District 6 Board of Trustees.

Candidates are incumbents Kristin Benson, Charles Gomedi, Patti Griffith, and Dan Pince and newcomer Mark Perkins.

School District 6 encompasses Pavillion, Kinnear, Morton, Crowheart and Burris, along with parts of the Johnstown area and the outskirts of Riverton. Crowheart Elementary, Wind River Elementary, Wind River Middle School and Wind River High School are the district's schools.

Griffith

Patti Griffith, 65, is in her sixth term on the board and is hoping for a seventh. She said she is running again because she likes education, is proud of School District 6, and wants to provide continuity on the board.

"We've been rated first in the state in some areas," Griffith said, "that, for a small school, says something."

Griffith is concerned about stretching funds to ensure that school district 6 satisfies federal educational mandates while providing an education that is relevant to its students. Providing school lunches that meet regulations and satisfy student needs is also important to Griffith.

She gave recent regulations that reduce calories in lunches as an example. She said that does not fit School District 6 well because district students are very active, she said.

"They need a lot of calories," she said. "The latest mandates have made that difficult."

Perkins

Mark Perkins, 49, has taught high school math for 13 years and currently does so at Arapaho Charter High School. He has also coached wrestling in Fremont County, and has a master's degree in mathematics education, he said.

Perkins is running because two of his sons attend school in School District 6. As a teacher, he said he knows what teachers are going through and would bring that perspective to the board of trustees.

Perkins thinks the district does not do enough for students who are gifted and talented or academically behind. Even with a limited staff, he thinks the district could provide more opportunities for instance by offering online courses.

"I would like to see students have the chance to go as far as they can," he said.

Perkins would also like to adjust the school schedule to slightly shorten school days, which he says can be too long.

"My sons get on the bus at 7," he said, "If they're in an activity, they don't get home until 7. That's a long day."

Benson

Kris Benson, 43, was appointed less than a year ago to the board of trustees to fill a vacancy.

She is the current technical director of Fremont County Board of Cooperative Education Services and has worked there for four years.

She has a bachelor's degree in education, a master's degree in curriculum and instruction and a doctorate in educational leadership.

She taught math and science for 10 years, worked in school administration for three years and taught at Central Wyoming College for one year.

She wants to run, she said, because all the decisions the school board makes deal with teachers, learning and budgets.

"I'm familiar with all those," Benson said. "I could assist with my experience."

Benson has lived in Kinnear for five years, and her sixth-grade daughter attends school in the district.

She said her focus will be to ensure students graduate college and career ready.

To do that, Benson said, the district has to support the staff, teachers, administrators, food service, and bus drivers.

In addition, she wants to get more students involved in extracurricular activities, make sure students are engaged with their learning and continue to focus on the graduation rate.

Pince

Dan Pince, 52, has been on the board for about 13 years and chairperson for about five. He said that School District 6 has many initiatives started while he has been on the board, and he wants to stay on the board to see those fully develop.

"We're starting to see some real fruit," he said.

Pince declined to take credit for the district's accomplishments. He says the administration develops ideas and the board just decides if ideas are right for the kids.

He did say he is proud of the new school buildings in Pavillion, a new preschool bus, staying ahead of state and federal mandates, and maintaining a strong budget, all of which have happened during his tenure.

Pince grew up in School District 6 and attended its schools. Two of his three daughters also went to school in the district.

Business experience from managing a 1,500-acre farm helps him with the business side of the board's work, Pince said. He also has an applied electronics associate's degree from Casper College.

Gomedi

Incumbent Charles Gomedi is running for re-election but did not respond to interview requests.

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