For those who vote for the two seats up for grabs from the Danville School Board, their choice from among the candidates is an even split between two district veterans and two potential newcomers.
Current board chairman Sandy Dockendorff, Burlington High School high school teacher (and Danville alumnus) Jon Paul Van Buskirk, Quantum Land Design machine control specialist Taylor Eisenmann, and banker and owner of company Jason Samples are all hoping to land a seat on the board after the Nov. 2 election.
The Hawk Eye asked each of the candidates to answer a series of questions before election day. Here’s what Van Buskirk had to say:
Work and training
Jon Paul Van Buskirk: I am currently a secondary school teacher with honors in industrial technology, biology and agriculture.
What can you tell us about your family and how long have you lived in the school district?
Van Buskirk: My family and I have lived in the Danville neighborhood for almost seven years. My wife, myself and my two children live in rural Danville where both children attend Danville community schools.
Why do you want to serve on the school board and what made you decide to run?
Van Buskirk: I decided to run for the Danville Community School District Council to bring transparency and a culture of healing to parents, students and teachers in Danville schools.
Why should people vote for you?
Van Buskirk: I personally know the inner workings of the Danville Community School District, I seek equality for all students, parents and staff, and I believe that the community and the school should have an intrinsic relationship.
What school district issues are you most concerned about and how would you work to resolve them?
Van Buskirk: Equality for all students and staff, transparency and parental input are just some of the issues I plan to raise if elected. The next school board will have the opportunity to choose the leadership of the Danville Community School District for the years to come and I plan to help choose that leadership to help resolve the aforementioned issues.
What specific goals would you like to work towards achieving if elected to the board of directors?
Van Buskirk: My goals that I would like to achieve if elected to the board would be to roll back some of the draconian policies that hinder student learning.
What do you think of the mask warrants and other COVID prevention measures?
Van Buskirk: I believe masks are a parental choice with anything that affects their children.
Do you agree with how Iowa and the state legislature handled the pandemic in public schools?
Van Buskirk: I believe the Iowa State Legislature is going through a pandemic unlike any we have seen in our lifetime, and the rights of families, parents and individuals should be the first thing to consider when the adoption of a law.
Do you think the COVID pandemic has been politicized and, if so, how do you think your personal opinions would guide your decisions if you were elected to the board of directors?
Van Buskirk: The COVID pandemic may have been politicized, but with access to social media, a person’s core values must guide them through the process.
Do you think that the parents in your district are sufficiently represented? Are their views heard by the board?
Van Buskirk: I believe the people in the Danville School District could use someone of my training to mediate between staff and parents. After working for the district for the past ten years, what I liked the most is that communities focus on the family and I would like to focus on the contribution of families to their school.
What do you think the board should do to improve and ensure equity among students?
Van Buskirk: The board needs to ensure that the next head of the Danville Community School District takes student and staff equity seriously and has high expectations of students and staff.