Central School Board Candidates Meet Ed, Rachel and Peter

Ed Hertrampf

Rachel Jaster

Peter Purman

School board elections will be held Tuesday, September 10, across most of the state. Locally, four newcomers and an incumbent are vying for four open seats on the Central School Board. The following five names will appear on the ballot: Jered Finley, Rob Frieden, Ed Hertrampf, Rachel Jaster (incumbent) and Peter Purman.

Absentee ballots for this election are now available and can be requested up to 11 a.m. the day of the election, according to County Auditor Dennis Freitag.

Here’s a look at the final three candidates. All were asked the same questions; their answers appear here as submitted to the paper.

Ed Hertrampf is the feed mill operations manager at Innovative  Ag Services, Elkader. He and his wife, Sara, have three school-aged youngsters: Claire, 11; Mark 7; and Jake, 5.

Why did you decide to run for school board?

I decided to run for the school board because of my three children, who are enrolled in the district. I want to help Central Schools maintain the school in Elkader while ensuring a top-quality education for our kids. Keeping a local K-12 school is important for offering a positive educational experience for students, quality of life for our community, and supports economic development.

What qualifies you to be a school board member?

I am qualified to be a school board member because I have three kids enrolled in Central, I’m a life-long resident of the Elkader area, and a Central graduate of the Class of 1991.  As a parent, I understand what’s happening now at Central and care about the future of our district. I believe being fiscally responsible and effectively communicating the district’s goals are the keys to Central’s future. I’m friendly, open-minded, positive, and team-oriented, which I believe are qualities an effective board member should possess.  

How would you interact with the parents you would represent?

I would interact with the parents I represent with a compassionate, friendly, approachable, and caring manner.

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the Central Community School District?

The obvious and most crucial challenge is declining enrollment, which leads to fiscal challenges. It’s difficult for small rural schools to compete with urban schools that have state-of-the-art facilities and with what seems to be an unlimited tax base and budget. As Clayton County faces a declining population and shrinking tax base, we need to be competitive with urban schools by promoting the great qualities of Central Schools—caring educators and administrators who create an environment where our kids receive the best education in Clayton County.  

If elected, what would you like to see accomplished during your term on the board?

If elected, I would like to work with our legislators to ensure rural schools are on the same playing field as urban schools in terms of funding, resources, and representation at the state level. I want to promote the participation in all extracurricular activities including athletics, music, and fine arts. I would like to work more closely with our communities to create opportunities for population growth within the district and while encouraging families who have open enrolled out of the district to come back to Central. I hope these goals will ensure the stability and growth of Central Schools for the future!

The only incumbent in this year’s school board race is Rachel Jaster. She works in employment services at G&G Living Centers, Inc. She and her husband, Darrell, have a daughter, McKenna, 10, and a son, Collin, 5.

Why did you decide to run for school board? 

Over the past eight years I have invested a lot of time and energy being on the school board. I am very excited about this current school year with the addition of Mr. Trenkamp, and want to continue to be apart of the upcoming changes and decisions that will be happening at Central.

What qualifies you to be a school board member?

 I have served on the Central School Board for the past eight years. During this time we went from a negative unspent balance to a very healthy current unspent balance. Together we have made a lot of tough decisions to be able to get where we are today. I am proud to say that I believe Central is on the right track and will continue to prosper with the continued support of our community all the way through the ranks of the school to the top with our superintendent. 

I have served on our buildings and grounds committee for all eight years I have been on the school board. I am proud of the accomplishments we have made with the elementary remodel, the auditorium remodel, the music building remodel, just to name a few.

I have a degree in elementary education. I have worked in the field of human services serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities for the past nine years. My background and experiences give me a unique perspective to offer to our board as a whole.

I am a graduate of Central and I have two young children who attend Central. I have an invested interest in Central, therefore I truly want to see if continue to thrive and prosper to continue to be the best school to educate our children and offer as many opportunities to them as possible.   

How would you interact with the parents you would represent?

I would continue to be open to any questions or discussion parents or anyone in the community may have. If I do not have the answer immediately, I would continue to take any questions, concerns, or comments to the appropriate people who have the best knowledge of how to address the issue.  

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the Central Community School District?

I believe that declining enrollment and how to work around that will continue to be our biggest challenge. However, I do feel that we have worked hard to come up with innovative ways to work around this to be able to continue to provide and potentially even better the education of our children. An example of this is the upcoming multi-age classrooms next year.

If elected, what would you like to see accomplished during your term on the board?

I am excited to see the transition that is made specifically in the elementary with the multi-age classrooms and how that all comes together. I would also like to see continued marketing of Central happen to show those who open enroll out why Central is truly the best school to have their children educated. I want to see our unspent balance to at least remain where it currently is or even better, continue to grow over the next four years. It is a vital part of the health of our district.

Anything else you’d like to add? 

If elected, I look forward to the continued opportunity and privilege to serve the Central Community School District. 

A 1989 graduate of Central and a life-long resident of the district, Peter Purman has an MBA in marketing and a minor in business management from the University of Dubuque. He has been employed by the Clayton County Secondary Road Department in Elkader for the last 15 years. For the last eight years, he has been the parts manager in charge of purchasing and distribution of equipment parts and supplies. His wife, Holly, is a 1994 Central graduate. They have two children, Alyssa, 16, a junior at Central, and Zander, 10, a fifth grader at Central.

Why did you decide to run for the board?

I decided to run for a school board position to take an active part in the future of my children’s education and the preservation of Central as a historic symbol of quality education and excellence in Elkader as well as the entire district.

What qualifies you to be a school board member?

In my current job as parts manager at Clayton County, I deal with the general public and businesses on a daily basis. I address the public concerns and direct them through the proper channels to aid in solving their issues. I deal with several vendors getting quotes and purchasing items that maximize the use of county tax dollars.

My wife and I also own Holly’s Bridal Boutique in Elkader. We have been in business for just under 10 years. I do all of our book work on the weekend and evenings. Once again, purchasing product and managing funds to maximize profits.

How would you interact with the parents you would represent?

I would gladly interact with any parent or guardian that has any concerns or issues about their child’s education or the welfare of the school as a whole. I would take any of those concerns to fellow board members for discussion. If issues were brought up why a certain decision was made, I would explain the board’s stand on those issues.

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the Central Community School District?

I think Central’s biggest challenges right now are to try and find a way to balance their budget while spending funds wisely for future growth and prosperity. We also need to figure out why parents are open enrolling their children to other districts and address and eliminate those issues.

If elected, what would you like to see accomplished during your term on board?

With the escalating cost of higher education, I would like to see more classes offered that count toward college credits. I would like to take a look at our academics and our grading scale as compared to other districts. Are we hurting our kids or benefitting them? Are they losing out on scholarship money to kids from other districts because they fall just under a higher GPA because of our more aggressive grading scale? I would also like to look into getting our athletic programs that we’ve lost back to Central.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Above all else, I would like to be a voice of reason by looking at and weighing issues from all directions. I will ask why and why again, if need be. If elected, I would work with diligent perseverance to try and represent the parents, students and faculty of Central School District while trying to ensure the future of the school and livelihoods of those who make it the institution it is.

By Pam Reinig, Register Editor

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