High Plains board candidates share profiles, insight

There are three contested seats up for election on the High Plains Community Schools Board of Education in the May primary.
The incumbents are Kent Helgoth of Clarks and Terry Carlstrom of Polk. They are being challenged by Kraig Urkoski of Silver Creek, Erin Meyer of Hordville, Jason Morris of Clarks, Kristi Farley of Polk, and Kyle Beck of Clarks.
The seven candidates appearing on the May primary ballot are profiled this week. Their answers to the News-Register’s questions are unedited.

Kyle Beck
1. Personal information: My name Is Kyle Beck and I am 25 years old. I am a sixth generation farmer and a volunteer fireman from Clarks. I am also a former graduate from High Plains Community, class of 2013 to be exact. I attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for four years pursuing an agribusiness degree but dropped out a year before graduating to come home and further my farming career.
2. Why are you running for this office? I am running for the school board because I want to help make more of a difference in our school district. I have always cared very much about my hometown and the history of Clarks and the High Plains Community Schools that I want to kind of be a part of it now, too.
3. What personal strengths would you bring to the HPC Board if elected? Some strengths that I bring to the table is that I am an actual graduate of the High Plains Community school district. I’m not just part of one particular town, I was part one big community, so I won’t just focus what benefits what town, but rather the whole district. I also bring a good knowledge of the area of our district. From growing up in the district my entire life, I think that has merit to it.
4. What in your view are the top three priority issues facing the district? In my personal opinion, I think the top three priorities that the district is facing are a possible consolidation with another school district for our sports teams, making sure the school is running as efficiently as it can, and to make sure all staff and students have the right tools for teaching and learning.
5. What goals do you hope to accomplish while serving on the board? Really I have only one goal in mind, and that is just do the best job I can do to serve the public and the school district. I want to answer people’s questions the best that I can and hear every concern or suggestion about the district in order to better it.

Terry Carlstrom
1. Personal information: My name is Terry Carlstrom. I have lived in the Polk community my whole life. I’m married to Sarah and have two boys, Riley and Trevor. I own my own business, Carlstrom Electric, LLC.
2. Why are you running for this office? To have an input on making important decisions on the future of our school district.
3. What personal strengths would you bring to the HPC Board if elected? Able to make decisions according to whats best for our school district and
what’s best for our students as a whole.
4. What in your view are the top three priority issues facing the district? Co-oping sports, making improvements to the school, getting the best
teacher-student ratio that we can for the better of our students.
5. What goals do you hope to accomplish while serving on the board? Make decisions to better our school district the best we can.
Kristi Farley
1. Personal information: I would like to take a moment to introduce myself. My name is Kristi Farley, I have two daughters attending High Plains Community Schools (freshman and senior for the 2020-21 school year). I have been a registered nurse for the past 15 years and am finishing my master’s degree in nursing this May.
2. Why are you running for this office? I have had the desire to run for school board in the past; however, time constraints have kept me from doing so. I feel now is an opportune time to serve our community and run for High Plains School Board as I will have ample time to dedicate to the board.
3. What personal strengths would you bring to the HPC Board if elected? I have served as the vice chair and now chair of an academic advisory board for Central Community College for the past three years. My experience has helped to better the student’s educational experience while meeting educational programmatic requirements.
Discussion of controversial or challenging decisions have come up. This has helped to pause and assess all sides/options to develop potential strategies before deciding. My experience as a nurse has enhanced my ability to triage and prioritize issues needing attention.
4. What in your view are the top three priority issues facing the district? The enrollment boom/classroom size, security and safety, and assuring an excellent and safe learning environment are three top priorities to continually assess.
5. What goals do you hope to accomplish while serving on the board? If elected, my goals for serving on the board include advocating for students and supporting our staff and administration. I will objectively listen to all concerns and work with the board to solve issues in a results oriented, student-focused manner.
The student’s experience should be engaging and in an active learning environment that provides life skills alongside academics, thus preparing our them for success in the future. I would be honored to have your vote for the position on the High Plains Community School Board.

Kent Helgoth
1. Personal information: Hello, I’m Kent Helgoth. I’m married and have three sons that attend High Plains Community Schools. I attended and graduated high school from our district. I enjoy being involved in my community.
Just a few of my service positions include being a TeamMate mentor for our school district. I am also a current school board member of High Plains Community Schools.
I have been the chair of the Tri-Community Foundation, a local organization that funds community projects, and am still on the board. I am also a co-founder and current board member of our Storm Youth Sports program.
2. Why are you running for this office? I’m running for a second term because I enjoy serving and being a part of our communities. I want to help make sure we give the kids in our communities the best education we can. School related experiences are important for kids and their families and I enjoy being a part of making that experience positive.
3. What personal strengths would you bring to the HPC Board if elected? I feel that I bring experience from my involvement in the school as a TeamMate mentor, parent, coach and current school board member. My second strength as a candidate is being a good listener to patrons who reach out with questions and concerns about the school district.
There are a lot of people invested in our district and their children’s education and it’s important for me as a board member to take the time to listen to their thoughts.
4. What in your view are the top three priority issues facing the district? There are a multitude of priorities facing a school district at any given time.
One priority is being fiscally sound. We’ve currently accomplished having one of the lowest tax levies in the area. Being fiscally sound helps us with another priority of keeping our teacher-to-student ratios strong so kids are getting the best possible education. It also allows us to keep our facilities and technology up to date.
Another priority is making sure our activities provide a positive experience for our students. It is important for us to consistently work on all of the current priorities but also always be looking forward to what’s best for the future.
In the four years I’ve been on the board, we’ve reconfigured the location of our grades, repaired all the roofs of the school buildings, kept the tax levy in check and entered into athletic co-ops and that’s just a small list. So there needs to be one eye on the moment and one eye on the future at all times to help a school district be successful.
5. What goals do you hope to accomplish while serving on the board? My goal is to continue to make the future strong and full of positive experiences for our students at High Plains Community Schools. From our preschoolers to our seniors, our students and families all deserve to have the best experience in education possible.
It’s my goal to continue to help make decisions that provide those opportunities for students now and for years to come, because a strong school helps our communities stay strong for the future as well.

Erin Meyer
1. Personal information: My name is Erin Meyer, I am married to Tyson Meyer and we have two daughters. Both will be attending HPC in Clarks next year. I am the executive director at Third City Community Clinic, a non-profit medical and dental clinic in Grand Island.
2. Why are you running for this office? I am running for this office as the more we get involved with the school there are changes being made and I want to ensure the entire community is able to make their voice heard.
3. What personal strengths would you bring to the HPC Board if elected? I think some hard conversations are needing to be held. I think that the community needs to have a voice in the way things are running and not just the six people elected. I also think there is more than one way to solve problems but as a community, we need to come together and solve problems to ensure a better education for our children.
4. What in your view are the top three priority issues facing the district? (1) Quality education programs and teachers who engage their students. (2) Sports co-op. (3) All three administrators live outside the HPC school district.
5. What goals do you hope to accomplish while serving on the board? (1) More community involvement in decisions being made by the school board. (2) A sports co-op that benefits HPC (students, parents, and coaches). (3) Administrators living in the HPC school district.

Jason Morris
1. Personal information: I’ve been a public servant for over 15 years in multiple capacities. This includes coaching, transportation and educating the children in our school district.
As a board member I believe you have to be responsive and receptive to all children, parents and school staff. As a public servant I am accessible to the public and as a Board member I would continue that accessibility because I believe everyone has a right to be heard.
I would center my efforts on what’s best for all children both in the long and short term. It is imperative as a Board member we insure we have the best certified personnel in position to teach, guide, coach and sponsor our children. We currently have tremendous teachers and staff preparing our children for the future.
2. Why are you running for this office? As a board member you have to be prepared to make tough decisions, not just for the immediate future but 5-10 years down the road. I believe we have to give our children the best opportunities to be successful in the classroom and activities.
I support the path that provides that for the children, for example; a cooperative, growing school programs, adding facilities and continuing the great atmosphere that High Plains has to offer.
Our constituents need to feel a sense of stability not just with the day-to-day activities of the children but considering what’s fiscally best for the school
By working together the parents, staff and board can take great pride in knowing they provided the best education for all children at High Plains. Thank you for your support.

Kraig Urkoski
1. Personal information: After graduating as a Clarks Bomber in 1992, I took up farming with my dad and have been doing that happily for the past 26 years. In addition to farming, I decided to get my real estate license a couple years back in order to sell agricultural and recreational ground for AgWest Land Brokers.
I have been married to my wife Kara for 14 years and through that we have four kids who we love dearly. Watching my kids grow and being involved in many different extra-curricular activities was one reason I decided to run for the school board.
2. Why are you running for this office? I think it is safe to say that we all want what is best for our children and the community and it is vital that each district has the proper representation to do so. That is what I plan to do for the northern end of our district.
 I have lived my whole life in the area and have good friends and family from the towns that make up the High Plains School District. I take a lot of pride in our school and many of the great things it has accomplished through the years.
3. What personal strengths would you bring to the HPC Board if elected? In any aspect of my life, I focus on keeping an open mind of every topic that is thrown my way and that is something that will allow me to be a great board member. Productive communication is something that I believe in greatly.
There will be tough decisions that need to be made and I understand that productive, open communication with the patrons of the district is crucial.
4. What in your view are the top three priority issues facing the district? One priority I would like to focus on is working towards a way to make college credits more accessible and encouraged to high schoolers. My daughters both did so and it has helped them get ahead in college as well as saving them some on the financial side.
I think the administration and the school has done a great job keeping technology a high priority with our students and I would like to see that continue. Technology is the future of our kids.
5. What goals do you hope to accomplish while serving on the board? In closing, I want to see the students of High Plains Schools succeed and grow as individuals as they are the future of our community. I know that myself or no other person has all the right answers to every issue that will come up, but with a great school board working together we can give High Plains Schools and the students the tools to be more successful.


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