Incumbents win school, college elections

4/3/2013

By RACHAEL GRAY

By RACHAEL GRAY

rgray@gctelegram.com

Incumbents for both the USD 457 Board of Education and the Garden City Community College Board of Trustees will be serving another term on their respective boards following re-election wins Tuesday.

According to unofficial results, school board president Jean Clifford received 884 votes, Gloria Hopkins got 872 votes and Lara Bors received 642 to win re-election. Challenger Antonio Espino received 263.

In the trustees race, Dr. William Clifford received 962 votes, Merilyn Douglass received 918 votes and Ron Schwartz received 758 votes to earn re-election. Challenger Harold Orosco received 262 votes.

Jean Clifford said after the win that she plans to focus on budgeting as a priority for USD 457.

"I think that's probably our most critical need at this point. It's just been so distressing to see what's been happening with the Legislature and cuts to education," she said.

She said she will try to come up with the best solutions possible, given budget constraints.

Another issue Clifford would like to focus on is balancing the middle school enrollments better. The boundaries for the middle schools recently changed to address overcrowding at Kenneth Henderson Middle School. More students will be sent to Horace Good Middle School.

The population at HGMS will be about half of the student population at KHMS. The enrollment in the fall of 2012 for KHMS was 457 students. "I really do want to continue to look at the middle school issue. Whether there's actually any difference — I want to make sure the perception is not there, that our schools at every level are perceived as excellent schools," she said.

Hopkins said she also plans to focus on school district funding.

"I'm really trying to focus on funding and trying to get the state to understand how much we need them in order to us educate our students," she said.

School safety is another focus for Hopkins.

"We do have an amazing crisis plan in place, so I feel comfortable with that. I want the community to know that we are diligent and have a proactive approach to keep our students safe," she said.

Hopkins said she is thankful for another term.

"I find it very rewarding, and I'm very willing to serve another four years," she said.

Bors said she plans to focus on making Common Core standards work well for all students and teachers.

"I think finances and Common Core will be the two biggest issues at this point," she said.

Bors also congratulated Clifford and Hopkins, and thanked Espino for running.

Espino said he expected the results and plans to run again.

"I didn't promote myself that much," he said.

Espino also wants to encourage Hispanic voters to get to the polls. "I'll promote myself more next time, especially with the Hispanic community, to encourage them to vote. I will discuss my plan more with them and tell what I'm planning for them in Finney County," he said.

The Trustees winners also are looking to the future.

Douglass said she's excited the college is expanding and heading in a direction toward growth of programs.

"As we look at new programs, or look at data that supports development, I will make sure it's sound information we're basing our decisions on," she said.

Schwartz plans to emphasize more articulation agreements between GCCC and four-year colleges.

"I really want to continue to focus really hard on getting more articulation agreements signed with four-year colleges to make this the easiest path for students. ... for those who want to stay here and get degrees," he said.

Dr. William Clifford was pleased with his win as well.

"I look forward to continuing the direction the college is going under Dr. Swender.

Clifford also said he sees GCCC as a training ground for upcoming industries in the area.

Orosco said he may run again.

"I would like to see the two-year college go to a four-year school, but you never know," he said.

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