Candidates seek three seats on board
Northeast Hamilton School Board Elections
Marlin Pruismann is completing his first full four year term on the NEH School Board. Sally Greenfield is the former NEH High School guidance counselor and a long time resident of the NEH school district and Tyler Burton is a newly appointed member of the NEH school board.
Marlin Pruismann, first elected to the NEH School Board in 2013, serves as the At-Large Director for the district.
Pruismann is a lifelong Blairsburg resident and a 1975 graduate of NEH High School. He and his wife Kathy are active in their community, serving on city, school and church boards. Kathy had served several terms on the NEH school board before Marlin was elected. Their children are also graduates of NEH and they currently have five grandchildren attending the elementary school.
NEH is an important part of the community equation and that is the reason he is running for another four year term, explained Pruismann. He wants to be involved in the decision-making process, specifically as NEH begins to discuss reorganization with Webster City.
“I want to be involved and to see it through,” said Pruismann.
Pruismann was on the board that approved the whole grade sharing agreement with Webster City CSD in 2014. He saw first hand what was happening to small rural schools in Iowa.
“My son Alex graduated from NEH 12 years ago and every school he played against is gone,” said Pruismann. “Not just one left, but none.”
Declining enrollment and its connection to state funding is the reason small district schools in rural Iowa are disappearing, explained Pruismann.
“It would have been nice to keep it the way it was,” said Pruismann, but those days are gone.
“All in all, when I look back on the way things have happened, things have worked pretty well for NEH. We are pretty fortunate as a small district,” said Pruismann, citing the district’s great facilities and its working relationship with Webster City as whole grade sharing partners.
He accepts that there are many variables associated with reorganization, but he feels that NEH has a lot to offer the larger school district.
“Northeast Hamilton has such nice facilities, a great staff and a great day care center,” he noted. “Things should go well because we are working with a good group of people and administration.”
Pruismann is optimistic about NEH’s future.
“I anticipate a good working relationship with the Webster City board,” he said.
Tyler Burton is seeking the unexpired term of District Two Director Thea Wibholm. Burton was appointed to temporarily fill the seat at the August 2017 NEH School Board meeting. Now she is running for a full four-year term.
Burton grew up in Colorado and met her future husband, Andy while attending Crown College in St. Bonifacuis, MN. The family moved to the Hamilton County area before moving overseas for several years. Three years ago, they returned to the Blairsburg area and now live outside of Williams with their three school age children who attend NEH. Tariq is in second grade, Bara is in Kindergarten and Justus is in PreKindergarten.
“Since my kids have been in school, I have been impressed with the dedicated teachers and staff,” said Burton. “I want to help facilitate that excellence in learning and be an advocate for that continued excellence in education.”
New to the board as the district faces the possibility of reorganization, Burton admits her first meeting as a school board member was like “drinking from a fire hose.”
The steep learning curve didn’t phase her and has only strengthened her resolve to keep the school in Blairsburg open and functioning as much as possible.
“Hopefully I can help facilitate a smoother transition,” she said.
As a member of the school board, Burton sees herself as a sounding board for district patrons who have questions and concerns. She also hopes she can become another stable presence on the board such as experienced members Marlin Pruismann, Eric Patterson and Sara Zorn.
Burton is optimistic about the future of NEH as it approaches reorganization. Fueling that optimism is her high regard for the school administration.
“I am really impressed with Mr. Sherwood and Mr. Kruger,” she said, citing their dedication to NEH.
“I am excited to be able to serve,” she concluded. “I am pleased to help maintain my family life and community in this place.”
Sally Greenfield is running for the seat vacated by retiring Third District board director Bruce Mark. She is a lifelong resident of the Northeast Hamilton CSD who grew up in the Williams area and she, along with her husband Randy, are 1974 graduates of NEH. Their three sons are also NEH alumni.
Greenfield worked as the NEH High School guidance counselor at Northeast Hamilton until the district entered into whole grade sharing with Webster City CSD beginning in the 2015-2016 school year. When the previous guidance counselor at WCHS retired, Greenfield was hired to fill the position.
Northeast Hamilton has faced several challenges in the past seven years. In 2010, declining enrollment and the loss of state funding, forced the district to examine its future. In 2012, the district entered into a partial day sharing agreement with Webster City. In 2014, the school board voted to begin whole grade sharing for grades 7-12 beginning in the 2015-2016 school year.
Declining enrollment for the 2017-2018 school year has once again forced NEH to again re-examine its future. At the August 2017 board meeting, NEH board directors approved action to begin exploring reorganization with WCCSD.
Greenfield acknowledges that she is running to help pave the way for reorganization and to keep the school in Blairsburg open.
“It’s time,” she said. “No one wants to see NEH end, but money problems have forced the issue. I am running in hopes of making the process smoother.”
She said that over the years, Webster City and NEH have had a good partnership.
“Webster City has been good to NEH and vice versa,” she said.
Throughout the partial day sharing and whole grade sharing process, NEH students have transitioned well into the Webster City student body, she said.
“My heart is always at NEH, but it is time,” she said. “There is no need to prolong this. We can’t change small town Iowa.”
If elected, Greenfield will experience a unique working dynamic with NEH Superintendent Mike Sherwood. While serving as the WCHS guidance counselor, Sherwood is her superior. As a NEH board member, she would be his supervisor.
“I talked with Mike before I turned in my papers and talked about the the dynamic,” said Greenfield. She vowed that if there were a conflict of interest, she would recluse herself from any board vote.
“I don’t see much of a conflict of interest between Mike Sherwood and myself,” said Greenfield. “I don’t expect that to be an issue.”
Greenfield is optimistic about NEH’s future.
“NEH has a lot to offer to Webster City and Webster City has a lot to offer NEH,” she said. “There is give and take on both sides. I see this as a Win-Win for both.”
Election Day is Tuesday, Sept. 12. The NEH school board election polling place is at Blairsburg City Hall from noon to 8 p.m.