Gary Suppiger III
Years of residence in Bonner County and Idaho: 25 year resident of Bonner County
Marital status/family. Are, or were, you a parent of a child in the school district? I have been married to my wife Sally for 26 years. Our children are Gerhart age 24, Madeline age 22, and Caroline age 19, who attended LPOSD district schools from K-12. They all thrived in the classroom and outside the classroom. They were able to take challenging college preparatory classes. They participated in student leadership, band, art, academic competition, service clubs, and athletics. They chose to pursue education beyond high school, were admitted to selective colleges, and are now pursuing careers. Their success would have not been possible without the education they received at LPOSD.
How can the public contact you?
Web page: www.SuppigerForSchools.org
Education: Raised in Southern Illinois, attended public schools K-12
Duke University, Durham N.C., 1975. Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry
Duke University, Durham N.C., 1977. Masters Degree in Forestry
Recent or pertinent employment history:
Business ownership and management, Forest Products Manufacturing
Nonprofit and service groups or relevant professional organizations to which you belong:
Sagle Elementary School; fourth, fifth and sixth grade, Math Coach - 12 years
Boy Scouts of America; Troop 308, Ass't Scoutmaster, Sandpoint - 6 years
Sandpoint Soccer Association; Head Coach for Sandpoint Strikers - 3 years
Sandpoint Soccer Association; Assistant Coach for Sandpoint Strikers - 3 years
St. Joseph's Catholic Church; Finance Committee - 12 years
Cocolalla Lake Association; member and volunteer - 24 years
Coaching Recreational Soccer; Football, Baseball, and Basketball - 6 years
What particular experiences or skills qualify you to serve on the school board?
I am a small business owner and understand the definition of economy and value. In many ways education is a business. The students and taxpayers are entitled to a quality education, value and accountability for their investment. As a non educator, I have a number of qualifications for the LPOSD school board. I have also served on a number of district level committees. These include curriculum, levy, and parent district coordinating, which I chaired.
1. Why are you running for trustee? How much time can you devote to board service?
I am running for trustee because I am a firm believer in public education and am concerned about the future of education in this community. All my children graduated from SHS and are in college or beyond. I work full time running my business but without children at home have 10 plus hours per week to devote to board service.
2. How many school board meetings have you attended this past year? How many schools in our district have you visited? Are you involved in other school activities?
I have been to three regular trustee meetings in the last year. Over the last 15 years I have been to many more. I have visited every school in the district I know most of the administrators. I have volunteered at Sagle Elementary for 12 years as the Math Team Coach. As coach I volunteer at the school twice a week from October through May and work with fourth, fifth and sixth grade students who want to expand their math skills. We prepare for two competitions in the spring. The first is at SHS for all LPOSD elementary schools. The second is the Washington State Math Olympiad where we complete against teams from Spokane and all across Eastern Washington.
3. Do you believe the district is doing a good job or poor job in educating students? Why?
The current Board of Trustees and administration of LPOSD are guiding our district well and have us in an excellent position. Graduating students are succeeding. We are doing well with reviews including audits, accreditation, and performance rankings. Our relationship with the community, state, and teachers is positive. The state is finally increasing funding for K-12 education. Our district is thriving but, there is always room for improvement. My agenda as a trustee would be even greater academic excellence, more public involvement, and accountability. Budgets must be compressed into a format that patrons can understand. The district must be more transparent with its planning, budgeting, and decision making. Every program must be accountable for its success. I want our graduates, whether they are going into the work force, military, vocational, technical, or academic institutions to be prepared for the careers of the 21st century. I seek this position to contribute in recognition for everything LPOSD has done for me, my family, and our community.
4. Describe the top three to five issues you believe are facing our school district, with your position on these issues.
a. Quality - Providing the very best educational experience for every student. This includes supporting rural schools, retaining experienced teachers, supporting students through graduation, addressing mental and emotional issues including bullying and depression.
b. Be a prudent steward of public dollars. Continue to support successful programs while replacing or improving programs that are not productive or economical.
c. Retaining teachers while attracting the best young new teachers. Sandpoint is an expensive community to live and support a family. Teachers must be supported with curriculum, technology, training, and a fair wage.
5. Last August, the school district proposed a $55 million plant facility levy to rebuild Sandpoint Middle School, Northside School, most of Washington School, and address district-wide facility and maintenance needs identified as critical. The levy failed, with 65% voting against. Did you vote for or against it, and why? Do you believe the levy was addressing real needs? How should the district fund replacement and repair of schools?
I did not support the $55 million dollar plant facility levy. Although, I supported items on the levy. The overall cost, $55 million was too high of a commitment for too long of a term. Facility needs should be funded in steps with a series of levies. I would have supported a $18 million dollar levy for a new middle school, the highest priority item on the levy.
6. The recent $17 million supplemental instructional levy passed March 14, with 64% voting in favor. Did you vote for or against this levy, and why?
I did support the $17 million supplemental instruction levy. Our state does not adequately support K-12 education. The 2017 state legislative has just increased education funding by 6.5% which brings the state contribution up to the levels of 2009, before the recession. We rank 49th or 50th in the nation in what our legislative provides per student for K-12 education. Our district and over 80% of the districts in the state depend on our patrons to support a local levy to provide the balance of the necessary resources. LPOSD has grown to depend on the local levy for 30% of its resources. Without these funds rural schools would close, class sizes would go up by 50%, important curriculum and programs would be lost and all extracurricular activities would be dropped. Without these levy funds the district would be a shell of what it is now and the looser would be the most vulnerable with the smallest voices, the kids.
7. To bring down costs, would you support closing rural schools such as Clark Fork, Northside or Southside? Would you support larger class sizes? Would you support saving money on extracurricular activities, including athletics, by charging fees to participate?
The current LPOSD board supports rural schools. All previous LPOSD boards and administrations have supported rural schools. I pledge to continue to support rural and neighborhood schools. Experts agree that reasonable class sizes are necessary for a quality education. I support class sizes at or below the current level. LPOSD has a very high participation rate in extracurricular activities. It also has a high number of families that are struggling financially. I would never want any child to be excluded from any activity due to the ability to pay. That said, virtually all teams, clubs, and groups that participate in extracurricular activities raise funds to support their activity. There are some very generous individuals and businesses in our community that support education. For example, Parker Toyota, donated a new car in 2016. Every SHS group had the opportunity to sell raffle tickets and keep all the proceeds to support their activity.
8. What changes, if any, would you seek in the district's curriculum?
I have no urgent agenda for the curriculum. I would go into the board room with an open mind. As a small business man I understand value, economy, and change. Our curriculum must be current and effective. Ineffective or uneconomical programs must be improved or eliminated.
9. What do you see as the role of technology in education?
Technology is essential to modern education. Students must have access to information and communications offered through technology.
10. What, if anything, should our schools do about teaching values? Should our district teach about family life, sex education, AIDS? How should gay/LBGTQ issues be handled?
Values including honesty, integrity, and commitment are teachable. Teachers are role models for students. Sex Education including AIDS should be included in the curriculum on a scientific basis and supplement what is taught at home or in church. LGRHTQ is a life style practiced by a number of Americans. The role of the school is to not judge and recognize its existence, accommodate its members without discrimination, and teach all students to be tolerant and accepting to others.