Years of residence in Bonner County and Idaho: 26 years
Marital status/family. Are, or were, you a parent of a child in the school district? I am married to Katie Murdock (Sandpoint native) and have been for almost 7 years. We do not have any children, we do have a black lab Bella, and a cat named Tink.
How can the public contact you?
Facebook Page: Lonnie Williams for LPOSD Trustee
Education: I graduated from SHS in 2003, I went to NIC for two years, and ended up graduating from Gonzaga University in 2009 with a degree in Business Administration.
Recent or pertinent employment history:
I am the Vice President of Sandpoint Title Insurance; I have worked here for the last 8 years. I also worked for the U.S. Forest Service on a fire crew before coming to Sandpoint Title.
Any public offices held: Not since high school. I was involved in student government all through school.
Nonprofit and service groups or relevant professional organizations to which you belong:
I belong to the Selkirk Association of Realtors, and we are involved in the many Philanthropic endeavors associated with the board.
*We are active supporters of Habitat for Humanities
*We are active supporters of the Bonner County Food Bank
*We are active supporters of Panhandle Alliance for Education
What particular experiences or skills qualify you to serve on the school board?
I have a diverse skill set of leadership and management that I have honed over my years of team sports, coaching and my working life. I take the approach that there is a solution to every problem, and through open dialogue any task can be conquered.
1. Why are you running for trustee? How much time can you devote to board service?
I am running for trustee because I am passionate about our school district and the success of our students. I feel that we have come a long way in the last 20 years as a district and I want to build on that success. I believe that all the hard work and success that has been built over that time span is in jeopardy, and I know that with continued smart investment we can continue our success, and build on improving our weak points.
I can dedicate as much time as is needed to the school board. For years I coached soccer which is multiple hours a day of time and energy investment, so I know that I can dedicate the time needed to be a good member of the school board.
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?
In the last year I have physically attended 1 school board meeting, but I have gone through the online archives of previous meetings including the levy proposals.
The only school in the district that I have not visited is Southside Elementary.
I am involved in the fundraising aspect of our school district through, Bulldog Bench & Panhandle Alliance for Education.
3. Do you believe the district is doing a good job or poor job in educating students? Why?
Yes I do believe that the district is doing a good job in educating our students. There is always room for improvement, but on the whole we are doing very well as a district. One can see from the headlines that we receive for our High School being ranked #2 in the state, our very high SAT score ranking in the state among similar size schools and our clubs and sports constantly achieving high marks. Also our Elementary schools continually rank very high in the state for achievement.
I would love to see continued investment in vocational and technical courses and career paths for our students. We need to offer a wide range of choices to our students including those that are not on the traditional college track.
All of this is success is made possible by the hard work and investment of our dedicated teachers and staff. Without their dedication to the success of this district and our students, we would not be where we are today.
4. Describe the top three to five issues you believe are facing our school district, with your position on these issues.
The most important issues to me are 1) Student Achievement-including extracurricular activities. 2) Finance 3) Facilities.
I place all three of these items at the same level of importance. We need to attain the highest possible student achievement for the best possible "price." We also need to address our district facilities with the mindset of fixing or replacing (which ever makes the most financial and long term sense) the facilities most in need first, and at the highest quality for the best price available.
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 vote for the levy, it was with reluctance, I believe that the levy was too much money all at once, but I feel it is important to address our ailing buildings. I do believe that the levy is addressing real needs that our district is facing, we have some very old facilities that have/or are reaching their useful lifespan. We need to either fix or replace those facilities for the next generation of use.
I think that it would be a good idea to not take such an all at once approach to the plant facilities, and try to approach it one at a time. I'm also not opposed to trying to pass a bond measure to fund the improvements so that we can spread out the financial burden over more time, of course the risk in a bond is that it will need a super majority to pass, as oppose to the simple majority of a 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 voted in favor of the recent supplemental levy, and I was a very strong supporter for it the whole way through the process. Supplemental levies are the unfortunate reality that we (as well as 88% of the state) have to live with in this state in order to fund our education system. Our levy makes up about 1/3 of our budget, and to cut that funding would have immediate detrimental effects to our district. There were over 100 full time jobs that were in jeopardy if the levy didn’t pass, as well as 100% of the extracurricular activities throughout the district.
I firmly believe that one cannot say that they are a true supporter of our school district, our teachers and staff and our continued success, yet vote against a levy that funds 1/3 of the budget.
A strong high achieving school district helps build a strong growing community, to risk erasing the hard work of our predecessors, and the success of this district, would be an immediate roadblock to future growth and success of our entire community.
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?
No, No, No.
Our rural schools are a very important part of this district and our community.
We need to try to keep our class sizes as small as is economically feasible, the more one-on-one teaching moments we can garner in the classroom, the better off our students will be.
I believe that a pay to play approach will block entry to sports and activities to those students and families of a lower economic class in our district. It is very important for all children to have access to sports and activities no matter how much money they may or may not have.
8. What changes, if any, would you seek in the district's curriculum?
On the whole I believe that the curriculum is strong. I will always stress the importance of the core classes of math, science and English. We need to continue to invest and offer as many options for foreign language, advanced mathematics, science and technology. As well as Band, Drama, Shop, and Auto shop.
The more options a young person has, the better the likelihood that they will succeed and be better prepared for the next step after high school.
9. What do you see as the role of technology in education?
Technology is playing a key role in education, and that role is ever increasing. We need to expose our students to that aspect of our education and professional system, and do all that we can to safely teach them how to progress in an increasingly digital age.
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 are taught at school, the simple interaction between a student and a teacher teaches the student the value of hard work, and dedication that the teacher has to rely on to be successful in his or her field.
Yes our district does need to teach our students about sex education, and health including sexually transmitted infections. LGBTQ issues are an important aspect of our culture, and we need to make sure that as a district we do what we can to insure that all students are treated with the same level of respect and dignity.