It's safe to say Keokuk residents have options when it comes to Tuesday's school board election, with nine candidates seeking four seats. One of them said he is willing to listen and work as a team to do what's best for the students in the school district.
Gary de Gala said not only is he willing to listen, but he is used to working with budgets and has experience on the school board for Keokuk's Catholic Schools when his children attended classes there.
He said now that they are enrolled in the public school system, he is able to see first-hand that the district's greatest strength is its teachers.
"They go above and beyond through emails, phone calls," said de Gala. "They are always open if there are any problems. They say 'call us or contact us' at any time. I really because they are all here to make sure things run smoothly [for the children]."
de Gala said the district must also do more to promote some of its other strengths, including K-Pride and all of the extracurricular activities offered. He said the biggest challenge facing the district is the budget, adding that the school board must find creative solutions to use the money wisely.
One of the creative ways currently used is the sharing of employees with the Harmony School District in Van Buren County. de Gala said he understands the idea behind the sharing, but he believes Keokuk rushed into it.
"I think that's a work in progress," said de Gala. "Everything does not start out the best the first year. I think we need to make sure the model works first before we jump in. Try to perfect one before we expand."
Despite the financial shortcomings, de Gala said the school board must make sure it keeps students in mind when crafting future budgets, starting with keeping the curriculum and technology up to date.
“Technology changes every day," said de Gala. "We need to make sure we are on top of it so we can make sure our students know what’s out there so they are comfortable using it.”
de Gala said, like most of the other candidates, that he supports recording the school board meetings and posting them online. He also said that, despite what some might have heard, he is committed to serve and stressed that his travel schedule for work would not diminish his responsibilities to the school board if elected.