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Candidates for USD 428 BOE spotlighted at forum
Brandon Depenbusch - photo by COURTESY PHOTO

USD 428 Board of Education candidate bios

Candidates for Great Bend Mayor, Great Bend City Council, and USD 428 were invited to participate in a candidates forum Tuesday, Oct. 17 at the Crest Theater in Great Bend. The forum was sponsored by The Great Bend Tribune and the Great Bend chapter of the League of Women Voters. Today, the Tribune reports on the portion of the event that focused on USD 428 Board of Education candidates. Here, the biographies provided by Doug Bender, Donald Williams, Deanna Essmiller, Jacque Disque and Brandon Depenbusch.
Biographies were cut at the end of 75 words as stated in the letter to all candidates.

Brandon Depenbusch
Brandon Depenbusch graduated from Kansas State University in 2009 with a Doctor of Philosophy in Animal Science. Following graduation, Depenbusch joined the team at Innovative Livestock Services in Great Bend and currently serves as vice president of cattle operations. Brandon and his wife Andrea live in Great Bend with their two children Kerby and Ciera. Kerby is a senior at GBHS and Ciera is in 7th grade at GBMS.

Doug Bender
Having lived in Great Bend for almost 50 years, I have been associated with youth programs since 1974 with the GBRC, graduating from GBHS in 1979. I am a believer in the benefits of educating and living in Great Bend. As a former member of the USD 428 School Board, I want to do it again; being a part of the board was a highlight and an honor. Let’s continue in keeping Great Bend ...

Donald Williams
Don Williams is seeking a position on the USD 428 Great Bend School Board. My family and I have lived and worked in central Kansas for over 40 years followed by a nine-year teaching position in the Kansas City area prior to retirement and our move to Great Bend in 2012. I hold a bachelor’s degree in biology and teacher education from Kansas Wesleyan, Salina, a master’s degree in biology from Colorado Western State University (formerly Western State College) at Gunnison, Colo., and an earned Doctorate of Education from Ball State University, Muncie, Ind.

Deanna Essmiller
My greatest passion is education. I have lived in Great Bend for 35 years and for almost 20 of those years I was a classroom teacher. I was an active member of GBNEA and also served as president of the organization. My children received an excellent education in Great Bend. My goal is to help make sure my grandchildren who attend USD 428, as well as all students in our community, also receive the best education. I have also served on various committees in the community and currently serve on the board of Cottonwood Extension District.

Jacque Disque
I am a native of Great Bend. I am a graduate of GBHS, as are my daughters. I hold a Bachelor’s
Degree in Elementary Education and an Associate Degree in Nursing. I have worked as a nurse for 15 years. My goal is to advocate for the students of USD 428 to make it the best it can be for every student, every day while being responsible to the patrons of the district.

Following the closing comments by mayoral candidates who opened the Candidate Forum Tuesday night, League of Women Voters representative Rose Kelly requested candidates for USD 428 Board of Education to come to the stage of the Crest Theater.
Five candidates were listed on the program, but two candidates were not in attendance. Douglas Bender, it was announced, had been admitted to the hospital, and Kelly asked the audience to keep him in their prayers. Brandon Depenbusch was also not in attendance, and the Tribune later learned he was unable to attend due to a previously planned business trip.
While Kelly did not mention Depenbusch, his bio was not included in with those provided by the other candidates. Kelly explained that each candidate was asked to provide her with a 75-word bio by a certain date. League rules, she said, dictated that the bio must be printed and delivered to her either by mail or in person by a particular date to be included for handout to members of the audience.
Electronic submission is not acceptable, she explained, to ensure the League would not be blamed for inadvertent editing or claiming not to have received the email. The Tribune has included a submitted 75-word bio from Depenbusch along with the other bios submitted to the League in our accompanying article.

Opening remarks
The three candidates present included Donald L. Williams, Jacqueline M. Disque, and Deanna Essmiller. They were each given a minute and a half for opening remarks, each providing a brief introduction of why they chose to run for school board. All three candidates have taught or are teaching in the public school system. Disque and Essmiller are teachers in Great Bend, and Williams taught in neighboring districts before retiring and moving to Great Bend five years ago.

Round one
During the first round of questions, each candidate pulled a League approved question from a fishbowl, and was given one and a half minutes to respond.
Williams pulled first, and was asked to discuss whether he considered the arts to be an essential part of the school curriculum.
“Yes, I do believe the arts are part of a full spectrum of curriculum that should include music, sports, sciences and other basic curriculum. The arts help students to expand their mind and see the world differently. I would hate to see them dropped,” he responded.
Disque was then asked, “Are you aware of the Kansas Multi-Tier System of Support which is being implemented to provide intervention for students in need of help in multiple areas? What is your opinion of this new program?”
Disque responded that indeed, she is aware and is interested to see how it will affect the ability of students to succeed. She had positive things to say about the way teachers can quickly intervene with individual students, and that she is aware that the district has been preparing for and implementing MTSS.
Essmiller’s first question addressed the fact cursive writing is being taught less in schools. She was asked if she felt this is a problem.
“Yes, in fact the other day I observed a 13-year old boy asked to sign his name who was unable to do it,” she said. “Electronics, the internet and spell check are often used by young people, but in life you need to sign things, and it’s important to teach cursive and expect kids to use it.”

Round two
For the second round of questions, Williams was asked, “What is your position on homework?”
“The more the better,” he responded. This drew laughter from the audience. He went on.
“There is controversy around homework depending on grade level. Early grades don’t need to take home a lot, but as students progress, they need to have homework in order to process through the day and give continuity to what they’ve been studying.”
He added he feels a current trend with teachers requiring students submit homework during non-school hours over the internet may be going overboard, but overall, homework is good for student development.
Disque’s second question elicited groans from some in the audience. “Do you favor teaching common core curriculum?”
“Common Core curriculum has been challenging at times for everyone,” she said. “It provides some basis for what needs to be taught, but it does not allow for much individual intervention, as in MTSS.” She added that teachers are under pressure to ensure their classes perform to a certain standard with common core curriculum.
Essmiller pulled a relatively easy question for her second question. She was asked if she felt elementary students should have recess.
“Actually, I do,” she said. “Kids need to move. As an elementary school teacher, I know attention spans can be short, and the different ages of students need more or less. A physical change in activity is needed. Recess is very important.”

Closing remarks
Candidates delivered their closing remarks then. Each reiterated their desire to help manage the budget and determine policy for the district. Essmiller stressed the need to approach these duties as a team. Williams said he hopes to be a sounding board for patrons and bring their concerns to the board. Disque feels the district is good and wants to be an advocate for patrons, students and staff.