School board looking at new candidates

Lachelle Smith and Chris Baker are challenging Minot Public School Board incumbents Laura Mihalick and Steven Velk for the two open seats on the Minot Public School Board.

Baker is a homemaker and a mother and grandmother, though none of her grandchildren currently attend Minot Public Schools. Baker and her husband, Kit Baker, retired permanently to Minot a few years ago. Kit Baker had served in the military.

If elected, Baker said she would be an outside voice on the school board as someone who doesn’t have children attending the Minot Public Schools and who has no one in her family benefiting financially from the public school system.

Baker said she would be responsive to concerns from people in the community about questions regarding curriculum or events going on in the school system. If a constitutent calls her, Baker said she would listen, find out the details about the situation and who the concerned caller needs to contact. She doesn’t feel the school board has always been receptive to concerns from people in the community.

Smith assists her husband, Berry, in running the construction business Castle Woodworking. The Smiths have lived in Minot for about two years; prior to that they lived in South Carolina. Lachelle Smith is the mother of two children attending Minot Public Schools.

Smith said she has an interest in the schools that her children attend. She also has some concerns about the Minot schools. One area of concern she sees is school pickup and drop-off and the potential for accidents. One boy was hit by a car and injured at a Minot elementary school this school year while being picked up from school, she said. Smith suggested that it might be a good idea to require that streets in front of certain schools become one-way streets at pick up and drop off times. That might require the school board approaching the city council, she said. Smith said she would have to do more research on the feasibility of such an approach if she is elected to the school board.

Smith also said she would like the schools to include protein in the snacks they give children. Right now she said she believes they only serve fruits and vegetables as snacks.

Smith said the major challenge facing the school district is the increase in students and the ongoing need for more space. Minot just passed a bond issue that will pay for construction of a new elementary and additions at two other elementaries, but growth is also likely at the high school and middle school level.

Incumbent Laura Mihalick is a homemaker and longtime school volunteer and incumbent Steven Velk is retired and the husband of former school board member Jackie Velk. Both have served on the board during the board’s efforts to pass a bond issue to pay for the new school construction. Voters defeated a larger bond issue in December but approved the scaled-back bond issue in early April.

The Minot Daily News will publish candidate interviews with Velk and Mihalick at a later date.