Five vie for three seats on Ten Sleep school board


October 29, 2020

TEN SLEEP - Potentially three new board members could be elected to the Washakie County School District No. 2 Board of Trustees serving the Ten Sleep school.

There are three four-year seats open with just one incumbent, Jared Lyman, seeking re-election to his seat.

Also seeking a term on the board are Sarah Anderson, Erin Blutt, C.J. Grimes and Brandon Weddle.

The new members will take office in December following the Nov. 3 general election.

Candidates were sent a questionnaire from the Northern Wyoming News. Below are their responses to those questions.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and absentee voting is currently underway.

Sarah Anderson

How long have you lived in District No. 2/Ten Sleep Area?

I have lived in Ten Sleep for 27 years.

What type of work do you do, and where do you work?

I own an educational software company that helps school districts manage the special education process for students. I work from an office in my home.

What is my educational background?

I graduated from Black Hills State University in 1993 with a bachelor's in elementary and special education. I have a master's degree in teaching and instruction and also have additional credit hours in various areas of education. I taught for two years in Worland as a special education teacher, 12 years in Ten Sleep as a first and second multiage teacher, two years in Worland as a special education case manager, and currently work training and supporting special education teachers and administrators through my software company.

Do you have children in the public school system?

Yes, I have three daughters, all three have attended Ten Sleep schools since kindergarten. I have two who have graduated, and one that is currently a sophomore at Ten Sleep High School.

Why are you running for Ten Sleep School Board?

I have multiple reasons for running for the board. First is a love for our school, community, and way of life. Our school is the heart of our community. We all gather there for games, education, harvest dinners, community functions, etc.

It isn't just a school for us, it is where we connect with each other. We need our school and we need to work together with all stakeholders to keep it and make sure that it is the best that it can be.

Secondly, there are some very difficult decisions that are going to have to be made as funding cuts start to hit our small school. We are going to have to be very creative in how we make those cuts to limit the impact on our students. I feel that my background in being a teacher, parent, and community member will give me a little better understanding of the perspectives and opinions of these groups and help keep lines of communication open as we address these issues.

Finally, I felt like this was the right time. I have wanted to run for the board for many years, but always seemed to have something on the horizon that would possibly limit my ability to be a strong and committed board member. Don't get me wrong, I have a lot of things going on, but I just feel that now is the right time for me to serve.

Do you feel that you have the time that it takes to serve?

The answer to this question is yes. I know that I don't have a total understanding of everything involved, but if I am elected I will give the position the time that it takes to make sure that I am a strong, active board member.

What are two important issues facing the school district and how would you help address them?

I think the most important issue facing our district, and most all districts, is funding.

I get concerned that when funding gets brought up, it seems to go hand in hand with a consolidation discussion.

I was teaching in our district several years ago when the topic of consolidation was at the forefront. We sent buses of community and staff members to Cheyenne to let our voices be heard. Since that time, I have been down to the legislative sessions and been invited to speak to the Senate Education Committee on various topics.

I feel comfortable in that setting and would be a strong advocate for our school should those discussions start to come to the forefront again.

As I stated earlier, we are going to have to get creative and we are going to have to be diligent when it comes to the funding and protecting our school.

I am ready to work hard, do the research, and put boots on the ground to do whatever needs to be done to get us through this funding crisis.

As far as a second issue, I don't really have another large one that is coming to mind. There are always things going on within a school that are very specific to the school and the people that work within it.

Some are more policy driven, while others are process, student, or employee driven. These are not unique to our school, but are part of what makes a board member's position difficult, especially in a small community where we all know each other.

I think I have been in the community long enough for people to know that if they choose to elect me, I will work hard to do what is best for the students, staff, and community members of Washakie County School District #2.

CJ Grimes

How long have you lived in District No. 2/Ten Sleep Area?

My wife and I moved to the Ten Sleep area in 2008, 12 years ago.

What type of work do you do, and where do you work?

The type of work I do is in the field of natural resource management, supporting projects related to wildlife, habitat and wildland fire/fuels management.

I am self-employed and my company is called Canyon Wren Consulting. I also volunteer for the Ten Sleep Rural Fire District as well as the recently-formed recreation nonprofit Tensleep Nowood Trailbreakers.

What is your educational background?

I have a Bachelor of Science in geology from Bowling Green State University (1996) and a certificate in Technical Fire Management from the University of Washington (2007).

Do you have children in the public school system?

Yes, our daughter is an elementary school student in Ten Sleep.

Why are you running for Ten Sleep School Board?

I'm running for the school board because I have a strong drive for public service and I feel that it is important to pitch in and help when I can. Our teachers work very hard to inspire and educate our children, and they deserve strong support from us as a community.

Do you feel that you have the time that it takes to serve?

Since I am self-employed, I have the ability to create a schedule to prioritize my work and I will commit the time to serve if elected.

What are two important issues facing the school district and how would you help address them?

I value all the opportunities that public schools have to offer, from science and writing to sports and extracurricular activities. The biggest challenge right now is ensuring that our students can still have access to all of these opportunities while protecting their health and safety during a global virus pandemic. While the decision-making process can be difficult with ever-changing information and mandates, the school board needs to be transparent and take the time to listen to the concerns of our community.

Another challenge that is always present but has been magnified by the virus is funding. The district needs to be able to adapt, communicate and innovate in order to navigate the ever-changing and challenging world of education budgets and ensure that our kids are the top priority.

Erin Blutt

How long have you lived in District No. 2/Ten Sleep area?

I moved to Ten Sleep in August of 2018, along with my husband and our three sons. We've lived in Wyoming since 2002, and our children were in school in Star Valley for seven years. I know how lucky we are to be in Ten Sleep, in the Washakie County No. 2 School District, and cannot think of a place where I would rather be, raising my children with good Wyoming values.

What type of work do you do, and where do you work?

I am very active in the Ten Sleep community, as the only candidate volunteering with the Ten Sleep School Community Service Organization, am a 4-H leader with the Ten Sleep Sage Stompers, I edit the Ten Sleep Tribute newspaper, I work part-time at Dirty Sally's General Store, and recently I went back to work doing promotional marketing. I guess you could say I am a Jill of many trades, though being a Mama will always be my No. 1 priority.

What is your educational background?

I had three successful years of formal education before Brian and I relocated to Wyoming for him to pursue his Game & Fish career. I have spent the last 15 years raising my children and gaining life experience in many different areas. I have owned my own small business, done business coaching, graphic design, social media and technology consulting and more. Throughout my life, I have been a life-long learner, and education has always been a top priority, though my classroom has often not had a "traditional" appearance.

Do you have children in the public school system?

As a candidate, I am in a very unique position. I currently have a child in high school, one in middle school and one in elementary school within Washakie County School District #2. No other candidate has the same visibility of all three levels within our school.

Why are you running for the Ten Sleep school board?

I have been incredibly passionate about our school since we moved here. Ten Sleep has felt more like home than any other place we've lived in my husband's career. In fact, we recently purchased our very first home here in Ten Sleep. The community has embraced our family, and our school has been a place where my boys have had a chance to build and strengthen their confidence. This is largely in part to the caring commitment of our teachers to each and every student in the school. I will be a driven board member, who will work to make Ten Sleep School a place where the needs and safety of our children, teachers and staff are met in the most effective and efficient ways, while still fostering an environment where a love of learning is a top priority for all.

Do you feel you have the time it takes to serve?

100%. I am dedicated to investing the time and commitment it will require to make the needs of our school as a whole a priority.

What are two important issues facing the school district and how would you help address them?

COVID-19 has changed the face of education in our school, and brought with it two important issues. Not only is our school facing budgetary cuts and challenges like so many across the state, we are also learning to rapidly evolve as new mandates are made on a state and federal level regarding in-person learning.

Communication, drive and a willingness to find solutions will keep Washakie County School District No. 2 moving forward as we focus on managing these situations, while keeping the uniqueness, pride and unity in the community that our school provides.

Ten Sleep School is the heart of this incredible place that we call home, and I will be a board member who doesn't lose sight of these assets.

Jared Lyman

Candidate Jared Lyman provided the following statement instead of completing the questionnaire. No picture was provided.

I've served on the school board for four years. It hasn't always been easy, but it has been fulfilling.

The school district has made huge strides forward in the last few years thanks to the efforts of people with whom I've served. This is uplifting for me, as I have two little girls starting in the school system.

I've also been involved in the school in one way or another over the 25 years that I've lived in the district. I'm doing what I can to make decisions that will strengthen the school district for many more years.

Even with a busy schedule working on the family ranch, I find the time to study out the subjects that we discuss. This time is particularly challenging due to proposed statewide budget cuts. The administration is staying fully appraised on what is happening, but many proposals risk the health of our district.

I will do whatever I can to keep our school here, and keep it as a place that parents feel happy to send their children to.

There are always other issues that pop up, but as in the past, I will continue to address these issues with the needs of the students first, nothing else.

Brandon Weddle

How long have you lived in District No. 2/Ten Sleep area?

My wife and I moved here from Southern Missouri on Oct. 30, 2019. We love living here.

What type of work do you do, and where do you work?

I am the Lead Pastor at Mountain View Assembly of God in Ten Sleep.

What is your educational background?

I have a B.S. in church ministries from Evangel University.

This degree focused on community enhancement/engagement, non-profit administration/operations as well as theological studies and pastoral ministries.

Do you have children in the public school system?

Not yet, but will in the very near future.

Why are you running for the Ten Sleep school board?

I want our school district to continue to have quality leaders that are from the community and care for the community. I believe that the knowledge I have in leading a non-profit will be valuable to the school district. I have a passion to make our community the best it can be!

Do you feel you have the time it takes to serve?

Yes. My job is to serve the community. There are many ways to do that, and this is a great way to do it.

What are two important issues facing the school district and how would you help address them?

Keeping the local school local. School district consolidations are not a viable solution to the state's economic problems. Local leadership is what will keep our district and students healthy, strong, and educated. Being vocal, communicating with state representatives, and educating the community on this important topic are several ways I can help address this issue.

Investing in the future.

The school district has done a great job in advancing technology and infrastructure.

I want to ensure this continues to happen so my children have the best school possible to attend in the future. I am very tech savvy and have implemented technological advancements and updated study environments in the past.

Many of the modern investments that we are making within church infrastructure will be beneficial to the school district in the upcoming years.


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