Johnson selected for Red Oak School Board appointment

Bryce Johnson will return to the Red Oak School Board later this month.
The Red Oak School Board held a special meeting Feb. 13 to interview candidates to complete the remainder of the term of Roger Carlson’s term\.
Initially, three candidates expressed interest for the post, prior board member Bryce Johnson, Rev. Ricky Rohrig, and Ashley York. At the meeting itself, superintendent Ron Lorenz said that prior to the meeting, York had withdrawn her letter of interest, leaving only Johnson and Rohrig to interview for the post.
During the interview, Johnson, who served on the board for eight years, said he had multiple kids in the district and was very passionate about public education.
“I have extensive experience on the financial side of the school district on understanding school finance and how that works. I appreciate the opportunity to be considered as a candidate,” Johnson said.
Rohrig said he also had multiple kids in the district, and his wife served as a substitute teacher as well as the culinary arts teacher for the junior/senior high school. Rohrig said the district and education was a vested interest in the family.
“I believe there’s a lot of good things going on right now in the school district, but as I look at national statistics, like where we’re ranked next to we’re ranked next to school districts close to us, there’s room for improvement. I’d like to be the person to help with that improvement. I know we can always get better,” Rohrig said.
Rohrig also noted that working with nursing homes, there were a lot of policy and procedures that he had to learn, as they were regulated by the federal government.
“We have more policies and procedures than a nuclear power plant. I’m very familiar with policy, procedures, regulations, and multi-million dollar budgets,” Rohrig commented.
Johnson was asked what he felt were the major issues facing the school district and public education in general. Johnson felt one of the biggest was financing.
“The state may or may not set the budget, and I think without financing, it’s hard to figure everything else out. I think that’s probably the number one issue at this point. Programming is another issue. We have to attract students and people to our school. The question is, how do we do that? Going along with that are classroom space, sports, different activities such as music are also very important,” Johnson advised.
Asked the same question, Rohrig said he was a proponent of public education, being a graduate himself.
“I believe in higher education. Statistically, it’s said if you have a high school diploma, you’re going to do better in life. As I’ve looked at the U.S. News and World Reports, the decline goes from freshmen to juniors and then kind of comes back up. I’m worried about the graduation rates overall, commented Rohrig. “Another thing is that we have a fair share of students that open enroll to other districts. As Bryce was talking about budgets, every kids counts. My own opinion is that if you live in Red Oak, you should go to school in Red Oak. There’s no reason why you should go to another district. We have a beautiful facility here. Also, I want to make sure the administration and staff are compensated well and they want to stay here. I’m not saying money is everything, but Red Oak should be the school of choice. Those are things I think we can kind of control a little bit. We have a good district. We’re better than the statistics say and I’d like to improve those.”
Rohrig spoke about the driving factor that led him to put in his letter of interest for the board. Rohrig said it was hard, because this was not the ideal situation.
“Roger was a great man, a great community leader, and I don’t think either one of us can fill his shoes, and we’re not trying to. However, being a pastor, being in the community, and being around teachers, people complain about the things the school doesn’t do. I’m the type of guy that feels I can’t complain if I’m not willing to do something about it. I’m going to be a person that if I see a problem, here’s the solution, and let’s try to fix it. I want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.” Rohrig explained.
Johnson said he put in a letter of interest for several reasons, feeling the facility, and the people in it, were some of the best around.
“Being part of the school is a very gratifying experience. You see lots of change, lots of improvements, and lots of things that happen throughout the year. The school board we have is just excellent. We have a lot of people that care. The school board sets policy to help the school thrive and make it a success. We’re here to support the school and make it the best it can be,” stated Johnson.
Given that individual school board members have no authority on their own, Rohrig was asked how he would work with other board members to strengthen public schools with the limited resources they receive. Rohrig said teamwork was everything.
“It sounds cliché, but teamwork does really make the dream work. I’ve been blessed to be a leader since I was 19 years old. I’ve been in leadership positions for more than 30 years. As a nursing home leader, the buck stops with me, but I have department management meetings every morning and I bring the team in on things. I have the final say on things but it’s a group decision,” Rohrig advised. “I think you need to have a collaborate effort. Everybody here is very smart, and there’s times when we’re not going to agree. But I think we have to come to a consensus so by the time we walk out of the room, it’s a unified front.”
Rohrig added the board also had to use what it had, and think outside the box.
“If there’s only so much money for this and that, we prioritize what’s going to come this year, and what’s going to come next year or down the road. It’s tough, and the school doesn’t have an unlimited amount of resources,” Rohrig commented.
As for Johnson, he felt a lot had already been said, and that the school board was a team.
“We’re all trying to come up with the same goals. We want to see Red Oak Schools succeed. If Red Oak doesn’t succeed, we haven’t done our jobs. We’re going to have all sorts of ideas, and we do have to have a unified front. If you don’t, it’s hard to move forward. We all want to move forward and succeed and hire the best people that we can,” Johnson said.
Rohrig closed out the discussion by expressing his appreciation to the board for the opportunity.
“If I’m the person, great. If Bryce is the person, great. You’ve got two very qualified candidates that care about the community and the school district, and you’ve got a hard choice. I appreciate being here. Neither one of us can fill Roger’s shoes, and whoever gets selected, I hope the other will cheer the other on,” Rohrig stated.
Johnson agreed the district had a hard choice, and he and Rohrig both wanted what was best for the school.
“It all comes down to how Red Oak succeeds in the long term. We want the school to be the best it can be. I’ve grown up in Red Oak, went away, and came back, and my wife and I decided we wanted to start a family here. We’ve brought up our kids through the school, and I’m a Red Oak graduate myself. There is nothing more that I care about than seeing Red Oak schools succeed,” Johnson commented.
Board president Bret Blackman offered praise to Rohrig and Johnson for seeking the position.
“On behalf of the board, we appreciate your passion for Red Oak, and the school district, and all that you do in and out of the school already to serve public education. We really appreciate both of you,” Blackman said.
The board then went into closed session to discuss the qualifications of the prospective candidates to fill the board seat. After lengthy discussion, the board approved the appointment of Bryce Johnson to fill the vacant board seat.


The Red Oak Express

2012 Commerce Drive
P.O. Box 377
Red Oak, IA 51566
Phone: 712-623-2566 Fax: 712-623-2568

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