Five candidates are seeking four open seats on the Altamont Community Unit 10 school board. They answered questions about the race from the Effingham Daily News.
Is there any reason that motivated you to run for office?
Alan Kollmann: I have lived in this community all of my life and my children currently attend Altamont schools. I believe in giving back to those that have given to you. This district has given a lot to my family and myself, and I feel now is the best time for me to serve this district as a board member.
Amanda Lynn Miller: I want to help our families, teachers and administrators provide quality education to the students of the Altamont School District.
Kerry A. Wolff: When I originally ran in 2016, my motivation was to use my experiences to make a positive impact in our community through my service on the school board. My desire to serve my community remains strong. The first two years one serves on a school board involves an intense learning curve. I feel I would not be living up to my responsibilities to learn and experience this much about school governance to walk away now and not use that knowledge to continue to have a positive impact in our school district.
Dane Milleville: I just want to offer my perspective and ideas on the many issues that the district faces.
Shelly Kuhns: I am a product of community-driven successful public schools in Iuka and Salem, Illinois. The Kuhns family has invested time, talent and treasure in the Effingham County schools for many years and I want to continue that investment. My children have benefited greatly from the opportunities afforded them through the parochial and public schools in Effingham County. I want to help ensure access to quality schools for the children of our community.
What do you feel qualifies you for the position?
Alan Kollmann: I believe my diversity helps qualify me for this position. My involvement in farming and different organizations has allowed me to see how budgeting decisions affect people and business. As with the school system, you have to be able to think about what you do today will affect you long term.
Amanda Lynn Miller: I feel with my background in education and operating a business I can assist in leading our school district in the best direction educationally and financially.
Kerry A. Wolff: I bring a wide array of professional knowledge in agriculture, finance and renewable energies to my work on the board. I’ve also held leadership roles in a variety of organizations. These experiences are a resource I can draw upon to provide thoughtful and positive input as we make decisions in board meetings. Just as importantly, I’m willing to learn and grow. I’ve attended two Illinois Association of School Board annual meetings, and two district meetings to become better informed on school issues. If I want our district to be its best, I must constantly challenge myself to become better in my role too.
Dane Milleville: The skills, experiences and responsibilities I have gained through my employment.
Shelly Kuhns: I believe the passion that I possess for young people and our community qualifies me generally for service on the school board. The extensive education and professional experience I have acquired over the past 30 years can be utilized to promote collaboration, transparency, and open communication among stakeholders in our district. I work hard to maintain an open and honest relationship with anyone connected with my community and our schools.
What sets you apart from your opponents?
Alan Kollmann: I am very approachable and I like to listen to all sides. With this, I want parents and teachers to feel like they can talk to me at anytime. I always want to hear and see all the information on an issue before I make a decision.
Amanda Lynn Miller: I don’t know if there is anything that sets me apart from my opponents; we all want what is best for the students and our school district. I do know that I have been active in Altamont Grade School PTO, attended school board meetings and the parent teacher advisory meetings at the school for the past three years in order to be informed on what is happening in our school district.
Kerry A. Wolff: While I have deep roots in Altamont, I also have a period of 18 years living and working in Wisconsin, California, and Indiana before we returned in 2010 to raise our family “back home”. Thus, Altamont truly is a “Destination District” for our family. I find myself constantly looking back on things I’ve seen and experienced in other places (ideas that worked well, and ideas to avoid!) as I consider policies here.
Dane Milleville: All candidates will have different ideas and positions on various issues, but other than that I don’t know that there is anything that necessarily sets me apart.
Shelly Kuhns: For better or worse, I have a long history of work and volunteerism in education from grade schools through universities. I have an understanding of the challenges facing educators and communities at large. My past experiences allow me to facilitate conversations and move processes forward.
What are the most important issues specific to your race?
Alan Kollmann: Budgeting and finances are always an important issue with school systems. How and what money is spent on is very much on my mind as I step into the board room at every meeting. We have to make sure we give the students staff and administration the resources to succeed within the district’s means.
Amanda Lynn Miller: I think with the current issues of our state we need to be conservative in our spending. While being conservative in spending, we still owe our students the highest quality of education possible.
Kerry A. Wolff: Making Altamont a “Destination District,” where the quality of education is so high that people purchase homes in our district, so their children may attend our schools. At the same time, doing so while minimizing property taxes, and managing through periods of unreliable state funding.
Dane Milleville: Funding, sustainability and school security.
Shelly Kuhns: Our district is working hard to enhance our financial security after many difficult and uncertain years of state funding. I’d like to continue to work toward enhanced stability. We will also be renegotiating both certified and non-certified staff contracts within the next 1-2 years. I look forward to working with our employees to renew these contracts.
What are some of the things you hope to get accomplished if elected?
Alan Kollmann: The current board is a very diverse group that has worked very well together and I want to be one of those members that shares my opinions to help others make the best decisions for the district. Past boards have set this district up to succeed now and in the future. I want to be a member that continues that success, so our children have the opportunity to be the best they can be.
Amanda Lynn Miller: My vision as a school board member if elected will be reducing our bond payments and lowering the property tax rate. Another important goal to me is improving our schools financial rating by saving money where possible. Maintaining our schools’ facilities and learning environment of the students is just as important to me as our finances of the school district.
Kerry A. Wolff: Continue to promote the ongoing development of a collaborative culture among the staff at CUSD 10. This benefits students with a continuously upgraded learning environment, which challenges each student to be their best while enabling employees to feel involved, accomplished and fulfilled in their roles.
Use funding from the School Facilities Sales Tax (the 1 percent tax) to reduce property taxes and tackle important maintenance issues which have been long delayed due to lack of state funding in previous years.
Dane Milleville: As a generalization, I want to make sure we are doing everything possible to help our students prepare for the future.
Shelly Kuhns: I hope to continue to partner with our new superintendent, our employees, our community and our students to provide high-quality. affordable education to the children of our district. I hope to continue to facilitate crucial conversations that drive our district forward.
Alan Kollmann of rural Altamont, 44, is an incumbent Altamont Community Unit 10 board member filling an open seat in 2017. He is a graduate of Altamont High School and received an Associate in Applied Science in Swine Management from John Wood Community College. He is logistics coordinator for the livestock department at Effingham Equity and co-owner of Kollmann Hog Farm, a small hog and grain farm north of Altamont. Kollmann and wife Michelle and have three sons, Jared, Eric, Justin and one daughter, Jenna. He is District 5 director for the Illinois Pork Producers currently serving as Vice President/Treasurer, member of the Effingham County Pork Producers, Effingham County Farm Bureau, Effingham Knights of Columbus, Altamont Sports Boosters, Altamont Education Foundation, member of the St. Clare Catholic Church in Altamont, serving as Pastoral Council Chairperson and director of the Religious Education Program.
Amanda Miller of Mason, 38, has a degree in Early Childhood Education. She is self-employed as a family child care provider over the past 15 years in Altamont and operates her own day care business called Little Indians Daycare. She has been married to Josh for 18 years and has four children, Destiny, Aaron, Jordan and Cody. Her daughter is a graduate of Altamont High School and three of her sons attend schools in the Altamont School District. She currently serves as president of Altamont Grade School PTO, a member of Effingham Child Care Association and a member of Altamont American Legion Auxiliary. She has served in the past as a district committee member for the local Boy Scouts of America Council, Cub Scout leader, Girl Scout leader and Junior Lutheran Youth Fellowship leader.
Kerry A. Wolff of Altamont, 51, is an incumbent Altamont Community Unit 10 board member filling an open seat in 2016. Wolf attended Altamont Grade School, Bethlehem Lutheran School, Altamont Lutheran Interparish School and graduated from Altamont High School. He received a B.S. in Agricultural Economics from the University of Illinois. Wolff is regional sales consultant for Tick Tock Energy Inc. in Effingham. He has been married to Gina for 21 years and has a son in the fifth grade and a daughter in eighth grade at Altamont Lutheran. He is a member of The North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners, American Society of Agronomy and Illinois Holstein Association. Wolff is a past member of the board of directors of Altamont Lutheran Interparish School, holding offices of president and vice president of the board. He has held offices in the past as president, vice president, executive committee member and stewardship committee member at Lutheran churches he has attended in Indiana and California. He was once vice president and second vice president for the Huntingburg, Indiana, Kiwanis Club. Wolff was also secretary and vice president of the Huntingburg, Indiana, Merchants Association.
Dane Milleville of rural Altamont, 34, is a graduate of Altamont High School Class of 2002 and a graduate of Austin Peay State University with a bachelor degree in Ag Business. He is territory operations manager for Archer Daniels Midland. This is his first time running for a public office. He is married to Jennifer and has two sons, Kade and Carson.
Shelly Kuhns of Mason, 50, is an incumbent Altamont Community Unit 10 school board member. She has served one four-year term and is currently board president, an office she has held for the past two years. She attended Kaskaskia College for nursing, McKendree University for BSN, and Rush University in Chicago for her master’s degree. She started working on her PhD, but did not complete the doctorate. She is licensed as an Illinois Advanced Practice Nurse. Kuhns is an adjunct nursing faculty member at Kaskaskia College. She is a farm wife and lives with her husband, Stan Kuhns, and youngest daughter Emma, who is a junior at Altamont High School and active in the Effingham County Youth Ambassadors, Section 20 FFA, member of the Effingham County Fair Association and will participate in the Effingham County CEO class next year. Shelly Kuhns has a son, Jimmie Harmon, who is stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and currently deployed to Iraq. Her daughter, Maria, will graduate with an Ag Business/Econ degree from Mizzou in May and plans to stay at Mizzou for a graduate assistantship. Her son, Avery, is a sophomore at Kansas State University studying Ag Business with a specialization in feed science and milling. Kuhns is a member of Sacred Heart Catholic Church, American Association of Critical Care Nurses, Illinois Society of Advanced Practice Nurses and active with Altamont FFA Alumni organization.