SCHOOL BOARD CANDIDATES: Plains School District
April 20, 2023
Name: Lana Dicken
Education: Master’s in Social Work
Occupation: Licensed Clinical Social Worker / Mental Health Therapist
What qualities would make you an effective school board member? As a therapist I am a skilled communicator, being able to engage in active listening and de-escalating highly emotional situations. I work well with others, including those I may have opposing views. I tend to make decisions based on logic and reason without being persuaded by strong emotions. In my profession I have been trained to see things from multiple perspectives. I have a passion for serving, and have a long history of volunteering my time to organizations that aim to support and improve the well-being of the community, including being an active member of our Plains Booster Club.
What do you see as the opportunities and challenges in your district? Our school struggles with finances and creating opportunities to expose our students to a variety of experiences that larger school districts are capable of doing. However, being from a small community, where pride in our school runs deep, we have an opportunity to partner with our community to create those opportunities for our students in a different, more economical way that aim to better achieve our mission “…to provide each student with a diverse education…” and to “…assist our leaders of tomorrow in succeeding and contributing responsibly to a global community” and also our local community as well.
Name: Erika Swanson Lawyer
Education: BS in Business Administration University of Montana
Occupation: Business Owner
What qualities would make you an effective school board member? My experience on various boards has taught me a lot. Taking advantage of board training opportunities has helped me come prepared to board meetings to make thoughtful decisions for our kids, and sound decisions for our district. Being an active volunteer, I bring community perspective to the board. My business background helps in budget and contract review. My sons, husband, and I all graduated from PHS. My daughter will be a freshman next year and my mom taught here for over 20 years. I love our school and I am passionate about making it a great place to learn and grow.
What do you see as the opportunities and challenges in your district? Resources are scarce. But when community partners with our schools, and we have a willingness to seek changes that enhance our kids’ avenues to learn, we can create unique opportunities. I want to see a strategic plan completed this year. With a new superintendent, it will be exciting to see what changes and innovations we can bring when we collectively collaborate to improve. Our opportunities lie in us having the resolve to ensure every kid has the educational background to pursue their dreams. It takes a board to keep pushing for the tools to ensure their success.
Name: Steve Spurr
Education: POST Certified
Occupation: State Trooper
What qualities would make you an effective school board member. With my background in law enforcement, I strive to be a productive communicator and know how to handle stressful conversations and situations. I strive for fairness and adherence to the rules. I aim to be open minded in approaching new ideas and will ensure all sides of any discussion are considered. Being raised in a small town and school system gave me appreciation for raising my family in a similar setting, so the health and longevity of Plains Schools is of utmost importance to me. I have children in Plains schools, and I have the ability and desire to bridge any gaps between the school and the community.
What do you see as the opportunities and challenges in your district? The safety and security of our children is a top priority I view as both a challenge and opportunity. A goal as a board member would be to create a School Resource Officer program. I have experience in seeing how effective an SRO program can be. Other challenges are ensuring a balanced budget that keeps the current programs offered a working reality while also providing long term opportunities for growth. Quality education should be the priority goal of any school district, but athletic, extra curricular, and fine arts programs are often the motivation students look to for overall success.
Name: Amy McGraw Carey
Education: Post Falls (idaho) High School/University of Washington
Occupation: Clerk at Studs Building Supply
What qualities would make you an effective school board member? I believe I would be an effective school board member because I do not have an agenda or pet project. I feel that serving our community and protecting the best interest of our children is of paramount importance. My own children have attended Plains schools and I have an upcoming kindergarten student, so I have a vested interest in the success of our school. With the moral decay of our society, small towns like Plains are sanctuaries and we need to ensure that our students are protected and nurtured into their best selves.
What do you see as the opportunities and challenges in your district? There are many challenges facing our district right now. Infrastructure, our school is aging, there are decisions to be made on everything from HVAC to a plan for asbestos abatement. We need to work on teacher retention, schedule and funding. Our students need support in several areas, mental health, academics and college/career preparation. With our new superintendent coming on we have an opportunity to really revamp our program. Our community and this world are changing quickly and the board has an obligation to make sure our school keeps up and our students are ready.