League of Women Voters of Greater Omaha

2020 Primary Voters’ Guide: Bennington Board of Education

The League of Women Voters of Greater Omaha contacts candidates during each election cycle and invites them to participate in the print and online editions of the Voters’ Guide. Candidates provide their biographical information and their positions on selected issues. Candidates are aware in advance that the biographies and answers will be printed exactly as submitted without edits for content, spelling, punctuation or grammar.

The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan organization that never supports or opposes any political party or candidate for office.

PDF of 2020 Primary Douglas County Voters’ Guide | Find voter information specific to your ballot at vote411.org.

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Terri Calabro (R):  No response received.

Tim Dreessen (R):  No response received.

Joshuwa Hannum (R): No response received.

Darren Siekman (R):
Website: www.facebook.com/dsiekman1
Occupation: Vice President, Valmont Global Irrigation
Current Public Office, dates held: 2002 to Present, Bennington Public School Board District #59
Education: Bachelor of Science, Agriculture; University of Nebraska, Lincoln
Volunteer experience: Maplewood Methodist Preschool Board; Bennington Public Schools Foundation Board; YMCA Coach, Bennington Athletic League Coach

Allyson Crossman Slobotski (R):
Occupation: Tax Attorney
Current Public Office, dates held: None
Past Public Office, dates held: None
Education: University of Nebraska – Lincoln – Juris Doctorate; Texas Christian University – Master of Accounting; Texas Christian University – BBA Accounting & Finance; Omaha Central High School
Military experience: None
Volunteer experience: Women’s Center for Advancement – first Guild President; Midlands Mentoring Partnership – Treasurer; Bennington Elementary PTO Board Member; Newport Landing Homeowner’s Association – Treasurer; University of Nebraska – Omaha Sorority Academic Advisor

Candidate Responses

How can schools use technology to foster better equity and educational outcomes?

Darren Siekman: During my time on the board, we have invested to become a “1 to 1” school system.  In grades 7-12 students are issued a chromebook and in the elementary schools we have combinations of computer labs and iPads which provide a device for every student.  However, the best thing schools can do to foster equity is investing in early childhood education.  Making sure that each child begins their educational journey with a strong foundation is the best predictor of future success.

Allyson Crossman Slobotski: Technology should be used to ensure students receive individualized education that meets their needs and evaluates their successes.  Using technology to provide training for our teachers and administrators enhances the educational experience for all. As technology becomes more and more critical to life after high school, we need to make sure all students have the tools to be successful and starts in the district.

What can be done to ensure the safety of students and teachers in our schools?

Darren Siekman: Common sense and vigilance are the best tools we have.  We are very fortunate in Bennington to have a highly engaged community of parents and community members who “watch out” for each other.  The addition of a school resource officer has already proven effective in key situations, Deputy Baker is awesome.  Last but not least, being prepared with a comprehensive safety plan that regularly gets reviewed and tested is a key initiative in place.

Allyson Crossman Slobotski: Ensuring the safety of students, teachers,  and all staff employed by the School District begins with leadership from the Board of Education.  I would commit to working together, collaboratively, to ensure proper planning and adequate training is in place.  I would emphasize the importance of communication, technology, and employing best practices in the area to do what is necessary to ensure safety for all.  It is important everyone believes in the plan and truly feels safe at work everyday.

What role, if any, should charter schools have in the Nebraska educational system?

Darren Siekman: While I have not done much research on charter schools, I would ask which students are we trying to serve and what is the desired educational outcome from a charter?  The strength of public schools is the ability of local constituents to make decisions which are best for their kids and community.  Would a charter school still allow that input?  School funding and property taxes are always a challenge in Nebraska, could a charter school be funded in a way that is not detrimental?

Allyson Crossman Slobotski:  As a graduate of Omaha Public Schools and with children in Bennington Public Schools, I’m a huge public school supporter.  Nebraska is very lucky to have a fantastic public educational system well known for its diversity and quality education.  While Charter Schools may be a helpful tool in other states with struggling public school systems, I do not believe adding charter schools in Nebraska will enhance the existing system in such a way that it warrants a role.

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