Marshfield School Board Candidates: Yakaites seeks reelection to school board
By Mike Warren
First in a four-part series on this spring’s school board candidates. Following segments will feature remaining contenders: Iddi Adam, Alanna Feddick-Goodwin, and Cathy Gorst.
MARSHFIELD – Retired teacher Dale Yakaites is one of four candidates running for two positions on the Marshfield Board of Education in this spring’s elections on April 5.
“I feel this is a great community that does support education,” Yakaites told the audience at a candidate’s forum Feb. 10 at Marshfield High School.
“My No. 1 reason for running is I still have a passion for education and how it’s delivered to our students,” he added. “My association with kids, parents, staff and business leaders in this district has been very positive. I decided to run again because these are challenging times, and I think it is very important to have a person with my experience on the board to help sort out those solutions and challenges.”
Yakaites, who came back to Marshfield 50 years ago this August, was born in Marshfield and raised in Fond du Lac.
“I have experience at all levels of education in this district, and I would be pleased to serve again,” he adds. “The biggest challenge is making sure that whatever duty or decision I am involved in answers the questions ‘Is this good academically for kids and am I doing what I can to provide a safe environment in which our students and staff come to work in every day?’. I will continue to work hard as a school board member if I’m elected to show my passion for education and my concern for students.”
Yakaites also addressed the issue of recent fights at Marshfield High School, apparently the result of a rash of cyberbullying, according to district officials.
“I know that they are putting forth the best efforts that they can to deal with the incidents when they take place,” said Yakaites, in response to a question on the subject from a high school student.
And he had questions of his own on the subject. “What do you think the reasons are that these incidents are taking place?” he directed at the students who were present. “It’s one thing to be reactive, to have more police officers in the school, to have parents in bathrooms. But what’s the root cause? Why is this happening right now? Are more people less afraid to speak the way they do in public to other people? I think before we can actually deal with some of the issues that are taking place, answer the question ‘Why is this happening?’ Can we look at the root causes and try to be a little more proactive? Is it more parent involvement? Is it something else that can be taught in our classes in our schools? Is it something the community as a whole can try to help and respond to? I think the ‘why’ here is very important to get at.”
Yakaites also addressed a question regarding what the student asking it referred to as “the mental health crisis,” and what he would do to “build and expand on mental health programs to help students balance between excellence, academic pressure and social pressure”.
“Right now, it’s extremely difficult for schools to find school psychologists or people that are going into counseling,” Yakaites responded.
“If funding is available, I think we try to add as many of the types of positions that would be needed to help students individually. Now, can we shift some of the funding? Yes, we can. But as soon as we shift funding from one area, that means something has to go in another area, so that’s always a balancing act. It’s a very sticky issue. It’s a big challenge. I think we continue to talk as a school board, which we have done on a number of occasions, about what we can do to provide more services for our students.”
As a former communications specialist for the district, Yakaites also responded to a question from a student regarding communicating directly with students and parents “to fully understand the needs of people who are truly impacted by school board decisions.”
“We have to find a way to talk more to some of the students in the district,” Yakaites said. “Maybe some school board members could be invited to Student Council, to listen to you there. Maybe there could be some after-school forums, where some school board members could come to try to help you there.”
In closing, Yakaites added, “I still consider every student who walks the halls in our schools to be at the forefront of what I do on the board.”
Dale Yakaites is seeking his third three-year term on the Marshfield Board of Education. To view the entire Feb. 10 candidates’ forum, visit MFLD-TV 989 on YouTube.