Duane Horsley and his rural Carroll family can an extensive variety of fruits and vegetables annually, including peaches, tomatoes, apples and green beans.
Duane Horsley and his rural Carroll family can an extensive variety of fruits and vegetables annually, including peaches, tomatoes, apples and green beans.
September 4, 2013

Harboring "no burning agendas," Duane Horsley sees his run for the Carroll Community School District board of directors as the next level of civic engagement - a way to give back to a community and education system from which he and his family have received so much.

"The Carroll Schools have been good for raising kids and the education system has been excellent," he said. "There's a good thing going on here with the schools, and I want to see that continue."

Horsley credits his Christian faith for the core values that guide him - faith, family, integrity and a strong work ethic. These values not only influenced his decision to run, but also his belief in the importance of parental involvement in education.

"Parents should be getting involved with kids before they even get in school," he said. "Sit down and read with children."

Similar advice was heeded by his own children, resulting in his three-year-old granddaughter's wide vocabulary, he added, voice full of pride.

"You got to have parental involvement with kids for them to be successful," he said. "Disengaged parents is a huge problem."

Though they may not need help with homework as they get older, students still need a healthy environment, another way for parents and the community to be involved in education, Horsley added.

"We've had a lot of gatherings with high school kids and bonfires," said Horsley of his wife, Kris, and his rural Carroll home. "We wanted to provide a good place for kids to be, to have fun. It's been really good to know our kids' friends."

For Horsley, election to the board would allow him to serve education in a greater capacity.

"We've been in involved in children's church and children's ministries," Horsley said. "We've helped with spiritual development, and now this helps to make sure they get a good education."

Horsley has considered running for the school board several times in the past few years. With his youngest son, Caleb, now a junior, Horsley said he has more time to devote to the board now than if he had run earlier. In total, four of his five children have graduated from Carroll High School. His oldest son, Andrew, graduated in 1998 and now works in graphic design for Johnson & Johnson. Levi graduated in 2011 and is working locally following brief attendance at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. Seth graduated in 2013 and is completing combat medic training in San Antonio, Texas. His daughter, Roxanne, graduated from Ankeny High School in 2001, and now works as a nurse in Des Moines. Kris works in financial services for Primerica.

Horsley is motivated by a "desire to win, desire to excel and a little bit of a competitive spirit."

He cited a "balanced understanding" of the schools and his background as an agricultural sales representative (for Raleigh, N.C.-based Bayer CropScience) as key qualifications.

"I have a college degree, so I know the value of a solid foundation going on to college" he said. "I work with a lot of people, so if somebody's got a burning issue with something, it's not going to hurt my feelings. If they have a problem, I'm going to try to be a good listener."

Though he sees no need for changes in the overall curriculum and policies in the CCSD, that does not leave Horsley without an opinion on current and local education issues.

He acknowledges that the Carroll football stadium "needs work."

"The best thing for the community would really be to band together and put in a high class stadium," he said. "How many people drive a 40- or 50-year-old car around? I don't have a plan for what we should do, but we definitely need to start looking around."

Horsley also applauds efforts the district has made to open its doors, and wider variety of class options, to other districts in the county.

"It's always better to have it in your own community, but what do you do when you can't afford to do what you need to? The more local, the better, but there's a tipping point. When kids start falling behind, it's a new situation," Horsley said, regarding the trend of increasing consolidation of rural schools. In Horsley's own native home of Wessington Springs, S.D., the county now has only one school. "It's a painful process, making that transition. Those things are going to happen whether we want to or not."

Horsley also supports the increasing integration of technology in the district, so long as accountability is present.

"As long as they aren't left to be on their own, if they're getting assignments done on a Chromebook versus a piece of paper, what's the difference?" he asked. "Embrace the change."

But, though accountability is vital, it should not necessarily rely on test scores, which depends so much on the mix of students in a classroom, ranging from special needs to those who academically excel.

"I have concerns about how you would implement that to make it fair from one teacher to the next," he stated. "On the other hand, I don't believe you should just have tenure, a free ticket because you got in. Benchmarks are a part of the world we live in."

A more directly local education issue is that of transportation costs for Carroll and Kuemper schools. Though the public school is required to provide bussing to and from classes for the private school, it is not required to provide transportation for extracurriculars, such as providing buses to take a sports team to an away game. Horsley feels that since Kuemper does not pay for the buses, it is not unfair to ask Kuemper to pay a fee.

The candidate also supports a wide variety of extracurriculars, ranging from sports to music.

"I love to see kids involved in different activities," he said. "It definitely crosses them into different groups of kids."

If elected, Horsley encourages anyone to call and express thoughts on any school issues.

The school board election will take place Tuesday, Sept. 10, and two seats are up for election on the Carroll School Board. Jen Munson is the only other candidate formally on the ballot. David Teske announced a write-in campaign. Board members Jerry Fleshner and Dennis Molitor are not seeking re-election.