Members of the Carroll Tiger Booster Club were quick to question Carroll Community School Board candidate and Kuemper Catholic parent Onica Ulveling about her intentions and reasons for running for a spot on the Carroll School Board during the club’s meeting Wednesday night, during which a school board candidate forum was held.
“This is the Carroll Community School District board, so I am just curious where the line gets drawn,” said a member of the booster club, according to recordings the Times Herald obtained from the meeting. Carroll Police Chief Brad Burke, the club’s president, barred the Times Herald from attending the meeting.
“What if a decision has to be made that’s in the best interest for the Carroll Community School District versus what is the best interest for Kuemper?” the woman asked. “Where would your vote lie?”
During the hour-long forum, school board President Jen Munson and Burke’s wife Casie Forke-Burke repeatedly questioned Ulveling about her motives for seeking election to the public school board.
Ulveling, 41, a Kuemper alumna who has two sons who are Kuemper students, is seeking one of the three available seats on the board. The election is Tuesday.
A total of five candidates — Jon Sampson, Brad Jorgensen, Karen Friedlein, Cindy Johnson and Ulveling — are candidates for the seats currently held by Sampson, Jorgensen and Friedlein. Friedlein recently was appointed to fill the spot previously held by Gina Badding. All candidates but Jorgensen were present at the forum.
Badding, a Kuemper alumna, served on the board for the past four years and resigned in April after being appointed a district court judge.
“I don’t speak for Kuemper,” Ulveling said during the meeting. “I am affiliated with Kuemper, but I do not speak for them. I think I would be impartial.”
That did not appease her questioners, who said they want total loyalty to the public school system.
“Our school board got ridiculed for that whole stadium thing,” a woman said. “Do you know what I mean? I guess that’s where my biggest concern lies. I want somebody on the board that is going to be 100-percent loyal to Carroll.”
Some Kuemper supporters were furious with the public school board after Kuemper supported a successful bond referendum to pay for a new athletic stadium that they thought would be physically neutral to the schools but wasn’t. They were further inflamed when the school board doubled the rates Kuemper pays to play there.
Ulveling and Johnson have said they hope to bring greater transparency to the board if elected, which board president Munson said she perceives as an affront.
“It offends me because it says that I’m a liar and that my husband’s a liar, and we’re not liars,” Munson said at Wednesday’s meeting. “We worked hard to get that beautiful stadium passed, and it’s about time that we stop being blamed on stuff that doesn’t need to blamed, and working together. It's ridiculous.”
Ulveling, a Carroll native, said she wants both school systems to succeed.
“My kids go to Kuemper,” Ulveling said. “I graduated from Kuemper. Just because my kids go to Kuemper doesn’t mean I don’t care about Carroll kids. We have friends and family that have kids at both schools. It’s about the community — it’s not about Kuemper versus Carroll.”
Forke-Burke said a Carroll school board member should be focused on the public schools.
“I don’t think it’s the school board’s job to make the connection between Carroll and Kuemper, because the school board’s job is Carroll,” she said.