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Campbell County School Board of Trustees Candidate Questionnaire: Rodger L. Solomon

GILLETTE, Wyo. — Election season is well underway and County 17 has sent a list of questions to each candidate who has filed to run for office in contested races.

These questions are designed to give our readers a better understanding of the people behind the names on the ballot. All candidate responses submitted to County 17 are republished as they are received. County 17 solely made minor edits to the responses, for clarity. Minor edits may include correcting punctuation, capitalization or spelling.

Below, get to know Rodger L. Solomon, who is running for election to the Campbell County School District Board of Trustees:

  1. Please introduce yourself and describe your educational and employment
    history. Please include your name and hometown along with highlights of your
    past involvement in the Campbell County community.

My name is Rodger Solomon. I am a Gillette native and a graduate of Campbell County High School. All three of my children graduated from CCHS. Over the years I have enjoyed working with Campbell County youth in Girls Scouts, Boy Scouts and Family Life Youth. Currently, I am semi-retired and work for Family Life Church part-time.

2. What prompted your decision to run for school board? What do you have to offer the community as a board member? What do you believe your role is as a board member?

I want to serve my community. In recent years we have seen that many of the
boards in Campbell County and the City of Gillette, both elected and appointed,
have lost contact and communication with the people they serve. I would like to
reverse that.

3. How do you propose Campbell County School District attract and retain quality
educators and other staff, given employee shortages? How can board members
help provide an environment in which employees can thrive?

Give them the support they badly need. I am told, although I do not know this for a fact, that the school district is top-heavy, especially when it comes to salaries. I would like to see that corrected. Teachers are quite often overworked and underpaid. They are expected to supply both themselves and their students out of pocket. Perhaps they need to be given a stipend to use for classroom supplies. In addition to this, they need to be given back the authority they once had in the classroom to discipline students. It is almost impossible to teach in an environment where pupils, many of who do not want to learn, are in control.

4. What does a successful school district look like?

That is hard to say. Graduation rates? Test scores? Staff retention? Parent involvement? All of these might be signs of a successful school district, but I think the best and most valid sign would be how graduates do over the years. Are they living a fulfilling life and are they contributing to the community?

5. What does the school district administration do well?

They occasionally hire some good staff.

6. How has education impacted your life?

I met my wife in college, need I say more? Of course I do. Education, both formal and informal, has set the foundations of my life. Reading has opened doors to all sorts of worlds both real and fictional. Writing has given me the ability to communicate with people as I am doing here. Arithmetic has taught me logic. History has taught me not only how we came to be but at what cost. English taught me how to communicate with people in various ways including verbally, orally, and in writing. Theology has taught me how to search for the truth about God.

7. What advice would you offer parents of school-aged children to empower
students in their learning?

Read! Not only should you read to your children but you should read to provide them with an example. Engage them in their studies. Ask them what they are learning. Encourage them and when you can work with them. And teach them yourself. Show them what you have learned over the years. Encourage the love of learning.

8. What lessons did our school district community learn from the COVID-19
pandemic? How will you help the school district’s efforts to recover the academic
losses associated with the pandemic?

Hopefully, consider the situation and all the repercussions of the decisions that
they are making.

9. Should the school board promote more community involvement? If so, how? If
not, why not?

Yes, as much as it can. The school board needs to be open in all that it does. It needs to encourage Parent-Teacher organizations. Communication between parents and teachers needs to be encouraged. The administration needs to be open to parents’ complaints.

10. Is there anything else voters should know about you and your perspective?

Campbell County has over-emphasized sports for a long time now. The current athletic program needs to be looked at closely and maybe cut back. It is said that some staff get hired to coach first and teach second. This needs to be turned around. Athletics are fine but the main goal of the district should be to educate.

With that in mind, I would advocate for the closing of the Kid Care Clinic. It is my belief that this is going beyond the mission of the school district which is to educate. We have a public health clinic, at least three urgent cares, and a number of pediatric clinics in the county. These make the Kid Care Clinic not only redundant but a competitor to privately owned businesses. There was a time, not so long ago, when the schools had to share nurses. Not that I want to go back to that but there is such a thing as overkill.

The individual schools as well as the administration need to be more transparent both to the community and the board. Recently the board stated that there were no such things as “furries” in the district. This showed me that board members must not have students in the system and that the administration is not being forthright with the board. Board members need to take the time to make unannounced visits to the schools to see the environment that exists in each school.

Recent news stories across the nation have shown that school boards, administrations, principals and teachers are trying to hide their agenda from the public as a whole and parents in particular. If this is happening in Campbell County, it must be stopped, and if it isn’t, it must never be allowed to start.