June 19, 2024

Meet the candidates for Murray School Board

Editor’s note: Candidates appear in alphabetical order. All Murray School Board seats are at-large positions.

Matthew Dinham

Matthew Dinham

Brief background about yourself:

I am a lifelong resident of Murray and a 5th generation alumnus from Murray community school, graduating in the year 2000. I have 2 kids that have also graduated from Murray, making them the 6th generation to graduate from this prestigious academic institution with 2 additional kids currently attending classes at Murray.

I have a strong background in technology with a degree in Information Technology Systems Networking in which I am currently employed as an Enterprise Support Specialist.

Why are you running for this spot? Do you have prior experience?

I am running for school board to be a voice for the people, this includes the faculty and the students. I want to advocate for all because everyone’s voice should be heard. With 11 years of management experience, it will help me be a strong leader within the School Board.

What do you see as specific needs of the school, and how do you plan to address those needs?

I feel one area of specific need would be that the school is currently lacking a variety of technology, along with technology classes being offered to students. The way technology is evolving and advancing rapidly along with the push for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) from the state legislature allowing access to grants to purchase various new technology for students to get hands on opportunities would be a great start to address this specific need.

What qualities do you possess that will make you an asset to the board?

Being a lifelong member of the community, an alumnus (5th generation), 11 years of management experience, and 7 years of Information technology experience allows me to know who I would be representing, what is as stake, the traditions and the expectations of students, parents, administration and faculty. These combined qualities and experience make me an immense asset to the board.

What do you like about/what do you want others to know about Murray Schools?

Murray is a small tight knit community. Everyone can always take comfort that the great people of this community will all band together and have always strived for academic excellence.

Sarah Dinham (incumbent)

Sarah Dinham

Brief background about yourself:

I have been a resident in Murray since 2004 where I decided to raise my family. I currently have 2 children attending Murray and 2 who have graduated from Murray. I am an experienced teacher with a strong background in education. I have had the privilege of serving on the school board for the past four years.

Why are you seeking reelection?

I’m running for this position to leverage my experience as an educator to benefit our school. With four years of prior experience on the school board, I aim to maintain and enhance the success that our district has achieved.

What do you see as specific needs of the school, and how do you plan to address those needs?

As a current school board member, I’ve identified specific needs in our school, such as school safety, attendance, family/community engagement, and preparing students for their future. It’s imperative to keep academics, safety, and the well-being of each student at the forefront of our decisions.

What qualities do you possess that will make you an asset to the board?

My experience on the school board and background in education equips me with a unique perspective that can be a valuable asset to the board. I’m dedicated to providing resources and curriculum for all students and ensuring that the community has a voice through my service on the board.

What do you like about/what do you want others to know about Murray Schools?

I appreciate that Murray is a close-knit community, similar to a family, and the strong support it provides to the district. The pride and communication among teachers, along with the extra effort they put into their job, are commendable.

Joseph (Joe) Miller

Brief background about yourself:

I have lived in the Murray area all of my life. I am a 2001 graduate of Murray Community School and now my three children (Aylah, Cort and Lydia) will be the 4th generation to have their graduation picture hung on the walls in the school. After graduation, I attended Southwestern Community College and obtained a degree in Agriculture Business. Together with my family, I own and operate a 3rd generation cattle operation and sell cattle equipment for High Point Stockman Supply in Osceola.

Why are you running for this spot? Do you have prior experience?

My prior experience includes serving on different leadership boards- Clarke County Cattlemens and Murray Church of Christ. I have supported several educators in my life including my mom, sister and wife and I am running for the school board to take an active role in supporting the education at Murray Community Schools.

What do you see as specific needs of the school, and how do you plan to address those needs?

I believe Murray needs to continue to offer college credit (general education and CTE programs) to students as a means of challenging students and helping them to jump start their college career skill sets. While continuing to support our current programming, I would like to see Murray develop work based learning opportunities for students during the school year that would help students to discover career pathways.

What qualities do you possess that will make you an asset to the board?

Qualities that I can bring to the Murray Community School board would include:

1) Straight forward and impartial

2) Driven for continuous improvement

3) Analytical of resources

4) Committed to Murray Stampeding into the Future while Honoring the Tradition

What do you like about/what do you want others to know about Murray Schools?

A small school like Murray provides many opportunities for active participation in fine arts, athletics and organizations while providing a well rounded education. Murray has many generations of families that have built, strengthened and continue to grow Murray Community Schools.

Additional comments:

M-U-S-T-A-N-G-S

Tara Page (incumbent)

Brief background about yourself:

I have actively served on the Murray School Board for the last 4 years, but my years as a Mustang started long before that. I worked at Murray Community School as a Special Education teacher from 2006 to 2014, and then as principal from 2014-2018. I am currently employed at Green Hills AEA as a Special Education Consultant. I have 3 kids that are enrolled at Murray: Caden 11th grade, Mallory 10th grade, Caleb 6th grade. My husband, Cole, and I are both graduates from Murray, and have purposely raised our kids in this community because of the family atmosphere of the school. I continue to be a part of the Murray School District by officiating basketball games, coaching through the Murray Parks and Rec, and attending as many school functions as possible.

Why are you running seeking reelection? Do you have prior experience?

It is my desire to continue to serve and support the school district as a board member because I am vested in the future of the school district and the Murray Community. I have been an active voice on our school board, and plan to continue to be involved in the decision-making process that allows for our students to receive the best education possible and permits our teachers to give the best education possible with the resources they need to do this. It is important to me that we continue to market our school as one of the best around by letting people know what we have to offer their children. In the day of loose open enrollment laws, we have remained steady in our enrollment, and this year have unofficially seen an increase of students. I credit this to the positive people, opportunities, and learning we have going at Murray!

What do you see as specific needs of the school, and how do you plan to address those needs?

Continue with SWCC course schedule for our kids. This includes the trades, online classes, and off-site courses. By doing this, we allow our students to take the college courses that benefited them the most and at no cost to families! We need to continue to build the collaborative relationships between the board, community, and parents, allowing them to feel welcome and heard by the Board. We need to continue hire and maintain great teachers and administration. We have moved to a 4 day school week, and that helped fill our positions while other schools are still looking for teachers.

Moving forward as a board, we need to continue to be supportive to our administration, teachers and coaches. People who feel valued and supported will stay at Murray, and in turn this will directly impact our students in a positive way. We also need to continue to be fiscally responsible. In a time where funding for education is always a hot topic, we need to continue to have conversations about how to provide the best education for students, but also be fiscally responsible.

What qualities do you possess that will make you an asset to the board?

My educational background and school administration knowledge will continue to be an asset to the Board. My background knowledge in school administration, school law, and school finance is something that is valuable to the Board.

What do you like about/what do you want others to know about Murray Schools?

As a board we have added a principal, ensured administration has insurance, purchased curriculum, upgraded technology, moved to a 4 day school week, and also made our pay scale competitive, all the while remaining fiscally responsible. We have had hard conversations and made hard decisions, but the entire time my focus has not wavered from what is best for students and staff, and the Murray Community, in general. It is my goal to see through what we have started and continue to do what is best for Murray.

Brian Peterson

Brief background about yourself:

I have worked for the City of Murray (5 yrs), Clarke County Secondary Roads (roughly 10 yrs) and currently I am with the Iowa Department of Transportation. I graduated from Murray in 1992. My 2 oldest daughters also graduated from Murray and I have 1 still in High School. I have coached kids for over 25 years and been involved with the Murray Fire Department, and Murray Little League Rec Board.

Why are you running for this spot or seeking reelection? Do you have prior experience?

I would like to see accountability in the school and help to retain our better faculty and coaches. We need to keep Murray Community School as a school that people want to bring their families to. I have served on many boards and have prior leadership roles. With these roles I have an understanding of what it takes to provide success.

What do you see as specific needs of the school, and how do you plan to address those needs?

I see a need to retain and attract the best teachers and coaches so we can continue to give the students the best education we can. I would like to see some classes brought back to school like Home Economics and Independent Living. These skills are what our kids need to help them after High School and get them ready to be successful.

What qualities do you possess that will make you an asset to the board?

I have the ability to talk and listen to people about their concerns. I’m not a “yes” man and I will speak my mind even if I’m in the minority. I do not have a hidden agenda and I will not make decisions without doing research on issues.

What do you like about/what do you want others to know about Murray Schools?

Murray cares about their town and school. We take pride in the community and stand together as a family. We need to make sure it stays that way.

Nic Smith

Nic Smith

Brief background about yourself:

I am a 2007 graduate from I-35 Community schools. My wife Leslie and I have two sons, both of whom attend Murray CSD. Our family has lived in the Murray District for 10 years and we are proud to call it home. We attend Murray Baptist Church, where I serve on the Deacon Board.

Why are you running for this spot? Do you have prior experience?

While I have not held a seat on the School Board before, I am running now because I am passionate about our school and our community. I want to help Murray CSD hold its values and traditions while making positive progression

What do you see as specific needs of the school, and how do you plan to address those needs?

Our School needs a Board who will support it. Support our educators and students to set them up for success in the classroom and beyond. Support our Coaches and Athletes to be the best team and sportsman they can be. Support our Creative Arts programs so students can harness and develop their talents. Support our Clubs and Classes that teach our students life skills and give them opportunities to learn through hands on experiences.

What qualities do you possess that will make you an asset to the board?

I work as a Senior Market Development Representative in the building materials industry. Where I develop partnerships through relationship building and use strategic planning with business owners and general managers to create a profitable and successful business model. I believe these skills will serve well for creating plans alongside our administrators and educators to make them and our students successful.

What do you like about/what do you want others to know about Murray Schools?

Murray CSD is a wonderful place to send your children. You can feel the small-town pride at the packed sporting events, you know our educators care about our children’s futures in the way they teach. This is a school district you can be proud to be a part of.

Candra Brooks

A native of rural Union County, Candra holds a Bachelor's Degree in English from Simpson College and an Associate's Degree in Accounting from SWCC. She has been at the Osceola newspaper since October 2013, working as office manager before transitioning to the newsroom in spring 2022.