October 6, 2020

Ryan S. Rigda

Pronouns:He/Him/His
School District:Birch Run Area Schools
City:Birch Run

How long have you lived in your district?

30 years

Have you received any endorsements?

No

Are you an incumbent?

No

Why do you want to be a school board member?

I am seeking a position on the Birch Run Board of Education because I am passionate about education and the state of education in Michigan. As a former student of Birch Run High School, I was inspired by my teachers daily. I wanted to come to school and learn because they made it fun and rewarding. I want students to experience that same joy and achieve success in their future. However, that can only be done by providing teachers with the resources they need to effectively educate our students. As an educator, I am committed to balancing the needs of the students, teachers, and the community. I have seen what happens when schools do not adequately support their students AND teachers. As our motto states, “Expect the best, Accept no less.”

What does education justice mean to you? What does it mean specifically in the context of your school district?

Educational justice is about equity and access to education, both inside and outside of the classroom. One issue I find important to this aspect is the rate of suspensions that take students outside of the school. Schools should look more towards restorative practices that will ensure access to education.

If you could completely reimagine the way schools look after this public health crisis, what would they look like?

If the pandemic has taught us anything it is that class sizes need to be smaller so that students can get the attention they deserve. More technology does solve the problem of individual attention. Technology can aid in the learning process, but only when teachers can effectively manage and implement it. They cannot do that when class sizes are too large.

Describe how you think parents, students, and families should be involved in making decisions within your school district?

The school board should serve as a bridge between the school and community. It should be the goal of school board members to facilitate communication, ensuring that all voices are heard. School board meetings should always be a space where students, parents, and teachers can voice their concerns.

Who (if any) are your top financial supporters for your campaign?

N/A

What are your top 3 educational priorities/goals within your school district?

First, I see communication as a significant problem facing the Birch Run Board of Education. As community members, we should know how and why decisions are being made regarding the education of our students. In other words, we need transparency. A common perception is that decisions are made before public meetings, giving the community little say in what happens. Thankfully, I study communication, which makes me an excellent candidate to solve this problem. If elected, I would work with current and future Board members to improve communication.

Second, spending is a crucial aspect of every school district. Unfortunately, the pandemic has created large funding gaps that we are sure to feel. Therefore, it is concerning to see so many projects being approved during this time. My experience with higher education has given me insight into budgeting concerns and how that impacts a school district. As a member of the Board, I would work to ensure funds are being spent in appropriate ways.

What are your top 3 educational priorities/goals at a state level?

N/A

What challenges do you anticipate this school year to COVID and what do you think your school district must do to keep students & staff safe?

N/A

What should be your school district’s top spending priorities in their budget? Alternatively, what should not be prioritized your district’s budget?

N/A

What role do you think standardized tests should play in your school district?

N/A

If you could have an impact on your school district’s curriculum, what changes would you make? What, if anything, would you keep the same?

N/A

What responsibility do you believe your school district has in supporting students’ and staffs’ mental and emotional health/wellbeing?

Schools should provide support for the mental health and well being of students and staff at all times. This includes the staffing of school counselors and nurses.

How do you think your school district should handle student discipline/and make schools a safe place for students and staff?

Schools should look toward restorative practices where possible.

What are your top priorities around special education in your district?

My top priority is to make sure students have individualized attention where possible to fulfill all educational needs.

What is your perspective on working towards achieving equity within your school district?

N/A

Any other information you want to include or share?

I am currently a Lecturer of Communication at Saginaw Valley State University. I teach courses related to public speaking, debate, and performance. In addition to teaching at SVSU, I serve as the Co-Director of the Forensics (Speech and Debate) Team, as well as the Director of Individual Events for college forensics in the state of Michigan. During the summer I work for an organization that offers public speaking and debate summer camps to middle and high school students. I am a 2008 graduate of Birch Run High School and I have numerous ties to the school and the community. In the past, I have worked with the Birch Run Forensics team and served as a substitute teacher.