Legislators need a greater understanding of the financial struggles small rural school districts are confronting.

This is the ardent belief of Rod Spikes, a candidate for Position 4 on the Elgin School Board.

“We need to make the state more aware of (small rural school districts’) financial situation,” Spikes said.

The candidate said if elected he would work with other board members to determine the best way to accomplish this.

Spikes is one of two people running for Position 4, which is open to those living within the Elgin city limits. His opponent is Kevin Smolkowski, who is presently a member of the Elgin School Board. Smolkowski holds Position 2, which is for those living within the Elgin School District but outside the city limits. Smolkowski cannot run for re-election to his seat because he is in the process of moving within Elgin’s city limits. A story about Smolkowski’s candidacy appeared in The Observer on May 6.

The Position 4 incumbent is Shelley Burgess, who did not file for re-election. Burgess has served as a member of the school board for at least 12 years.

Spikes, 64, is a lifelong Elgin resident who has strong ties to its school district. His wife, Evelyn, taught English at Elgin High School for 26 years, before retiring about 16 years ago. They have two sons, both Elgin High School graduates.

“I know how important our school district is for our young people and the community,” the candidate said.

Spikes is no stranger to public service, for he previously served as a member of the Elgin School District Budget Committee for four years, was mayor of Elgin for two years in the early 1990s, and was a volunteer firefighter for the Elgin Fire Department for 20 years.

He said being with the Elgin Fire Department is one of the most fulfilling things he has ever done.

“(The Elgin Fire Department) is just a great organization, and people appreciate firemen. It is nice to be part of an organization that is appreciated,” Spikes said.

Before retiring, Spikes worked for Boise Cascade for 44 years in a variety of capacities. He said he enjoys living in Elgin because of the opportunities it provides for outdoor activities like hunting and fishing.

He said there is one thing about Elgin he’s not a fan of:

“I don’t like the winters.”

He noted that in 1964, heavy winter snow followed by a strong melt-off in the spring led to serious flooding.

“We had 4 feet of water in our basement,” Spikes recalled.

The board candidate said he has long been impressed with the quality of the teachers and staff in the Elgin School District.

“We have very good people,” Spikes said.

Elgin School District offerings Spikes is a big supporter of include its career technical education programs. These programs teach welding, furniture making, machine fabrication and home building. He wants the school district to continue keeping its CTE programs as strong as possible.

“Teaching trade skills is great for kids. College is not for everyone,” he said.

See complete story in Wednesday's Observer