Candidates see similar challenges facing Williston schools, district: Mulligan - a new voice for school board

Last year's failed school bond referendum was the inspiration for Alan Mulligan to run for the Williston school board.

"That really got me to do this. A lot of people wanted me to put my name in the hat," he said. "That got me more involved in the school system."

Elections are April 14. Two school board seats are open with incumbents Elizabeth Coleman and Calvin Melton both running for reelection.

Mulligan was an opponent of the plans for the bond money. Mulligan wanted to see the $13.5 million the district was asking of its taxpayers applied toward a new building based upon an economical plan he discovered that a school district in Osceola County, Fla. was using.

Voters rejected the bond referendum during the Nov. 4 elections, voting it down by a 1,235 to 867 margin.

The school board's plans would have used the bond money to build new classrooms at Kelly Edwards Elementary School as well as other renovations, including a new cafeteria and additions to the high school gym, among other improvements.

"The main reason I'm running is I think it's time for a new voice. It seems we are going in circles," Mulligan said.

Mulligan, 45, works in the liquid waste sector at the Savannah River Site. He has been at SRS for 20 years. Mulligan has two daughters now in the Williston school district and a young son yet to enter school. Mulligan is a Williston-Elko High graduate.

While Mulligan would like to see the district get new facilities, with the state of the economy now another bond referendum might not work, he said.

"It might be a bad time to ask for money. However, all the schools need maintenance and some TLC (tender loving care)," he said. "All the schools are old. There are definitely some old buildings."

Aside from facilities, "the learning environment needs to be first," Mulligan said.

If elected, Mulligan would like to see the district work on student discipline and improve academic performance, he said.

"Teachers are talking more about discipline," he said.

Mulligan noted that the district had "below average" ratings in its absolute and growth categories on the district report card from the state education departments for 2008, he said.

"We need to figure out why and help that along," he said.

The 2007 district report card showed an absolute rating of "below average" and a growth rating of "at-risk," according to state education data.