NEW BREMEN — Five people are seeking three seats on the New Bremen Board of Education.
Running for office are Steve Vonderhaar, 169 Cardinal St., New Bremen, Michele Bambauer, 5673 State Route 274, New Bremen, incumbent Shelly Busse, 55 Herlamert, New Bremen, Suzanne Wells, 148 Reed St., New Bremen, and Valarie Mumaw, 1060 State Route 274, New Bremen.
Busse, 49, is the executive director of the Auglaize Mercer Business Education Alliance. She has been on the New Bremen Board of Education since January 2013. She and her husband, Todd Busse, are the parents of four children, Danielle, Kirstie, Reece and Ryland.
Wells, 47, is an operations analyst. She and her husband, Jon Wells, are the parents of four children, Nicholas, 17, Patrick, 16, Benjamin, 13, and Maria, 11.
What are the primary issues in your school district?
Busse: “The district needs to address the 5-year forecast and continue to find ways to reduce expenses while continuing to deliver a high-quality education and learning environment for our students and teachers. The building project is an exciting project for the district. We need to involve the community, teachers, and students and communicate the progress of the project. With a new project comes change, and we need to be prepared for addressing change.”
Wells: “Maintaining a high quality eduction for our children while managing through the projected deficit spending in the coming years due to tax changes. Build the new elementary and middle school adjacent to the high school.”
Why are you seeking office?
Wells: “To serve the community. My family and I enjoy being a part of New Bremen and I want to make a difference in the lives of our youth.”
Busse: “My interest in becoming a New Bremen Local School Board of Education Member stems from my desire to ensure the district can provide the highest quality education for all our children in a fiscally responsible manner. Good decisions lead to success. My goal is for ALL children in the New Bremen school system to have the best decisions made as it relates to their education. It is important to be involved and give back to the community. I am encouraged by the direction the New Bremen School District is taking and would love to be a part its continued progress.”
What makes you a better candidate?
Busse: “My prior experience on the board is a strength as I understand the operation of a school system. In my current role with the Auglaize Mercer Business Education Alliance, I work to create a bridge between our businesses workforce efforts and our local school’s education efforts. This allows me to gain insights about education and the needs of the community. I am involved with best practices in education which I can share with the New Bremen administration. My education includes a Master of Business Administration. My business experience along with my background in leadership and my abilities to listen, gather the facts, and make sound business decisions based on those facts will be a strength to the existing board and provide the opportunities our children need to be successful in the future.”
Wells: “I have a financial background, I passed the CPA a number of years ago, while I also have relationships in the New Bremen school district that enable me to have a perspective of our community’s viewpoint.”
What ideas/plans would you have to increase the district’s report card score?
Wells: “To work with the administration on components of the district report card to create and support a plan to achieve expected performance.”
Busse: “The district report card is one barometer to measure the effectiveness of the school. The main goal of the board should be to provide an atmosphere where we develop our children to the best of their abilities to enable them to succeed through all their years in the district and prepare them for the future.”
What role do you feel parents should play in classroom activities and as a volunteer in the district?
Busse: “Parents and teachers need to work together. Therefore, the more involved parents are the more effective teachers can be. When parents are involved and engaged, communication improves.”
Wells: “Every parent’s ability to volunteer is different, so I would encourage parents to be engaged and communicate with their children.”
What kind of relationship would you develop as a board member with the parents in the community?
Wells: “My husband and I have lived in New Bremen for 18 years and have established a variety of relationships within the community. If elected, I will continue to strengthen relationships to become a strong representative of our community.”
Busse: “As a board member, I would be available to parents in the community as a resource. I would listen to feedback from parents regarding the school system.”
Salaries of teachers and other staff members are always a concern. What do you think the district needs to do to keep the staff members from leaving for better paying jobs?
Busse: “Research shows pay is not the primary driver for people to leave a job. The work environment, culture, and leaders in the organization play a key role in retaining quality teachers. The board can help to influence the culture, the administration, and the work environment to keep quality staff members.”
Wells: “As in business, an employer needs to be competitive to retain talent, and balance this with the needs of the school to educate our children.”