SIDNEY — Five candidates, which includes two incumbents and three newcomers, are seeking election to the two seats on the Sidney City School District’s Board of Education. Voters will go to the polls Nov. 2 to decide who will serve on the board for the next four years.
Seeking seats are incumbents Linda Meininger and Jason Schaffner and newcomers Zach Bosslet, Greg Dickman and Douglas Jackson.
The Sidney Daily News sent questions to each candidate. One candidate — in alphabetical order — will be profiled daily for the next five days in the newspaper.
Zack Bosslet, of Sidney, is one of the newcomers vying for election to the Sidney Board of Education. He is a 1998 graduate of Lehman Catholic High School. He received a Bachelor of Science, Organizational Leadership degree from Wright State University. He is a director of business development.
He and his wife Sherri have been married for 19 years and they have three “amazing” kids, Sophia, who is an eighth grader at Sidney Middle School, and Liam and Nolan, who are fourth graders at Northwood.
Why are you running for Sidney City Schools Board of Education?
“I decided to run for the Sidney City School Board of Education with the goal of improving the public perception of our district. The passing of the new levy has given us a runway for success, and I want to ensure we stay on that path. Doing so requires that the school board listen to parents, teachers, and staff to identify opportunities for improvement and put steps into place to improve them. Once improvements are made, highlighting wins is important to let the community know that levy funds are working to improve our school and community. Our schools do a lot of great things, and we need to shine a light on those areas at which we already excel.”
Why do you feel you’re the best candidate to serve on the board?
“I ask tough questions where they need to be asked and am relentless in finding the best solution to a problem. I have very strong communication skills, as well as experience on various local boards. My background in business development and budget management for local companies and large corporations has given me the experience to engage in financial conversations to ensure we are being good stewards of the tax dollars to improve our schools and community. The problem-solving process begins with identifying what needs to be done, creating a plan, and executing for results.”
How do you address the concerns about the aging buildings in the district?
“This is a complex question, and without internal knowledge of what the issues are, I honestly am not in a position to give a detailed suggestion on how to address it as I write this today. From my current point of view, I would start with identifying a full list of issues and the budget associated with building improvements and establish several meaningful short term and longer-term goals within this budget.”
Funding for the district is always concern since state funding changes from year to year. How do you bring new money/funding to the district?
“Identifying why families choose to leave the district and concentrating ways to keep this from happening will keep tax dollars from going to other districts. Furthermore, our population is declining (down -4% at last census). So, it will be important to continue partnering with economic development firms to attract new business (and residents!) to Sidney to improve our tax base. This will bring in more revenue for the school and improve our community as a whole. I am proud of the revitalization of our downtown- it is proving to be a good catalyst for this growth. Improving our schools is part of that equation.”
What are the strengths of the district?
“Our teachers. Their dedication to our students, even with depleted resources before the levy, is quite evident. The agility of our teachers and staff to adapt to an ever-changing landscape is remarkable. Whether it be due to COVID, state mandates, or the varying individual needs of the student body, I have found many answers by engaging directly with the teachers. This direct access is appreciated.”
What are the weaknesses of the district? How do you improve the weaknesses?
“Communication is our biggest weakness. It is vital to communicate simply and openly both internally (among staff) and externally to parents and residents. When we have a good story to tell, we should tell it; and when there is an issue, we should hit it head on and update the community of progress towards the solution. I think most of the negativity felt within the district is due to lack of information, and most are left to draw their own conclusions without all the facts.”
How can you improve communication with school district residents?
“There is no secret sauce here, as there are so many avenues to communicate (social media, newsletters, one call now, etc.) – but streamlining messaging would be helpful. These messages should be brief but should not leave the community wondering what is going on- whether it be COVID related or how the Academia team is doing. For instance, at the time of this writing, the Superintendent’s Message on the SCS website is from the March/April time frame. These messages are very important to keeping families up to date, and to ensure residents we are being good stewards of levy dollars.”
Bullying is a topic of concern for parents of students in the school district? How do you feel the problem should be addressed and handled?
“This is not a new issue for our district, nor is it unique to Sidney City Schools. I would encourage our administration to engage with neighboring school systems that have found recent success in minimizing bullying and to share best practices. We should have continued outreach to the student body and to the parent base to encourage positive interaction, mentorship programs, and reporting structure. This may assist in identifying things like areas of vulnerability in the buildings, repeat offenders, and safe places students can turn to if there is an instance of bullying. Anti-bullying campaigns and communication should be a proactive and continual effort and not reactionary and isolated.”
How do you think the district should be changed to improve its relationship with the community?
‘Constant communication and engagement with the students, parents and staff to highlight what is going well and progress in areas of improvement will help greatly. Knowing where we are now, and where we want to go as a district will help develop goals to measure our success. The Board should build out a plan to close gaps as they present themselves and provide actions that we, as a board and a community, can hold the administration accountable to.”
“I look forward to the opportunity to serve the residents of Sidney and our school district, and I am excited about the ability to have a more in-depth look into the things we are currently doing to improve and to supplement those plans with new ideas and hard work to follow it through.”