Meininger continues to serve community, SCS

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 in the newspaper.

Linda Meininger, of Sidney, is completing her first term on the board of education. She is seeking re-election on Nov. 2.

She is a Sidney High graduate and attended Edison for classes involving her job. She and her husband, Marvin, were married 34 years before he died. She has one daughter, who is deceased, four stepchildren, eight grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

She retired in 2017 as the Shelby County Treasurer after working in the office for 33 years and was treasurer for 14 years. She is now using her Real Estate license with Brokers Real Estate Inc. which she kept current the whole 33 years she worked for the county.

Why are you running for Sidney City Schools Board of Education?

“When I initially ran for Sidney City School Board, I wanted to continue to serve the community, as I did in my previous job. But it has become more than that. I have learned the challenges the teachers and administrators face daily. This last year has been like no other in our history. And I want to help our schools move forward.”

Why do you feel you’re the best candidate to serve on the board?

“I believe we are at a crossroads and I want to help tackle the future challenges. It is time to put aside any and all differences and work together .We can all attest that we are living in an ever-changing world. But it is incumbent upon us to ensure that every student we serve is valued, appreciated and given the resources for their success.”

How do you address the concerns about the aging buildings in the district?

“This a situation we can’t handle over night. It is important going forward to evaluate and review a long range plan. Every district has limited resources and we must be clear we are using them wisely. The maintenance and upkeep of our buildings are in the public interest. They are concerned how the money is spent and preventative & regular maintenance will extend the life of the facilities and reduce future taxpayers investments. Taxpayer dollars are accountable to the public.”

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?

“There are only three ways to fund our schools Federal, State and Local Levies. We recently passed the Earned Income Levy which was vital to our schools. Day to day operations will need to be re-evaluated , and revise strategic plans and budgets to make sure the district operates as efficient as possible.”

What are the strengths of the district?

“Our district relies on a strong staff and community to help us achieve our district goals. The business community helps in so many ways, job shadowing, mentoring and tutoring, supporting extra curricula and donating to scholarship programs are just a few. Without a strong support system it is difficult to make an impact.”

What are the weaknesses of the district? How do you improve the weaknesses?

“School board work is an interesting proposition. I think we need to listen more to the information and opinions people are sharing with us. Sometimes we have trouble seeing it through someone else’s eyes .We need to develop the trust necessary to do our best work together.”

How can you improve communication with school district residents?

“Sometimes negative comments surface in board meetings. But there is diversity in every school district regardless of size or location. Whether we can ‘fix’ things is less the point than our willingness to let everyone in the community know they are seen and heard. Endeavor to listen without responding and not ask accusatory questions.”

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?

“I am part of the Student Wellness Task Force and we are putting together surveys for parents, teachers and students. It is more important than ever to support the children’s mental health and wellness. Back to school, especially since last year, can be overwhelming for students learning remotely. We need multiple methods to reach parents, including email, the website and etc.”

How do you think the district should be changed to improve its relationship with the community?

“Change is hard, sometimes causes outright panic. We can’t change everything at once, but we can divide it into small steps, do our best to be transparent and encourage community residents to come to board meetings. It’s not always a straight line to get where we want to be, but sometimes you may not even know until the opportunity arises. “

Additional comments:

“I cannot express the pride and joy you have given me for serving on the board and I would love to help keep it moving forward. When you give a child a chance to learn, experience, dream and succeed great things happen. We have hired two Community Engagement Coordinators for the district. They were hired with grant money and no cost to the General Fund. Educating and engaging the parents is the key and one of the first steps. I am so excited for this new school year because we welcome two new principals, two assistant principals and a director of special education who are exceptional additions to our school staff. We also have the new JAVA (Jacket Virtual Academy) Innovative K-12 Program. They have developed a better answer to remote learning supported by dedicated staff and can satisfy a variety of learning circumstances.