Waupaca School Board election
Six candidates discuss issues
By Robert Cloud
The Waupaca County Post sent questions to all six candidates running for the Waupaca School Board.
Following are their responses.
This is the first article in a two-part series.
Why did you decide to run for the Waupaca School Board?
Emily Nikolai: This past year, I was approached by a number of teachers and parents asking me to run for school board. To be honest, I didn’t know if I wanted to take time away from my family life. However, when students began approaching me, I started considering it more.
The decision was made final when my own teenagers asked me to run to be an advocate for the students in our district. I want to show them that there are times to stand up for what you believe and just because we can stay silent, doesn’t mean we should.
Sandy Robinson: The next term is critical as we shape a safe, timely transition to our new normal after the COVID disruption. I’m committed to: (1) following the advice of health experts to promote safety for our students, staff and community; (2) capitalizing on what we’ve learned in the past year, and applying this knowledge to come back even stronger; (3) keeping our Strategic Plan on course in key areas such as student academic readiness, staffing, finance and operations.
Continuity, consistency and experience are more important to the Board in this election than ever before. For more specifics go to: https://sandyrobinsonforschoolboard.com/.
Steve Klismet: Our community has been navigating an extreme situation with Covid. As a parent of school-age children and a business owner, our family has had to cope with the Covid situation along with so many others. We pulled together as a community and are stronger as a result.
I had the opportunity to be involved with the Share Holders Committee, a group of teachers, parents and community members which was formed to reopen the schools. I really enjoyed being involved with this committee and feel I can continue to contribute as a member of the Waupaca School Board.
Mark Polebitski: In particular the people of the Waupaca School District are generous and supportive of new arrivals. Our family moved here in 1985. The welcoming environment enabled growth in my many endeavors and I would like to offer service in return. My experiences built a foundation to help guide our district in the future. I have a deep and qualified understanding of public education.
If elected I would help keep moving the district forward in policy development, long range planning, providing equitable opportunities for all and maintaining fiscal responsibility to meet district goals. Go to polebitski.com for more information on this.
Joel Bartel: As a parent, the future of our kids is the reason I am a candidate. The current school board members have no kids currently in the district. So, I feel it is important to have parents represented on the board, and eliminate pandemic mandates set by the current incumbents.
I am running to fight for the mental health of our kids and teachers of our district, and for full and safe opening of all schools and activities. I also feel our district needs to get back to traditional education and values in our schools, which certain parts of our society want eliminated.
Betty Manion: I’m running because I strongly believe education is the key to opportunity and lifelong learning; students deserve the best education we can provide. As we navigate through the Covid pandemic I believe consistency is crucial to see this journey through and further the progress we’ve made in providing “excellence in education.”
My re-election brings a female perspective and institutional history, both necessary for a high functioning board. I have the time, passion and commitment to be a board member. I enjoy it and it is my way of giving back to this wonderful community.
What do you hope to accomplish as a school board member? If you are an incumbent, what do you believe you have accomplished?
Sandy Robinson: As treasurer, I work to use district resources to balance quality education for students with responsible fiscal practices. As a district, we consistently maintain high academic results and cost-effective budgets. As a board member, I am proud of the incredible accomplishments of our Team during the pandemic: administration, principals, teachers, staff, students, families and community members.
Our focus is on mitigating the impact of Covid on academics, food insecurity and social-emotional well-being within our district, while providing full opportunities for our students. When faced with school closures, I supported retention of staff to the greatest degree possible.
Steve Klismet: My hope is that I am able to continue to work with district employees to ensure that the Waupaca School District is a safe and healthy environment, not only for our students, but teachers and staff also.
The Waupaca area is a great place to live, I want to do my part to encourage students to stay in the Waupaca area after graduation. For this to happen it is important that we advocate for the trade programs. We need to create more training programs for non-college bound students, helping them be successful right here at home.
Mark Polebitski: This election marks the completion of my first term in office. To me, the question is not about what I personally accomplished, but rather what the Waupaca School Board accomplished as a group along with the superintendent and all staff. Starting with the fall semester our schools were opened with in-person hybrid, or virtual options. We then transitioned into extended in-person learning as data permitted.
Throughout the pandemic the Waupaca School Board completed all regular business along with strategic planning and policy overhaul. Most importantly we were laser focused on the safety and well being of our students and staff.
Joel Bartel: If elected, my first priority is to make sure the district keeps and incorporates traditional education and values in our overall strategy for the school district. Traditional education is teaching our students reading, writing, math, science and technology. Traditional values are making students accountable, teaching the value of families and not allowing cancel culture to ruin the teaching of our nation’s history and traditions.
My second priority would be to partner with employers and increase funding so Waupaca becomes number one in vocational education. This would prepare students for vocational jobs upon graduation.
Betty Manion: Our present board accomplished much. “In-school/virtual/remote” learning was implemented this fall, a state-of-the-art HVAC system and a superhero staff insured that! Our DPI school report card continues to rise, a new athletic complex was built, a charter school was opened, an improved school safety plan was instituted, excellent administrators and staff have been hired, and currently a five-year strategic plan is being launched. All this, while we have a balanced budget and decreasing school taxes.
A good board aligns: policies, procedures, people, practices and principles to accomplish its ends. I believe we have.
Emily Nikolai: I would like to see an individualized approach to all students’ educational experience. This would include more focus on their well being while students in the district, a more individualized approach to their course work and time in school, career goals and opportunities for work study. Our district is set up to run off of computer driven programs and not focused enough on each student as an individual.
We have amazing teachers and counselors in our district, but I feel there is more that could be done on a regular basis to assist the students through their years in Waupaca.