CLINTON

An incumbent and two challengers are running for two open seats on the Clinton School Board after board member Tom Howard chose not to seek re-election.

Three-year incumbent Melissa Manthei faces newcomers John Gracyalny and Kassie Shull in the April 2 election. Because school board members serve at-large, the two open seats will go to the highest vote-getters.

Manthei, 37, said she is running to see the district’s $41.9 million facilities referendum, which the board approved placing on the ballot Jan. 9, come to fruition and to continue molding school policies.

“We’ve done a lot of things in Clinton, and we’re not done yet,” Manthei said.

Gracyalny, 37, is a former Clinton High School varsity basketball coach and a route salesman for a bread delivery company. He stepped down from coaching after more than a year to focus on his job, he said, but he wants to continue working with the district.

He said he wants to ensure Clinton is one of the better area school districts, and he pointed to what he said are the district’s high ACT scores.

Gracyalny also said he wants to help implement the referendum if voters approve it.

Shull, 36, is an insurance client advocate. She said she wants to advocate for children’s education and said there’s a need to establish a “strong communication relationship between teachers and staff and board members” to create district policy and curriculum.

Regarding the referendum, Shull said, buildings are “very important.”

“But if we’re going to build the Taj Mahal and not have quality education, it doesn’t matter,” she said. “No one’s going to come to it without quality education.”

Shull said she wants to know if the district’s new grading scale, which she said is based on numbers instead of letters, is effective.

She said she has a background in human resources, so she has a “natural affinity” to consider all sides of an issue.

School board members serve three-year terms.

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