Clinton School Board incumbent Melissa Manthei and newcomers John Gracyalny and Kassie Shull are vying for two seats on the school board Tuesday.
Because school board members serve at large, the two open seats will go to the highest vote-getters.
The winners will deal with the results of a $42 million referendum that is also on the ballot.
Q: Do you support or oppose the referendum? Why?
Manthei: Manthei supports the referendum.
“As a board member, I have gone over every aspect of this from beginning to end. We took the time to listen to our community with the survey and asked for their input in meetings. We as a board made what we believe is the best choice for our students’ future and the community as a whole. Our children deserve a high standard of education, and this referendum helps provide that.”
Gracyalny: “I do support it. It is ineffective for us to keep throwing money into schools and running them as they are. The cost to fix just one of the schools would cost $41.7 million. Building new and doing all the other work, including the high school, will cost $41.99.
“Going from three buildings to two is going to cut costs for the district. (With one campus) we’ll need fewer custodial staff, maintenance people, groundskeepers.
“Teachers are going to be able to move from one building to another safely. It just makes more sense to have one campus.”
Shull: “I had my concerns at first regarding the new school. I had to learn about the negatives and the positives that come along with this referendum. I encourage others to do the same and attend the listening sessions in our district to find out more information. It is important to understand how our children and their educational needs have changed over the past 15 or so years. I will support the children of this district and whatever comes with that support. I want to see these children succeed, and I want to play a role in that support for their success. This referendum is the first step of many.”
Q: Apart from the referendum, what are the major issues facing the school district?
Gracyalny: “One is residential enrollment. Our open enrollment is up, but we need more families moving into the district. There’s been a steady decline in families coming in; it’s just trending that way. But the community is strong. That (attracting families to the district) is something the village board will have to deal with.
“The other thing is state funding. You never know what you’re going to get from the state.”
Shull: “We have been facing declining enrollment, which is a concern of mine. We need to work with the village of Clinton and surrounding townships to figure out a way to bring businesses and homes to our community.
“We need to continue getting our children ready for college, technical school, the military, apprenticeship programs and the workforce.”
Manthei: “As a rural public school, I believe funding is always an issue. However, our staff works very hard to apply for grants to close the gap and give our kids what is best.”
Q: What do you think is going well?
Shull: “I have had the pleasure of working with some of the teachers from the Career and Technical Education (CTE) at Clinton school. They help the children reach out to the community and job shadow different professions they would like to pursue. This program gives them the ability to get hands-on knowledge of what this type of work will be on a typical day.”
Manthei: “Our district is working hard to engage the community and become political advocates for our school district. Our community does so much for us as a district, and it’s very important to give back to them.”
Gracyalny: “I think the current administrative team is leading the school in the right direction. This administration is taking the bull by the horns and expecting more from everyone in the district, which is a good thing.
“They’ve also put into place a performance package to help keep good teachers.”