Two of the three races for Girard USD 248 Board of Education positions are contested, with only Tony Stonerock running unopposed for the Position Five seat.

Two of the three races for Girard USD 248 Board of Education positions are contested, with only Tony Stonerock running unopposed for the Position Five seat.
Jim Mengarelli and Marilyn K. Von Soosten are competing for the Position Four seat, while Patty Stanholtzer and Aaron Callaway are the candidates for Position Six.

Girard USD 248 Board of Education candidates
Name: Aaron Callaway
Age: 51
Occupation: Deputy Sheriff/ School Resource Officer
Family: Wife Jana, Children Christen, Wes, Brandon who have all attended Girard Schools.
Related Experience: Served on the board as Secretary, Vice-President, And President of the organization (Kansas association of School Resource office), Currently President of the organization KJOA( Kansas Juvenile Officers Association.)

Name: Jim Mengarelli
Age: 55
Occupation: County Extension Agent 4-H and Youth
Family: Wife, Ann for 32 years; 3 Girls, Abbi Huber, Science Teacher in Clearwater, KS; Kelli Mengarelli, Head Start in Pittsburg; Joni Mengarelli, Senior at Girard High School; 2 boys, Dustin Mengarelli, Wildlife and Parks Technician, Mound City; Lonnie Mengarelli, Freshman at Kansas State University
Related Experience: I have worked with the education of youth and adults for 23 years in the Kansas State University Research and Extension Service.

Name: Patty Shanholtzer
Age: 47
Occupation: Insurance Billing Analyst at Girard Medical Center
Family: Husband Phil and 5 children between us
Related Experience: Currently serving on the Girard 248 School Board

Name: Marilyn K. Von Soosten
Age: Not Listed
Occupation and Related Experience: Tax Associate for H&R Block and Coordinator of the AARP Tax-Aide Site in Girard, which provides free tax service for the elderly and low income. Serve on the AARP State Diversity Committee.

1) What are the biggest issues facing the school board?

Callaway — “The biggest issue facing the board of education out this time are finances, staffing, and students well being. Due to the current budget crisis, the financial duties of the board are and will be piling up. As for staffing, I Believe that the School Board needs to overlook the hired personnel of the District, so that our school runs smoothly. The most important issue facing the board is the same issue that it always has had and always will have, the well being of our students. I believe that it is crucial to keep our students up to date with all technology and to give them the best education possible.”

Mengarelli — “Setting policies that ensure that the best educational opportunities are available to all students in our School District.”

Stanholtzer — “I would have to say the current economy and future budget cuts for education. It is quite challenging to continue to run school as you have in the past and yet still find some place to cut spending.”

Von Soosten — “Finance. Providing the best possible education for our children at an affordable cost.”

2) How do you propose school districts handle the potential future cuts in state aid due to the state’s budget deficit?

Callaway — “Realizing the current state budget cuts, school boards must have through discussion with superintendents and other school officials to ensure that necessary cuts are only made in the best interest of the student body, as well as the future of the district.”

Mengarelli — “We, as School Board members, are charged with the oversight of the School Budget. With Annual Yearly Progress, No Child Left Behind and other expectations from the Federal and State Legislature and our patrons, we must hire the best educators and support staff throughout the district. We have always taken pride in doing what is best for the Students and the patrons of USD 248. I believe that each district must look at their current budget situation and with the help and input of our patrons develop a plan to ensure that all Students and Employees are afforded the best opportunities for learning in this financial environment.”

Stanholtzer — “I think you have to still keep the kids best interests at the top of the list and then figure out how to cut small items from the budget without jeopardizing the kids education. After all the kids should always come first.”

Von Soosten — “Constant discussions with legislators, keeping on top of what may happen in 2010 and 2011. Recommendations that will help keep the education process competitive for our children.”

3) What is your view of the role of a board of education member?

Callaway — “A board of education member must, first obey the interest of the student body while assuring that those students receive the best education possible. In following this, the role includes complete discussions over issues, and proposing changes in school policy, as well as monitoring the personnel and daily operation of the district.”

Mengarelli — “To keep up with information as it develops for the financial and educational trends so that we can set policies for our district that will help Administration and Educators to give our students the best opportunities to succeed.”

Stanholtzer — “My view of the role of a board of education member is to be supportive of administration at all levels and always have “an open ear” to the local patrons of the district to listen to their concerns.”

Von Soosten — “Board members must work together with the school administration to be an advocate for education and be a guardian of community resources.”

4) What is your opinion of the bond issue that was recently defeated and do you think the district should revisit those proposals in the future? Why or why not?

Callaway — “I voted yes for the recently failed bond issue because I believe we need to have a modern facility to teach students, a facility that students as well as the community can be proud of. However I do feel that with the current state budget deficit, this was not the proper time to introduce a bond of this size. Renovations and addition do need to be made so that we may continue to warmly invite new students to our school, so it should be in the boards best interest to revise the bond issue at a later date and discuss a way to benefit the school and the community.”

Mengarelli — “I believe that any school board that is keeping up with what is best for students will always be looking at bond issues for improving educational opportunities for all. When we look at our next bond issue I believe that we need to develop a plan based on the needs of our patrons, staff, and school administration that will be best for our students.”

Stanholtzer — “I was sorry to see the bond issue be defeated and think that we should definitely revisit the possibility of another bond issue. However we may have to ‘tweak’ a few specifics on the bond to see success.”

Von Soosten — “The recent bond issue was a bit overstated. Yes, the district should revisit the proposal on a much smaller scale, starting at Haderlein Elementary. Funding should be a combination of sales tax and property tax.”

5) Why should you be elected to the board of education?

Callaway — “I believe I should be elected for the USD 248 school board because of the experience I have received working with students as a school resource officer for 9 years through 13 school districts. During my time serving those students, I have also spent time developing adults into role models through serving as Kansas School Resource Officer association Secretary, Vise- President and as President. And currently serving as President of Kansas Juvenile Officers Association. I also believe that my constant interest are completely toward the well being as the students and the ways that they can receive the best education possible.”

Mengarelli — “USD 248 has a history of providing its students, and staff with the best educational opportunities at the least cost to its patrons. I have been a part of that for 16 years and look forward to the challenge for the next four years.”

Stanholtzer — “I would be happy to be re-elected to the board as I would like to see the bond issue come to fruition and enjoy seeing the beginning of all day kindergarten.”

Von Soosten — “I believe that the residents of USD 248 need a choice of candidates to vote for and hope that in the future more people will be interested in participating in the election process.”