Editor’s note: Ahead of the Nov. 2 election, the Times-Republican sent out questionnaires to all declared candidates in municipal, municipal and school elections. We will be printing one candidate’s responses per day to city council and school board races this week in alphabetical order.
In the school board race, Karina Hernandez is the only incumbent to be re-elected, and Bonnie Lowry is looking to serve the final two years of her tenure after being appointed to fill a vacant position. Melissa Nine is also running to fill the two-year term against Lowry, and Hernandez, Rebecca Kouang, Leah Stanley and Zachary Wahl are vying for a total of three seats.
Profession: Financial Advisor – Edward Jones Investments
Education: Briar Cliff University (Sioux City), double major in business administration and human resources, minor in marketing, pilot license
Family: Wife – Lindsey Wahl – Graduated from Briar Cliff University with a degree in social work. Four children – Kailer (8), Elliana (7), Madalynn (5), Evelyn (2), two dogs – Bailey and Benji.
To live: My expertise is finance, and I have leadership experience. I volunteer as a coach with MFL Football, Youth Softball, YMCA Youth Activities, Oktemberfest and plan / organize a hats and mittens drive for the youth in the community.
1. What do you think are the two most important issues that the Marshalltown Community School District will face during your tenure as a member of the school board? How do you plan to solve these problems? As we change the way we work, teach and learn, we need to improve technology in the classroom to reflect the current climate. If students are not in school, they should have access to distance learning. We live in a changing world where distance learning is necessary to provide a real experience for secondary education or the workforce. We need to fund technology so that our children are not left behind.
Communication and engagement are important areas for my wife and I. As parents, we want to make sure communication and engagement are top priorities. Effective communication is essential to the success of the Marshalltown School District. Unfortunately, engagement with parents in the school district is low. As a school district, we need to find a way to involve families more.
2. What can the CMDD Board of Directors do to help the high number of open students enroll in other schools in the region? This question comes down to marketing. As a school district, we need to do a better job of marketing “which makes the Marshalltown School District the best at it.” New parents and new residents should benefit from all the opportunities our school district offers and the pride we have in Marshalltown.
As a school district, we have already started to differentiate ourselves from other schools by offering Marshalltown Virtual Academy, which offers flexible school hours and personalized learning. We are one of the few schools in Iowa accredited with this virtual academy.
3. Student safety and parental confidence have been called into question by allegations of sexual misconduct against MCSD staff. Training has been provided and a new policy has been introduced since the incidents. In your opinion, is this sufficient? What other steps should be taken to address these issues? Families should expect their children to be in a safe environment free from sexual misconduct. It is tragic when educators betray the trust of students and their families.
It is very important that we have the resources in place to review these policies. Additionally, we live in a changing world with a more online presence.
In addition to establishing a child protection team made up of educators, board members, coaches and administrators, ongoing education and policy review with educators and students is essential.
4. Has the MCSD been effective in mitigating COVID-19? What went well and what still needs to change? The school board recently decided to impose face masks on the PK – 6 students and staff. This decision could change again with a decision of a higher court. The school board at the last meeting recommended that this policy be reviewed when vaccines become available to children; at that point i think it should be a parental choice.
5. Why do you think voters should support your candidacy for the school board? My family is proud to attend the Marshalltown School District, a place where our children can receive a great education and be challenged to be better role models in society. We have 4 children, 3 attending Hoglan Primary School and 1 still at home. As the owner of a business and property in the community, I am committed to the Marshalltown School District. I will serve the Marshalltown School District with my financial background, skills and leadership. My passion is my family. I want to provide my family and community with a place where the Marshalltown School District can thrive and be a valuable asset in recruiting new families and businesses to Marshalltown.