Over the next several weeks, leading up to the April 7 elections for Marshfield Common Council and School Board, Hub City Times will interview the candidates running for those offices so that readers may learn more about who is running and what they stand for. This week we interviewed Marshfield School Board candidate and current Board President Marlene Stueland.
Hub City Times: What in your view is the duty of a school board member?
Marlene Stueland: The duties of a school board member are unique in that as an individual board member one does not have any authority. It is only as a “board” that the authority exists.
Board members need to be good listeners and be honest with people. Board members do not know all the answers or solutions but have to work with one another to achieve the best solution. Board members need to be prepared to make hard decisions. Board members must commit to educate themselves on issues before them, be informed and conduct research on issues as they arise, commit their time for school board business and meetings, contribute in a meaningful way to reach the goal of providing our students with a great education that will allow them to become contributing citizens, and be wise on the use of financial resources.
HCT: What is the biggest challenge that the school board will face in the near future?
MS: The greatest challenge facing the school board is maintaining our district’s educational excellence in a fiscally challenging environment. Fiscal constraints affect every aspect of education with the ultimate impact on students. The board will need to be creative in how funding resources are used, explore non-traditional funding opportunities in order to maintain what we have today as well as meet new mandates, technology trends, and educational initiatives.
Another challenge will be the decision to pursue another referendum, which I believe will happen. The tough part surrounding referendums is the identification of programs, activities, etc. that will be lost if a referendum does not pass.
HCT: As a current school board member, what do you think the board needs to do to better in order to better serve the community of Marshfield?
MS: About 18 months ago, the board spent a considerable amount of time exploring this very question along with several other areas. Out of that discussion, communication with our community was identified as one of the primary focus areas. As a result, a board communications committee was established, which has worked very rigorously to identify ways to improve our communications with the community.
Good things are happening such as a new updated website, weekly staff news grams, scheduled radio education spots, a public TV show highlighting district activities, and increased memberships in community organizations, etc. The district welcomes community members who have a desire to volunteer in classrooms, field trips, and district events, and I would encourage anyone interested to contact the district office for an opportunity.
The Marshfield School District has been recognized at the state and national levels for its educational excellence for students. As a community we can all be proud of our school district.