SALINE BOARD OF EDUCATION ELECTION 2022: Meet Sharene Rumohr
Sharene Rumohr is running for the Saline Board of Education in the Nov. 8 election. Rumohr is one of five candidates for two four-year seats on the board, joining incumbent Michael McVey, Timothy Austin, Kristin Hoffman-Peavler and Laurie Saims.
In the other election, Lauren Gold and Amy Sontag are the only two candidates for one seat on the board.
Below is our Q & A with Sharene Rumohr.
My name is Sharene Rumohr and my family and I moved here five years ago because of Saline’s high academic standards and for their amazing athletic programs and for the small town community. My degree is in education, so it was very important that our children attend schools that had high academic standards. I have three children: my daughter is a senior and my two sons are a junior and a second grader. Over the past 15 years I have worked in medical billing and five years ago I joined a dental group in which I manage the billing department for three offices. I am a very active and involved parent and I spend most of my time caring for my husband and children and supporting my kids' activities. Because of that, you can usually find me either sitting on the sidelines of a soccer game for my daughter or at the ice rink watching my son play hockey, walking, attending church, or volunteering.
Why are you running & why should voters choose you?
I care about what happens to the children of this district and I want this district to be successful and the community united so we can come together and create solutions that are best for all students. I want the focus to be on education from the boardroom to the classroom and I do not want Saline to fall far from the high academic standards it has been known for many years. The future of the community is impacted by what these kids learn in school.
I also wanted to run because I want all members of our community to feel they have a voice and that they are part of their child’s education. It will take all of us working together but I believe the community can get back to civil conversations, despite disagreements, and strive to come up with solutions that would benefit all.
I think you should vote for me because I am not a politician, I am not endorsed by any political organization, nor did I seek any endorsements. I am just a mom who cares about my children as well as all of the children in this community. If you are looking for a different voice, education to be a top priority, and a school district that is truly welcoming to all, you should vote for me.
Projections show a continued decline in student population in the district. How should the district address this issue?
First, we need to assess the reasons why people are leaving the district. There is a growing number of students who are choosing different school districts and schools instead of SAS. Saline has always had a great reputation in academics, which is why I personally moved my family here. If people are leaving because of failing academics, I think we need to address that immediately, especially giving priority to students falling behind due to Covid. Quality education should be the number one priority in every school district, and Saline needs to get back to basic education, allowing teachers to teach their subjects, and hopefully we can get the district back to the high educational standards it once had, and increase enrollment.
What are your top priorities and why?
My top priority is to get the district back to a fiscally responsible state. First, I would like the budget to be audited, investigate how the COVID monies affected the current budget, and work on solutions to address a looming deficit once those monies are gone.
My second priority would be ensuring parental input remains in place for each student’s education. I would make sure the opt-out option for controversial topics stays as it currently is, while looking at ways to improve the implementation of these policies.
Finally, I want to help create a welcoming environment where people with varying viewpoints are heard.
Were you satisfied with the way in which the district handled the pandemic? What changes would you have wanted to see?
There are many things that I wish were handled differently by the district in regards to COVID. I think Saline did a very good job in March 2020 by pausing in person learning and being safe before any real data and information about the virus was known. Although our children, staff, and community found this time very challenging, we persevered. The Saline District decisions in regards to the operations of the district during the 2020-2021 school year, as well as the 2021 - 2022 school year may have contributed to educational losses and emotional and mental distress. But, now is the time to come together, put aside our differences, and help all students recover lost learning and foster an environment that will create a positive experience for all students. We are now in a post-covid era and our children should not continue to suffer.
Do you support the Saline Area Schools bond proposal? Why or why not?
I am always for giving the schools the money they need to spend in a fiscally responsible and transparent way. I can understand how some community members are hesitant about this bond. They are worried that the money is being spent on unnecessary items and that there seems to be a lack of transparency. If this bond does pass it will be one of my priorities that the community be informed as to how the monies are being spent.
Public schools have always played a role in socializing our children. At the same time the debates over societal norms have never been more ardent. In these times, how should the district weigh its societal role against the rights of the parents who don't want some ideas instilled?
Our children should always be taught to be respectful, learn how to work with others, and have civil conversations within a social setting like school. Being respectful does not mean agreeing with another person’s beliefs, words, or actions. Being respectful is how you treat another person, regardless of their beliefs. Just because a parent does not want certain societal “norms'' to be instilled into their students at school, does not make them disrespectful. Parents should always have the ability to decide what “societal norms'' are being taught to their children, especially since the district promotes accepting differing views, and the school’s views on certain “societal norms'' may not coincide with a family’s home beliefs. If there is an issue that a parent believes goes against their beliefs or morals, the parent has the right to ask for that not to be taught or presented to their children.
What ideas do you have about school security?
We need to continually be looking at our current school safety plans and making sure everyone is properly trained. I have heard from parents that they would like the schools to have only one entry point even after school. I myself have seen the high school gym door propped open at 3:15. Children and staff are still in the schools at this time, so even after school we should be thinking about safety. We should also bring back school safety officers to every school, and make sure we have a good relationship with Saline and Pittsfield police. We need to continue to reevaluate so that we make sure we have the best plans possible in the event of an emergency.
What should the district to defend children against discriminatory attitudes they face over race, sexual orientation, religion or other traits?
The school district currently has policies that protect children from discriminatory actions. The school district needs to hold students accountable for not following these policies. Disciplinary action should be equal and consistent. Any form of bullying or discriminatory attitude expressed at school, regardless of the perpetrator, should be met with equal disciplinary action. If parents feel that these policies are not being followed or need to be improved, they definitely need to bring this up to administration or at school board meetings. I believe all policies should be continually reassessed, and equally applied to each and every student.
Saline High School students are scoring lower on college prep tests, a trend that started pre-COVID. What do you make of this trend?
Scores have been trending down since 2016 and I imagine there is more than one reason for this. I want to talk to students, parents, and teachers to hear why they think this is happening and what solutions they think will help to improve scores. Then, as a collaborative team we can work together to give students and teachers what they need to improve scores.
The length of board meetings has become an issue for administrators and engaged public citizens who want to stay abreast of happenings. How should board members conduct themselves in a way that manages business while respecting the time of already-stretched district administrators and employees?
The current school board meetings lack professional decorum. The Open Meetings Act is in place to allow the public to know about, engage in and understand the business of the school. Members of the community and school staff simply do not have time or energy to invest in late meetings. If the parents/public cannot withstand the long duration of the meetings, they are left unaware of decisions important to the district and their children. We need to be respectful of time when it comes to the length of board meetings. We can remedy this by board members being prepared, staying on topic, and keeping their personal opinions and comments out of the board room.
Are you happy with the direction of Saline Area Schools? Please explain your answer.
I am currently neutral to the direction of Saline Area Schools, as there are some areas I am satisfied with, while there are many areas that need reassessment and work. The areas within the district that need work will require a collaborative team to ensure it remains a positive experience for all students. I believe if the board becomes more balanced, parents are brought into the conversation, education becomes the focus again, teachers feel supported, and we try to work together even when we disagree, Saline can continue the success that has drawn so many people to their schools.
For years Saline was recognized as a destination district for families with students with special needs because of the district's commitment to inclusivity. In recent years parents have raised concerns about the practice of seclusion and restraint. Are you satisfied with the district's actions in this area? Do we need reform? Please tell us your thoughts.
I am not well versed on this subject, so I am unable to give a solid answer at this time. I am open to discussing this issue with parents who have had students affected by this practice, as well as teachers, paraprofessionals, and administration who may need to use this practice. I believe special education parents should have direct involvement in their child’s experience at school, specifically stating their preferences for this practice, and whether it would be best suited for their student or not. I am currently learning about this from parents who have children in special education, and once Saline hires a new director of this department I would continue to learn more.