New Ulm School Board – Melissa Sunderman

Melissa Sunderman

Melissa Sunderman

Why are you running for election to this position?

I am honored to serve on ISD #88 School Board and I look forward to continuing to serve. I am running for reelection because I believe every student matters, every student deserves to be supported, every student has a right to a safe environment and every student deserves the best education we can provide. I am committed to supporting all students, all district staff and employees. I am committed to preserving and improving the quality of our school system. I believe in quality public education for all current and future students. I will focus my decisions and actions on the best interest of all students. No one child is more important than another. I value all district staff and employees everyone is important to making and keeping our district strong. I am proud of where the district is going and look forward to being able to continue the work and see even more improvements and successes in the future.

What is your primary goal if elected to the school board?

I feel that a big issue is maintaining what is in place for all of our students. We have an operating levy that will be ending if the referendum to continue what is currently in place does not pass this fall. This will be a big blow to our schools. The district has been working for sometime on building and growing the programs and the student supports we have. Losing $1.8 million in funding would have a serious effect on these programs and supports. This would lead to budget cuts and reductions which would have a negative impact for our students and staff. We need to continue moving forward and improving what we have for our students and staff.

Why or why not should the board be providing information in the schools on U.S. history of race relations?

If elected one of my goals will be to work together with other board members, the superintendent and administration to make decisions that are reflective of the vision and mission of the district. I will lead by making decisions that are beneficial for all learners. As a public school we need to ensure that all students get the best education we can provide. I will do this by listening to and having conversations with staff. This will help the board to support our staff in the best way that we can.

Do you support the operating levy renewal referendum?

Yes. I fully support the operating levy. State and federal funding has not kept up with the increases in educational costs. The referendum brings $1.8 million to the district if that levy doesn’t pass that takes away almost 6% of the districts budget. This will result in needing to make budget cuts and reductions. Which leads to less learning opportunities for all students in our community. The district has worked hard to get where we are and we need to continue to improve and maintain our programming and our buildings, maintain low class sizes and provide programs for college prep and career and technical education. Our enrollment has been growing over the past few years. Our ACT scores are at the top in our region. Our graduation rate is 93%. That is greater than the state average. There are many opportunities for our students. This levy is important to keep what the district has in place.

Why or why not should the board be providing information in the schools on U.S. history of race relations?

As a school board we have an obligation to follow state and federal laws, policies, guidelines and requirements. The district teaches the academic standards set by Minnesota Department of Education. Those standards are taught using curriculum. The curriculum is the resources and plans that educators need to present the content to students. The Minnesota Department of Education academic standards and social studies sets the state wide expectations for K-12 student achievement in the disciplines of citizenship and government, economics, geography and history (United States in the world).

Why or why not should the board be providing information in the schools on gender/sexual identity?

Schools have an obligation to follow state and federal policies requirements and guidelines. At any time a parent can choose to not have their child participate. Medically accurate information that is age-appropriate May be part of some health classes. High school has good health classes where they may learn about healthy eating, being safe, being active, The dangers of drugs and alcohol, diseases including STDs and STIs, and reproduction. This gives students basic information and they can have conversations at home with their parents on these topics. The word gender refers to terms male, female, woman, man, boy or girl. An example of gender information would be saying, “the girls’ bathroom is in the right and the boys’ bathroom is in the left”. How could that be said without using gender? A student talking about mom, dad, sister or brother is also using gender identifiers. If student A talks about mom and dad, then student B should also be allowed to talk about mom and mom, dad and dad, grandparents, foster parents or single parents. All students should feel comfortable and safe to talk about and share their home life and their families.

What else would you like to address regarding this election and the position?

I am honored to serve on the school board. I look forward to continuing to serve. I am proud of how the board works together. We have differing views and opinions but we all listen and discuss with respect for each other. We focus on serving all children and ensuring every decision and action reflects the best interest of the students we serve. The students are the ultimate focus of our work as a board. It is our job to provide the best education, support system and safe learning environment for all our students.


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