USD 410 swears in Fenske in open board spot

Sarah Fenske is sworn in on the USD 410 school board by Jerry Hinerman after interviewing and being chosen by the current board at the monthly board meeting on June 12. She fills the spot recently vacated by Tim Kaufman.

The USD 410 board met on Monday, June 12 and spent a good portion of the evening interviewing candidates for the open position vacated by Tim Kaufman due to health reasons. The candidates were Sarah Fenske and Jimmy Janzen.

Superintendent Clint Corby read each candidate a prepared set of seven questions and alternated who had to answer first.

When asked why she wanted to serve on the board, Fenske said, “ I feel that I want to serve on the board to serve the community and the kids in the community. I’ve been very impressed in the time that I’ve lived in Hillsboro with the school system, and I would like to preserve that as best as we can. I want to help with helping our school system progress with the future and moving forward for the betterment of all the kids.

Fenske went on to say that her work experience has primarily been in healthcare.

“In healthcare, you’re taking care of like a whole person. And a lot of it has to do with mental health. And our kids struggle with a lot of mental health things that they have to—things that we’ve as the adults have never had to deal with. You know, the things that they have to deal with now just with the media and internet and the things that they have to struggle with,” said Fenske. “I feel my profession as a nurse and just have that perspective and trying to make decisions that are for the betterment of the whole, for the entirety, not just a certain person or a certain group.”

Janzen answered the question next and said, “I grew up here. Hillsboro is a huge part of my life and background. And the schools are a huge part of the community that we all live in both for our students, but also for everybody who works for the school or who is a part of it or who goes to games or any kind of involvement in the community. I’ve got a lot of passion for Hillsboro. I’ve served some on some other boards with Kids Connection and the Community Foundation. I want to continue helping or serving in some form or fashion.

Janzen shared that his background is on the business side.

“I think for the board I would bring a more of a, a business financial mindset to things,” he said. “And I have kids in the community. Supporting our kids and the schools they’re a part of is important.”

At the end of the time the candidates were given a chance to ask the board any questions they had.

Fenske asked the board members what they loved about USD 410 and why they are on the board.

Jim Paulus answered, “I’m really proud to be associated with 410. I have a couple of kids going through currently and a couple that are done. And so I feel a lot of satisfaction in that, but I’m also excited about the challenge of the next two to five years. We have a bond issue. We have potential of several retirements coming and trying to get great teachers. We have a lot of challenges coming up to keep that high bar. I feel like we’re gonna have lots of challenges the next few years and I want to be a part of trying to help that.”

Sara Wichert added, “My kids have a great experience in the district. They just thrived. And different kids had different challenges and teachers and administrators helped them overcome those or find new opportunities that they didn’t know were available to them. And so when it came time to run, it was like, oh, I could try that. I could give back to the school is what it felt like. They’ve given so much to us.”

Wichert went on to say that while she doesn’t love meetings typically, she does look forward to board meetings.

She said, ”It’s interesting and it’s exciting and it is challenging some weeks to find out what we get to do here in this room. And it’s not running the school, but it’s helping the school run well. And it’s equipping our people, our administrators, our teachers and our staff to make this place a really good place for our kids.

Janzen asked what makes a good board member.

Wichert said, “I had someone early on ask me if I agreed with a decision the school board made. I think it was before I was elected actually. And they said, ‘so are you running because you didn’t like this, this, and this’? And I said, ‘no, I’m running because I just want to serve my community’. And then they said, ‘well, what do you think about that’? And I said, ‘well, I think that the decisions that I would make for my family aren’t always the decisions that get made around this table’. And I think that’s really important. And that’s some stuff we’ve wrestled with this past year— even like a decision that affects one person affects many. So we have to make the best decision for the greatest group of people, and that includes our staff. I think that’s the thing I’ve learned the most is that it’s not so cut and dry. It really is looking at that broad picture and looking down the road the next few years. Everything we do now affects that next piece.”

At the end of the interviews, Wichert made a motion to appoint Fenske to the open position and Jessey Hiebert seconded the motion. Rod Koons and Jared Jost voted to approve the motion. Paulus and Winter voted against. The motion passed 4-2 and Fenske was sworn in and joined the board for the rest of the meeting.

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