THE GENERAL ELECTION IS TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 7, 2023.
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Stow Collaboration for Change is excited to endorse Kari Suhadolnik for re-election to the Stow-Munroe Falls Board of Education (SMF BoE). Kari has served on the BoE for a little less than 1 year after being appointed to fill a Board vacancy in November 2022. We had the opportunity to talk with Kari about her work on the board so far, and her priorities going forward.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
What motivated you to run for a second term?
I feel that I have helped make some good progress in my limited time on the board and I have so much more to offer. The next board will be making some significant decisions such as hiring our next Superintendent and approving plans for new buildings.
What accomplishments are you most proud of during your time on the BoE thus far?
I am incredibly proud that we eliminated the pay to participate to make extracurriculars more accessible to all students and of the anti-racism policy that is due for a vote at our next regular meeting.
What are your priorities, if you are re-elected?
My first priority is ensuring that the district creates a facilities plan that has community buy in. Our students are learning in crumbling buildings, some of which are not even ADA compliant.
Great schools are the backbone of great communities and it is well past time to make this investment in the future of Stow and Munroe Falls communities.
What should voters know about your background and qualifications?
My background as a mother of four and a dedicated community servant give me the tools needed to lead the district. I have firsthand experience with special services and IEPs, with gifted services and WEPs, with athletics, music and clubs. I have two sons who have graduated and are excelling in college.
I have been involved with the schools since 2009 when my oldest started kindergarten. I joined the PTA, became a room mom, and volunteered in classrooms and at events. Later I joined the PTA Executive Board and eventually Council PTA, only stepping back when I took my seat on the school board.
I have been active with sports and with the arts. I have been a part of the Facilities Master Planning Committee since its inception in 2019.
Public service has been my passion for 2 decades. Serving on the board has been a logical progression and feels very natural for me.
What are the most important things the Board needs to be focused on?
The board definitely needs to focus on getting the bond issue on the ballot and making sure it passes. In addition, there needs to be more work around the bullying issue.
We have started to make some positive changes but there is a long road ahead. The district needs to be a safe place for all to get educated and prepare for the future.
How do you imagine a better Stow?
I would like for our community to be a lot more diverse. In order for that to happen we need to make sure our community is welcoming to all. Part of that is creating an inclusive environment in the school district.
Why is it important for BoE members to support initiatives like DEI and anti-racism policies?
The right to an equal education opportunity is one of our most important rights.
Supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion is extremely important to ensure that everyone does in fact have equal opportunities for education.
Why is it important for BoE members to support mental health initiatives and anti-bullying policies?
Getting an education is not simply academics, it is also about preparing for the future.
Students spend a large amount of their time in school so it is crucial that the district makes it a priority to create a space that promotes healthy social and emotional development, recognizes at-risk students, and provides early interventions when issues are identified.
If elected, how would you support DEI initiatives, anti-racism policies, mental health initiatives, and anti-bullying policies?
I plan to continue on the same path that I have since taking my seat on the board. I have recently joined the district mental health committee and I have taken on anti-racism/anti-bullying as my priority in 2023.
We have also recently rebooted the PBIS committee and we are in the process of adding parent/community member voices to the group.
I have made a concerted effort to create a positive relationship with the district DEI committee as well as the City of Stow DEI committee. DEI is not just about race, it’s about religion, disabilities, gender identities, familial makeup, and so much more. We are stronger when we celebrate our differences.
Final word: why should people give you their vote?
I believe I have a proven track record of showing up and putting in the work and I pride myself on having a strong work ethic.
I will continue to promote academics, health and wellness, and a wide variety of extracurriculars so that all Bulldogs have opportunities to find where they excel.
I recommit to putting students first, and making sure our staff always knows they are valued and respected.