Three file for Warsaw school board election

Filing for the Warsaw School Board election at 8 a.m. Tuesday at the county clerk’s office are (L to R) Mallika Klingaman, district 3; Randy Polston, district 4; and Matt Deuel, district 6. Photo by David Slone, Times-Union.
By David Slone

WARSAW — Filing for local school board races began Tuesday morning, with three Warsaw candidates at the Kociusko County clerk’s office bright and early.

In races for Warsaw Community Schools, incumbents Randy Polston, district 4, and Matt Deuel, district 6, are seeking a fourth and second term, respectively, while Mallika Klingaman is seeking a first term for district 3. District 3 incumbent Elle Turley is not seeking re-election.

Deuel said he decided to seek re-election because, “Being a part of the school board has been an incredible honor. We have an amazing school system, wonderful community and this is a way for me to give back to the community. It’s been a great experience these last few years and I’m looking forward to hopefully being able to serve another four years.”

He said the school board is always looking to support the students and teachers and make sure everyone is having the best opportunity possible to have the best education they can have, and for teachers to feel supported and cared for.

“So anything we can do to just help that and make sure that each student are having an amazing school and education experience and teachers are feeling cared for and supported. Those are the things that we want to do,” Deuel said.

He wanted voters to know that, “We live in an amazing community and I think this is truly a special place and a place that I hope we don’t take for granted. We have an incredible superintendent in Dr. (David) Hoffert, who provides amazing leadership and all the way through his cabinet, through our teachers, our principals, our support staff. And so, I would just say for the community that, please be supportive of the schools and just realize that we live in an incredible place, in an incredible community and I’m just grateful to be a part of it.”

Klingaman said she decided to run for the school board seat because she has three children in the school system and she’s also very involved as a parent volunteer.

“I’ve just learned a lot about how the school system works, and I’m just in awe of all the different dynamics that work together to provide our children and our community with an excellent academic education, as well as resources to further the mission of our school system. So I just feel passionate about being a part of that great mission, and doing my part to serve the community, serve the children, teachers and staff, too. I feel like there’s just so many (paraprofessionals) and staff members that are supporting our children, and I just feel like this role would give me the opportunity to do that,” she said.

Klingaman and her family moved to Warsaw in 2010. She went to college in Canada, earning her Bachelor of Arts degree there. She worked at Manchester University for a few years before deciding to stay home to raise a family.

“I’ve done that since having our first born. I’ve served in different volunteer capacities. I’m currently on two other not-for-profit boards, as well as two PTOs. So (I’m) just very involved in the community, very passionate about this community. We’ve come to call it home. There’s just so many incredible opportunities, and the heart of the community’s really what’s the most attractive thing about this community. A heart of service and giving and coming together, and just to be a part of that — I really enjoy that part,” Klingaman said.

If elected, a huge priority for her for the next four years would be the mission of academic excellence. “Just making sure kids are getting the best education possible. I know there’s different opportunities that the high school has now, even in terms of providing pathways to careers. Just continuing to grow in those areas, how can we serve our children best at this level so that they’re equipped and ready to go on to the next level,” she said.

Klingaman also wants to support the teachers who do “incredible” work, staff members and everyone who is a part of Warsaw Community Schools.

She stated she’s very open to learning and to feedback.

“The one thing I love is talking to people about their concerns, about their positive feedback, just being interactive and being available. So I would love to engage and have conversations about how we can come together and make our school system a better place. So that’s one thing that I hope, if I am elected, that everyone would know. I love having those conversations on how we can all unite in that mission,” she said.

Polston is completing his third four-year term and, if re-elected in November, will serve his fourth and final term.

“I was blessed with a 34-year career with Warsaw Schools, and I retired in 2011, and after about a year of praying about this and thinking about it, and I had some people talk to me about it, I decided to run for my first term at that time,” he said. “And, again, because of my experience with the school corporation as a teacher, as a principal, as a coach, I wanted to give back. I wanted to give back to our school board, to our school community. And I have thoroughly enjoyed it. There’s always challenges, obviously, in this seat, but I thoroughly enjoyed and the opportunity to give back.”

Asked about the board’s biggest accomplishments over the last 12 years he’s been serving on the board, Polston initially didn’t know where to start.

“During those times, we’ve had some building construction going on to continue to better our school corporation. I would say that any time you can do any type of construction — buildings, remodeling, adding on – those are always big challenges because you’re taking a look at, obviously, the finance side of things and you want to try to balance that out to do what’s best for the kids in this community,” Polston said. “So I would say over the years, that we’ve done this, that I’ve been on the board, a lot of the building of those schools in our corporation.”

He said the other thing that’s been a blessing to see is Hoffert’s leadership as the school superintendent. Hoffert became the superintendent during the latter portion of Polston’s first term on the school board.

“Just to see his leadership and he’s in that capacity for 10 years, that’s been one of the biggest blessings we’ve had,” Polston said.

Asked what’s left for him to accomplish in another four-year term, he responded, “You never know what’s around the corner. I’ll file here and hopefully have four more years to give back to the school corporation.”

When Polston attends conferences around the state of Indiana, he said he hears “‘time and time again, Warsaw Community Schools, second to none, how are you guys doing this up there? What are you doing that’s so much different than everybody else.’ And to see us continue to have that type of level of status in our state is such a blessing, and I want us to continue to do that. We’ve heard it time and time again, ‘Warsaw, you’re doing it right.’ And so I think that’s the challenge, that we continue to do it right.”

Candidate filing runs until noon June 20.

Along with Warsaw Community School districts 3, 4 and 6, the following school board districts are up for election Nov. 7:
• Tippecanoe Valley, district 1 and 2.
• Wa-Nee School Board, Scott & Jefferson Township and two at-large positions; Olive Township, Elkhart County.
• Whitko School Board, districts 1, 2 and 3.
• Triton School Board, one at-large seat; district 3, Marshall County.
• Wawasee School Board, districts 1, 2 and 3 at-large, vote for no more than two out of the three districts.