Profile of candidates for District 84 Board of Education

Deb Moldaschel
Darla Remus, Joleen Dittbenner, and Sandra Gonzalez

Residents of the Sleepy Eye School District will vote for three Board of Education members at the General Election on Nov. 3.

Current board members Darla Remus and Joleen Dittbenner are running for re-election. A third position currently held by Jeremy Domeier is also open as Domeier decided not to run and no other person filed as a candidate by the filing deadline. Sandra Gonzalez decided to run as a write-in candidate.

The candidates have answered a set of questions to provide information to the school district voters.

Darla Remus, incumbent candidate for Sleepy Eye Board of Education, four-year term.

Biographical information: I have four beautiful adult children and their great side kicks. I also have seven awesome grandchildren. I’ve been a professional childcare provider for 35 years.

I have been on the Sleepy Eye Board of Education for 16 years— chairperson for 13 years. I also am currently chairperson for Riverbend Education Board and have been part of that board for 16 years. I have been president of the local ASA Softball program for the past 10 years and have been part of the organization for 20 years.

Why do you want to serve on the School Board? I want to continue to be part of the Sleepy Eye Board of Education because I enjoy being a voice in helping children succeed in their academic needs. I also love being involved with community and school activities. It is rewarding to play a role in helping children grow.

Describe the top issues you feel are important for the school board to address.

Important issues include:

•Academic achievement for all students in our District.

•Increasing opportunities for students to succeed.

•Improve communication among the whole community.

Joleen Dittbenner, incumbent candidate for Sleepy Eye Board of Education, four-year term.

Biographical information: My husband Craig and I both graduated from Sleepy Eye Public school many years ago. My husband farms north of Sleepy Eye and I work full time at Bic Graphic. We have three daughters, Courtney, Brittney and Destiney. I have served on the school board for eight years and on the Community Education Board for several years. I’ve been chairperson of the Basketball Boosters for six years. We are members of Trinity Lutheran Church where I’ve taught Sunday School for many years and am active in the Women of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.

Why do you want to serve on the School Board? My number one concern is our children’s education. I want them to graduate prepared to either enter into secondary education or the workforce. I was on the school board during the iPad initiative—which I think has been a benefit to our students and staff. Personalized learning hasn’t been a quick transition, but the staff has worked so hard it’s been exciting to see. I look forward to seeing more Personalized Learning done on the high school level.

Describe the top issues you feel are important for the school board to address.

We need to continue to address getting our high school kids back to school full time because the need the routine and many benefit from the daily interaction and instruction from teachers. We are following th ecounty health department recommendations, but I think the hybrid situation is a strain on our students, families and staff. However, if the number of COVID-19 cases in our county continue to rise, we need to make sure there is a comprehensive plan to go to full distance learning if required.

We must make sure our school has what is needed to best serve students and teachers during his time—this needs to be an ongoing conversation as the year progresses.

Sandra Gonzalez, write-in candidate for Sleepy Eye Board of Education, four-year term.

Biographical information: I’ve lived in Sleepy Eye for over 18 years and have been married to Jose Luis Gonzalez for 24 years. We have four beautiful children: Katalina Itzel, Eleazar, Paola Lizet and my youngest Sebastian. I started coming to Minnesota with my parents since 1991 when I was 14. My husband and I decided to make Minnesota our home and moved up here in 2001. I got very involved in serving and advocating for migrant families in the community through work and through school. When an opportunity came up, I wanted to learn more about Early Childhood and it became my passion. I started working for a great organization, Tri-Valley Opportunity Council Migrant Head Start, here in Sleepy Eye. I’ve worked for Tri-Valley for 11 years now and being able to help and support other families like ours is very gratifying. I am also involved alongside other members in the community in the “Welcoming Communities Project” to work and come together as a community despite cultural differences.

Why do you want to serve on the School Board? All our children have been attending Sleepy Eye Public Schools since they were very young and I always try to be involved in their education as much as possible. I decided to run for the School Board, because our community is now more diverse and I think we should celebrate that diversity.

Describe the top issues you feel are important for the school board to address.

My priority will be to ensure that all students are given the proper services based on their educational needs to succeed in their education and in life. It is important to provide teachers with more support in order to achieve the success of each student. I want to see a change in inclusion of all students and less exclusion because of the cultural differences. I want all families to be able to know and trust that our school is there to serve the educational needs of all the students.

I will appreciate everyone’s support this coming election, by writing me in, Sandra Gonzalez.