School Board Incumbent Candidate
Tell us about yourself!
Neal Ninmann, current appointed member of the OASD School Board since Sept. 2021. Married, 3 children. 2 OHS grads and 1 OHS sophomore. I am 1988 OHS grad and am very passionate alumni supporter of the district. I work as Territory Manager for an ergonomic equipment manufacturer based in Denmark. Our family owns a small business in downtown Oconomowoc and are often volunteers for the Downtown Business District events.
Why are you running for School Board?
I am running to retain my current seat on the board. I felt for a few years that our board was ineffective in decision making and policy development and was ignoring the general opinions of the community and parents. I believe our current board has corrected its course in these areas and a continuation of this team would solidify our district leadership.
Provide some details on your involvement in the Oconomowoc Area School District (OASD) over the past 2 years.
I ran for the board in 2020 and lost in the general election. In 2021, I remained as a regular attendee at meetings, and I hosted a candidate forum for the community to help raise awareness of candidates and board challenges that our community was facing. In September of 2021 after 3 board members quit on the district and students, I applied to be an appointee of the board and was successful. I have helped our board as a member of the Finance and Operations committee as well as hiring a new superintendent a few weeks ago.
What is the OASD doing well?
OASD has navigated the pandemic response with minimal disruption to our learning environment. While not perfect, OASD has continued to achieve positive results when rival districts went backwards. OASD has continued to retain high quality leadership, staff and teachers despite challenging work environments. Financially, we remain committed to balanced budgets and saving when possible, for future projects or capital expenditures. Adhering to a robust strategic plan has remained a key focus and a determining factor in hiring a superintendent and attracting quality staff.
What are the biggest issues facing the OASD and how do you plan on addressing them if elected?
Our biggest issue continues to be declining enrollment. While not just an OASD challenge, it is a factor that will touch our staffing, finances and plans for buildings and grounds. I will address this issue by supporting the work in our strategic plan to make us UNRIVALED and a destination or choice school district. This will draw IN students and eventually reverse the decline. This is a tall task that I expect to ask parents and the community to partner with us. It will require taxpayer commitment, business community and leadership partnerships and parent support.
Future issues with finances will begin to pop up if we don’t work hard on the enrollment trajectory.
Our values are centered around fiscal responsibility, academic achievement, equality of opportunity – not necessarily outcome, teaching how to think – not what to think, strong community engagement, personal accountability, and school pride. How would you help support these values as an elected member of the OASD?
I will always support responsible spend of tax dollars. Our current admin is already a good steward of this principle, and I will continue to support this process. Regular reviews of our spending and realistic support of projects have already been on my plate and I feel this is an important value to have as a board member. I will support and develop board policy that governs curriculum that values fundamental learning while also challenging our learners in current and future changes to “how” students learn. Engaging students in community partnerships and encouraging them to pursue all avenues of study including college, technical and trade schools and military service will always be supported by a board I am a part of.
Why should I vote for you?
I am asking for your vote because I believe my ability to work with other board members, staff, admin and community partners is a skill set that is needed on our school board. We don’t always agree with each other and that is expected…but having the ability to work within our policy framework and find consensus with the entire board is a needed trait that I bring to the board. I will support parents’ rights AND responsibilities as they should be considered in making sound education policies for our district. I believe we have a very good school district and will vote for ideas and policies that strengthen that position and I will vote against anything that would deter us from our strategic plans. I am a taxpayer, business owner, parent and alumni who wants to see OASD as a top choice school and I am willing to work on the board to fulfill that mission.