Oct 18, 2021 10:15 AM

Hays Post Hays USD 489 candidate profile: Meagan Zampieri-Lillpopp

Posted Oct 18, 2021 10:15 AM

Meagan Zampieri-Lillpopp

Meagan Zampieri-Lillpopp
Meagan Zampieri-Lillpopp

Age: 42
Occupation: Librarian
Community involvement: Hays High parent; member, Hays Arts Council Board of Directors; Hays homeowner; Habitat for Humanity ReStore volunteer; attends most concerts, shows, festivals, and lots of football games; public librarian.

Do you or have you ever had children or grandchildren who attend(ed) Hays public schools?
My son is a freshman at Hays High.

Did you support the USD 489 2016 and 2017 bond issues? Why or why not?
I did not live here at the time of the previous bond issues.

• Would you support a bond issue if it were put to a public vote in the next year?
Almost definitely.

What do you think it should include?
More and better classrooms, first and foremost, sufficient to fit the number of students we are projected to have in the coming 25-30 years (as one of the only growing communities in western Kansas) and to support the changes that the teachers need to continue to model 21st Century learning. 
An accessible auditorium to host performances and events (which could also become a revenue stream).

Plumbing re-piping and efficiency updates for any school that needs it.

How do you think the district should address facility needs and maintenance outside of a bond issue?
I think they have started to and will continue to do so. Security doors, HVAC, window replacements, parking lots—many of those items were identified as needs, and now they have been scheduled, started, or finished.

Once a bond is passed and the community and facility managers know what will be built and/or renovated, then a plan for maintaining the existing structures can be outlined. We can seek out small or large grants for efficiency updates in some buildings, and otherwise prioritize capital outlay funds toward the biggest needs, like the Board and superintendent discussed in January of this year.

Band-aid maintenance will continue as long as we are not addressing the overall needs of the district. Things like “sewer system leakage” at Lincoln, corroded pipes at Roosevelt that leak back into the building, and the “very unsatisfactory” plumbing at the HS will have to be addressed one by one, each year, until they are no longer dangerous to the children and teachers and staff we send there.

What would you do to improve relations between the board and the community?
Listen, listen, listen.

I have worked to step out of my own comfort zones to hear folks’ concerns about this community, and I would make myself available for any conversation about our shared goals.

Do you think board unity is important? Would you be able to compromise with other board members who do not share your same views? Do you think you would be able to work with the current board members who will remain on the board after the election?
I do think that board unity is important. I think that making sure that the minority opinion is voiced, heard, and considered is imperative to building relationships and trust in large groups. I think it is also important to engage quieter voices and that, while a board member might not have a strong opinion on every topic the board discusses, that each person be given a chance to speak and ask questions. I also believe that, once the board has made a decision, unanimously or otherwise, it is the obligation of each member to uphold that unified decision.

I can work with anyone, anytime, to complete anything. If someone else is already leading, I’m happy to do as I’m asked. If no one is directing the workflow, I’ll see if the group would like me to help with that. I love hearing perspectives or new information that help me make better decisions, and I value those opportunities immensely.

What is your position on students wearing masks in schools as a COVID mitigation effort?
Masking requirements are about keeping kids in classrooms. If too many infections occur, “close contacts” will have to quarantine, which is not the decision of the district. Mask use redefines what a “close contact” is, making that number smaller. We don’t want students and teachers to have to quarantine—we want our kids in class! Schools enforce dress codes all the time, and I don’t see requiring masks as being any different from requiring shoes.

Do you support the school district’s current COVID mitigation policy? If not, what would you put in its place?
I think it strikes a balance between keeping kids in school and respecting community input.

Have you received any funds or in-kind donations from a donor from outside of the school district or a PAC? Please explain.
I have received three donations from individuals outside of Hays, all family and close friends.

What is the most positive and negative things about USD 489 currently?
One of the biggest challenges we have is teachers having the supplies, equipment, and support to do their work effectively. With an enrollment fee of almost $200 at the middle and high school and almost $100 at the elementary level, I would expect a district of this size to finance classroom needs more effectively and not rely on piece-mealed fundraising efforts by children and their teachers (and self-payment from teachers’ salaries). It frustrates me to see teachers’ fundraisers for tables and supply boxes.

I think the most positive force in the district is that phenomenal community of teachers that goes the extra mile to meet the educational needs of the students. The teachers are fully committed to the children they teach and to their profession. I have so much respect for how much they are constantly learning and seeking resources to make their incredible work better for those of us they’re serving.