Election Q&A: Sipos runs for school board

Gabriella Di Lalla, Staff Writer

To prepare for the upcoming Nov. 2 election, The Paw Print’s Gabriella Di Lalla conducted email interviews with the seven candidates running for three positions on the Mayfield City Schools Board of Education. The Paw Print has not taken a position in the election and has not endorsed a candidate.

The story below reflects the interview that took place between Gabriella and Erin Sipos.

Gabriella: Why are you running for the Board of Education? If elected, what will be your priorities?

Ms. Sipos: My hope is to be the voice of the unheard. With my own experiences as a mother of children in the district and my involvement as a volunteer, I have learned there are many areas that could be improved upon. Although our district has so many great accomplishments to celebrate, we need to not turn our heads and ignore the gaps between the district and community, the lack of excellence in our special education departments, and the inability to make all who reside here welcome are near to my heart.

Gabriella: Is there a particular issue that motivates you to serve on the Board of Education?

Ms. Sipos: Why do parents need to retain legal representation to receive the services their children need to have a successful academic experience? Why are students who attend CEVEC not allowed the same opportunities they once had in the past with on-the-job training to set their future up for success? Why do we continue to ignore the economic decline in Mayfield Heights and aren’t working in parallel with City Officials to improve said areas? Those are the questions I have asked and have yet to receive suitable responses. That’s what motivates me. I want to bridge the gaps and support the broken places.

Gabriella: What particular experiences or skills have prepared you to serve as a board member?

Ms. Sipos: Life. I have held a leadership position in every professional arena I was in. Having the luxury now as a stay-at-home mother, I have the time that is required to be a great Board of Education member. I know this community better than most. As the founder of the MAC Foundation I have built relationships across the district to give me great perspective of the big picture. I know those in need, and I know those who aren’t but support the less unfortunate. I have held Board positions at the middle school and high school levels. It’s amazing what you learn in a concessions stand when socializing with other parents. I am a survivor of many life challenges which allows me to see the world and people with compassion regardless of differences.

Gabriella: What issues do you believe our district needs to address in its academic program and offerings? What changes would you recommend?

Ms. Sipos: More support in special education. More partnerships with area unions, corporations and local businesses for those who don’t excel in academics and have no plan after high school. I often wondered why so many children are in need of 504’s and IEPs? We need to look at that further and give more support to those families. Why two teachers per classroom in SO many classes? What is the state requiring or our district approving as its curriculum that so many children are struggling? Is our Option program proving to have the outcomes that it hoped for? What happens to those seniors who really struggle and are placed back in general education classes? Are they then prepared for college or playing catch up until graduation? It’s difficult to answer this question without knowing all the statistics, but believe we need to do better for these children. I would recommend taking a closer look at all of it. Really listen to the teachers and ask what is needed to build their morale if it’s lacking. When was the last time they attended a team-building event? Acknowledged for their tireless efforts of being educators? If they aren’t receiving anything but a paycheck and a finger being pointed in their direction for blame if a child isn’t able to do something, how are we helping them?  Who is the voice for the parents and the children and the teachers who are really having a difficult time?

Gabriella: What differentiates you from the other candidates and/or board members?

Erin Sipos: Well, I don’t believe I am much different than the other mothers that are running if you consider where our hearts are in this. As women we nurture… we all do that. Some in a more passionate, in-your-face kind of way, but the meaning behind it is the same.  What sets me apart from most is that I am not afraid to ask hard questions. I don’t sugarcoat much because that is just a waste of time. If I don’t know the answer, I find it. And if I still don’t like the answer, I am not afraid of rolling up my sleeves and getting to the bottom of it because this is about children. We can stand on our soapboxes and preach what we stand for, but I would rather sit at a table and talk to a child to find out what they need, make sure they get it, and celebrate the challenges we can conquer together.