Jahner ‘honored’ to be elected to school board

OKEECHOBEE — After being elected to the Okeechobee County School Board by Okeechobee voters on Aug. 28, Melisa Jahner said she appreciates the community for putting their trust in her.

Melisa Jahner, Okeechobee school board representative

“I would like to say thank you to my community for having confidence in me and I am very honored to be their school board representative,” said Mrs. Jahner. “I take great pride in my hometown and want to be an active part of the solution to keep our schools moving in the right direction for success so our students will receive the best education possible.”

Mrs. Jahner originally considered running for the school board seat representing District 3 back in 2014 when Gay Carlton retired and left the spot vacant, but decided against it when she learned she would have had to resign her then-position as deputy clerk of the City of Okeechobee in order to comply with Florida Statutes.

When the seat came up for election again in 2018, Mrs. Jahner was no longer the deputy clerk and was therefore free to run.

Mrs. Jahner chose to lead her campaign for school board with the message of “making the connection.”

“I chose that message because I wanted the people of Okeechobee to know that I was running for them,” explained Mrs. Jahner. “I want to be their connection and liaison as their school board representative. I prefer a hands-on approach and I am ready to roll up my sleeves and get busy.”

That message resonated with voters in Okeechobee, and Mrs. Jahner beat out incumbent Dixie Ball 3,110 votes to 2,448.

The issue of teacher pay had to be fresh in the minds of voters as they headed to the polls back in August. Earlier in the year, the Okeechobee County School Board had voted down a teacher pay raise to the dismay of the Okeechobee County Education Association, the union representing teachers in Okeechobee County.

“I don’t think it’s just the teachers’ pay that needs to be considered, but all employees’,” Mrs. Jahner said of the teacher pay debate. “In order for our district to attract and retain good quality teachers and staff, we need to reevaluate the salary schedule, incentives and benefit packages to be more competitive and appealing.”

Mrs. Jahner also says she supports a later start time for the freshman campus and high school and is also in favor of the recently passed guardian program.

The biggest challenge Mrs. Jahner sees facing the district as her term begins is school funding.

“I think the biggest challenge is being expected to do more with less,” Mrs. Jahner concluded.

“We need to be able to repair or provide new infrastructure, more buses, educational supplies and programs for our students and increase employee salaries and benefits.”

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