The five candidates seeking a spot on the Pewaukee School Board differ over what they see as the top issue facing the district.
One of two challengers, Dacia Hopkins, is seeking to return to the board after losing her seat in the 2016 spring election. Hopkins sees the top issue as the change in administration, with Superintendent JoAnn Sternke retiring at the end of the year.
David Baylor, also a challenger, is a political newcomer. He wants to ensure that the district's finances are stable enough to weather a decline in growth in the city and village of Pewaukee.
Incumbent Brian Kammers emphasized the need to use taxpayers' money wisely. Incumbent Larry Dux had similar sentiments, naming stable, sustainable funding as a top issue for him. And board member Keith Manbeck suggested that enhancing the district's reputation is a top priority for him.
The five will face off April 4 in their quest for one of three seats coming open on the board. They were asked for their views on three issues; their answers were limited to 50 words. In some cases, answers were edited for length.
What is the top issue facing the Pewaukee School District?
Kammers: I am both an advocate for needed resources and a steward ensuring precious tax dollars are used wisely. Funding will continue to be an issue and the key reason I serve on the board. Beyond that, we must find an exceptional superintendent replacement and address the continuing enrollment growth.
Dux: The No. 1 issue is ensuring stable and sustainable funding. The board’s primary role is to provide fiscal accountability to ensure that the resources provided are used appropriately and that the district is able to achieve its mission of opening the door to each child’s future.
Manbeck: Great schools are the centerpiece of great communities. To instill continuous improvements in our district, our No. 1 priority is to enhance our reputation as the school district of choice for teachers, staff and administrators. We face intense competition and must continue to attract and retain the absolute best and brightest.
Hopkins: Right now our district is facing a shift in administration with the retirement of Dr. JoAnn Sternke. We are also facing changes in the federal administration that will trickle down to the district level, potentially affecting what a typical day looks like for our students, faculty and staff.
Baylor: Ensuring that our finances are sound enough to weather a decline in the growth of the city and village and that that referendums for any spending above the state limits are only used for new construction and not capital expenses.
Name one or two services provided by the school that you would like to see improved. How you would pay for those improvements?
Kammers: The district culture is committed to continuous improvement. The strategic plan developed by community stakeholders drives district decisions. We strive to prepare each student for their life after graduation. ... We need to do better preparing each child for future success. We should consider any service that might assist in that goal.
Dux: The district is committed to improving student achievement through child-centered learning and has invested and will continue to invest in professional staff development and technology to meet that goal. The district’s strategic plan is used to set the priorities, and programs are funded through the district’s normal operating budgeting processes.
Manbeck: Our district provides an excellent education for all and "opens the door to each child's future." I'd like to raise the bar by measuring performance against those districts known to lead the nation in academic excellence, instead of comparing to the national average. Increasing expectations and measurement doesn't require additional resources.
Hopkins: As a volunteer, and parent, in the district, I see opportunities for improving how technology is used effectively and efficiently. It's important for the board to balance advances in technology with the learning objectives of our students without buying into the latest fad.
Baylor: The public needs a more reader-friendly detail-rich window into the workings of the school board and the financial dealings of the district. This can be accomplished without additional costs. Second, I would expect the district to look into a lower maintenance / lower-cost technology for student use, using existing year-to-year technology funds.
Superintendent JoAnn Sternke is retiring. What qualities do you look for in her replacement?
Kammers: The district leader has to be passionate about leading a child-centered educational organization. We need an effective communicator that is visible to the staff and the community. This person must work collaboratively with the board, staff and community to develop a vision for reaching higher levels of academic achievement.
Dux: The superintendent should be passionate about children and have the educational preparation to provide the visionary leadership needed to ensure that the Pewaukee School District is able to meet the needs of each child. This person must be able to effectively communicate with the community, parents, students and staff.
Manbeck: As a current member of the school board, I am deeply involved in the search for JoAnn's successor. We've drafted the job description, surveyed the board, teachers/administrators and the community to establish the qualities and experience that will be required for the successful candidate. A national search is underway.
Hopkins: Between Dr. Sternke's gift of publicly speaking on behalf of the district, to helping our district earn the Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award, and her aggressive approach to continuous improvement, Pewaukee became recognized nationally and internationally. It's important that Dr. Sternke's successor can keep Pewaukee in the international spotlight.
Baylor: Pewaukee has a vibrant and successful school district. We are not facing any financial or personnel crisis. Our next superintendent needs to be a student-centered administrator who can provide the board with detailed long-term plans that are financially realistic and have true ROI (return on investment) for the community.
Address: N26 W22599 Oakwood Lane
Political history: Pewaukee School Board 1996-2017
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