Feb. 8, 2017 – West Bend, WI – About 75 people turned out for the candidate forum at the West Bend Moose Lodge on Wednesday night. West Bend School Board candidates included Rick Cammack, Ryan Gieryn, Nancy Justman, Bob Miller, Joel Ongert, and Tonnie Schmidt
Richard Cammack – Lived in West Bend for 22 years and excited about running for school board. I turned on WVCY and preacher Charles Stanley said, “Don’t quit. People who quit miss opportunities.” This is one of the ways I can help guide your kids to a better future. Three things important to me are family, students and teachers. Local business is also important to me.
Ryan Gieryn – I’m from West Bend and a grad of WBW in 1994 and graduated UW-Madison. Two kids in district. Wife is a teacher in Menomonee Falls. I just wanted to make a difference, work for our kids and education. We hired a good superintendent in Erik Olson and I’d like to stay and work on things with him.
Nancy Justman – Lived in West Bend for 18 years and have three daughters in school district. Work in marketing in Brookfield. Excited about opportunity and working with the superintendent
Bob Miller – Lived in WB for 19 years and have three kids in the WBSD. Strong supporter of the arts. Works for Charter. Appreciate your vote.
Joel Ongert – Running because I care. This district used to be one of the best, people would choose to live here but we’ve lost that. We lose great teachers and administrators each year. Lived here for 8.5 years and two kids in school district. Worked entire career at Caterpillar. Want to turn this back into the excellent district we all deserve
Tonnie Schmidt – Co owner at Delta Defense and employ over 100 people and I’m running on their interests. I feel comfortable dealing with big numbers and familiar with politics and red tape with big government. Lived in WB for 18 years and have three teens who have attended local schools. We talk to people and are involved in the community and I feel we’re in a position to help.
Common core – what’s your opinion and how should WBSD handle it
TS – We need standards but believe in local control and teachers should develop their own curriculum.
JO – Common Core is the standard and not the curriculum. We need to equip parents with tools to get through math. In favor of having teachers set their own curriculum.
BM – Not a fan of Common Core and there are other alternatives out there. Like to see our kids succeed and if we can go above.
NJ – Want to see student excel and Common Core is a standard and want to see teachers and curriculum directors work together.
RG – Common Core is just a set of minimum standards and in WB we strive to be better than minimum standards. It should be left up to teachers to decide what works best.
RC – Looked at Galileo standards and gone to lectures in the past that are against Common Core. Need to sit with teachers and see what they think. I’m opposed to Common Core but I think if there’s something we can use then it’s worth looking at.
Proper way to evaluate teacher performance – competency vs. tenure-based pay
JO – We can look at surrounding districts to see what they’re doing to see why our teachers are leaving. How about common-assessment tests. Use observations in the classroom. We need to give our teachers more credit and let them come together and write a common assessment.
BM – In some instances teachers can submit questions – don’t need to 100% testing on Galileo. Look into another assessment program. Check with the parents.
NJ – Important to look at a well-rounded evaluation. Observations and grading of students is one thing that’s important. Don’t look at just one quarter – evaluate over the entire year.
RG – Well-rounded evaluation. Research shows basing a teacher’s performance solely on test grades doesn’t work.
RC – A lot more I have to learn to make a sound decision.
TS – Interesting question. Lots of excited and energetic young teachers. Want to have a standard set and there would be an improvement plan on the table. Let teachers with great reputations teach and we should get out of their way.
What’s proper relationship between board and school superintendent/administration
BM – Superintendent reports to the board. Super should be a resource
NJ – Super reports to the board. Staff underneath reports to Super. Board is also there for guidance and to help portray proper goals and image.
RG – Board is the governing structure that sets the vision. The super is the CEO for acting out that vision. Important for the board to be visible.
RC – Superintendent is the head and the board is the hands and feet but both have to work together. Important that the board gets out to meet people.
TS – Board and Super have a good relationship. Board represents stakeholders and Superintendent executes mission. Board can ask questions of the Superintendent and all actions should be transparent. It should be encouraged for board members to talk to teachers and parents
JO- Board needs accountability. Great opportunity to challenge and support the Superintendent. Board’s job to make sure that happens.
Parents are opting students out – why is this happening, how to win students/parents back
NJ – Not sure why parents are opting kids out. We could speculate but win them back by instilling school pride and help teachers be happy in district. Get staff to be proud of district.
RG – Lots of reasons people leave including size and travel. Some are threatened by size of the high school. Studies show kids learn better in smaller environments. How to change size of H.S.? How do you make large environment feel smaller.
RC – Main goal is to study this question. Why are people leaving? Traffic pattern is a problem. We have to stop this from happening – it’s going on at UW-WC too. Vital issue we need to address.
TS – We have too much standardized testing, we focus on bare minimum and not excellence, we don’t offer as many AP classes and teacher pay is tied to testing.
JO – We have to ask the families why they’re leaving. Is it testing, is it bullying and we need to do exit interviews with teachers to find out why they’re leaving.
BM – Board does do exit interviews and contact families. We need to make the answers transparent on why they’re leaving. We should focus on the children first and not so much on the politics.
What conditions would you propose operational referendum to raise taxes?
RG – If we were looking at cutting programs from our schools that would be the first indicator for an operational referendum.
RC – Priorities dictate what we do. We need to talk as a community on what our priorities are.
TS – Until we fully understand how our taxpayer money is spent and the structural makeup of administration. I need to understand our costs. I won’t vote for an operational referendum.
JO – We’ve yet to see an operational budget. What are we spending? We should see a transparent budget. I won’t vote for an operational referendum.
BM – Only if we’re cutting back on arts and creativeness.
NJ – Agree we need to see line-item budget. Want to see budget. Don’t want to see programs cut.
Common Sense Citizens lean towards conservative – how do you keep your position nonpartisan while still pleasing all stakeholders
RC – I call myself a realist – what is the issue and how do I address it. Important to think about reality.
TS – I’m a conservative and believe in checks and balances. Everybody can voice their opinion and I want to work with the adults in the room.
JO – I consider myself a conservative but I have a big heart for teachers and students. Is this for the betterment of teachers, students, and community. Need transparency in budget
BM – I’m conservative but we have to listen to everyone
NJ – School district is backbone of community. Most important to think of what’s best for students and community.
RG – Politics don’t play a part in education. As part of the board we represent everybody
Why are you the best candidate
TS – I’m one of the top 3 candidates. I’m very invested in this community. I have experience and I’m locked into this community.
JO – I care about teachers, kids and the community. I want to rally behind our superintendent
BM – I’m one of the best because I was born and raised here and I can make tough decisions
NJ – I care about causes. We can make this an amazing experience but we need to work together
RG – First year is like drinking from a fire hose. Big thing about being on the board is longevity. I know what it’s been like for three years and I can continue to do good work
RC – For the last 10 semesters I’ve been going to UW-WC and define what best is. I love learning and it’s my passion and that’s my biggest asset
RC – I’ve been visiting schools and principals. I want to bring a future of hope
RG – I’ve had opportunity to do the job of hiring a superintendent. We have a $70 million budget and we’re the largest employer. The super is doing what the board has asked him to do.
NJ – I understand difficulty of reporting to a board. I want the super to stick around and the district to be successful. We need to communicate better.
BM – I have a strong passion for kids.
JO – Not easy and there are some challenges. I’m the guy who can help make this a destination district
TS – I want to know cost, alternatives, criteria to determine facts and I’m running because I’ve had a hard time getting answers. I’m good at asking questions.
There will be 7 candidates for West Bend School Board on the Feb. 21 primary ballot. Six of the top vote getters will advance to the April 4 Spring Election. There seven candidates running for three open seats on the West Bend School Board.
In reality there are six candidates running for three seats however Tina Hochstetter has announced she is not running however her name will still be on the ballot.
In-person absentee voting is open until Friday, Feb. 17. Voters are reminded to bring an ID.
In the West Bend School Board race the ballot order will be: