West Bend School District Superintendent Erik Olson was the featured speaker during Wednesday’s meeting of Common Sense Citizens. Olson has been on the job about 12 weeks. He previously was in the Sun Prairie School District.
Notes from Paula Becker on Olson’s comments follow:
Grew up in household of educators. Teacher in 4th grade inspired him. Took him from the Blackbirds to the Bluebirds. Went to UW for engineering then figured out he wanted to go into education.
Went into administration to have a better work/family balance.
Was an administrator in Sun Prairie. Wanted a community that matched his values.
Wife Lisa and four children including a 5, 9, 11 and 13 year old. Moved to a home near McLane, loves that he’s near the elementary school, and middle schools. Happy with neighborhood, loves West Bend’s sense of community.
Lots of listening, trying to get acclimated. Started with the board July 1. Met with individual members and asked 4 questions of each member. Connected with community members. Meeting with lots of groups, trying to gather information. Looking for themes.
In October he will publish what he’s learned. Talking with administration.
Wants to learn about the assessments we have. What’s our plan? Processes?
By December will feel ready to start making decisions. Decisions will be made together, with everyone in the district.
Question: How would you measure improvements?
EO: Student learning metrics, community engagement, finances, insurance ratings, etc.
Question: Impression of our hard assets? Schools?
EO: One concern is Jackson. Video answer click HERE.
Question: Budget question…East vs West, not being from West Bend…what do you think of the philosophy of pouring money into athletics?
EO: I’m here to represent the values of the community. We have two schools, natural to have two teams.
Question: Thoughts on Common Core…
EO: I believe Common Core will work. What’s the will of the community? Also consider the amount finances, time and effort to make changes, but we’d consider it. Galileo testing…will it continue? Still learning and gathering information. Video answer click HERE.
Question: Size of the administration?
EO: I came from a similar size district, don’t believe we need to decrease or increase as of now.
Question. What was your biggest challenge in Sun Prairie? What were you most proud of?
EO: Trying to bring people together. Making decisions despite the very strong opinions of the people.
Question: How has your relationship been with the teachers?
EO: Good, so far. Video answer click HERE. Olson starts by demonstrating the dance prep he did during orientation.
Question: Do you have an opinion on which type of schools are better, 2-year, technical or 4 year?
EO: They are all great. Match the opportunity with the student.
Question: The news said enrollment is down 18% at the UW system. What do you use for your measuring for continuing improvement?
EO: I frame it in cause and effect. How are our students achieving? How do they learn? Universal screeners.
Talked a bit about what he has done in the past. Will use some of what he’s used and is open to learning more ways.
Question: Relationship between private sector and the school?
EO: Working on that with people in administration and thinks it’s a very important connection.
Question: Community health coalition, good mental health, preventing suicide.
EO: Sun Prairie didn’t have half the resources this community has for it’s residents.
Act 10 question?
EO: Happy to think about the balance between respect and keeping what employees have and the financial challenges.
Chris Jenkins closed out meeting with reminders of next meeting, Oct. 12 (work meeting) and Oct. 26 will be a Presidential meeting.
Reminder Veteran’s ceremony Monday, Oct. 31 at Green Tree School.