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Elmbrook School Board at-large race

Voter's Guide for Tuesday, April 5, election

March 23, 2011

Editor's Note: Candidates were asked to limit responses to 75 words.

Kathryn Wilson (inc.)

Occupation: homemaker; Elmbrook School Board

Education: bachelor's degree in English language and literature (engineering minor), Michigan State University

Contact:katy.wilson@wi.rr.com, wilsonforelmbrook.com

Do you support the closing of one or two elementary schools as a means to help address the district's budget crunch?

Yes. Closing a school is not an attractive option, but it is a responsible choice. It doesn't make sense to operate our elementary system at 70 percent of capacity. Our most optimistic population projections do not close that gap. Money spent on empty classrooms is money not spent on programs and services. Educational needs must come first.

Would you support a 4-year-old kindergarten program, which would bring in more students and revenue but also increase taxes for Elmbrook residents?

Municipalities and school districts exist in a competitive marketplace. I am open to 4K as a means to enhance our competitive edge, but I am not interested in it as a means to increase the revenue cap. The Board Communications Committee has a plan to gather relevant information about real estate transactions. We may need 4K - I think we will - but I'm willing to wait for confirming data and a clear analysis of impact.

What other solutions does the district need to consider as it addresses a projected shortfall over the next five years? Are there options you think should be off the table?

Nothing is off the table, but the budget-repair bill provides options to minimize program cuts. We will have control of a much larger portion of the budget. Creation of a robust consumer-driven health plan is a must. Like the private sector, we can adopt lean practices to reduce costs and improve quality throughout the district. We can empower employees to solve problems and improve processes - things that were sometimes difficult under the old contract.

What curricular areas should be addressed during the next three years?

Replace Everyday Math with a curriculum that emphasizes standard algorithms and mastery of facts. Provide more differentiation training for teachers. Bring back elementary foreign language. Make Latin part of the middle school academic core. Include selections from "the classics" at every grade level; no twaddle. High school should begin with a short course in quantitative science techniques so science classes can focus on science. Require more analytical writing. Increase academic guidance and college counseling.

Sandra Schultz

Occupation: homemaker; district and community volunteer

Education: associate degree in public relations

Contact:sandraschultz@live.com, schultzforschoolboard.com

Do you support the closing of one or two elementary schools as a means to help address the district's budget crunch?

There are alternatives to closing schools that have not yet been considered. Closing neighborhood schools is not a positive for our community. Tonawanda, for example, is the only elementary school in the district with increasing enrollment and is a valuable part of the Elm Grove community. This school is a positive influence on attracting homebuyers to the area. Schools are the cornerstones of a community. Let's find creative ways to use them, not lose them.

Would you support a 4-year-old kindergarten program, which would bring in more students and revenue but also increase taxes for Elmbrook residents?

Under the new state budget, our district's revenues from property taxes will be cut by over $5 million, creating a larger deficit than we can save on the provisions of the repair bill. Residents will receive a $219 reduction in taxes (per $300,000 home). Next year, 4K will only cost taxpayers $20. Adding 4K gives the district a powerful marketing tool and a valuable program, while seeing a reduction in the tax bill.

What other solutions does the district need to consider as it addresses a projected shortfall over the next five years? Are there options you think should be off the table?

More efficiencies can be found in staffing and operations. Some creative ideas to reduce expenses or increase revenues are: strategic Central Administration Office relocation, grant writing, corporate/private partnerships, alumni association, leasing excess capacity, charter school, senior volunteer tax exchange program, as well as other flexibilities provided by the repair bill. Off the table? Program cuts that impact the quality of our students' education and experience, i.e., foreign language, the arts, music, athletic programs.

What curricular areas should be addressed during the next three years?

Do I have a wish list? Yes, improving grammar curriculum, adding elementary foreign language, Mandarin. However, we must address the deficit so that the professionals we hire for this task may continue to improve curriculum instead of cutting programming. There is a comprehensive district plan in place to continually assess, align and strengthen curriculum, ensuring the best possible outcomes for our students. Enhanced curriculum costs money. Without a healthy budget our curriculum is at risk.

Nancy Kormanik

Occupation: retired; former coordinator of Milwaukee Area Technical College dietetic technician program

Education: master's degree in administrative leadership, UW-Milwaukee

Contact:nancy.kormanik@gmail.com

Do you support the closing of one or two elementary schools as a means to help address the district's budget crunch?

There are many open seats that are being occupied by out-of-area children. It appears to me the possibility exists that more than two schools could be closed. Are we educating Elmbrook children with our property taxes or are we educating everyone else in addition to our children? Since there has been no decision on this and the deficit increases, can we just sit back and let this happen? We need to move forward on this.

Would you support a 4-year-old kindergarten program, which would bring in more students and revenue but also increase taxes for Elmbrook residents?

Whatever way you want to dice it and slice it, I do not support a 4K program. It is an expense, period. We cannot afford to spend any more money, and I am unwilling to support anything that brings in out-of-area residents.

What other solutions does the district need to consider as it addresses a projected shortfall over the next five years? Are there options you think should be off the table?

There is nothing off the table anymore, all the way from toilet paper to contracts. We need to look at everything: insurance policies, contracts not just for teachers but for other personnel, personnel, staff, bills that have to be paid, investments, fees. We need to decipher between what we need and what we want. The next several years will be challenging to say the least, but with everyone's help we can do it.

What curricular areas should be addressed during the next three years?

All curriculum should undergo a review each year, chaired by an accredited curriculum specialist certified through the DPI. We need to focus on technology, not just Smart Boards but other tools that can be used to help learn and achieve more, utilize innovations such as hybrid classes, Socratic method of instruction, gender-related classes and more new educational processes that are out there and working well.

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