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Ziegler will not seek another term on Elmbrook School Board

Nine-year veteran says its time to step aside

Dec. 11, 2012

Veteran Elmbrook School Board member Bob Ziegler has announced he will not seek re-election to his at-large seat that he has held since 2003.

Ziegler said the decision is closely tied to the time commitment required to serve.

"During my nine years on the board, there have been too many family life events where I was at best an attendee or a casual observer, he said. "So it's time to focus more completely on my immediate and extended families."

Ziegler this week said his board commitments coincided with personal family issues.

"Both my parents and my wife's parents died while I was on the board," he said. "It was a real tug and pull. "Could I have done more and be more involved. It's a very personal thing that makes you think.

"It's more about having to be at a certain place at certain time and you have already worked and you are tired and you need to concentrate," he said. "It's more of a young person's commitment. I actually think now that there actually should be term limits."

Ziegler also noted that his decision also is based on wanting to devote more energy to his 38-year career at Northwestern Mutual, where he is in the investment department. He noted that there are new projects in the offing. His wife, Joan, also is a longtime Northwestern employee.

Background, service

Ziegler, who grew up in Tomah, Wis., and in Minnesota's Twin Cities, came back to Wisconsin where he earned a master's degree in math. He lived in New Berlin before moving to Brookfield in 1990.

While he and Joan were raising their two children - now Brookfield Central grads - Ziegler said he first became involved in the district as a volunteer task force member working on issue such as the reopening of Swanson Elementary and converting Wisconsin Hills to a middle school.

"My name was out there so I guess I was thought of as a viable candidate," he said.

Minority voice

As a board member, Ziegler has found himself a minority voice, speaking against decisions that closed Hillside Elementary, phasing out Chapter 220 and not reinstating 4-year-old kindergarten.

"It's not the easiest thing to be a minority voice," he said. "It's very humbling, but it's part of the job. I would hope that someone with my perspectives would be valued in the future, but that's beyond my control."

In general, Ziegler said he has been concerned about recent cutbacks that he said has affected the quality of education even in a highly regarded district like Elmbrook.

"At a time when reductions were regular and frequent, I felt that I was witnessing a systematic reduction in public education," he said.

He said his different perspective has not affected his relationship with fellow board members and administrators.

"I have truly valued working with everyone," he said. "Working with (former superintendent) Matt Gibson was pure joy because he's such a wonderful person. He's very respectful and cares so much.

"I'm very upbeat and positive about the strategic direction (current superintendent) Mark (Hansen) and his team has taken," Ziegler said. "He is so focused and energetic. It would be fun to go along for the ride, but I think he would be leading me. If the board lets him, he will be fantastic."

Appreciation

Other board members, including Meg Wartman who has served the same period with him thanked him for his service.

"I have really enjoyed working with Bob," Wartman said. "He is very thoughtful and he has brought a good balance of ideas to the issues we have faced. We are hopeful that we will have good candidates step forward."

Glen Allgaier, an Elmbrook School Board member since 2007, announced that he would seek re-election. Voters go to the polls on April 2.

PROSPECTIVE PERSPECTIVE

WHAT: Information sessions for prospective Elmbrook School Board candidates

WHEN: 8 to 9 a.m. Dec. 13; 7 to 8 a.m. Dec. 18

WHERE: Central Administration Offices, 13780 Hope Street

MORE: call (262) 781-3030, ext. 1140

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