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New faces fight for spots on Edgerton School Board

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Stacy Vogel
March 30, 2009
— You might not find candidates more complimentary than the ones running for Edgerton School Board.

The candidates, three newcomers and one incumbent, all said they're happy with the current school board. Several said they believe all of the candidates would make good board members.


Craig Strouse, Julie Norland and Victor Gonzalez said they entered the race after learning two long-time incumbents, Jim Raymond and Julie Lyerla, were not seeking re-election. Larry Oberdeck, a 14-year board member, is seeking re-election, bringing the total to four candidates seeking three seats.


Here's a look at how the candidates match up:


Superintendent search

Gonzalez: The district should choose "somebody with experience in the educational field. To me it doesn't necessarily have to be a current superintendent, but definitely someone who has worked in schools, preferably in an administrative position Definitely somebody who is willing to be not only a school superintendent but also a community leader."


Norland: "My focus would be finding a superintendent who puts students and learning first. In addition to that, I think the candidate will need to demonstrate integrity, energy (and) they should possess strong communication skills. I think they need to be able to build relationships with the community and with students and staff. I think they also need to be able to think strategically and plan strategically but then they also need to be able to administer and oversee day-to-day operations."


Oberdeck: "The district should look for someone able to oversee, look at the big picture of things, be able to not put one area of education above the other. I think the person should be open, just like we have now. Everybody knows what's going on in the district."


Strouse: "The next superintendent should present a strong presence, have futuristic planning skills, display an honest commitment to this community and the children, be accessible to taxpayers, and I'd prefer a leader that likes to be surrounded by administrators who are willing to think differently than him or her."


Budget/enrollment decline

Norland: "I think the board and the administrators have done a really good job so far in planning for that I guess I don't have a magic solution to those issues. I think they should continue to look out ahead, one and two and three years ahead, and begin their process early."


Oberdeck: "The district is handling (budget problems) real well. What we've been doing in the past is reducing staff as the classes have been getting smaller coming from elementary on up."


The change from a four-period to an eight-period day at the high school isn't ideal, but it utilizes staff better, he said.


Strouse: "You have a bunch of district employees who are administrators, who are trained and paid for their expertise, and I would expect to hear solutions from those administrators."


The district has to balance what's best for the children with how much taxpayers are willing to pay, he said.


Gonzalez: "One of the strengths of Dr. Fjelstad and the current school board is they do projections, they look several years ahead. In doing that they have already addressed the issues in layoffs."


Gonzalez believes enrollment will stabilize in the next few years. Then, if the district has extra money, it can return to its previous level of staffing or use the money for building maintenance.


Qualifications

Oberdeck: "I've got the experience. I know how the system works real well. I think that we're going to make some hard decisions coming up in the next two or three years and I just think I could make those decisions or help the board decide. I'm a farmer and I have to make decisions every year."


Strouse: "If elected, I feel I can provide a conservative voice from a unique perspective. I don't think they've ever had a police officer on the board."


Gonzalez: "I have experience working on the Blackhawk Technical College board; I am a trustee there. I think outside the box. I bring a fresh perspective. I think I look for the positive side in any conflict. I look at conflicts as an opportunity to do something better, rather than shy away and just shut down."


Norland: Norland has been interested in education ever since serving as a student member of her hometown school board, she said. She believes her communication skills, work in human resources and experience as an adjunct college instructor make her a strong candidate.


"I think my ability to listen and to incorporate different points of views into solutions would be helpful."


Bios

Victor Gonzalez


Address: 211 Albion St., Edgerton.


Age: 39


Job: Real estate agent


Education: Bachelor's degree in political science from UW-Madison, 1994.


Community service: Past president of Edgerton Noon Rotary Club, member and past board member of Edgerton Area Chamber of Commerce, Edgerton Public Library board member, supporter of My Place teen center, church volunteer, helps run Edgerton high school-level soccer team.


Elected posts: None


Julie Norland


Address: 699 Jacobus Road, Edgerton.


Age: 38


Job: Human resources consultant


Education: Master's degree in organizational communication from Northern Illinois University, 1994.


Community service: Volunteered with Rock County Habitat for Humanity from 1998-2008, board member 2002-07; volunteer at Edgerton Congregational United Church of Christ.


Elected posts: None


Larry Oberdeck (I)


Address: 6711 W. Highway 59, Edgerton.


Age: 53


Job: Farmer


Education: Graduated from Edgerton High School, 1973.


Community service: Chairman of Zion Lutheran Church board, Center Township.


Elected posts: Edgerton School Board, 1995-2009


Craig Strouse


Address: 9030 County H, Edgerton.


Age: 36


Job: Rock County Sheriff's Office sergeant


Education: Bachelor's of criminal justice through Upper Iowa University, 2006.


Community service: Vice president of Rock County Supervisors Association, active member of Trinity Lutheran Church, Edgerton.


Elected posts: None



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