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Cullen won’t run again for Janesville School Board

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
November 12, 2009
— Tim Cullen said he won’t run again after three years on the Janesville School Board.

The former state senator and Blue Cross Blue Shield executive said Wednesday that he’ll serve out his term, which ends in April.


Cullen said he is announcing his intentions so prospective candidates will have plenty of time to consider running. Candidates can take out nomination papers Dec. 1 and must file them in early January to appear on the April ballot.


Cullen said much of what he set out to accomplish on the board had been done or is on its way to completion.


Cullen championed seatbelts on school buses. The board on Tuesday voted to continue paying for belts to be installed on large school buses when the Van Galder Co. buys new buses.


He also championed the introduction of non-European language instruction. The district this year began teaching Mandarin Chinese at two elementary schools.


Cullen said he wanted to help choose the new superintendent. Tom Evert had told Cullen in 2007 that he would retire sometime in Cullen’s three-year term. Evert planned on retiring in June 2009, but he and the board mutually agreed to part ways in February after a series of closed-door board meetings.


Cullen said his only regret about that episode is that it happened. The process was painful for everyone involved, he said.


Cullen said he is very pleased with the board’s choice to replace Evert.


“I think Karen Schulte is going to end up being a good superintendent. She’s got compassion and guts, which I think is a good combination,” Cullen said.


Improving student achievement is a continual challenge for the board and staff, Cullen said, but he has high hopes that the Studer process will lead to gains.


Health care consultant Quint Studer is donating his resources to help the district install Studer’s quality-improvement methods.


The Studer process sets measurable goals for administrators, something Cullen said had been lacking.


Cullen noted that the board has had numerous disagreements in recent years, but he believes that’s better than limiting those disputes to private conversations, which he said happens in other governmental bodies.


“This, I think, is how democracy is supposed to work,” he said. “Somebody said one time that when democracy works, it sweats. It’s not supposed to be pretty.”


Cullen said he is leaving a strong board.


“At the end of the day, I think the board ends up making a good decision, even if it’s a close vote.”


Cullen said he’s being treated—successfully—for prostate cancer, and his health is not a factor in his decision.


Asked if he would ever run for office again, Cullen said he knows the school board replaces three members each year, so if he finds he misses it, he could decide to run again in 2011.



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