Janesville69.1°

Budget is key in Edgerton School Board race

Print Print
Catherine W. Idzerda
February 10, 2010
— The budget, the budget and the budget.

Those are the top concerns for Edgerton School Board candidates.


Spring election comes at a time of significant change for the district. Long-time Superintendent Norm Fjelstad is retiring.


Brian Donnelly, who served on the school board for 21 years, decided not to run again. Jeff Smrecek, who has been on the board for three years, also will not run again, leaving Amy Richardson as the only incumbent in the race for three seats.


The Feb. 16 primary will reduce the field from seven candidates to six.


All of the candidates cited declining enrollments and the resulting budget cuts as their major concern.


“So much of our budget is derived from how the state funds us,” Richardson said. “We have to work around that and the revenue limits.”


Revenue limits determine how much revenue districts can raise through taxes.


The board has decided not to dip any further into its reserves, Richardson said, and so must look at other ways to cover costs.


John Falligant said he was concerned about asking people to pony up more for taxes during difficult economic times.


“I think we have to scrutinize carefully all of our spending,” Falligant said.


He stressed he didn’t have a particular agenda or a magic bullet that would solve the district’s budget struggles. Board members needed to collaborate with each and with the stakeholders in the district and the community for a successful outcome, he said.


David Weger said part of the answer might lie in marketing the district.


“It needs to be a joint effort between the school board, the city council and the community,” Weger said. “I think we need total community involvement.”


Like other candidates, he’s concerned about staff reductions.


He also wants to make sure the district is getting “every dollar its entitled to from the federal government.”


Matt Towns said the district has been well served by its current board and Fjelstad.


But this fall the board will be dealing with a new superintendent and unprecedented budget challenges.


Towns is proud of the district’s reputation for excellence and wants to help it stay strong. He believes his professional and community service background make him well suited for the post.


Like Towns, James Salimes is pleased with the job the board has done in maintaining the quality of district education.


“I think we’re always going to have to be dealing with the budget,” Salimes said. “How can we continue to provide that high quality of education that we’ve provided in the past?”


Creative problem solving and involving everyone in the budgeting process will be crucial.


“We’re going to have to prioritize,” Salimes said. “It might require everybody sacrificing something to get us to where we need to be.”


Sara Stinski noted that school districts all over the state are facing budget challenges.


“It’s really bad news for education and bad news for taxpayers,” Stinski said.


Edgerton also faces the challenge of losing a long-time board member and superintendent.


“We’re saying goodbye to a really good brain trust,” Stinski said. “There was really some amazing talent there.”


Kevin Vizvary stressed that it is important to look beyond the big budget numbers for specifics.


“I want to understand the specifics of where the money is actually spent,” Vizvary said.


He also wants to support the president’s “Race to the Top” program. Schools who meet the guidelines might be eligible for more money.


Making the transition to the new superintendent as seamless as possible is important for the health of the district, as well, he said.


The candidates
Name: John C. Falligant

Address: 335 Craig Road, Edgerton.


Age: 48


Job: Mechanical engineer


Education: Bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Milwaukee School of Engineering.


Community service: None


Elected post: None


Name: Amy T. Richardson (I)

Address: 939 E. Lakeside Drive, Edgerton.


Age: 41


Job: Bank examiner


Education: Bachelor’s degree in finance from UW-Whitewater


Community service: Superintendent search committee and transportation committee


Elected posts: Edgerton School Board, six years.


Name: Jim Salimes

Age: 39


Address: 9208 North County H, Edgerton.


Job: Part time youth pastor, Fulton Church.


Education: Bachelor’s of science in biblical studies from the Moody Bible Institute.


Community service: Involved with Yahara School PTO, coordinates music once a month at his church, works with others churches to help arrange service projects in Edgerton.


Elected posts: None


Name: Sara Stinski

Address: 857 Bliven Road, Edgerton


Age: 36


Job: Small business owner, marketing and public relations.


Education: Bachelor's degree in journalism and a master's degree in journalism


Community service: Volunteered for Rotary Botanical Gardens, the March of Dimes and a Milwaukee organization that grants end-of-life wishes for terminally ill adults.


Elected posts: None


Name: Matt Towns

Age: 31


Address: 510 St. Joseph’s Circle, Edgerton.


Job: Agriculture banker at M&I Bank


Education: Bachelor’s degrees in agriculture business and dairy science at UW-Platteville.


Community service: Treasurer for Janesville Farmer’s Market, general manager of the Albion Tigers, executive board of the Home Talent League.


Elected posts: None


Name: Kevin Vizvary

Age: 48


Address: 833 E. Lakeside Drive, Edgerton


Job: Instrumentation technician


Education: Naval Nuclear Power School


Community service: Volunteer for sports teams, Boy Scouts of America.


Elected Posts: None


Name: David Weger

Age: 58


Address: 1025 Robert St., Edgerton.


Job: Retired union ironworker; now works for Shorewest Realtors, Janesville.


Education: MATC, associate’s degree in business management.


Community service: Member of Coalition for a Healthier Edgerton


Elected posts: None



Print Print