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New faces assured with four on Janesville School Board ballot

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
January 4, 2012
— It appears voters will have a choice of four candidates to fill three seats on the Janesville School Board.

Those elected April 3 will join six other board members who are facing a second year of difficult budget choices.


At least two of the newcomers will replace board members DuWayne Severson and Lori Stottler, who will step down in April.


Only one incumbent, Greg Ardrey, is running for re-election. The others running for three-year terms are newcomers to elective office. They are Jack Champeau, David Distefano and Deborah Schilling.


All four candidates said they had turned in nomination papers by Tuesday's deadline.


Assistant board clerk Nancy Hewes said signatures on nominating petitions still must be checked. Hewes retired Tuesday. Her replacement has until Jan. 10 to verify signatures.


Following are some of the basics on the candidates, all east-side Janesville residents with children in district schools:


-- Greg Ardrey, 45, of 25 Sauk Court, is a manager for Alliant Energy. He holds a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering.


Ardrey was appointed to the school board in July 2008 and elected April 2009. He has led the district's Boundary Lines Committee for more than a year. Among its jobs was examining the question of closing a school.


Ardrey said he voted for union contracts that play a role in the district's financial problems, and he wants to be part of the solution.


Ardrey said the answers to those problems often rise from the right or the left, and he sees himself as a middle-of-the road person who would balance the needs of students against the need to restrain spending.


Ardrey said he wants to continue to apply his skills to seek new ways to handle building maintenance issues. He also would like to see a system that focuses on each student's needs and graduates them ready for their futures.


-- Jack Champeau, 34, of 4522 Southwyck Drive, is program manager for UW-Platteville's engineering program at UW-Rock County.


Champeau holds a master's degree in management. He is board president for the school district's online high school, the Janesville Virtual Academy.


Champeau said he would bring a middle-of-the-road perspective to the school board.


"I think I can help bring consensus," he said, by applying skills he uses on the job.


"I'm more for collaborating, finding solutions that don't cost a lot of money, trying to bring different sides together for a common result," he said.


"I'm focused on kids, and I'm focused on education. I think there are some quality people on the school board, but I think sometimes their thoughtfulness gets overshadowed by how the board is perceived in general."


Champeau has a campaign page on Facebook; search "Jack for Janesville Schools."


-- David Distefano, 38, of 1614 Heather Court, is vice president of employee benefits with Tricor, an insurance consulting company. He is a 1992 Craig High School graduate with a bachelor's degree in business administration.


Distefano has served on the school district's Boundary Lines Committee, which last year voted not to close any schools. The school board later concurred.


Distefano said he got a good education in schools here, and he wants the schools to offer even more opportunities than he had.


He said he would put children's interests at the forefront, and his business background could help in the tough decisions the board will have to make.


The district should become more efficient in its spending and may not be able to continue to do things the way things always have been done, Distefano said.


-- Deborah Schilling, 35, of 4208 Valencia Drive, is sales manager for Ojibway Enclosure Systems in Janesville, where she said her job is to find solutions for businesses' needs.


Schilling holds a bachelor's degree in natural science. She said she offers a different perspective from what she sees among current board members. New ideas are needed to find budget cuts without hurting students, she said.


"Let's start looking at this like business," Schilling said, but also give teachers more voice in finding solutions because they know what goes on in the classroom.


One long-term goal would be to save by having the district go paperless, she said. Another idea is to see how much could be accomplished with part-time employees who would not receive benefits.



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