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Budget tops Elkhorn School Board issues

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STANLEY B. MILAM
March 30, 2012
— Four candidates for three seats on the Elkhorn School Board all agree the district will continue to face budget challenges.

Two incumbents, one current member appointed to the board and a newcomer challenger face off in the April 3 election. Susan Leibsle and Barbara Fischer are seeking re-election. Dagmar Knorr, appointed to the board last April, will seek her first full term and Matt O'Donell is seeking his first term.


All candidates said the budget is the most important issue facing the board.


Matt O'Donell


Age: 32


Address: 717 S. Sugarpine Way, Elkhorn


Job: Director of shop services, Stuart Tank.


Education: Master's degree in communications, UW-Whitewater.


Community service: None


Elected posts: None


Most important issue: "I think it's critical that we maintain the strength of our community, and to do that we must maintain the strength of our schools. We need to focus on school district-community cooperation and involvement. One way to do that is through improved communication. Another is better and more up-to-date technology. I offer a fresh look at the school district. I believe that can be helpful when working to improve our schools."


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Susan Leibsle


Age: 60


Address: N5176 Brookwood Lane, Elkhorn


Job: Accountant


Education: Bachelor of business administration, UW-Whitewater


Community service: None


Elected posts: Served on Elkhorn School Board since 1994. Currently serves as school board president.


Most important issue: "It is important that the board and the administration balance the needs of our students with the financial ability of the taxpayers who support our district. The key is to work hard for our students with the resources the taxpayers can afford. This will be especially difficult given all the turmoil in Madison. Everything up there is changing so quickly. We have always had to budget from July 1 to June 30 without knowing for sure what state aid will be until October. But now, with all the changes that are happening and could continue to happen, it makes things just that much more difficult. That's why I think we need experience on the board to adjust to these changes."


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Dagmar Knorr


Age: 58


Address: 511 W. Walworth, Elkhorn


Job: Alternative education teacher


Education: Bachelor of education and fine arts, University of Illinois


Community service: Has served in many volunteer roles in the school district including as picture lady at Westside Elementary, the Junior Great Books program, PTO and the middle school referendum committee.


Elected posts: None, but was appointed and now serves on school board.


Most important issue: "With all the changes in Madison regarding Act 10, it will be a big challenge for the board and the administration to be fiscally responsible and meet the needs of our children. In a sense, we now act as human resource specialists. Collective bargaining is now a matter for all of us, not just the union and district representatives. It will be a big learning curve, and that's why experience will be critical. I have that experience. My experience as an alternative education teacher will be especially relevant."


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Barbara Fischer


Age: 56


Address: N6221 Tamarack Court, Elkhorn


Job: Clerk/treasurer, town of La Fayette and small business owner with husband.


Education: Elkhorn High School graduate, and Wisconsin certification for municipal clerks.


Community service: Purple and Gold Scholarship Fund, Elkhorn Area All Sports Booster Club, PTA, treasurer of Evergreen Property Owners Association.


Elected posts: Elkhorn School Board two terms


Most important issue: "Government mandates and fiscal restrictions present the board with a significant challenge. The state places limits on the levy, for example, but there are no limits on our expenses such as utilities, insurance, and other expenses we incur. We will need to be creative and more efficient, but at the same time, we need to do more to educate our children. That's a tough balancing act, and one that I believe I am qualified to do based on my experience."



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