Edgerton School Board to get three new members
EDGERTON The Edgerton School Board will have three new school board members at a time when the district faces a possible spending referendum that could appear on the ballot this fall with over $9 million in spending options.
Three vacant seats on the board are up for election April 3, Edgerton residents Robert Chapados, Dianne Davis, Derek Ninmer, Jim Klein, Daniel Ray and Jon Raymond running. All are political newcomers.
The Gazette asked the candidates to rank three main spending options for the possible referendum that was detailed in a survey the district mailed to the public earlier this month.
The options are: $4.8 million in deferred and scheduled building maintenance; a $1.5 million to $2.5 million plan to upgrade the district's aging technology infrastructure; and a $2.9 million plan that would restructure district pension debt.
Q: How would you rank the areas of building maintenance, technology upgrades and pension debt restructuring as part of a possible school district referendum, and why?
Chapados: He said the top priority for a possible referendum should be building maintenance. If the district doesn't address the work now, he added, costs will only mount later.
"Deferred district maintenance must be addressed as soon as possible to return the schools to a well-maintained status," he said. "Future school budgets must set aside funds for continuing school maintenance projects."
Chapados ranked technology second and pension refinancing last, although he noted he supports refinancing through referendum.
"Current interest-only payments will never eliminate the pension debt," he said.
Ninmer: He said the district should spend possible referendum money first to boost technology because he believes it would most immediately benefit students.
For Ninmer, number two would be maintenance needs.
"The structural repair needs for district roofs are something that can't be put off," he said. "It will end up costing you more. But we need to get regular maintenance and technology built into the budget. You can't have a major number like $4.8 million where we're hitting the public big time every 10 or 12 years," he said.
Klein: He wants the district to tackle technology upgrades and pension debt first.
"The district's technology is a pretty old and outdated system. Fixing that would be my top priority. I think paying off that debt to the pension fund would be a good thing to get done soon. It would free up money in the coming years."
The last priority of the three should be maintenance, Klein said.
"I always seem a little more excited about referendums that will improve education for the students rather than a referendum that will go to maintain buildings."
Raymond: Said he believes building maintenance should be the district's top priority in a possible referendum.
"The longer we wait to repair the school's roof, the higher the costs will be in the future to repair. And the suggested window replacements will save energy," he said.
He places pension debt refinancing second, saying it would save the district money and free up operating cash.
"It makes fiscal sense with state funding uncertainties," he said. "The projected state payoff calculation did not come to fruition, so here we are now with historic low interest rates presenting an opportunity to be financially responsible with the future in mind."
Raymond listed technology upgrades third, but said he still values it as a need.
"For our children to be best prepared for their future, I believe they need to have the best technology available."
Ray: He said that all three spending options in the possible referendum are "equally important." He noted that, "If I had to chose just one, it would be spending to upgrade the district's aging technology infrastructure." He did not elaborate about why that is.
Ray also sought to clear up an issue on his candidacy. The Edgerton resident announced just before the primary election last month that he wanted to withdraw his name from the school board race, citing work conflicts. But Ray won in the primary, which forced him onto the April 3 election ballot.
In an interview this week, Ray said he believes the local media, including The Gazette, "twisted" his statements in news reports, and created the appearance that he didn't want to be on the board at all.
Ray said while it's true that he is no longer "actively" seeking a spot on the board, he feels he'd serve if elected.
Repeated attempts by The Gazette to reach candidate Dianne Davis were unsuccessful.
EDGERTON SCHOOL BOARD
Robert T. Chapados
Address: 803 W. Rollin St., Edgerton.
Job: Senior processing engineer, Aquatech International, Hartland.
Education: Bachelor's degree, chemical engineering, UW-Madison.
Community service: None
Elected posts: None
Address: 32 Lilac Court, Edgerton.
Job: Retired technology consultant, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction; former teacher, Appleton Area School District.
Education: Masters degree, information media, St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, Minn.
Community service: Grant writing for the Edgerton Public Library.
Elected posts: None
Address: 1121 Winston Drive, Edgerton.
Job: Dispatcher, Rock County 911.
Education: Bachelor's degree, liberal studies, UW-Whitewater, Masters degree, corporate communications, UW-Whitewater.
Community service: Volunteer, Edgerton Fire and EMS; youth soccer coach, Edgerton.
Elected posts: None
Address: 509 Blaine St., Edgerton.
Job: Environmental Health and Safety Coordinator, Kikkoman Foods, Walworth.
Education: Bachelor's degree with majors in geography, conservation and natural science, Carthage College, Kenosha.
Community service: Coach for youth softball and basketball.
Elected posts: None
Daniel L. Ray
Address: 1133 Mildred Circle, Edgerton
Job: Information not available
Education: Information not available
Community service: Information not available
Elected posts: Information not available
Dianne E. Davis
Address: 267 Edgerton Road, Edgerton.
Did not respond