Voters narrow Janesville School Board field to six

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Frank Schultz
Wednesday, February 20, 2013

— Cathy Myers, who teaches in a public school in Illinois, received the most votes in Tuesday's primary election for Janesville School Board.

The significance of a newcomer getting the top vote total in a low-turnout race is difficult to measure, but it's the incumbents who usually have strong showings.

The three incumbents in the race did have the next-highest vote totals.

Voters eliminated JT Lichtfuss from the April 2 ballot and left six others to struggle for three school board seats.

The six winners were asked what issue is most important for voters. Most pointed to experience and background.

Myers hasn't served on a school board, but she said that as a veteran teacher, she knows how schools run.

"I think the most important issue is to think about the kids, frankly, and who (the voters) think has the experience and the background and the knowledge to encourage policies and movements out of the board that do things that improve the experience for kids," Myers said.

Incumbent Kristin Hesselbacher said voters should consider candidates who are knowledgeable about the district and how it works.

"I advocate for students. That's my No. 1 priority, and that's what I would look for in any candidate anywhere—someone who puts the needs of students first because that's what public education is for," Hesselbacher said.

Incumbent Peter Severson said providing needed services with limited dollars remains the board's top issue.

"I believe that experience does count for something, and I've been through quite a bit on the board already—contract negotiating team, budgets where we had severe deficits … having to make tough choices and trying to keep the district on track," Severson said.

Incumbent Karl Dommershausen said the key issue is for the board to begin working more as a team.

Dommershausen said the board should sit down with the various unions and employee groups it works with to hash out details of the employee handbook.

"We need to sit down and start discussions on moving forward. I'm very disturbed that we're losing a lot of good teachers," Dommershausen said.

Diane Eyers said the board's handling of the employee handbook—which includes benefits and work rules and how those help retain good teachers—is the top issue.

Eyers said her experience and insight in insurance and handbook creation could help.

"I think I'll be pretty good with that," she said.

Fredrick Jackson said he could help get outstanding issues solved so the board can move on to providing the best education possible.

"I think I would be able to help establish communications between all the different parties so those matters can be addressed promptly, and then get the focus back onto our children," Jackson said.

Last updated: 8:09 am Monday, April 29, 2013

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