Six candidates are running to fill four seats on the Milton School Board on April 6.
The candidates are incumbents David Holterman and Joe Martin, appointee Jennifer Johns and newcomers Leslie Hubert, Sherri Shaw and Jay Williams.
Adams Publishing Group asked them these questions. Answers are edited for brevity.
Q: Why are you running for school board?
Holterman: “My wife and I live and work in the community, and we deeply care about the education of our district’s children. The administration, the staff and the board were faced with extraordinary challenges during the past year, and I believe we made thoughtful and forward-thinking decisions during this time. Overall, Milton is a ‘district of choice,’ and I want to do my part to help it remain successful.”
Hubert: “I’m running because, as a citizen who is knowledgeable in how education is supposed to function, I feel a growing disconnect between the school board and the community it is supposed to represent. I want to strengthen the relationship. ... As a board member, I’ll be focused on empowering parents, supporting teachers and bridging the communication gap between the school board and the community. ... I aim to advocate for all citizens in our district.”
Johns: “I want to serve because I love education and believe as a group if we concentrate on putting our students first and work together, we can make the district one of the best in the state. I enjoy being part of positive organizations, and I believe the school district is just that. I bring value and extensive experience to the board, based on my past careers and volunteer experiences.”
Martin: “I am running ... to continue to advocate for the students and families of Milton. I believe we are delivering on our mission of student opportunity and achievement while engaging our community. With the support of the community, we can continue to provide excellent outcomes for our students.”
Shaw: “I think there needs to be more accountability for tax dollars spent. Being a business owner for over 30 years, I have learned that accountability is essential in the proper operation of any business. Every child needs a quality education to provide them the opportunity to succeed. However, this should be provided in a fiscally responsible way.”
Williams: “I have resided in the Milton school system for well over 40 years. This is my hometown and where I chose to raise my children. I believe we have one of the best school systems in Wisconsin; however, there is always room for improvement. ... If elected, I will try to be a voice for the people. I feel that too many things are being done without listening to the public, parents, teachers and students. We need to work on gaining back the trust of our district members.”
Q: What do you see are the top three issues the school board will face?
Holterman: “Our immediate challenge is helping kids that struggled during the pandemic get caught up both academically and socially. Extending our time horizon, we need to continue to reinforce our foundation of success. This means retaining talented staff, maintaining quality facilities and producing students who are ready to be successful members of the community. To do these things long term, we need to make prudent fiscal decisions.”
Hubert: “Making and implementing a plan to bring students back up to grade level within the next year and being proactive in implementing interventions that will allow teachers to target the needs of each student. ... The school board also needs to make specific adjustments within the budget to allow for future district needs five, 10, 20 years down the road.”
Hubert also thinks the district should build more public-private partnerships.
Johns: “The board will need to continue to address challenges as it relates to poverty, classroom size, technology, state funding, transportation and the health and safety of the students. We will face these challenges as they present themselves with our core values and mission as our guide.
“Things right now are good. ... The most important issue facing the district is how do we make this sustainable.”
Martin: “I believe the top issues facing our district are: successfully completing our building improvements and transitioning into the new and renovated spaces; identifying any gaps in student achievement from the environment we are currently in and planning to close those gaps; and continuing to balance providing a high-quality education with being responsible stewards of tax resources.”
Shaw: “Children being in school full time, getting children caught up that have fallen behind with online classes, and financial responsibility.”
Williams: “One, how the current school board is handling the funding allocated to the school and how we can work on reducing the taxpayers’ liabilities. Two, regaining the public’s trust. Transparency by the board to the public about how the funds are being spent and why. Three, COVID-19 and how the school district is planning to keep moving forward while keeping our students safe.”
Q: What will guide your decision-making as a board member?
Holterman: “I try and take a balanced approach to each decision. To do this, I consider both what a decision will do for the well-being of our students and whether or not we can sustain the outcome ... for the long term. I try and seek feedback from our stakeholders, our staff and administrators, and information from the public in hopes of making an informed decision.”
Hubert: “My decisions as a board member will be made based on what is best for the students, families and taxpayers of the district.”
Johns: “My role as a school board member has several different responsibilities. One, I will be focused on the district’s vision. Two, I will be fiscally accountable and responsible. Three, I will put students first. Four, I will make decisions with an open mind.
“The role of the entire board also has several different key responsibilities. One, we should set policy and continue to improve on a set of cohesive guidelines that matches the district’s vision. Two, we should supervise the superintendent and establish a strong working relationship with the position. ... Three, we should be transparent; communication to the public is key.”
Martin: “Decision-making is always guided by considering all sides of an issue and balancing what’s best for students and the interests of the community.”
Shaw: “My decision-making process shall be guided by voters and what I feel is best for the school district.”
Williams: “I believe I am my own person and that I don’t make decisions based on what everyone else is doing. I believe in listening to all points being presented and making a well-informed decision.”