What areas of the district do you seek to change or improve?
Tonnie Schmidt (incumbent)
In the immediate future, I would like to be directly responsible for hiring a new superintendent to replace resigning Don Kirkegaard.
I also would like to ensure that our facilities are in good shape going forward while not disregarding the declining birthrate and its effect on enrollment in the future. I have a commitment to neighborhood schools as is feasible, including incorporating central administration into existing vacant space in them as an alternative to closing multiple elementary schools. I believe in the priceless power of families to support one another in neighborhood elementary schools over a large centralized structure where children can feel lost and overwhelmed.
WBSD has done an excellent job of offering skilled trade opportunities to students. I would like to continue that trend and expand upon it as is feasible at the high schools and through partnership with local businesses and MPTC. I personally support the efforts of the United Way to help students explore their talents and interests through their INSPIRE program. My long range vision includes expanding the K-4 nature programming at the YMCA into all schools, and ultimately a charter nature school, similar to what is being offered at Riveredge Nature Center.
Joel Ongert (incumbent)
We must hire another strong superintendent to lead the day-to-day operations of the school district. Don Kirkegaard was the right hire at the right time and did an excellent job as superintendent while he was here. It is unfortunate for us that he is leaving a little sooner than we thought, but I have absolutely no regrets in hiring him. We need to find another strong superintendent, like Don, to continue moving our district in the right direction.
We also have a lot of facility-related issues to tackle. Previous school boards did not do enough to maintain and improve our buildings, which are assets of our community, and now we find ourselves in a position where a lot of work needs to be done in a lot of different district-owned buildings. Prioritizing that work, and finding economical ways to pay for it, will be a top priority of the board over the next several months. Continuous improvement of the educational outcomes of our students will always be a top priority. We need to ensure we are keeping up with the ever-changing economy and society so we can be teaching our students what they need to learn to be successful when they graduate from West Bend.
Nancy Justman (incumbent)
I want to hire a high-quality, engaging, vision-driven leader for the district. I want to engage the community more to support the district in various ways. I want to ensure that teachers and staff work together to find the proper solutions for curriculum, discipline issues and other areas. I want to finalize long-range and sustainable plans for the buildings, student enrollment, community engagement and staff compensation.
I would like to offer a new perspective on hiring our fourth permanent superintendent in four years. We need to find someone who is excited about planting roots in our community to stay for a while. I would also like to see performance incentives return for teacher compensation.
Interviews by Current reporters Megan Landvatter and Noelle Mentch. Responses are listed in the order that the candidates will appear on the April 7 ballot.
Read more about the candidates at The Current, including their reasons for running, thoughts on another referendum and experience with the West Bend School District.