Decision 2020: Board Candidates on Why They Want to Serve

What is your motivation for wanting to serve on the school board?


Tonnie Schmidt (incumbent)

The gratitude I feel for the education I received as a child and young adult as well as the ability to serve the community that has welcomed the success of my business, Delta Defense, is what motivates me to serve on the school board.

Selfishly, I also want to continue to recruit employees from the pool of graduates of this district, and I want to see my property stay valuable in the eyes of potential buyers.

Joel Ongert (incumbent)

My main motivation to serve is because I care about the students in our community and have a strong desire to move our district forward. I firmly believe our community would be nothing without a strong school district. As a school board member, you always have to make decisions that are in the best interest of our students, our taxpayers and our community. You have to leave personal and political agendas aside and always make sure you are doing what’s best for students, taxpayers and the community. I believe I have done this in the three years I have served on the board, which has been very rewarding to me personally.

Nancy Justman (incumbent)

I feel there are things that we have not accomplished. When I decided to run for the original term I had a list of items that I had hoped to make positive changes. Those included ridding the district of the Galileo testing, hiring a high-quality superintendent, increasing school support, ensuring we had a healthy balance of teacher and community input in major decisions, and making headway on the building issues. I feel we have moved the needle on some of the areas but clearly there is much more work to be done.

Jody Geenen

There are several motivating factors for my wanting to serve on the school board. Here are some: I want to be the board’s conscience when it comes to being excellent stewards of taxpayer money. For example, considering that the April referendum which was voted down called for a palace of a school to be built in Jackson where there would have been 180+ square feet of space per student instead of 100 square feet maximum for effective learning and  knowing that there is declining enrollment, the current school board was not being good stewards of our money.

In addition, I would like to bring transparency back to the school district that has been falling off since the triad took office three years ago. I would also like to communicate with all stakeholders, getting their input on things like new curriculum and expanding or reducing administrative positions, unlike the way the current board has been conducting business by offering reviews during working hours with no evenings or weekends and turning a one principal job that oversees two high schools into two principal jobs. I would like to ask probing questions when presented with curriculum and grading systems that the current board is not asking, such as why we would pilot eliminating the traditional 100-point grading system for one where basically nobody fails in grades K-12 while other school districts are not using it in grades 8-12.

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 unique goals, thoughts on another referendum and experience with the West Bend School District.

1 Comment

Filed under Community, School News and Features

One response to “Decision 2020: Board Candidates on Why They Want to Serve

  1. John

    Mr. Ongert believes he’s done what’s best for taxpayers in the 3 years he’s served on the School Board. I don’t think pushing a $74 million referendum on taxpayers is “doing what’s best,” especially since the district is still in debt ($32 million) for prior referendums. The district spent over $300,000 to buy out Supt. Olson’s contract & hundreds of thousands was spent on tennis courts that serve a minority of students. Now the district is touting library renovations, yet the 2019 referendum stressed the urgency of upgrading security, STEM and technical classrooms, HVAC systems, etc. Fiscal decisions by this current School Board are questionable and not respectful of taxpayer funds.

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