By Noelle Mentch, Current Staff
Kurt Rebholz believes that his financial background and openness to different ideas are some of his strengths that make him a great member of the school board.
“ I think my experience of being a good communicator, owning a marketing and sales business,” Rebholz said. “I can help promote our school district.”
He runs a business called Bay Marketforce, which is located in downtown West Bend. His company has worked with students at the West Bend High Schools by hiring them as interns.
“I’ve hired some interns from the West Bend High School to be a marketing specialist so they can get some practical business experience and work on sales databases that we manage,” Rebholz said.
Rebholz, who is running for reelection this year, moved to West Bend 27 years ago, after his wife Jenny came to work at Amity Leather, a once-thriving manufacturing company. However, it wasn’t just the job that brought them to West Bend.
“A great school system and a great community brought us to West Bend,” Rebholz said.
His children Megan and Kyle both attended the West Bend School District, graduating from East High School.
He also notes that his parents both served as mentors for him.
“I’m the son of two public school teachers at Greenfield High School,” Rebholz said. “Both my mom and dad were educators so I have a deep appreciation for teaching and education.”
Some of Rebholz’s proudest achievements include helping hire the school district’s current superintendent, Jennifer Wimmer, and helping with the school board’s balanced budget.
“We’re trying to keep as much budgeted money and other kinds of materials within the teaching staff so they can do their jobs successfully, prioritizing teachers and learning for our district,” Rebholz said.
One of Rebholz’s hopes is to continue to expand the curriculum and clubs within the school district to help students succeed.
“We look forward to expanding clubs and activities and curriculum so that they can excel in not only today’s economy, but in the economy of the future,” Rebholz said.
Why are you running for school board?
FULL TRANSCRIPT: I ran for the school board three years ago to give back to the community. I feel my experience has been, and my values are, in line with the West Bend School District and I wanted to give back to a community that I love, which is one reason I’m running.
The second reason is that I had my two kids go through the school system and really would like to promote the school district more within our Washington County, kind of a broader area, so that we can even attract more students. So I’m looking to promote the great things we have going at the West Bend School District so that we can also solve this declining enrollment issue that looks to be maybe a year or two away from us, flattening the curve on the declining enrollment, and then growing our enrollment from there.
How should the school district approach the 2021-2022 school year in regards to COVID-19?
FULL TRANSCRIPT: I think just do more of the same, take the precautions that we’ve taken. I’ve said multiple times it was a priority to get our schools open for our students and our parents and our community. Everyone was for that: Our teachers and community and, I believe, the overwhelming amount of students wanted the classes open.
What proved to be a good procedural precaution is that we had very limited COVID spread in schools. All the precautions I know, although cumbersome, when the students had to be quarantined, I know that was hard, but it really helped reduce the spread of COVID; there was hardly any in the school setting. I said kids were safer at school.
So for the 2021-2022 school year we will open up as we’re doing more. I know choir and band are coming back into session, we look forward to having them face-to-face in buildings and learning from our instructors. We also look forward to having more students and parents in the stands. I’ve missed, as a board member, going to all the clubs and activities, so we look forward to opening up for next year; more viewing of our clubs and activities going on and then just being cautious. We’ll learn from what we did this year and take forward the good protocols that we put in place.
What is the school district’s biggest concern at this moment?
FULL TRANSCRIPT: I think the biggest concern is the declining enrollment. We have 500 or so graduating seniors from East and West. This coming year you only have 384 in K-4 coming into the district. We know we’re going to be losing about 100 to 120 students just from the large high school later population of juniors and seniors. So solving that we want to make this really a school district that attracts from the whole Washington County community to help solve this declining enrollment.
Why we need to solve this declining enrollment is for the amount of course offerings we have. All the AP offerings, career and technical education, and all the sports and clubs and activities, and just all the local schools in the area. And like I said I think we’re a year or two away from flattening the declining enrollment curve and then with the current momentum of the school district on an uptick, I think we’ll be able to attract students from the Washington County area, as just being our biggest challenge and again some ways to solve it.
How might the district better allocate and manage funds?
FULL TRANSCRIPT: The budget has been balanced the last three years, we do have declining funding because of our declining enrollment so we’ve had to make some tough choices. We’ve cut some expenses out of the administrative area and administrative offices, we’ve tried not to have that impact our frontline teaching staff. We’ve prioritized frontline teaching in our budget, we’ve also prioritized offering the expanded curriculum that we have, and we’ve been having partnerships.
We’ve had to let our facilities kind of lag on the maintenance and upkeep, we’re going to have to address that in the future and we know that’s an issue, but for the most part we’ve been proud of some of the accomplishments of balancing a budget through the declining revenue from the state and having it not affect our frontline educators.
Read more about each candidate at The Current. The school board election is April 6.
Top image: School board member Kurt Rebholz was able to be on stage with his daughter Megan as she received her diploma at the 2020 West Bend East High School graduation ceremony. Photo courtesy of Rebholz.