By Caitlin Marsch, Current Staff
After a six-year tenure, Pathways Charter School will close in June. Continue reading
By Caitlin Marsch, Current Staff
After a six-year tenure, Pathways Charter School will close in June. Continue reading
By Samantha Dietel, Editor in Chief
For Jhalia Evans, acknowledging Martin Luther King Jr. Day would mean that she matters. Continue reading
WBSD has new superintendent after seven months without a top administrator
By Samantha Dietel, Editor in Chief
Don Kirkegaard now fills a position that has been vacant in the West Bend School District since December.
Kirkegaard officially became the district superintendent July 9. His assumption of the role thus concluded the search initiated by the school board after Erik Olson, Kirkegaard’s predecessor, resigned. Continue reading
Larson happy to pass the gavel to Ongert
By Samantha Dietel, Current Staff
After serving only one year in the position, Tiffany Larson will not continue as president of the West Bend School Board.
Members of the school board changed roles Monday in an annual process that occurs after new members are sworn in. Because Chris Zwygart and Kurt Rebholz secured their seats on the board during the April 3 spring election, it was time for the board to reorganize. Larson was replaced by Joel Ongert as president and was not re-elected into an officer position.
That turn of events led a local blogger to interpret the shift as an effort to expel Larson from board leadership. Continue reading
Synchronized swimming team successfully petitions the district to overturn lighting directive
By Mattie Zautner, Current Staff
Over 60 dolphins swam into the last school board meeting.
Members of the Dolphins, the West Bend High Schools’ synchronized swim team, crashed the April 9 school board meeting to persuade district officials to allow the natatorium lights to be turned off during their show scheduled to open just three days later. Traditionally the show depends upon a darkened room for effect, but this school year the team had been notified that the lights could not be turned off for safety reasons. Continue reading
Joining incumbent Monte Schmiege on the ballot are three challengers, Chris Zwygart, Kurt Rebholz and Mary Weigand. Leaving the board is Tim Stellmacher, who was appointed to the board mid-term and did not file for re-election.
The West Bend Current asked the candidates about their background. That interview material is presented below in the order that the candidates will appear on the ballot. Continue reading
Why are you running for school board?
Well, I have three years of experience in the district. I think it is important to have some experience on the board rather than new members every single year because it does take some time to get acclimated to the business of the school board and what it’s all like, what the responsibilities are, what you should be doing and what you shouldn’t be doing. So it takes quite a bit of time to get acquainted to all of that. Continue reading
What are your budgeting priorities for the school district?
Seventy-five percent of the money goes towards staffing so that is a big component of that and then you’ve got a component which would be for construction materials and all of that. The district is putting 1.4 million dollars into retaining the school grounds. Those are the primary ones and we also have debt that we have to pay for. Continue reading
What is the board’s role when it comes to curriculum changes?
That’s an interesting question because I have a different opinion on that. Some people will say that we need to leave that to the experts and I don’t necessarily believe that. If we had policies or some way to describe what curriculum should look like that would be one thing, but we really don’t. And things change so much that it is difficult to do that. I think the board’s role is oversight. But I worked with administration to update our policy to allow the board to approve standards and curriculum and this is modeled after what Green Bay does, as a matter of fact. And the board is also responsible by law and action in August to authorize a list of board-approved standards so there is a precedent of the board approving standards. Continue reading
Students will experience unique school identities at East, West
By Jessica Steger, Editor in Chief
This year the West Bend High Schools welcome a new principal, but wait… there’s more! Attend school now, and you will get not one, but two principals. Continue reading
Three seats are on the ballot and only one incumbent, Ryan Gieryn, is running for re-election, which means the board will have at least two new faces. Leaving the board are president Rick Parks and vice-president Bart Williams.
Gieryn will be joined by Richard Cammack, Nancy Justman, Bob Miller, Joel Ongert, and Tonnie Schmidt on the ballot. The West Bend Current asked each candidate about their background. That interview material is presented below in the order that the candidates will appear on the ballot. Continue reading
What is your motivation for running for school board and what are your intentions if elected to the board?
The West Bend School District was once among the best in Southeast Wisconsin. “Excellence for All” was something the entire community, parents, students, teachers, alumni and business owners believed in. West Bend was the district where every parent wanted to send their child… A Destination! What happened? Unfortunately, the standard of excellence has changed over the years. This is why I am running for school board, and where my campaign slogan was born. “Restoring Excellence!” We CAN get back to “Excellence for All.” We know what it looks like and our district can achieve that again. Continue reading
How do you think Galileo testing should be used in the West Bend School District?
Galileo testing should be eliminated immediately! Our students are being tested too much and this expensive platform provides no value for students, teachers or parents. Teachers should not be held accountable to tests that do not align with what is being taught in the curriculum, and neither should our students. These tests do not help the teachers individualize learning plans or improve outcomes. The time used for testing would be much better spent on teaching. The money saved by not having to pay for these tests could be allocated to positions where a need has clearly been demonstrated, such as social workers, librarians and classroom aides. Continue reading
How do you think Common Core should be used in the West Bend School District?
That is a complicated question because the Common Core discussion has been so politicized. I believe in high standards and Common Core is a set of standards. The confusion starts when people misunderstand standards for curriculum. Common Core is not curriculum. I believe that teachers are subject matter experts and should create curriculums. Administrators, the federal government, the school board do not have the knowledge base to build or approve curriculums. We should trust that we hire the best instructors and get out of their way to let them do their jobs! Ultimately, the race to meet Common Core has resulted in more testing and teaching to the test as well as haphazard curriculum changes here in West Bend. As a school board member, I will work diligently to stop that cycle. That doesn’t mean we lower standards, it means that we focus on putting authentic learning first again. Continue reading
Jennifer Donath is one of four candidates running for school board in the April 5 election, in which two open seats will be voted upon.
Donath grew up in West Bend, attended college in Milwaukee, and returned here for her husband’s job as a police officer. Donath herself was raised in private schools in the city, but sends her second grade son to McLane Elementary and says she “is completely confident in our public schools.” Continue reading
Tiffany Larson is up against three other candidates in the school board election on April 5. Two open seats will be voted on.
Larson grew up in Miami, and attended the University of Florida for her masters health degree in occupational therapy, as well as Auburn University for her bachelors in psychology. After working in Atlanta for some time, she met her husband and moved to West Bend, where he is originally from. Larson is self-employed through her own personal training business. Continue reading
Randy Marquardt’s school board term is ending, and he is up for reelection. Marquardt faces three other candidates in the race for two open seats. The election is April 5.
Marquardt grew up in Kewaskum and attended Texas A&M University for architecture, and finished schooling at UWM after receiving a job offer. Marquardt’s children have already graduated, and he currently has a grandson in the district. Continue reading
Ken Schmidt is one of four candidates running for two school board seats in the coming April 5 election.
Schmidt was raised in Beaver Dam, and attended several colleges to receive degrees in both social work and divinity. He has lived in West Bend since 1979 and currently works at Community Care as a behavioral health specialist. Continue reading
With Ted Neitzke and Bill Greymont resigning after this year, how would you like to see the positions of superintendent and head principal filled?
Well, I’m mainly focused on the superintendent at the present point in time. I think we need to have someone who really has a strong background in curriculum. I think that is a real concern of mine that I have. Especially given the outcomes that we’ve seen recently. And I think as you’ve probably read in the paper, there’s going to be not only a local search but a nationwide search for superintendent. Certainly someone with a wide breadth of experience, with new ideas, and someone who’s going to be very objective. And I hope that that happens. Continue reading
What are your thoughts about the teacher turnover rate and what do you see as a possible solution?
There has to be an element of trust and respect. Trust of the teachers towards the administration, and respect of the administration to the teachers. When that relationship has been negatively affected, I think you see a higher turnover rate because the teachers’ autonomy, their professionalism, their skill and expertise, is no longer being recognized and respected. The good news is, I think that fix can be made with just some attention. Some consideration. Positive business management skills. Making our teachers feel in control of the direction of the classroom. Continue reading
Over the past few years, the high schools have undergone a lot of changes with mixed responses from teachers and students. What course would you like to take in the coming years in regards to policy change?
I want to be sure that teachers have a voice in it because I’m hearing so many times where, teachers from the high schools especially, are saying that “We’re not being listened to, we’re not being respected.” So if some policy is going to be changed, so let’s say for example with curriculum, just like Engage New York once again, we need to be sure that they’re a part of it, they have a voice, and that that voice is being respected and heard. That’s incredibly important. Continue reading
What is your motivation for running and what are your intentions if elected to the board?
This spring, two seats on the school board will be up for election.
Karen Betz and Randy Marquardt currently hold those seats, and only Marquardt is running for re-election. On Tuesday, Feb. 16, there will be a primary election to narrow the five candidates down to four who will move onto the general election on April 5.
The West Bend Current reached out to each of the candidates for written responses to a general question: What is your motivation for running and what are your intentions if elected to the board? Below are each of their responses, listed in the order that the candidates will appear on the primary ballot.
Vinney Pheng is running for re-election for his seat on the school board. The election among three candidates for the two open seats will be held April 7.
Pheng was raised in California’s Bay Area and attended San Francisco State University for his bachelor’s degree in political science. After spending more than 10 years in the military, Pheng moved his family to Wisconsin for a job opportunity. He currently works for a company in Cedarburg in the fulfillment department. Continue reading
Monte Schmiege is one of three candidates running for two seats in the April 7 school board election.
Schmiege has lived in West Bend for “quite a number of years” and has many ties across the city. He originally attended Dr. Martin Luther College and received his bachelor’s degree in education, but after a few years of teaching became more interested in working with computers. He has been working for the West Bend Company and Regal Ware for 40 years, most of which has been spent in the IT department. He has also recently worked with Habitat for Humanity.
The election for two school board seats is on April 7, and Therese Sizer is in the race. Sizer has been on the board for three years and is up for re-election.
Sizer said she was approached to run three years ago because of her education, legal, and business background. She admires the board for its ability to discuss issues from all angles, find solutions, and not just argue each set point of view. Sizer said she is ready to continue tackling those matters, given her familiarity with the complexity of the board’s duties. Continue reading
What is your view of Common Core and what would you do about it?
Well, I would like to get rid of Common Core, but I realize that it’s pretty much embedded right now and it’s probably not going to change for several years. A lot can happen in that time. One of the things that I discovered somewhat recently is that the policy that the board has in place calls for the district to adopt the state standards, period. That’s not what the law requires. The law requires that the district adopt standards acceptable to the superintendent of public instruction. That’s a little different. So in Germantown we have the Germantown school board creating their own standards. So it’s not necessary for the district to adopt the state standards at this time. And it wasn’t when Common Core came out. But that’s the policy of the district. That’s one policy I would like to change. But if we change it, that means they could keep Common Core if the state adopts something else. Continue reading
What is your stance on the amount of standardized testing and is there any action you would take on that?
That’s something that always comes up and I’m pleased to say that the administration here from the superintendent on down, recognizes that there may be too much testing. And maybe we should consolidate the testing. I’m in full support of that initiative. Having said that, again, even though we do have some local control, there’s a lot of state requirements. And that kind of… it doesn’t help, let’s put it that way. But as a general policy, as a general philosophy, I believe some of these tests can and should be consolidated. And one of the things we hear as board members, and again it’s a totally valid concern, I totally understand it and in a lot of ways agree with it, is if you have too many tests, teachers end up teaching the test versus focusing on learning. Tests are a metric to measure learning, but it’s not learning. And so that’s a long way to say the board as a body has encouraged and directed administration to try to reduce that amount of testing. Continue reading
What do you see as a possible solution for the recent tension between high school students and administration?
That’s kind of multi-faceted too, isn’t it? I don’t think from the standpoint of administrators, that there is any obstacle that cannot be overcome. And at the same time, I’ve lived awhile. Students became dissatisfied with things when I was a kid. Our responses were not dissimilar. I remember “protests” out in the parking lot. I remember those things happening. They become scarier to us now because of what happens in other communities. But those reactions of students to rebel against authority or against rules, that isn’t actually new. Our worries are very real to us about not wanting it to escalate to something that is just absolutely not acceptable. Continue reading
District plans to hire a Director of Assessment and Accountability
By Lauren Sorensen, Current Staff
The West Bend School District is currently looking for a new individual to oversee data collected to measure the progress of students and various district departments. Continue reading
The West Bend twin high schools will not merge
By Alyssa Birkeland, Current Staff
On Monday, the school board unanimously voted to have East and West remain as two separate schools. Continue reading
West graduate Mary Woldt was among the first students to attend the twin high schools
By Kara Conley, Current Staff
With all the talk of combining East and West High Schools, it is easy to forget that they used to be one.
Mary Woldt, a West Bend West alumnus, was part of the first class to experience the West Bend High School as two. In 1970, when the current design was implemented, she was an incoming junior who feared what this change would do to her and her friends. Continue reading
By Alyssa Birkeland, Current Staff
Five faculty members offer opinions about whether the high schools should become one school:
Michael Kieser, East Social Studies
I clearly support the status quo—two schools, one East, one West. First reason would be participation. Especially at the varsity level. I know they have talk that if we go to one school they would create two freshman teams and maybe a varsity reserve, but overall everything that I’ve looked at says that overall participation would go down a bit plus varsity opportunities would be cut in half. So that’s the primary reason because I think it’s better for kids to have those opportunities. Continue reading
Bart Williams has been vocal in opposing merger
By Miranda Paikowski, Current Staff
At least one board member hasn’t been happy with the process used to consider merging East and West.
“There is no harm in taking an advisory referendum, letting the community voice its opinion,” said Bart Williams, the vice president of the West Bend School Board. Continue reading
By Kayla Furlano, Current Staff
What do coaches think about merging East and West?
The WBHS athletic programs will experience major changes if the school board votes to combine the two high schools. The coaches of these teams have conflicting opinions about the potential reconfiguration, and a number of them were asked to express these opinions through a survey. Of the 24 coaches that were contacted for the survey, 16 responded. Continue reading
Board members disagree about the speed of the process leading to next week’s vote on the high school configuration
By Miranda Paikowski and Lauren Sorensen, Current Staff
The clock is ticking.
Next Monday the school board will vote whether or not to combine East and West. Two months were given to community members to make the case for keeping the tradition of two schools going or becoming the biggest single high school in the state. If the board votes to merge the schools, there will be less than a year to implement all of the changes before the 2015-16 school year.
“It’s all been really fast track,” said Bart Williams, a member of the school board for 3 1/2 years. Continue reading