Rhinelander school board candidate profiles
By Eileen Persike
Three incumbents and two challengers are seeking three seats on the School District of Rhinelander Board of Education. The five are on the ballot in the Tuesday, April 2 spring election; all were asked to submit a brief statement regarding their candidacy. Judy Conlin, Mary Peterson, Dennis O’Brien and Ron Lueneburg responded to the request and their statements follow. Challenger Andy Kranz did not reply.
My name is Judy Conlin. I am running to continue to serve on the Rhinelander School Board. I taught special education and grades two and three in the Rhinelander District for 21 years and was the director oinstruction for the Tomahawk District. Quality instruction is critical to student growth and learning. During my nine years serving on the board and as chairperson of the Instruction and Accountability Committee, we focused on instruction so all students are successful, master key concepts at elementary, middle and high school and, upon graduation, are ready for college, employment, or serving in the military. As a board member, I believe it is important that we continue to set student achievement as a priority, using data to improve instruction and student performance, and providing various levels of support to students academically, behaviorally, emotionally, and through co-curricular opportunities. With the board’s commitment to using data, our teachers use data to determine if students are understanding key concepts while they are teaching them, decide when additional instruction or re-teaching is necessary (rather than waiting until the end of unit tests or the end of the semester), and determine if interventions they are using with individual students are working; when they are not effective, they make changes.
I believe the Board needs to continue to commit resources for teachers’ professional development so they continue to enhance their abilities to implement best practices. With the teacher shortage that Wisconsin now faces, as a member of the Employee Relations Committee, I believe we must work to figure out how to attract new teachers and keep experienced teachers. I believe my experience will be important to guiding the district to maintain these priorities and move us forward as we search for, and work with, a new superintendent.
Fiscal responsibility is essential. I am grateful to the community for their support of past referendums, allowing us to maintain programs for students and maintenance of our buildings. I am committed to continuing to balance educational priorities with the means to pay for them. I will continue to consider the impact of our decisions on our tax payers. Wise decision making regarding spending, ways to cut costs, finding ways to save money are necessary so we can fund our educational priorities.
Open and honest communication is of paramount importance. In our board discussions and decisions, I consider what I think the community needs to know and questions they might have, and bring these into the conversation.
I believe I bring a number of perspectives to board discussions and in my decision making. I am married to Joe Conlin; our two children graduated from Rhinelander High School. I hope to be able to continue to serve our community.
A state has a responsibility to educate all of its children no matter if they live in a large city or a small rural community.The education that they receive gives them the foundation to be successful and contributing members of society.
A school board’s job is to create an environment for learning to be achieved.
• Hire teachers who are able to instruct and encourage the different learning styles of individual students.
• Provide staff development so our teachers are always on the “cutting edge” of what’s best for kids.
• Encourage parents and guardians to have a key role in their children’s education by stressing the importance of education. Learning takes place when home and school work together.
• And finally, provide a safe environment where learning can flourish.
I currently serve on the Instruction and Accountability Committee of the School District of Rhinelander School Board. This committee screens new course offerings, hears reports of grade level activities, listens to new educational techniques and is updated frequently on the progress of our students. We, as a school board, are committed to all students having the opportunity to receive the same quality education.
As a board member, I have the responsibility of helping the administration provide the best learning environment while being fiscally responsible to our constituents. I have been on the school board for twelve years. Throughout these years, I have watched as state funding to Rhinelander has diminished year after year. We, as a community have a responsibility to provide an education for our children. I feel we have been very careful with our taxpayer’s funding while still allowing our district to move forward towards educational excellence.
I am a candidate for the Rhinelander school board because I feel this is an important way in which I can contribute to and serve our community. I am interested in the school district’s operations not only as a citizen, but because I have a stepson who is a student and many friends with children in the Rhinelander school district. I want to ensure they receive a quality, well-rounded education.
There are many important issues the district will be addressing in the next few years. The district will be recruiting and hiring a new superintendent; this will be critical for the district’s future. I feel it is important that the candidate hired for the superintendent position not only have the basic qualifications and experience, but also have a strong leadership background which embodies competence in character. It would be a privilege to be part of the team who will vet the candidates in order for the Rhinelander school district to hire the best person for the position.
The district may have to consider proposing a referendum for additional funding to maintain district operations at an adequate level. The balance between putting forth a referendum and critically evaluating financial efficiencies is crucial. I believe, with my background and experience, I can contribute to this area. Additionally, the district is moving toward the neighborhood school model for 4K-fifth grade, and it will have to contend with many other issues which arise in maintaining a healthy school district.
I believe our school district and the surrounding community have a symbiotic relationship. The success and prosperity of one is directly related to the success and prosperity of the other.
While receiving a quality education is important, even more important is having a safe environment in which it can be
obtained. With my background and experience, I feel I would be able to contribute significantly to discussions concerning the safety of our students in the district.
It is very important that the Rhinelander school district works to recruit and retain talented educators. Our children’s education depends on drawing the best teachers we can to the Rhinelander area.
My background encompasses 30 years of municipal government service (public safety), a background in budgeting, personnel management, policy design and implementation, and building collaborative working relationships, to name a few areas in which I have experience. I also have been fortunate enough to receive a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and a master’s degree in public administration, both of which I feel would be a great contribution to this position.
On Tuesday, April 2, I encourage you to get out and vote. I kindly ask for your support as a candidate for Rhinelander school board.
I would like to start out by thanking the voters of the Rhinelander School District for giving me the opportunity to serve for the last six years. I would like to continue with the school board for another term because there remains much to be done. For some time now the state has made it difficult on public education, and this is especially true for the Rhinelander district. Although we are a relatively poor area, out state aid is much lower than other richer districts. Be that as it may, I believe that with the many important priorities we face, the most important community priority is to provide an excellent education to our youth. They are our future.
Even with the squeeze from the state, which has caused our recent need to seek funds through referenda, our board has provided an excellent, cost-effective education to the children of the district. I am proud to have been part of this process. We, the board, have been good stewards of the district’s taxpayer dollars.
We provide an excellent total education as we have traditionally. My five children and a grandson have attended this school district. I wanted to give back to our community by maintaining that excellence; therefore, I ask for your support again on April 2, 2019, for the school board.