Auburndale School Board Candidates Answer Questions For Voters

Election Date and Time: April 6th, 7:00 am-8:00 pm
Poll Location: Varies by village and townships that you reside in. For specific poll locations
please visit myvote.wi.gov
Townships and Villages involved in this vote include: Arpin, Auburndale, Carson, Day, Eau Pleine, Green Valley, Milladore, Richfield, Sherry.
Absentee Ballot: Absentee ballots can be requested until April 2nd, to register go to
myvote.wi.gov

There are two open positions and four candidates to choose from.

Q: Why are you running for school board and what are your priorities as a
candidate?

Sheila Cherney: Education has always been extremely important to me. As someone who has experienced the Auburndale educational system as a student, parent, coach and teacher, I feel I would bring a unique skill set to the Board. My priorities for this district include maintaining and improving the quality of education in our district for all students in the areas of: academics, vocational, agriculture and technology education. It is also important that we are fiscally responsible to the residents of this district.

Kayla Gotz: I am running for school board to support our community, as the children and teachers together are our future. As a recent graduate, I feel I have a fresh perspective on issues important in education, and I have wanted to be on the school board since I was a high school student myself. My priorities as a board member would be to continually address the changing needs of our community. As a future board member, one issue I am passionate about is establishing supports for student and educator mental health. I am a strong advocate for creating a position to bring a Mental Health Navigator on staff, this person would help coordinate mental health services for our school community. Neighboring school districts already have such a position.

David Homb: My interest in being on the school board started when I was involved in a couple different advisory committees. It gave me the opportunity to get to know our teachers, support staff and administration quite well. I saw our District in a different perspective and I knew I wanted to be more involved in supporting our teachers and staff and giving them the resources they need to educate our students. I am seeking a third term for the same reasons. Great things are happening in Auburndale and we are in the middle of a building addition that I would like to see through to completion. My main priority is supporting our teachers and staff in educating our students so they can leave our school ready for their next endeavor. Like most Districts, we are seeing decreasing enrollment. We need to find ways to attract more families and open enrollment students to Auburndale.

Bill Thiel: I am a father of four school age children. I am a candidate for the school board because I feel one of the most important things we do for our children is being active in their education. I feel the priorities of a school board member are to set policy, guide and direct finance, and assess the superintendent.

Q: What are the strengths of our district and how will you strengthen our school for
the future?

Cherney: Our district provides our students with a quality experience academically, vocationally, and athletically. We boast of an Ag program second to none. Our vocational programs are offering real world, hands- on experiences. Small class sizes at our elementary ensure that children thrive both academically and emotionally. Students are seen as individuals, not just numbers in a classroom . The challenge for our district is to adapt, modify, and enhance the curriculum and offerings to allow our students to achieve success in the real world. As a board member my goal would be to ensure that we seek out and implement quality educational and vocational programs while being mindful of budgetary concerns.

Gotz: I believe a strength of our district is that we are a close knit community who can stand together to support one another, we step up to the plate, as in many ways it does take a village to raise a child. We are a well rounded school with a great agriculture and technical education program to prepare our hardworking students, and we also provide rich academic experiences through AP classes and distance learning. We have something for everyone with the variety of extracurricular and clubs we have! In my work as a board member, I will advocate for keeping Auburndale schools a district with a wealth of opportunities to push students in whatever direction they want to go.

Homb: The community’s support of our schools is our biggest strength. Our schools are never short on volunteers when we need them. From flipping pancakes to helping with building projects, our community is always there. They support our athletes and dig deep in their pockets to sponsor events and support our referendums. An equally important strength is our teachers and staff. I am fortunate enough to be in our buildings and see the hard work, dedication and compassion they put forth every day. I see the results in our students. I always smile when I leave a building and reflect on how lucky we are to have great staff and students. Building better communication between all involved is the best way to strengthen community support. Times have changed. Newspaper subscriptions are down and not everyone reads the District Mirror. Social media is great for showcasing some of the things we are doing, but it also spreads misinformation quickly. I, along with the rest of the Board, are working on ways to improve communications.Our community is very generous when it comes to supporting us with their tax dollars. We will continue to make conscious decisions to maintain our District’s financial future. We also need to be ready to adapt to changes in education. The Board needs to focus on the skills our students need in the ever-changing world after graduation and be prepared to make those changes.

Thiel: For me the strengths of our district are easy. It is the students and great faculty that make Auburndale a great school district. As we move forward, if we have learned anything from 2020, it is education can take different forms. We need to provide a wide array of curriculum to help our students in an ever changing world. We need to work toward providing every student a good base to build their education on.

Q: What type of relationships should the school board and its members have with its
community, parents, and families?

Cherney: Our school is the focal point of our community. Community members and parents should be able to discuss issues and concerns with Board members. Communication is a key element to improvement. Those communications bring new ideas for programs and identify specific needs and areas of concern within our school and community. School Board members are invested in this community on many levels. It is important for community members, parents, and students to feel they can discuss concerns and have a voice in their school and community.

Gotz: I believe board members should be very involved in the community, particularly by volunteering in our schools to truly understand the needs of the school from day to day. Every experience to talk with our students and teachers, and step foot into the classrooms is valuable to board member decision making. Board members should encourage open lines of communication with parents, while demonstrating respect and professionalism in their interactions. Parents, students and other community members should attend board meetings when possible. The district should also do their part in increasing accessibility to board meetings.

Homb: Board members are elected to represent the community and be the voice of the District’s residents and families. We are parents, grandparents, taxpayers and residents just like everyone else. If someone has an issue or concern, they should feel comfortable contacting any of us. We are going to listen and offer advice if we can. As Board Members, we are not involved in the day-to-day operations of the District but will help guide someone through the proper channels to get answers. We also promote our school, teachers, students and their families. I love telling people about all the great things happening in Auburndale!

Thiel: As a past board member I enjoyed meeting new people and building new relationships. I have said being a board member has given me more than I could ever give back. I feel it is important to be open minded and make yourself available to listen and to look at everyone’s opinion.

Q: What qualities and behaviors should board members exhibit?

Cherney: Board members need to be reasonable, respectful, fair, and thorough when dealing with issues that reach the Board level within our district. Members need to demonstrate the ability to listen to the people of their community. They need to be visible in our schools and our community. Board members also need to be able to work as part of a team; no individual member makes rules or policies. Members need to remember that their ultimate goal is to improve the quality and enhance the educational experience for all children in the Auburndale School District.

Gotz: Board members should be skilled in listening, be open minded, willing to represent the entire community, engage in data-based decisions making, have an understanding of finance and take thoughtful and creative approaches to solving difficult problems. Keeping a fresh mindset, and having a willingness to seek change is important, as the most dangerous phrase in the English language is: “this is the way we have always done it”.

Homb: First and foremost is seeing the value in education. Honesty, trustworthiness and integrity are also essential, but being able to see the big picture and understand all points of view on an issue is just as important. The decisions a School Board makes affect a lot of people not just immediately, but years into the future. A Board member needs to be willing to compromise. I have been fortunate to work with a great Board and we see eye-to-eye on most things, but that comes with a lot of communication. A Board member needs be available and ready to listen and talk to staff, students and community members. Taxpayers entrust the District with their tax dollars and a Board Member must be fiscally responsible with that money. But most importantly, is an understanding that it is all about the students and giving them a safe environment that encourages life-long learning and success.

Thiel: The quality I value most is integrity. I hope when people think of me they know my moral compass is always pointed in the right direction. I was once told, as long as you do what is in the best interest of the kids, you will be fine.

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News Desk
Author: News Desk