GLENWOOD CITY – The three seats that are up for election on the Glenwood City Board of Education this spring’s election cycle have drawn a lot of interest.
Five district residents are vying for the three open seats on the board.
Incumbent members Lisa Kaiser, Lori Klinger, and John Logghe are being challenged by Charlotte Obermueller-Heimer and Chuck Draxler. This is Draxler’s first attempt at the board seat while Obermueller-Heimer narrowly lost her bid for an opening last April. The Glenwood City School Board seats are each three-year terms.
The Tribune Press Reporter sent a questionnaire to each candidate. A brief background on each candidate is followed by their responses to each question.
Occupation: I have my Masters degree and am Licensed as a Counselor; however I have made a career change and am currently working for Aflac. It is a Christian based Fortune 500 company that has been ranked #1 Most Ethical Company in the World and I LOVE it! It allows me to create my own schedule and participate in school and community activities.
Background: I was raised in Glenwood City and graduated with honors in 1989. I decided Glenwood City was where I wanted to raise my children and I have been very active in our community and school ever since!
Background: My family and I are lifelong Glenwood City residents. We are graduates of Glenwood High School as well as our four children with the youngest graduating in 2011. Samantha (85) and Sarah (87) are in Duluth MN. Samantha has returned to school to pursue a degree in nursing. Sarah is a supervisor for a health care facility for Alzheimer patients. Casey (09) is employed at Valley Feeds in Menomonie and Allison (11) is a student at UW Stout in Menomonie.
I graduated from Northwestern College of Chiropractic in 1987 and practice at Family ChiroCare in Glenwood City. In addition, I had the opportunity to operate two additional branch offices in Elmwood and Woodville. Family ChiroCare currently continues with the Woodville and Glenwood Offices.
I have had the wonderful opportunity to participate on the Glenwood School Board since 2000. I have and am currently serving as the Board’s Vice President, Chairperson for Programs/Services/Curriculum Committee and on the Personnel & Negotiations Committee. I have seen incredible changes and growth and look forward to contributing to our student’s educational experience and success.
Background: To the Glenwood City School District Voters, my name is Lori Klinger I have lived in Glenwood City all my life. I was raised on our family dairy farm with my three younger brothers and by my parents Dick and Grace Obermueller. I am a Third Generation graduate from Glenwood City High School in 1983. I furthered my education at UW Stout and earned my Bachelor of Science Degree in Education in 1989. My husband is Dion Klinger and together we have four children. Three of our daughters have already graduated from Glenwood City, our youngest is in 7th grade.
I am employed by the USPS and work in Boyceville as Rural Carrier. My hobbies are bowling which I have been the secretary/treasurer for three years. I also enjoy canning, gardening and watching my favorite sports teams (Hilltopper, Badgers, Brewers and Packers).
I have been a school board member for Glenwood City School District for the last nine years, eight of those years I have been the School Board Clerk, Board Chair for the Buildings and Grounds Committee, and a member of the Personnel and Negotiations committee. I am an active member of St John’s Catholic Church where I volunteer as a reader and extraordinary minister.
These past few years have been very challenging as decrease in funding , and declining in enrollment have led to some difficult planning and decisions. Knowing that there are many financial challenges ahead for the school district, I want to help Glenwood City meet those challenges. Expectations for students and educators are rigorous and that makes another challenge. I want to be able to help the children in our district experience the best education that our community can afford to offer.
Background: I am a lifelong resident of Glenwood City, and I graduated from Glenwood High School in 1998. In 1999 I earned a degree in Radio Broadcasting from Brown College and worked at WAXX 104 in Eau Claire. I decided my future lay closer to home and joined my brother Mike and my dad Joe working on our farm- Lofty Acres Dairy. Mike and I are the fifth generation to work on the family farm. I am responsible for the agronomy and bookkeeping. My wife, Laura, and I have been married for 10 years. Laura was a teacher in Clear Lake for 12 years and is currently earning a Doctorate of Chiropractic degree. We have three children attending school in Glenwood City. Izzy is 9, Henry is 8 and Greta is 5. I am also a member of Trinity Lutheran Church in Boyceville. I am looking forward to making our school the best it can be and am excited to serve our community.
Background: My wife, Jill, and I are lifelong residents of the Glenwood City community. We have four adult children, all who graduated from Glenwood City High School, and three grandchildren, two of whom are presently in grade school at GC Elementary.
My son, Jordan, and I currently own and operate Misty Meadows Wood Products and Logghe Trucking. Prior to that I dairy farmed with my brother, Dave, for 17 years.
I have served on the Glenwood City School Board for the past 12 years.
Other areas of service include; Church Council (15 years), Rustic Lore Parade Chair, Glenwood City Town Board Supervisor, and various farm and community committees.
1. We are aware that the school board approved borrowing one million to do needed up dates to the science lab and included the school track. Both of these items were in the recently defeated referendum. Do you think that the school board should have the voters of the district decide on borrowing million dollars for this work? Why or why not?
Obermueller-Heimer: It is our elected board’s responsibility to make decisions on how to most effectively and efficiently spend the dollars we entrust to them. While I might have prioritized these dollars differently, the board found a way to make the required updates without an additional tax levy. We need more creative thinking like this to ensure every dollar is wisely spent on our highest priority – helping our students reach their full potential.
Klinger: No, the school board can legally borrow one million dollars without a referendum. Because the referendum failed we were left with the responsibility to find a way to address our unsafe science lab, unsafe track, and make our traffic flow in and out of the school complex safer. By borrowing a million dollars and using a bond, the payment structure to the bond would be part of the school budget and will not raise taxes.
Kaiser: There has been the opportunity for the Board to borrow up to a million dollars without the need for a referendum for some time. The last time that the Board utilized the borrowing of $1 million dollars was implemented by then Superintendent Wally Lindholm and the Board for the construction of what is considered the Jr. High/Middle School. The Board and Administration at that time saw a need for our students and the future of the Glenwood School District. The current Board and Administration have been exceptionally good stewards of the Glenwood District taxpayer’s dollars. We have increased our Fund Balance in past 8 years to nearly 1.5 million as recommended by the auditors. We have cleared many liabilities so as to prepare ourselves to enhance our facilities, staff and more importantly provide for our students. I believe that the opportunity to borrow $1 million dollars to redo our science rooms and track via this route in a responsible manner is appropriate and provides a reduction of safety issues in these two areas.
Draxler: The opinion of the electorate needs to be considered when committing tax money to a large and expensive project. However, if there is not a major tax increase, I believe the board has the right and the responsibility to act in the best interest of the students.
Logghe: I feel the failed referendum sent our school board the message that we needed to address as many areas of concern as possible without asking taxpayers for additional money. Prior to the referendum residents completed a survey regarding input to the needs of our school district. The board selected two items that were ranked as priorities; our science lab which is over fifty years old and in desperate need of repair and our track that is no longer usable for conference meets because of its condition. The money we borrowed for these updates will be paid back with funds from our operating budget. This borrowing will not have any added impact to our tax levy.
With parents and students having the freedom to open enroll in any school district, I firmly believe competitive programs and working facilities will benefit our school.
2. What are the long-term financial needs of the district and do you believe that those needs can be met without asking for an increase in tax revenues?
Klinger: In the near future our school complex may need a new HVAC and partial roof. Addressing these needs before structural damage or Health and Safety concerns arise. Making these as part of the budget as maintenance, perhaps we can keep costs down without an increase of taxes and insure the safety of our school complex.
Logghe: Determining long-term financial needs of the school district is not an easy task because schools are dependent upon the state and federal government for the bulk of their operating revenue. Furthermore, many variables exist such as newly mandated education programs that lack the funding to support them. The school board must strive to be fiscally responsible within current operating parameters while keeping a vision (and budget) for the future. One project I can see in the future would be a renovation of our building HAVC (heating & cooling) system. Technology has made much advancement that could save the district a lot of operating capital in heating and air conditioning costs.
Kaiser: I believe that we can do that. We will have another bond cleared I believe in 2014. Long term range planning is incorporated in multiple areas. We are long term planning for building and facility updates. Boilers have been replaced. We have replaced all of the old roof system. We were able to do this without increasing taxes. We are currently looking at HVAC upgrades and improvements. This is greater than a million dollars alone. We are addressing this in 3 levels to accomplish what is best for the District financially. We are looking at the Elementary roof system as these are the original and due for replacement. We have and are continually evolving our teaching techniques and curriculum. Investing in high levels of Professional Development and engaging new teaching practices. When we plan, we look at multiple years budgets to cover these costs.
Draxler: There will always be a need to improve our school. Technology is evolving incredibly fast and our students need to have access to it in order to compete in the wide world they will be facing after graduation. In order to be competitive with other schools, we may need to make additional improvements to our athletic facilities and classrooms. There will have to be an open communication between the school board and the community to identify those needs and how to take action on them.
Obermueller-Heimer: Our school district needs to remain competitive, save, and productive. Upgrades of every sort require a financial investment. However, there are resources available and ways to decrease existing costs in order to reallocate monies to necessary investments. The entire community benefits from a strong school system. I do not believe in frivolous spending and I would not vote in favor of additional taxes to our community unless all other options were exhausted.
3. The school has a zero gun policy. In light of recent shootings, should this policy be revisited?
Draxler: Our children are safer when there are no guns present. There are countless accidents involving firearms every year and an accident is more of a danger to our children’s safety than a crazed gunman. In order to prevent a horrible tragedy, such as what happened in Newtown, Connecticut, there are things we can do to make our school more secure. For example, the office should be located at the school entrance so as to better observe anyone entering the school.
Kaiser: We have visited this many times. Scenarios such as the possibility of shootings/people taking children out of the school without knowledge are a concern of safety for our staff and students. In the last referendum, the proposal was to have the Elementary and High School offices located to the front entrances. The purpose of this was to have visitors/people be seen by the office personnel. This would hinder people from the ability to be in halls without knowledge. We have recently enforced visitors to go to the office to sign in and a visitors badge must be worn. Signs are posted on entrance doors and a recent visit by Senator Harsdorf had her sporting a “Visitors Pass”.
Obermueller-Heimer: School safety is a critical issue. I favor a zero-tolerance policy for guns in our schools, but understand the importance of having an open dialog between students, teachers and the community. The best way to avoid violence in our schools is to make sure students feel comfortable confiding in trusted adults when they have concerns about violence they see or hear about. This allows adults to intervene early and resolve conflict before violence occurs.
Logghe: The Gun Free Schools Act of 1994 mandates expulsion of students who bring a weapon to school. This is a federal statute that requires schools in any state that receives federal funds to expel from school any student who is found to have brought a weapon to school for a period of not less than 1 year.
Present state law states that anyone possessing a firearm on school grounds or within a 1000’ of school is guilty of a Class 1 felony. Certain exemptions apply to this law; such as law enforcement or someone under school contract to possess a firearm. Therefore, having staff other than trained law enforcement personal would create a whole new level of responsibility and liability for our district. Any changes to our present policy would need careful thought and consideration.
Klinger: This policy should not be revisited at this time. Guns or Weapons should not be allowed on school property.
4. The state and federal government seems to have taken control of schools out of the hands of the board of education. They now dictate to the school what they can and cannot feed to the students for lunch; they also set how much food can be served. What do you see in the near future for governmental controls?
Logghe: There continues to be much more government involvement in how we assess the effectiveness of our staff and also the testing and evaluation of student achievement. Schools are being graded based upon student progress. I feel one of the more disturbing trends of our state government is the support of the voucher system. This could have very detrimental effects on our public education system. Private schools can be selective in which students they enroll and do not operate under the same regulations or accountability as that of public schools.
Klinger: At this time in order for the food service program to be receive partial financial aid, they must follow DPI (Department of Public Instruction) and the federal government guidelines of 1 – Salt Intake, 2- Calorie Intake, 3-grains (carbs). These federal guidelines have been put in place because of the obesity in our country. In the near future the government may be able to control where and who you purchase food from as well as the cost of the lunch program that the school offers to students.
Draxler: One new control being initiated by the Department of Public Instruction is a somewhat controversial program called Educator Effectiveness. This will be a way to evaluate a teacher’s performance in the classroom. Government controls were put in place to try and help students who were not getting what they needed out of their school. We as a board will need to be proactive to make sure our students and teachers needs are not only met, but go beyond the basic mandates to ensure excellence wherever and whenever possible.
Kaiser: This is probably a $64 million dollar question. It is so unpredictable. We are currently dealing with the state and Governor Walker wanting to implement a voucher system. This would take public tax payer dollars and give them to private schools and the Milwaukee school system. We did have a voucher system a few years back that came out of our annual budget and was given to the Milwaukee school system. This will impact our budget and what we can do for our district here in Glenwood City. Many people prefer to have local control so they can do what they believe is best for them. Our board prefers as much local control as we can have.
Obermueller-Heimer: Our community knows best how to educate and care for our students and as a result, I favor local control over things like testing, staff development and school lunch. Setting high standards and expectations on the state level is acceptable as long as there are ways an individual school can obtain an exemption from overly burdensome regulations that get in the way of properly educating our students.