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Three to square off for two seats on Boyceville School Board

BOYCEVILLE – Even with a current board member choosing not to seek re-election in the April 2 Spring General Election, there will be a contested race for the open Boyceville School Board seats.

Boyceville district voters will have to chose from the three candidates to fill a pair of open seats on its board of education.

Incumbent board vice president Tim Sempf is seeking another term on the board and is receiving a challenge from first-time candidates Jeremy Mittlestadt and Ellen Carlson. Current board member John Zavodny, whose term expires in April, chose not to seek re-election.

The Tribune Press Reporter sent a questionnaire to each candidate. A brief background on each candidate is followed by their responses to each question.

Ellen Carlson

Occupation: Retired and Farmer

Background: I grew up on a dairy farm located on Q north of Connorsville. Parents are John and Emma Korbel now living in Menomonie. Married Alan J. Carlson and moved eight miles to Boyceville (call myself a world traveler). Have two children, Scott (Menomonie) and Carla (doctor at Gunderson Lutheran, La Crosse). All four of us are Boyceville Graduates. Until the death of Alan raised purebred Simmentals, now renting out cropland. (Property in Tiffany Township). Was employed at UW-Stout as the Chemistry/Physics Department Associate for 40 years. Budget management, assisting with hiring, purchasing of supplies/equipment, supervisor and scheduling of student employees and office manager were some of my responsibilities. (Retired in 2011 due to being 24/7 caregiver to Alan during his illness). While working for the Chemistry Department involved in the State Science Olympiad. I’m proud to say that I helped implement Science Olympiad in Boyceville. I’m very excited to see how it has grown under the guidance of Mr. Hamm and support from the community. Member of Trinity Lutheran Church, Farmers Union, American Simmental Association, MN Grape Association, ACLU, Planned Parenthood and AARP. I have established a BEST scholarship in Memory of Alan J. Carlson. I believe in school spirit and love to cheer at sporting events. It would be an honor to serve the Boyceville Community as a School Board Member.

Tim Sempf

Tim Sempf is a partner at the Amery law firm of Novitzke, Gust, Sempf, Whitley, and Bergmanis where he specializes in personal injury.

Jeremy Mittlestadt

Occupation: Manager of New Store Development

Background: I was born and raised in the Boyceville School District. I am the son of Debbie and the late Jeff Mittlestadt. I grew up just south of Boyceville and spent most of my youth on my Grandfather, Laurel Mittlestadt’s farm. I was a graduate from Boyceville High School (Class of 1998). My wife, Megan (Williams) was also a Boyceville graduate. (Class of 1998) I am also the proud father of 2-year-old Jeffrey Bennett, and we are expecting our 2nd child in July.

Upon graduation from Boyceville, I moved to Menomonie and began coursework at UW-Stout, graduating in 2003 with a Bachelors of Science Degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management. My career then took me to Rochester, MN for a year before settling in Hudson, WI for 4 years. I returned to Boyceville in 2007 and have loved being back near friends and family ever since.

I am currently employed by E & G Franchise Systems in Eau Claire, WI. E & G is the Franchise Company that operates Erbert & Gerbert’s Sandwich Shops. My position manages the Real Estate, Project Management, Construction, and Opening Process for the chain. It provides excellent challenges of developing new restaurants in locations nationwide. I have been with the brand for 5 years this May. Previous to E & G, I spent 4 ½ years with the Quiznos franchise working in New Store Development & Non-Traditional Operations. I have also worked as a General Manager for both the Baker’s Square and Perkins Restaurant chains in my career.

I have enjoyed becoming more involved in the community upon returning in 2007. I have spent the last 3 years as the President of the Junior Bulldog Football Program in Boyceville as well as being active within Trinity Lutheran Church. In the free time I have left, I enjoy camping and traveling with my family, in addition to logging as many hours possible in a turkey blind, tree stand, or a boat. Thank you for your support on April 2!

1. Why have you chosen to run?

Mittlestadt: I have decided to run for Boyceville School Board because I was a product of this district. Additionally, we have decided to raise our family here. As such, I feel that the school board offers a good opportunity to be involved in the decisions that affect my children’s education. I also feel that my experience in private business on both local and national levels can assist the District as they are presented with current challenges.

Sempf: I chose to run for the third time because I believe I have more to give to our children. For me, there was a large learning curve after I was chosen for the Board the first time and I think I have come around the corner.

As a Board member, I enjoy that the curve requires much time spent on learning on how great teaching is accomplished, how sound operations are performed, and how staff enables the district to move forward with sound purpose and realistic goals. Personally, I have two adult children in college who attended Boyceville Schools, one attending Boyceville Middle School and two attending Tiffany Creek Elementary. I know there have been great strides made of late and I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to help make more.

Carlson: 1) To be involved in the decision-making that supports high academic standards and activities for all students. Student’s participation in academic and nonacademic activities provides opportunities for character building, which develops outstanding citizens. 2) During previous involvement in committees, I learned that a diverse group makes decisions that are best for everyone. Being a female baby boomer, I feel my experiences/knowledge would foster this diversity. 3) To encourage the school district (students, parents, teachers, employees, administration/board and community) to work as a team.

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?

Sempf: This is a very hard question to answer. As we all feel, no one wants to pay more taxes. Boyceville District has been able to make a lot of recent improvements to all aspects of our school without a significant increase on our tax base. Whether that can be sustained is a question that is to a large degree out of our control. (See Answer to Question 4) Boyceville School District is in a good financial position now and I believe the Board feels that way also. We are proud of that. My thought is it will continue as we move forward.

Carlson: Long term financial needs: To keep up with constant change in technology, retirements, and cost of health insurance for employees. To meet needs without increases in tax revenues: 1) Retirements usually generate dollars due to lower replacement costs. 2) Health insurance can only be addressed as mandated. 3) Continue grant writing for technology support. 4) Continue to support our wonderful booster clubs, parent organizations, and student fundraisers as their donations can supplement district budget. 5) Showcase our school to attract more choice students resulting in higher enrollment thus more revenue from state. If a deficit is calculated we will need to reallocate dollars, cut expenditures or increase tax revenues and/or obtain long-term loans to maintain high quality education.

Mittlestadt: We have a great facility with great educators in Boyceville. The task of maintaining those facilities and taking care of quality educators, along with the states decreasing funding for required programs, will be difficult for the district to wade through. The challenge will be to evaluate the “nice to have” versus the “need to have” as it affects the students and the education process. My business experience will present a new perspective that is accustomed to making and managing financial pressures while delivering a quality product. Which is critical to managing the long-term financial needs of the district.

3. The school has a zero gun policy. In light of recent shootings, should this policy be revisited?

Carlson: Currently the administration/board have addressed the zero gun policy with new security system/procedures. Each school building has one designated incoming /ongoing door during schools hours, which is monitor by current staff. The new email system will increase rapid communication to all parents in case of emergencies. The zero gun policy should continue to be on the all school policies review schedule. To continue to make our school a safe environment, all school employees should have ongoing training in mental health awareness.

Mittlestadt: My first instinct was that we should have a controlled gun policy within school walls. After putting additional thought to it, I feel that this not only puts undue pressure on those teachers to act during a crisis, but also could take away from the basic goal of keeping students out of harms way. I feel that school is taking the appropriate action with recent installation of a video access system.

Sempf: Our gun control policy is on the Boyceville District website, at (7217 – weapons. Revised 9/12). It is current in that it refers to “concealed carry permit licenses.” To answer the question “topics of great current concern” must be revisited from time to time. The administration recently has addressed this by implementing controlled access to our school buildings during school hours so as to be vigilant for the safety of our children.

I think we all must revisit our security. School security policies have been this Board’s priority and action has been taken. Personally, I believe we need to be vigilant. The laws are in place. We all need to look out for those who may cause harm and those are the things that need to be given a lot of thought and scrutiny.

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?

Mittlestadt: Districts ability to formally manage their budgets is going to be very limited moving forward. The government has also mandated many underfunded required programs. This is a challenge as it is difficult for the district to continue to offer certain elective programs as well as manage changing technology and educational initiatives. However, electing and maintaining diverse and strong leaders to the school board will assist in identifying and implementing creative and innovative solutions to manage these and other types of challenges in the Boyceville School District.

Sempf: In some ways it seems to me that the direction by the Department of Education on our administration is moving toward less control than before. I sense a trend that districts are being shown a gate of free enterprise. This is exciting yet it is unchartered territory for education at this level. On the other hand, there are a significant amount of changes for our children that are mandated. I believe boards of education will have meaningful say going forward especially on how the mandates of the State are to be implemented. Finally, I believe there is a strong push by the Wisconsin Department of Education to make our children more prepared to take on a quickly changing world and we all must assist in that.

Carlson: How “to teach”: Future funding will be based on “performance rating” of the school. The proposed voucher system could control the enrollment of school districts with a possibility of nonperforming schools being closed. Through our voting of state and federal legislators we have input of what controls will be placed on local schools. We need to voice our concerns to these elected representatives. I feel that currently the majority of voters want deficits eliminated without increase in tax revenues. I also feel because of this, school districts will have more mandates and less local control.