Meet your candidates: Elk Mound Board of Education

By Cara L. Dempski

ELK MOUND — Three members of Elk Mound’s school board will see their current terms end in April 2017, and all three have elected to run for another term.

Tim Sivertson, Mark Cedarblade and Patrick Rhude submitted documentation in January 2017 to be included as candidates on the April 4 ballot. Sivertson currently serves as the board president, a position that is elected by the board. Rhude serves as the clerk, and Cedarblade as a director.

Sivertson and Cedarblade were able to complete brief questionnaires about their experience and qualifications for their respective offices. Rhude has yet to respond to requests for completion of the same document, but his responses will be published at a later time should they become available.

Tim Sivertson

Current president Tim Sivertson said he initially sought a position on the school board to serve the students. He explained how the board works with school administrators to improve education outcomes for student success and academic achievement.

“The issues surrounding this goal are directly related to input from the community,” Sivertson stated.

He elaborated, saying school boards look to local residents for prioritizing goals and creating budget plans in order to maintain quality staffing and leadership. All those factors tie together to create a learning environment promoting a higher level of achievement.

In the 24 years Sivertson has served on Elk Mound’s Board of Education, he has had ample opportunity to serve other districts in the state as well as his own. He served on the Wisconsin Association of School Boards’ Board of Directors for nine years, including one as president. Sivertson also spent six years as the Central Region Director representing nine states on the National School Board Association’s Board of Directors.

Sivertson’s dedication to education is such that he has taken an active interest in the state government’s approach to public schools. He has served the Association for Equity in Funding as a member of the steering committee, and is currently the chairman of WASB Insurance.

“As a board member, it is very important to stay current and knowledgeable regarding the intricacies of being part of a highly-qualified, functioning board,” Sivertson stated. “Individual and whole board professional development is key in accomplishing that.

A large part of Sivertson’s job as a board member is advocacy. He feels providing information to legislators regarding the impact of the legislation created is important. All information needs to be considered by lawmakers when adjusting statutes or creating new programs related to public education and taxpayer funds.

One of Sivertson’s main goals is soliciting, and using, information gleaned from community residents and businesses to better plan for the school’s and community’s future needs. The district is currently involved in creating a new strategic plan with members of the school staff, administration, and community.

Tim Sivertson is a graduate of Elk Mound High School and has lived in the community his entire life. His four children are also graduates of Elk Mound schools. When he is not engaged with board activities or enjoying his free time, Sivertson is employed as a hospice RN.

Mark Cedarblade

Board director Mark Cedarblade and his family have lived in the Elk Mound School District for 21 years, and his two daughters currently attend the high school. He explained he is aware of the high-quality education his children are receiving.

“I would like to see this education continue as we prepare our children for the competitive landscape and their bright future,” Cedarblade said. “It is my hope that I can continue to bring new ideas, potential solutions to challenges, and life experiences that can add to the discussion and broaden the potential for all students.”

The board director has served the district for the past three years and is seeking reelection this April in hopes of maintaining Elk Mound’s schools as a place where students can succeed and prosper. He knows schools face many challenges, and sees one of Elk Mound’s issues as the amount of state aid the district receives.

The district is one of the state’s “high aid” districts since there is a signifiant amount of poverty and a high concentration of students in the district. Cedarblade said he knows state aid to the schools will decrease if enrollment decreases, so he is interested in finding additional funding.

“We need to stay proactive with funding and addressing shortfalls,” he explained. “I would like to see our district grow, but realize with growth comes new challenges.”

Cedarblade’s goal is to invite conversation, share ideas for being proactive, and use solid judgment in board discussions and decisions. He believes the district provides excellent classroom opportunities for children because of the high standards of teaching staff, small class sizes, and unique learning opportunities. He also said the number of extra-curricular activities available to students allow for a well-rounded educational experience.

The district has seen an increase in students with social and emotional needs, which requires more resources. Cedarblade said the decline in state funding for public schools due to the implementation of state-wide vouchers for private and charter schools means many districts need to be creative with less available resources.

“We need to ensure there is no impact on our core values and high expectations of all students to receive great education, and to become responsible citizens who seek to contribute to our society in positive ways,” Cedarblade finished.