Voters in Oak Creek will head to the polls April 2 to choose two people to serve on the Oak Creek-Franklin School Board.
Candidates include two incumbents and two challengers. Incumbents Frank A. Carini and Paul Mason are seeking re-election, facing challengers Rosemarie Annonson and William McIntosh (Click on links for biographical information on each candidate).
To provide residents with the most information on where they stand on the issues facing the city, Oak Creek Patch asked the candidates questions about key issues in the race.Why are you running for School Board? Rosemarie Annonson I'm running for school board because I have more experience and intellect than any of the current members on the board. I have worked in public education and would love to get into our schools to see exactly what is going wrong especially our elementary schools. Why are our kids starting out with less than adequate educational skills and attainment? I don't buy the idea that the residents are not as bright or educated thus we can't expect more of their children. We have 4 year old and five year old K but we don't purchase the reading series for K? Why not? I support tracking of teachers by tracking achievement scores of students and am not adverse to hiring of aides or termination if the teachers do not comply. Our children are not challenged enough. If we don't challenge them they have no need or opportunity to perform. I do not support catering to the cream. It's expensive and unjust. Frank A. Carini I believe that strong schools help to create a strong community. Being on the School Board has allowed me to make a noticeable, positive difference in our community's schools. Having two children that attend school in our district, I feel personally invested in ensuring that they receive the best education possible. Quality schools help define our community and quality education helps our children grow to be responsible, educated citizens. Paul Mason To continue to serve the community and our school district as I've done over the past 10 years providing leadership, vision, and board governance. William McIntosh I am running because I would like to help our district move forward. Many changes have occurred in education here in Wisconsin in the past two years and these changes have and will continue to impact our school district here in Oak Creek. I would like to help our community move forward. What is the biggest issue facing the district, and how would you address that issue, if elected? Rosemarie Annonson The biggest issue facing schools is spending and rising salaries the largest constant cost factor and declining average student achievement. I would not have given any raises the last few years to any school staff even though the costs were returned to the district with state funding. State funding also comes out of the tax base, thus we pay. Current school board members granted salary increases on the rationale that we would lose good teachers. I don't support this ideology. Teachers have to be paid adequate compensation but most teachers I know did not enter the profession on the basis of how much they could earn. Good teachers are rewarded when the lights go on by the success of their students. Poor teachers motivated by dollars might leave to our gain. Lots of new young teachers that don't have jobs to step into vacant positions other than shop teachers. Frank A. Carini One of the most important, pressing issues that we are facing at the moment is improved security within our schools. Although our schools already have security measures in place, we have additional security precautions included in our 2013-2014 Capital Improvement Plan. Paul Mason The safety and security of our schools remains the top priority of our Board and for our community. If elected I will continue to support and invest in safety programs, security measures and collaborative relationships with our community partners to ensure a safe learning environment for all of our students and staff. William McIntosh FRESHMAN CAMPUS: If building of the freshman campus is going forward, included in the discussion should be the possibility of moving our district offices to the site. The discussions should also include the addition of a technology center for students. The discussions should include adding a facility that would welcome the community to enjoy using it as well, such as a work out center. Discussions with community based corporations and MATC along with our citizens should take place.
Open dialogue and board transparency should be a priority for this project.
A special committee made up of members including teachers, administrators, parents, community leaders and school board members to study this and other ideas. As state aid continues to decline, how can the district continue to provide quality education while continuing to keep a lid on property taxes? Rosemarie Annonson We could discontinue 4 K and out of district enrollment. IF done, we'd see that our district school population is declining not growing. I'd also support hiring of necessary aides and support staff. I support computerized resource rooms for attainment and mastery of necessary grade skill acquisition that some children may need more drills and alternative instructions and assigned peer grouping. We have a glut of middle management educational professionals that could be eliminated and I'd freeze salary increases until the nation gets out of the current depression. Although I agree our schools must be secure I'm not sure the money budgeted for this is being wisely spent. I'd also push for more volunteers, bring the parents in don't make them unwelcome as current policy promotes. Frank A. Carini As a board, we need to make cost efficient decisions when it comes to spending state aid. By prioritizing our needs and creating a detailed budget, we are able to spend the allocated money most wisely. Paul Mason This has always been our mission and despite the changing landscape of reimbursement and aid over the years our district continues to provide an outstanding education with the one of the lowest cost structures in southeast Wisconsin. William McIntosh The school Board must understand that some 60 percent of our community residents do not have children attending school in Oak Creek and we need to respect their concerns for rising property taxes. When we ask all of our community to share in the cost of our children's education it is very important the School Board look for the best value for our tax dollars. Looking for ways to save tax dollars where we can without sacrificing our educational goals and community values should be at the forefront of the minds of our School Board. Has Act 10 been good or bad for the school district? Rosemarie Annonson I do not support ACT 10. Act 10 did not include all professions and should have. Ask yourself who should be paid more: The two year cop or the four year teacher working with your kid on your kid's future. Currently, cops here in OC have greater entry level and five year graduated salary expectations than our teachers. Without unions, all of the residents of OC would move into slavery. Unfortunately, teachers were targeted and penalized. As a district about all Act 10 did to reduce costs was with the insurance which could have been addressed without implementation of Act 10. Act 10 was not in any working man's best interest. Frank A. Carini Act 10 has been beneficial to the district in that it has encouraged collaboration between administrators, educators, the board and tax payers. In addition, Act 10 holds the district accountable in acheiving our goals and meeting state standards. Paul Mason Act 10 has been both good and bad depending upon the perspective or issue at hand. Act 10 has allowed the district to begin to develop individual relationships with all of our employees, rewarding and recognizing them for their individual and unique contributions they have made to the learning environment. At the same time, the Act 10 changes have been stressful and distracting for many of our staff members which have required some time for adjustment. This of course has not been unique to our district but rather a common experience across all Wisconsin school districts. William McIntosh In my opinion Act 10 has not been a bad thing for our school district to this point. Having said that, Act 10 has not been on the books for all that long and the longer term effects have not caught up to us yet. I believe there will be some very difficult decisions that will have to be made in the coming years under Act 10 and we need to be prepared for this. We can start by understanding what our community values are with regards to education. The best way to get this understanding is to have a dialogue with our community and to be open and honest with our community. How would you like to see the school district address Oak Creek High School nearing capacity? Rosemarie Annonson Administration will tell you that our school population is growing. This is a lie, work the numbers and you will be forced to recognize that our district school population is decreasing. Administration is counting four year old K, early childhood and out of district open enrollment numbers continue to increase above mandated numbers. I'd put in a voluntary second shift and not incur the expense of building a new school. HS kids like to sleep late so let them. We'd have all students out of the HS by 8 PM way before their bedtime. Frank A. Carini The district has swapped land with the city so as to allow for the Oak Creek High School to expand. Building an adjacent annex will save us the cost of building an additional high school. The annex will serve primarily as a freshman campus that will be connected to the existing facility. Paul Mason Through our actions this past year, we are well positioned to address the growth in our high school. These include the acquisition of nearby land for the expansion of our high school campus and the agreements we have reached with the City of Oak Creek to build a campus for our future. William McIntosh OPEN DISCUSSION ABOUT Oak Creek High School nearing capacity: A special committee made up of members including teachers, administrators, parents, community leaders and school board members to study High School Capacity issues. Start holding informational programs with the community as soon as we can. This committee can send their recommendations to the school board.
It appears the only solution that the current school board members are talking about is the freshman campus and they have already made the land swap to acquire the land on Howell and Puetz across the street from the High School. We need to get this committee off the ground very soon and make sure we examine all possibilities before we ask the tax payers for their approval to spend their tax dollars.