FOND DU LAC — Candidates running in the Fond du Lac School District Board of Education race shared their platforms with voters ahead of the primary.
The candidate field will narrow from five candidates -- including incumbents Richard Gedemer and Andrea Schultz -- to four after voters make their decision on or before February 21. The remaining four candidates will advance to the spring elections, where they will be vying for two available spots in the race at large.
The Fond du Lac reporter asked the five candidates to talk about what sets them apart in the race and what they see as the most pressing issues facing the Fond du Lac school district. The candidates' responses are listed in alphabetical order. Some answers have been lightly edited for clarity in the question and answer format.
FURTHER:Here is a Fond du Lac voter guide for the February 21 Wisconsin primary.
FURTHER:Here are the Fond du Lac candidates running in the spring elections
Residence:bottom of the lake
Profession:Retired Assistant Director, Fond du Lac County Department of Social Services
The highest level of education:UW-Oshkosh Master of Business Administration
Relevant experience:Elected to the Fond du Lac School Board in April 2020. Leadership experiences ranging from managing supermarkets and restaurants to managing the social services department. Business experience from sales, factory work, security to cleaning bathrooms.
Facebook site:Rick Gedemer
Highest level of education:Community college and career training in English, mathematics, mechanics, welding, and hydraulics at Moraine Park Technical College
Relevant experience:US Army Veteran, raised on a family farm with all the learning and hands-on training included in that environment. Oldest of nine children. Lots of training with family, friends, neighbors.
Page the Facebook: Daniel Ireland
Profession:Conselheiro educacional do CESA 6 Student Services Leadership and Learning Center
The highest level of education:Two master's degrees (pedagogical focus in special education, administrative approval as director and head of student services)
Relevant experience:I have worked in the education system for 26 years as a teacher, program support teacher, principal, director of student services, and statewide educational consultant for public, private, and charter schools. I have served on the board of directors for the Fond du Lac Children's Museum, board member and chair-elect of Comprehensive Services Integration, and am currently chair of the board for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Fond du Lac. I have attended board meetings at Fond du Lac for the past three years.
Facebook site: Katie Moder for FDL School Board
MORE:State testimonials show Fond du Lac schools 'meeting' expectations.
FURTHER:Area managers are coming out of retirement to take positions at Fond du Lac school after 4 resignations from the district
Profession:Retired President of Wright Bros. Paper Box Company
The highest level of education:PhD in Education from the University of Minnesota
Relevant experience: primary school teacher (six years old); served one year as an assistant principal at an elementary school; Enrollment at the university/college level (six years); He is the co-author of a textbook, Elementary Language Arts Instruction, published by Prentice Hall. Business and management experience as third generation owner and president of Wright Bros. Paper Box, Co.; Board Service: Chairman of the Board of the National Paper Box Association; Board Member of Marian College, now Marian University Board of Trustees; First Wisconsin/Firstar, now a director of US Bank; United Way Council; and my church leadership team.
Facebook site:Joan Pennau resigns from the Fond du Lac School Board
Residence:bottom of the lake
Occupation:Marketing Project Manager
Higher Level of Education: Bachelor of Psychology
Relevant experience:I am a current board member and have participated in several Wisconsin Association of School Boards conventions and committee meetings.
Why are you running for this office?
Gedemer:I love people. I need to continue to provide leadership focused on academic success. I don't want this district to go back in time; when there was more focus on everything but academics. Every student, regardless of their circumstances, has the right to a free public education.
Ireland:I am concerned that our children are not receiving the basic education necessary to survive in our world today. Discernment classes, ethics, Bill of Rights, Constitutional Government. Other forms of government plus and minus. Along with basic fundamentals of math, reading and phonics.
Moderator:Our students will become the future citizens of the Fond du Lac. We need to make sure they receive the best education so that our community will continue to thrive. My experience as an educator, parent and active member of the community will bring the skills needed by the board to make decisions to move the Fond du Lac forward.
heads:Education is now the focus and concern of educators, parents and the general public. They are concerned with what is taught and what is not taught. I want to be a part of the decision-making process for our schools, decisions that provide opportunities for all students to meet their expectations for personal growth and fulfillment.
Schultz:I have two children (ages two and three) who I intend to send through this district, and they are at the center of everything I do. I love having the opportunity to use my voice and make a difference in ways that will directly impact their future.
Why are you the best candidate in this race?
Gedemer:I can relate to the general public, school staff and children. When I was a kid, school was tough. I was taught and had a behavior problem at times. I am very balanced when it comes to all aspects of school governance. I care.
Ireland:Years of life experiences. Taking the road less traveled. Thirty-seven years of running a small business in the AG sector, sales service. The rural people make sure you stay honest and true to them. Many years of home studies on current events, education, economics, biographics and history.
Moderator:My experience as a parent, active community member, and educator will allow me to look at policy, educational practices, and community concerns from multiple angles. I will be able to provide valuable input to the Board of Trustees to make the best decisions on behalf of students and our community.
heads:I believe my professional experiences in education and business have given me vision and training that will help our school district achieve its goals. In connection with this, through my service on the Board I have taught cooperative leadership and at times the importance of a group working together for the common good despite differences.
Schultz:I am open to all topics and have a vested interest in this community and its future. I take pride in speaking and voting on behalf of students, parents, teachers, and administrators, and I'm not afraid to engage in difficult conversations.
What do you think is the biggest problem facing Fond du Lac schools and how would you address it?
Gedemer:Academic excellence, academic excellence, academic excellence. That is the biggest problem. Schools were created to educate: not to be parents and not to promote beliefs contrary to those established by parents and their beliefs. Too many students have left in the past because the Fond du Lac School District did not focus academically. My job as a school board member is to hold this school district to the highest academic standards. Every student and family needs to feel comfortable A child's academic success is #1.
Ireland:Learn true and accurate American history. To let them know about the freedoms they have in this country that others don't: freedoms in the Bill of Rights and given to us by our Higher Power. That these freedoms are under attack daily. Finally, be a source of encouragement and optimism in our public schools.
Moderator:Our state record shows that our district is not serving students in such a way that all students are successful. We need to take a closer look and make plans to remedy this. Research shows that the most important difference in a student's education is a good teacher who believes in them. The Fond du Lac School District and the state are fighting to keep teachers. We need to examine why staff are leaving and make sure we are working with educators to provide them with the tools and support they need to thrive for students and ultimately our community.
heads:The biggest problem facing Fond du Lac schools is the community's perception of underachieving students and a lack of communication with families and the community at large. To solve this problem, a plan was defined. In August 2020, the school district approved a strategic plan. I have studied this plan and agree with its evaluation and objectives. Address the "big problem." Therefore, I would support the strategic plan and work towards its implementation. The success of the strategic plan requires commitment to it. The school board must provide consistent supervision and leadership.
Schultz:I believe our biggest issue is the revenue cap which has contributed greatly to the fiscal cliff we are currently facing as a district. No per-pupil inflation adjustments have been made, and districts are continually forced to cut valuable resources to stay afloat. In partnership with the Wisconsin Association of School Boards, our superintendent, and other board members, I intend to continue to speak with legislators, teachers, and families to raise awareness of these issues and encourage community members to support us in the fight for change.
Contact Bremen Keasey at 920-570-5614 email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at@Keasinho.