Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely baby daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.
On Tuesday of this week the Franklin Education Association held a forum featuring candidates for the Franklin School Board. Current member Janet Evans could not attend because of a previous commitment. Candidates Don Petre and John Thompson are union-backed. Both have signed the
I have obtained notes taken by a
School Board Candidates Debate at
Candidates in attendance: Aimee Schlueter, Don Petre, and John Thompson
Members of the community seated in attendance numbered twenty-four.
à This is a review of my notes during the debate and not to be taken as anything but my recall of what I perceived was the intent of the response, unless in quotes.
John Thompson has no children who attended FPS but has worked with several groups of students through his career and at St. James parish in
Aimee Schlueter introduced herself as an employee of
Don Petre started by asking the question “How many here think that a school district should be run like a business?”. ( I was only one of two people who raised a hand ). He then stated that “No board of directors of a multimillion dollar corporation would hire someone with a high school education like Janet Evans to run the company”. He has a BA in Education and an MA in Education Leadership.
WHAT MAKES THIS
Thompson - …..but could be less attractive if classes become overcrowded and we don???t find creative ways to control costs. We need to explore options to raising funds.
Schlueter—Quality education comes down to teachers, students and their parents. The School Board has the responsibility to provide the best environment at an affordable price.
WHAT FUNDING DO YOU THINK IS DISPENSIBLE
Petre—Does not want to say in particular however he considers everything on the table. May need to increase class sizes if necessary then went on the say how that influences the educational outcome.
Schlueter—Facility planning needs to really be looked at. “I want to avoid just increasing taxes”.
Thompson—“Nothing is untouchable”. Look outside of the tax base for some funding. In buildings we may look toward repairs instead of some new building. Energy efficiency etc.
IMPORTANCE OF TEACHER MORALE
Schlueter—It is an integral part of a teacher's effectiveness. ….."Learning begins at home”
Thompson—Teachers are on the front line. We need to support their needs.
Petre—(He perceives teachers being) “blasted by the media and community”. He explained how they had to make an adjustment in a 9% cut in pay like nearly everyone else and they are moving on. He states that
HOW TO ATTRACT STAFF
Thompson—Need a good environment for learning with good climate control. We also need manageable class sizes and to support the “mental needs” of the teachers.
Petre—We don't have attractive schools. The facilities, especially the Middle School are in rough shape. We need better computer labs and sports facilities.
Schlueter—“I know teachers who like the facilities”. There is definitely lots of room for improvement but we need to be fiscally sound.
FACILITIES MOST URGENT NEEDS
Petre—High School is most in need. “The athletic facilities are an embarrassment” He went on the compare the Middle School Gym to one that he recently saw in
Schlueter-- Most urgent is the Middle School.
Thompson--- I find the High School to be most urgent. It is a group of additions that has hard to maintain climate control. The mixed use of the gym as an auditorium is a problem and does a disservice to the performing arts. Labs and classes are of poor quality. Secondly the Middle School…..(same stuff).
TECHNOLOGY IN EDUCATION
Schlueter—We should look at possible cost savings of switching from Mac to PC for some applications. The technology used in schools is a must have item.
Thompson—It is more important to know how best to use the technology and not be a slave to it. We also need to develop more creative thinking skills and use technology to aid basic thinking skills.
Petre—We need to teach 21st century skills for example I teach Accelerated Geometry. In
WHAT IS THE ROLL OF A BOARD MEMBER AND WHAT IS A HIGH PERFORMANCE BOARD?
Petre—Need focused common goal. “Janet Evans does not have a common goal.
Schlueter—Need a commonality of purpose and a reasonable nature but you can't lose integrity.
Thompson—Consider the staff and the community. We need to be cohesive and act as one team. The goal is a perfect school system.
ADDRESSING THE INCREASING ENROLLMENT:
Schlueter-- We have to examine the numbers of students and projections and plan from there.
Thompson—We do have an increase in enrollment but with that comes increase in funds. With students from outside district we get funding for that as well. We need to attract as many students as possible.
Petre—With increased student load there comes problems. We could explore shared class space, Thirty-two students in a class gets to be a challenge for a teacher and impacts quality. You could find opportunity to train students off site and thus free up space. We could explore avenues of opening up the facility to community needs.
Thompson—It could work and I like a quarter system. There are lots of side issues to consider. Advantage of no three month lag where you have to spend a month catching up.
Petre—“I am intrigued by the idea”. He has a sister in
Schlueter—„I have no problem studying the idea”. You would have to see if enough teachers would go for the idea. Is it fiscally responsible?
VIEW OF ROLE OF THE ARTS
Petre—Arts are a very important component of education and we should seek creative funding from outside sources to promote arts.
Schlueter- “I completely agree and find it a way to instill creative thinking”.
Thompson—I enjoy the Arts and they teach kids organized thinking skills. Arts teach creativity and relieves stress.
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT MERIT PAY?
Schlueter—“How do you measure the value of a teacher?” It can be difficult. I am currently going through a forty page document offering ideas on the subject.
Thompson—It all depends on who the management is. It could promote nepotism and gives the “boss” too much of the decision. It would be hard to compare teachers who teach unrelated subjects to students of unrelated talents or desires to learn.
Petre-- I see a benefit in the purpose but it would be problematic. Raw test scores wouldn???t work. You would have to identify realistic goals to achieve, It would be hard to compare different types of classes or students. I would see how you could base it on teachers continuing education and extended training.
HOW TO DRIVE THE BOARD FORWARD
Petre—We have to try to work within the framework set by the State. “Financially we do have more freedom than we did in the past”. We can take advantage of the benefits that are now presented to us.
Schlueter—Everyone needs to move forward with the new system. Things changed.
Thompson—We need to find the best way to make this work for us even if we have to work harder at it.
MOST PRESSING ISSUE OF A
Schlueter—Budget, We need to provide a safe and secure learning environment.
Thompson—We need to develop more creative thinking. We need to maintain the moral of the teachers to retain quality staff.
Petre—“We need to pick the correct School Boards”. We need good facilities with better labs while having to work within the confines of the State.
IF YOU WERE A SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER, WHAT WOULD YOU WANT TO BE REMEMBERED FOR?
Thomas—I listened to the voice of the people
Petre—Saw the importance of the STEM Science and Math programs and brought a partnership similar to that of
Schlueter—Represented the Taxpayer. It is important to be aware of the fact that over 75% of households in
Petre—“We are not making cardboard boxes in our multimillion dollar corporation”. I have impacted the lives of 5000 adults who have children. I try to teach 21 century skills. I have touched the lives of over 20,000 children. I have a BA in Education and a MA in Education Leadership. I am a taxpayer and am enduring a 9% pay cut. I am ready to work within the framework set up by
Schlueter-- We need outstanding education. To get that we need a Board that is accountable and respectful….. I plan to be responsible to the taxpayer.
Thompson-- I know how to work from within a budget. My forty-two years in the Military and my years as a deputy sheriff taught me the benefit of prior planning. To get the school system to work we have to bring the taxpayer and the school together.