SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER ISD NO. 99 (ESKO)Lynn McComber • Gerald (Jerry) Frederick • Rolland (Rollie) Bockbrader • Margaret N. Sunnarborg • Scott Phillip Powers
Question 1: How does your past experience, job or education qualify you to serve on the Esko School Board?
Question 2: What specific criticism do you have of current school district policy or practice? How would you do things differently?
Question 3: Other than finding greater efficiencies, what areas would you look to trim first if there are unexpected budget deficits?
I have been involved within the Esko Public School system for the past 10 years. I have been a volunteer, co-chair and chair of the P.I.E. (Partners In Education) group, and I have been on the Esko School Board for four years. While on the Esko School Board, I have been a part of the Finance, Curriculum, Wellness, Safety, Non-Certified Staff, and Recreation committees. In addition to an accounting certificate, I have a B.A. in business management from Bethel University. My professional experience includes managing, budgeting, purchasing, human resources and accounting.
In the past, if I have had concerns over school district policy or practices I have brought them to the attention of the superintendent or the board. The administration, school board and the Esko community work closely to determine the academic needs of the district. As a school board member I will always keep the best interests of our children in mind. I don’t believe this is the proper venue to bring forth anything new and before those most closely involved in formulating policy are informed.
When working with a budget, there are no areas that are completely exempt from cuts during difficult and challenging times. There are state requirements where adjustments are very difficult to make. Fortunately for the Esko School District, we began a number of years ago “planning for the worst” and built our fund balances so we could weather the storm. We have also been fortunate to gain students due to a growing community. If reelected I will continue to work to support our tradition of academic excellence while striving to remain fiscally responsible.
Gerald (Jerry) Frederick
I am completing my fourth year on the board and am currently the chairman of the school board and chair of the Community Education Advisory Council. I regularly attended board meetings for two to three years before elected to the board, so when elected, I could hit the ground running. My wife and I have two sons who attend the school, so I want to make sure that they get the best education possible
I am a member of several committees including Wellness, Policy, Technology and Finance within the school. Within the community, I chaired the Playground Repair Committee on behalf of the elementary parents group and have been active member of their organization. I am a member of the Esko Active Communities Coalition and through that group helped to secure funding for another speed sign on the west side of Highway 61 coming in to Esko. I will continue to volunteer my time to program and help maintain both signs. My family and I helped to build the school garden this past summer. It has always been my belief that a person should try to give something back to the community in which they live.
I have been on numerous other boards in the area including Grandmas Marathon, ARAC, IBEW Local 31 and was on the advisory board for the Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College electronics program. I have a background in organization development and am an electronic technician by trade. This background has enabled me to add insight and bring problem solving skills to the board. I am an active member of the Esko community, helping to lend a hand wherever needed.
It’s a difficult question to answer if you are currently on the board. I am very proud of how the current board works together with our dedicated teaching staff, top notch administrators, talented support staff and extremely involved parents, to do what is best for the students in our district with the resources that we have available. Although we have a three-year graduation rate of 100 percent, scholarship awards in the high hundreds of thousands, and some of the highest MCA scores in the area and well above state averages, we continue to set our goals higher.
We continue to update policies and practices in this ever changing world. New technologies and global competition puts our students not only in competition with those students in the local area for jobs, but also against other students in the state, country and around the globe.
We continue to hold open forums to get the input and direction from community members on things that they feel are important. Goals that have been identified and adopted are immediately implemented and principals and teachers incorporate these into their daily curriculum.
In reality, there are always budget deficits.With little or no new funding from the state for several years, I’m always looking at ways to cut expenses by eliminating those things that no longer fit or that have outlived their usefulness within the school environment but more importantly, to continue to look for revenue enhancements in the form of grants or special allocations to help to make ends meet. By developing partnerships with other educational institutions and local corporations, it enables us to give our students additional opportunities for classes that Esko might otherwise not be able to afford.
Our district has one of the lowest administrative budgets per pupil unit in the state. I tend to favor developing long-term goals and to look for long-term solutions and would rather be proactive in managing our budget than being reactive and have to scramble to cut expenses. Decisions made in haste usually end with poor results. When cuts are needed, reductions are made in areas that have the smallest impact to the students and if additional revenue is available, spend or reallocate dollars in areas that enhance student learning while still keeping an eye on keeping our facilities safe and well maintained.
Margaret N. Sunnarborg
I recently retired from teaching after 34 years of service to the Esko School District. This type of experience makes me a unique candidate as I have worked closely with the students, staff, and administration of Esko High School. I am extremely qualified for the job because I know the school day is not all about math, science, English and social. There are many events that happen throughout the school year that contribute to a student’s education. I have seen this firsthand and understand the intricacies of the district that make Esko’s schools No. 1 in the state.
At this point in time, I can’t say that I have a problem with any specific school district policy or practice. I want to maintain an administration and staff that the community can trust to do its very best for the students. That being said, I think it is very important to continually look ahead to the future and to look to improve. The Esko School District needs to remain on the cutting edge in order for our students to continue to excel. We must ensure we have the best staff, support staff, and resources for our students to succeed.
All schools will be looking to trim budgets unless someone donates a couple billion to the cause. We will need to look at all areas and then decide what is most important to the education of the students. Once we reach that point, we would need to work backwards and discuss our options there. No one wants this type of situation to occur, however if it were to happen, I would focus on the overall education of the students above all else.
Scott Phillip Powers
My past experience of 13 years as an insurance agent and private business owner has provided me with the business experience to meet school board demands. In addition, my volunteer experience with Kiwanis, Washington Community Center and the Esko Community Education Advisory Committee helped me keep abreast of current educational issues and priorities. I am a lifelong resident of the Esko area, graduating from Esko in 1992. My wife, Jenny, and I have two pre-school children that we hope will be provided the same quality educational opportunities within the Esko school system as past students have experienced.
I have no criticism of the district’s current policies. Staying the course should be the first priority. Change for the sake of change is often detrimental. The school board is beginning to solicit community input to develop a long-term plan for the school district. This plan will certainly involve some changes. If this plan involves any significant financial obligations, it will be up to the voters to approve or disapprove such items. I am not running for the school board with a planned agenda. I will be open-minded and flexible in order to meet educational goals and community expectations.
Esko has been fortunate to be able to maintain a positive fund balance. Even with state allotment reversals, we would not be as vulnerable as other districts with past or current financial difficulties. If we were required to trim the budget, all programs and activities would need to be reviewed. My objective would be to maintain the programs which would be of greatest benefit to all students. With this in mind, my intention would be to hopefully assist all district students in their academic achievements.
Rolland (Rollie) Bockbrader
I have lived in Esko for 17 years and am a parent of two children at Esko Schools. I have been a parent volunteer in the classroom, library, on field trips and sixth-grade Math Masters coach (nine years). From 2003-2008 I served on the school board and on many school committees/task forces: curriculum review, staff development, technology, Special Ed Coop, two referendums and the Esko Education Foundation. I currently work for the district as an elementary paraprofessional. My past employment (mostly in church settings) has given me experience with administration, oversight, working with people and teamwork.
There is very little for me to criticize of the current school district policy and practice. The current board and administration have been conservative during a tough financial time; they have done well in spite of funding challenges. One area that I would encourage improvement is getting more people involved in knowing and owning the long-range vision for the schools, including residents, parents, students, businesses, teachers and staff.
Areas that I would trim from the district budget should there be an unexpected budget deficit would be as far from the classroom as possible. The district’s primary responsibility is to provide quality academic education to its students. If trimming is necessary I would look at services not directly related to students’ education (i.e. transportation, support personnel, etc.)