Candidates for Southern Door School Board

Steve Bretl (Incumbent)

Age:  47

Education:  Technical Diploma; Diesel Engine Technician from NWTC. Bachelors of Science in Technology Education, minor in Vocational Education from UW Stout.

Occupation:  Diesel and Heavy equipment Technician Instructor at NWTC

Relevant Experience or Civic Involvement:  9 years on the Board of Education at Southern Door. 4 years on Holy Name of Mary Maplewood parish council, two as president.

What is the biggest challenge facing the school and how would you address it?

As the demand for higher levels of education increases, the funding for education is decreasing. Every year the district is forced to work with a decreasing budget. Whether it is from a declining student enrollment or a decrease in the state aide, the end result is the same.

For the past 6 to 7 years Southern Door has seen a 4% decrease in revenue limit. This in turn translates into state level cuts of over $2.8 million to our district. Southern Door district then has to try to address the gap between what revenue we have to work with and the expenditures we continue to have. We have to continue to be good stewards of what revenue we do receive. In order to do this effectively we have to involve every party that has an investment in Southern Door. This means getting the community involved and motivated to determine what is important to them.

Getting the expertise of the people that have a direct investment in Southern Door involved will broaden our ability to make the decisions that will keep our school performing at the highest level possible and continue to be a school of choice.

If the board were forced to make budget cuts, what would be the first thing to go? 

Budget cuts cannot be made on a “pecking order” basis.  Every program, extra-curricular, faculty, support staff, and administrator all play a very important role in the success of Southern Door.  To put up one against the other in relevance of importance in order to eliminate in times of a decreasing budget would be detrimental to the values and mission statement of Southern Door.   If Budget cuts are to be implemented, they will be implemented across the board.  Every area will have to make some kind of sacrifice in order to make it through.  We as a district have to operate as a whole.   If the district is going to survive in times of reductions, it needs to be a district wide contribution in order to become a district wide success. 

What do you see as the board’s duty to the children and residents in the school district?

As a board member, before acting on any resolution I have always asked myself, how will this affect the kids.  The students are why we are here.  Any decision has to be made based on the consideration of the effect on the students.  We as a board have the privilege to assist in molding a young person’s mind by supporting the best possible education available with the resources we have available. 

Being a privilege, we don’t have the right to take risks or act on a whim with those resources.  We owe it to the community to use those resources to educate our young people to become productive members of society.  Giving our students a well-rounded education, in a safe, reassuring and growing atmosphere is what our duty has to be to the children and the residents of this school district.  

Heidi Gutschow

Age:  42

Education:  BS in Physical Therapy, UW-Madison

Occupation:  Physical Therapist, Athletic Trainer

Relevant Experience and/or Civic Involvement:  I am a current member of the Athletic Advisory Committee for Southern Door. I have also served on the Affiliated Credentialing Board for the State of Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services and the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon Board of Directors. I have served as Treasurer for the Wisconsin Athletic Trainer’s Association for the past 4 years.

What is the biggest challenge facing the school and how would you address it? 

Some of the biggest challenges our school district faces are both decreasing state aid and declining enrollment. As a district, we need to make sure that we are maintaining fiscal responsibility, incorporating efficiency standards, and responding to community concerns. We need to continue to be diligent in these areas in order to survive financially as a district as well as to attract new families to locate here.

If the board were to make budget cuts, what would be the first thing to go?   

One of the biggest and potentially most important decisions that school boards must face is where to make budget cuts.  Unfortunately, I cannot provide a specific answer to that question without first conducting a full evaluation of the current budget.  Any cuts to the district budget, as with any school board decision need to be made through collaborative efforts between board members, administrative staff, and the public.  These decisions will directly affect the quality of education that our students receive, and unfortunately, cuts would likely not be limited to a single area such as extra-curricular activities, but to academic programs as well.   

What do you see as the board’s duty to the children and residents in the school district? 

The board’s duty to the children and residents in our school district is simple.  It is to provide the best educational experience in Door County.  This includes keeping up with current technology and advancements, providing quality education/advanced programs to prepare our students for both professional and vocational degrees, and give them real life experience.  If we continue to provide these experiences for our students and parents, Southern Door will remain an important part of our community for years to come.

Del Schmelzer

Age:  51

Education:  Associate Degree in Electro-Mechanical Technology

Occupation:  PLC Programmer

Relevant Experience and/or Civic Involvement:  None

What prompted you to run?

I resigned in May of 2012 from the Technology Coordinator position at Southern Door for a reason:  Superintendent Patti Vickman had me under a 30 day gag order and restrained me from attending my daughter’s 8th grade graduation, with threats of legal action if I did not follow her guidelines. I have seen the way Vickman and Bousley handle problems with specific staff members and parents issues. Some of these issues need to be looked into by a third party to see if a disciplinary action is required.