Gibraltar School Board Candidates

Sally Pfeifer (I)

Age: 52

Family: Husband, Jeff; two daughters

Education: BS, UW – La Crosse

Occupation: Insurance Agent

Previous Elected Office: Gibraltar School Board (9 years)

Relevant Experience/ Civic Involvement: Sister Bay Moravian Church Board; Door County Medical Center Board. I also worked for the Door County YMCA for twenty years and currently serve on the YMCA Membership Committee. I assist the Sister Bay Advancement Association with festivals throughout the year.

Why are you the best choice for the school board?

I strongly believe in the quality of education that Gibraltar Schools provided to my children and I would like to assure that this education continues for other families. My previous board experience provides me with the background knowledge of how our district works and how we can continue to move forward with our goals and those of our community. I have enjoyed meeting and working together with other Door County school board presidents and superintendents and I would like to continue working on collaborative ways to provide a great education for all of our students.

How should the school board grapple with rising costs?

It will be a continued challenge to balance our annual budget in light of the proposed reduction to per-pupil spending. At Gibraltar, we are looking at changing our class size guidelines for the elementary school, possibly through attrition of teachers. We will also reduce our annual maintenance budget and additions to our reserve funds to save money in the short-term. These actions will influence future plans for maintenance and operating budgets and will certainly affect referendum amounts as well. I do not advocate for cutting extracurricular activities since we have such a high percentage of our students participating in arts, activities and athletics each year and these are so important in shaping well-rounded graduates at Gibraltar. With regard to bargaining rights, I believe that changes will have to be made in reaction to what happens at the state level, but we still need to take care of our employees in the best possible way for our school.

What areas of public education at the school or of education in general could be most improved?

I think funding for our public schools is the biggest area of concern. It is becoming continually harder to “tighten our belts” each year after trying to conserve in non-essentials and running out of places to cut. This is especially tough for those of us with declining enrollment, as the loss of students does not always equate to loss of staff in a certain grade. I think our state and local governments need to work together with our school districts to solve our funding problems.

Joe Warner

Age: 43

Family: Wife Kris, three children

Education: University of Puget Sound

Occupation: Embedded Software Engineer for Zebra Technologies

Previous Elected Office: Gibraltar School Board (2007 – 2010); Gurnee District 56 School Board (April 2003 – July 2004)

Relevant Experience/ Civic involvement: Gurnee Zoning Board, 2003; President, Peninsula Youth Soccer Association; Vice President Northern Door Soccer Association for Youth; Assistant Coach, Sevastopol/Gibraltar Girls Soccer; Assistant Coach, Gibraltar/Sevastopol Boys Soccer

Why are you the best choice for the school board?

As a transplant resident from a large community, I would bring a different perspective to the board. I am able to respect traditional decisions while still asking the question “Why?” when others may simply take it for granted. Long standing relationships can easily sway opinions even to the most open minded of us. As a recent addition to the community I am still making new relationships, this allows me to be approachable on issues that may be uncomfortable with board members having lived here significantly longer.

How should the school board grapple with rising costs and decreasing state aid? What areas of public education at the school or in public education in general do you feel could be most improved?

Gibraltar is a unique school that offers an outstanding education, which our community should be proud of. However, as with other award-winning schools, we are beginning to experience the challenges that reduced student enrollment and tough economic uncertainty bring to education. Our grandmothers have always said “Money can’t buy happiness” and I would add, “It can’t fix your problems.” The traditional budget increases and compensation bumps before retirement don’t improve education and a slow economy can’t tolerate the practice. The answers we need to maintain our standard of education lie not within how big our budget is, or how many teachers we hire, but in our collective will to see our school succeed. It is time “we” as parents, friends and caring individuals reach out to the dedicated teachers in our school and say “Here is my hand, I am willing to help you with the education of my child.” Likewise, the schools need to accept that hand, not just as a gesture, but by actually using parents actively in the process, not just an interested party to keep informed.

Learning to share responsibilities is critical to the future of our school. Gibraltar will have to make strides in sharing resources with our neighboring schools. Our current technology should allow us to offer classes that our teachers specialize in to the students of Washington Island or Sevastopol, and in kind they should offer our students a selection of their classes. Thus we could offer, for example, AP Physics, while they offer AP History, allowing us to continue our varied and demanding curricula. We certainly can’t expand our staff or facilities, as enrollment declines so does the demand and need. By cooperating, sharing and using parental resources, we can continue to improve our educational offerings while maintaining our excellent group of committed teachers.

Fred Anderson

Family: Wife, Debi; two children

Age: 53

Education: Gibraltar Schools, Spartan College of Aeronautics

Occupation: Innkeeper

Previous Elected Office: Gibraltar School Board (18 years)

Relevant Experience/ Civic Involvement: Past President, Door County Chamber of Commerce; Board Member, Door County Visitor Bureau; Commissioner, Liberty Grove Utilities District; Member, Liberty Grove Economic Sustainability Committee

Why are you the best choice for the school board?

As a member of the board at Gibraltar for the last 18 years, I have been very proud to be one small part of a very progressive, student focused board of education that works very well together with administration to succeed at the most important goal of a public school, student achievement.

How should the school board grapple with rising costs and decreasing state aid?

As a school board member, I have always lived by the philosophy that a school board should understand the values and perceptions of the community that they serve and then create long-term policies and procedures that will allow the district to be successful. In these days of multi-billion dollar budget shortfalls at the state level, the amount of revenue that Gibraltar receives will be greatly reduced. In the past, the school board has always made the necessary cuts as far from the student as possible. As a board member, we will need to continue to find innovative ways to provide the “Gibraltar” education (Academics, Arts, Athletics and Activities) to our students with the reduced dollars available.

What areas of public education at the school or in public education in general do you feel could be most improved?

I have always been an advocate of the local control of public schools. As we continue to be shackled by more and more unfunded mandates at both the state and federal level, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain that local control. It is for this reason that I strongly believe that parents, school boards and administration should have the ability to determine and decide what is best for our kids to succeed with their education.