Southern Door School Board Candidate 2014, Dean Gerend

Relevant Experience, Education or Civic Involvement:

Graduated from University of Wisconsin – Green Bay in 1991 with a major in Business Administration with an emphasis on Finance and a minor in Economics.

I worked for 13-plus years in the health insurance industry and I am a software consultant and I have been for the last eight plus years. I have been introduced to many different business types, sizes, leadership structures and financial situations; and with this vast experience I feel I will help generate possible solutions for the financial issues facing the school district.

I am a member of the Southern Door Booster Club. I have been paid and volunteered as a coach for the Southern Door School District and still coach youth basketball. I am involved in various district fundraising activities:  Booster Club Annual Craft Show, Haunted Mansion at Quietwoods South, St. Francis and St. Mary Parish, Brussels Union Gardner Fire Department, Brussels Big Dog baseball, Kolberg Kougars football and umpiring and refereeing various sports.

What do you think is the greatest issue facing public education, and, if elected, how would you address it?

The biggest issues facing our district are decreased state funding while increasing state mandates, and the reluctance of the voters to increase the spending limit above what the state has set. Currently there are two thoughts to solve our district’s financial issues. Either we increase the local taxes collected for supporting the school or decrease spending to get within the state and local provided funding. Through past elections, voters have declined to support a referendum to increase our local funding, and finding out why votes don’t support a referendum is vital to determine what areas the district must focus on to gain support from these voters.

Once the district understands why voters don’t support increasing the spending limit, changes can be made or better communication can be developed to increase the voter base to support the district in spending above the state set limits.

While some voters will never vote for an increase in taxes, as a district we must support our school district. These students are our future leaders and providing them with the best education with the available resources is every school district member’s responsibility.

How would you address the district’s budget shortfall? Do you have any specific ideas for cutting costs or generating incomes?

While many options are available to the district, options need to be thoroughly researched and these options listed as not only savings to the district but what are the short term and long term impacts of implementing them. With the recent law changes implemented by both Governor Walker and President Obama, tools exist that were not available in previous years. While some of these laws are not well received, their impact could help the financial position of the district.

Instead of looking at what cuts need to be made, let’s first determine what is the best-case and worst-case scenarios where the district can provide the education these students deserve. 

What is the financial impact of the worst- and best-case scenarios and what value does the district set on providing these programs and services? Can an option in-between the best- and worst-case scenarios be developed and still meet the overall goal?  Even if the school option is more expensive than outsourcing, is the extra expenditure and control justified against the overall goal?

What has caused the animosity in the school community, specifically regarding Marilyn Fitzgerald-White’s alleged harassment over “B4 Southern Door?” How can that be solved?

While these allegations are something that is happening within the district, this issue is not related to any school board business and answering this type of question in this forum is not beneficial to the district, current school board members or candidates seeking the open school board positions.

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