Southern Door School Board Candidate 2014, Katie Schnorr

Relevant Experience, Education or Civic Involvement

  • B.A. Brown University
  • M.A.T. National Louis University
  • 15 years teaching experience
  • Currently employed as a public relations professional at HillstromPR

Southern Door Experience:

  • Classroom Volunteer
  • Destination Imagination Coach

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

Schools are being asked to do more with less:  educate students to prepare them for a global economy, improve their nutrition and fitness and even teach them social skills. All this comes at a time when changes in the school funding formula have led to fewer resources.

How do we balance these demands and still maintain Southern Door’s top-rated performance? People are the answer. If elected, I would work to ensure that an atmosphere of respect continues to prevail in our school, and that parents and teachers are empowered to advocate for students’ rights to a great education. Research has shown that the most important variable in student achievement is teacher quality. Recently Southern Door has seen a high staff turnover rate, which isn’t good for our kids and is expensive for the district. We need to be able to recruit and retain the best teachers. We also need to engage our local families, not lose them to neighboring districts offering more academic options and extracurriculars. To do this, we must listen to each other and take a hard look at how we can keep Southern Door at the top of the list of high-performing schools in our area.

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

Southern Door is at a turning point. As the only district in Door County who has not passed a referendum in the last two years, we are faced with tough choices. If elected, I would ask for the community’s input on how to fairly balance budget cuts. Cuts cannot rest on the backs of a few programs or areas.

When the pain of these cuts hits home, there will come a time when the people of our district will look hard at what they are willing to invest. If drastic budget cuts continue, we simply will not be able to maintain high quality education. Ultimately, it is the taxpayers who will lose, as property values will decline with the quality of our school. The people of Southern Door have built a great school and they want that to continue. Board members have done an admirable job cutting fat from the budget, refinancing loans and setting priorities. But when it comes down to it, the community needs to decide: are we going to make a small increase in our investment in our school so we can continue to excel? Or are we going to watch what we’ve built slowly crumble?

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?

I, personally, have not experienced animosity in the community. Southern Door is one of the most community-minded schools I know. Parents, board members and staff work together and put in countless hours – above and beyond the call of duty – toward everything from balancing the budget to Booster clubs, community projects girl scout troops, FFA events and more. The actions of a handful of people are an unfortunate distraction from this and from the work we have in front of us to maintain the high quality of a Southern Door education. This anonymous, cowardly behavior is outside the mainstream of our school culture and it has no place at the table in a democratic process.

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