Relevant Experience, Education or Civic Involvement:
My wife Carrol and I have been residents of Southern Door County for more than 30 years. Both of us grew up in the Green Bay area. Our two sons graduated from Southern Door during the 1990s. I have a BA in Conservation Biology from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and MS in Fisheries Management from UW-Stevens Point and worked as a fisheries biologist for 28 years, 25 of those for the Wisconsin DNR in Door County. During the last 13 years with DNR before retirement, I was a fisheries supervisor, responsible for fisheries programs in Door, Kewaunee and Manitowoc Counties with a staff of eight to 10 employees. I was responsible for managing the operations and maintenance of a large research vessel involved in research on Lake Michigan and for creating and managing a biennial budget for fisheries projects in the above three counties. Since Carrol and I retired in 2005, we have volunteered 1,000s of hours at Southern Door Elementary, doing anything and everything we were asked to do by teachers and administrators. We were so pleased with the quality of education our sons received at Southern Door, we decided we wanted to give something back to the school.
What do you think is the greatest issue facing public education, and, if elected, how would you address it?
The virtually incomprehensible Revenue Caps Funding Program intended to control revenue generation and spending in public schools that penalizes rural districts like Southern Door and the recent cancerous growth of the School Voucher Program that is providing public funding for private education while slowly financially strangling public education are equally threatening issues. Since both are creations of and in the hands of politicians, especially extreme conservatives, I see little or no help for the Southern Door School District coming from them and probably a continuing loss of funding.
If elected my goal will be to listen to and work with fellow board members to keep Southern Door the best school it can be for the quality education of our kids. And I will be willing to use a combination of prudent budget cuts and increased revenues to reach that goal. I will work to help the new board begin to move away from some of the unproductive ugliness of the past and move ahead with renewed support from the community to assure the long-term quality of education for all the kids in the district. This election IS all about the kids and their future – always has been and always will be.
How would you address the district’s budget shortfall? Do you have any specific ideas for cutting costs or generating incomes?
I do not have any specific ideas for addressing the district’s budget shortfalls or specific ideas for cutting costs other than to say that increased revenues through referendum has to remain as an option. I hope it has become crystal clear to Southern Door residents that it is now up to us as a united community to step up financially – serious help is not going to come from Madison. I applaud and agree with the professional and proven approach the current Board has adopted for making tough decisions on the 2014-15 budget. Right now they are the experts and have the best information possible. I am encouraged that their top priority budget objective is to “minimize impact on academic achievement.” There are some deep and ugly divides between current board members but all sides have some good ideas – listen to each other, sift and winnow, and act responsibly to maintain the quality of programs and staff remaining. Any more serious erosion of the current precarious balance of academics, arts and sports we now have at Southern Door will just invite more students to go elsewhere through school choice. We could be approaching a Support It or Lose It tipping point, like Florence, Wis. went through!
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?
The Southern Door community has its share of homegrown adult thugs, bullies and malcontents and often their intimidating actions are directed at the school – costs too much, teachers are overpaid an underworked, administration is incompetent, coaching sucks, etc. Marilyn Fitzgerald-White was targeted recently because she is an “outsider” and one of the most ardent and outspoken cheerleaders for the school, kids, staff and administration, especially Superintendent Patti Vickman. The disgusting and dehumanizing online posts used by the gutless cyber thug(s) to harass her recently is just a new form of homegrown terrorism these scumbags are willing to use. What is equally depressing, however, is that members of the Southern Door community DO KNOW the names of the guilty, including the recent cyber thugs, but are apparently unwilling or afraid to speak up, fearing retaliation. Until they do speak up together and seek the help of law enforcement, if necessary, and until the guilty are called out in public by name, nothing will change. This is a sad and embarrassing time for the Southern Door community and school.
Click here to read other candidates’ responses.