Primary Election Preview: RUSD Candidates Outline Their Top Priorities
In our fourth story on the Feb. 19 primary election for the Racine Unified School District Board of Education, Patch asks the 10 candidates vying for three seats on the board what their top priorities would be, if elected.
Voters in the Racine Unified School District will head to the polls Tuesday to narrow down the field of candidates running for three seats on the School Board.
The top six vote-getters in the primary election will compete in the April 2 general election.
The candidates are: Cecilia Anguiano, Laura Betker, Tifene Brown, Randall Bryce, incumbent Christopher Eperjesy, Kristie Formolo, Michael Frontier, incumbent Julie McKenna, Roger Pfost and Robert Wittke Jr.
Leading up to the election, Patch is profiling the candidates and where they stand on the key issues facing the school district. All information is based on the candidates' responses to Patch's election questionnaire.
- Meet the RUSD School Board candidates
- Candidates weigh in on biggest issue facing the district
- Candidates speak out on the district's achievement gap
|What will your biggest priorities be, if elected?|
|Anguiano||My number one priority is to get the community involved with the school board, administration and teachers in running our district in the most efficient way, while in the constraints of a diminishing budget.
I will make it a priority to hold meetings in the community, to listen to the public, and increase the understanding of the governance of the school board. With my fresh perspective I will work to expanding the scope of where we get out ideas beyond our county, state, and even country. We need to research what is working in other places such as Maryland or as far as South Korea.
Finally, I will ensure that members of the school board have an increased understanding of the challenges of poverty, cultural barriers, and language barriers experienced by members of the public and those teaching our children before votes are made.
I will make it a priority to do the research, be the voice of the public and its workers and be a true active member of the school board and district.
||The priority for the district is to provide support to schools to prepare students to be ready and successful for a global society. RUSD students should be able to build the essential skills needed to face challenges in the future.
|Brown||My priority would be to stay connected with the Administers, teachers, students and the community at large. We all have a stake in providing quality education for every student.
|Bryce||It is important to hold all schools accountable for educating our students. We need to watch where the money goes. Our buildings need to be repaired. We need to make Racine Unified a place where all succeed and thrive - from every child with "special needs" to every "gifted" student. We need to help them frow to be the best person that they are able to become.
Education equals future.
|Eperjesy||The top priority needs to be closing the achievement gap. If we don't do a better job with kids in poverty, it will continue to have a negative effect on our community. This is a community-wide issue that the board must take a leadership role in bringing various community groups together.
Another top priority should be investing in repairs and modernizing aging school facilities. Critical maintenance projects have been delayed.
The hiring of Dr. Laing's successor as Superintendent is the most important near-term priority. The board needs to hire a qualified candidate that will continue the journey to make sure we close the achievement gap.
|Formolo||My priorities will be to work for the Racine community. I believe that children come first, and that getting a good education is an opportunity to succeed. Racine Unified has spent too many years at the bottom and it is time for an overhaul. It’s not because we don’t have good ideas or great teachers. We have many excellent teachers and principals who want to make a difference, but quite often their hands are tied with bureaucratic red tape.
We need to make Racine Unified a district that builds up instead of accepting the status quo. We need our classrooms to be a safe place for all students to learn. For too many years, Racine Unified has sat back while behavior problems have spiraled out of control. This needs to stop! Teachers can't teach if they have constant disruptions from children who have learned that there are zero consequences for bad behavior.
I believe in inclusion, but it needs to work for everyone. Children can learn kindness, caring, empathy and patience from a handicapped child, a child who is deaf or a child who struggles with reading. But, when negative behavior takes over a classroom, there is no benefit for any of the children.
I want to be a voice for the children, but it needs to be balanced with the ears and the eyes of the taxpayers. Neighborhood schools should be our goal and we also need to start implementing more schools with the Walden Philosophy. Another thing that we need to look into is the fact that our High Schools are too crowded. We might have to consider putting 6th grade back into the elementary school and 9th grade back into middle school. This would open up more room in our high schools, so we can start some new trade programs for students who might not be interested in going to college.
|Frontier||I will work in concert with the board to identify ways to support the priorities of the new Superintendent. I will suggest focusing on 8th grade students who should have a career pathway to take advantage of the outstanding, yet under-enrolled, youth apprenticeship programs we currently have.
This step especially could address the 67% drop out rate for RUSD. This is well below the national average of 80%. By helping students see career goals individual classes will take on more meaning.
|McKenna||1.Currently hiring a Superintendent need to make sure transition of the Superintendent is going well.
2. Need to prepare the students for the future,achievement gap, skills gap, global gap.... students must succeed.
3. To listen to students and the community which includes all that live in the district in order to help the system enable our students to succeed.
I would like to see the District more school centered for both academic and financial control. Principles would be responsible for their schools performance based on their schools baseline performance.
Education is a product and no business can operate without product quality control. To do this regular checks must be made on progress unlike the current year later reports used.
|Wittke||Performance. Improvement has to begin trending upward on a broad and consistent basis. It is the primary obstacle to elevating the quality of our educational system.
Declining enrollment. We have to slow student flight. It adversely impacts our fiscal health, performance measures, and image. We need to accurately define why students are leaving and take steps to resolve these issues.
Fiscal management. The Districts’ resources are a precious commodity. We need to make sound, results-driven investments that are in the best interests of our entire student population. We have to stop pushing difficult fiscal issues into future periods and find ways to resolve those that have accumulated to date.
Engage the community. Work diligently to improve the image of the District. Be visible, approachable, and responsive. Listen to the needs of all stakeholders in the District and translate them into action items that are in the best interests of the District.