Board selects Scholze to fill school board vacancy

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The Sparta School Board is at full capacity after it selected a candidate last Thursday to fill the last of two vacancies left by recent resignations.

A board majority chose Anthony Scholze to take the seat of Nancy Sikorsky, who resigned in October. She and former board member Eric Solberg, who resigned in September, were targets of a recall effort started by a citizens group unhappy about the board reinstating a face mask mandate on Sept. 8.

Besides Scholze, Pat McKenna and Todd Wells applied to fill Sikorsky’s seat. Scholze and McKenna had also applied for Solberg’s vacancy in October when the board chose former Sparta Superintendent John Hendricks for that position.

Scholze, owner of Professional Compliance & Safety, Inc., touted his experience on professional and educational boards as qualifications to serve on the Sparta School Board. He is a member of the Wisconsin Propane Education and Research Council Board of Directors, president of the Sparta Montessori Governance Board and vice president of the Sugar Creek Youth Camp Board of Directors.

“I believe these are truly the volunteer opportunities that have helped shape me as a father, community member and a business leader,” he said. “It is because of my time volunteering on these boards that I believe I am ready to serve in a director’s position today.”

He said he was for the school board’s decision to reassess the mask mandate in late November, four weeks before 5- through 10-year-olds were given the greenlight to get vaccinated.

“I’m interested to see what CDC (Centers for Disease Control) has to provide for information and guidance so that we as a board can make a proper decision,” he said.

McKenna, who works for Brenengen Automotive Group, told board members he has struggled with masking from the beginning. He said it inhibits non-verbal communication and he questioned if teachers are as effective without being able to read a student’s facial expressions.

While he said he believes face masks work and follows mask requirements himself, he thinks grade schoolers tugging on their masks or wearing the same one for several days in a row defeats the purpose.

“There is a possibility they are doing more harm than good,” he said.

Wells is a 2019 Sparta High School graduate who works as operations manager at his family’s business, Foss Fine Meats in Sparta. He also attends Western Technical College, where he is enrolled in the business management program.

He, too, believes the mask policy should be revisited after parents have time to get their children vaccinated if they choose to. However, he said he hopes more people in Monroe County get vaccinated so case rates drop.

“I believe the board could and should make effective decisions based on the case numbers within the surrounding community,” he said.

He also said he is concerned about staff turnover in the district and would like to see the board promote staff retention.

School Board President Josh Lydon said all three candidates were worthy of the position and encouraged McKenna and Wells to run in the spring.

Lydon and board members Colin Burns-Gilbert, Hendricks and Ed Lukasek voted for Scholze, while James Rasmussen and Heidi Prestwood voted for McKenna.

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