Get answers before going to the booth
Act 10, Scott Walker’s signature legislation, changed public education in Wisconsin forever. Before Act 10 it was not uncommon for openings for educators to draw over 100 applicants. Now, administrators struggle to find qualified applicants. What has changed?
What’s changed is a career in education used to siphon candidates who might have chosen other professions. The benefits made the sacrifice in salary worthwhile by offering excellent health insurance and a world class retirement. That has all changed. Factor in periodic eruptions from parents and communities raging forth with their latest axe to grind wanting to tear it all down, it is not surprising many chose to steer clear of education. The great reward from an occupation that focused on uplifting the life of a child became outweighed by the periodic threats and insults of the mob.
Educators have survived, barely, the ravages of COVID. This should be a time of healing and introspection as we move back to a new normal. Some, apparently, do not share that view preferring to gin up a war of their own making.
The upcoming school board election is a case in point. Apparently, this election represents the latest eruption – this time over the difficult, and at times impossible task, of managing education during a pandemic that was and is as unpredictable as it was exhausting. By the time the new board members take their oath, this latest surge will likely be over and the need to protect children and staff will be a memory. The reason for some running in the first place will be gone. The voters need to know these candidates aside from their anger over online learning, vaccines or masks.
The answers in the Feb. 3 Monroe County Herald candidate forum yield some clues. Some listed curriculum as an area of concern. What curriculum? What subjects do they want changed and why? Are books and subjects to be banned, and if so, why? Is there history about our country they don’t want our children to know? School boards all over the country are going down this un-American, ugly and dishonest path. Is ours next?
Some candidates list the budget as a concern. That means cutting. What do they want to cut and why? Is austerity really the brand they want for this school district when the district is competing in a tight labor market for what talent is available? When they are finished cutting what does education look like in Sparta?
The operating referendum is necessary. Costs go up – that’s a fact of life for all of us. The Legislature’s revenue caps do not allow school districts to increase funding to meet those costs without first passing a referendum. In 1998, Sparta voters approved a $29 million referendum for a new middle school and upgrades to other facilities. In 2018, a $28.5 million referendum was approved for the new elementary school and another $4 million for other upgrades. Along the way the voters approved operating referendums to pay for increased costs. Sparta has always supported its schools. The support has been impressive. What do the candidates say about this referendum? If the referendum fails, the new board will have to cut $2.1 million. What are they going to cut? What opportunities will end for our children? The voters should know before they go into the booth.
Jack Buswell, Sparta
Candidates bring unique experiences
With the primary for our school board election fast approaching, I am writing to inform the people of our district of four very qualified candidates.
Anthony Scholze is a current member of our school board and came to us at a time of contention in our community. His calm demeanor, yet drive to fight for the well-being of all students has demonstrated the support needed not only for our students, but also our entire community. Anthony is honest and transparent and will listen to our concerns, and work to make Sparta a stronger district and community.
John Hendricks has the experience we need to make our district run as a strong, safe and efficient whole. As a former teacher and superintendent, his 14 years serving our district has allowed him to become familiar with our strengths and weaknesses. He will fight for an achievable and attainable budget in this time of statewide drastic cuts.
Tanya Morene has lived in our community for three years and a fresh set of eyes will give us valuable input on what our district needs. She holds a master's degree in education and has over 10 years of experience teaching at the elementary and middle school levels. As a lieutenant colonel with over 34 years of military experience, she understands the military families in our district. Her logistics experience will help her hold our schools accountable for the safety of students, teachers and support staff, as well as focusing on fiscal management of the district.
Todd Wells has been encouraged by current board members as well as previous educators to run for a seat on the board. He has shown them his ability to make informed and unbiased decisions in order to move our district forward. He will work to combat teacher resignation as he believes that strengthening our classrooms should be our top priority.
This diverse group of candidates are what Sparta needs. Each brings his or her own unique, but essential experience before us. Please vote for Anthony Scholze, John Hendricks, Tanya Morene and Todd Wells on Feb. 15. Excellence, education, experience and ethics for our students.
Ashley Berendes, Sparta
How did my letter get lost?
I saw on Facebook a situation that is indefensible. This entailed a letter to the editor submitted to the Monroe County Herald. This is a letter very crucial to our community at this time!
Ashley Berendes, who obviously did a lot of research, detailed four school board candidates that she felt were the best choices to serve the Sparta Area School District. The upcoming primary and spring election will determine the course of Sparta schools for several years.
But, although the letter was submitted in a timely fashion, it was lost! How does this happen?
This will be the third correction/oversight published in the last 10 days. (Bohn funeral details, contract extensions for Sparta Area School District administrators and now this letter to the editor omission).
Of course, you apologized and indicated that this letter was being posted free, and would be published in the Feb. 14 Monroe County Herald. This paper will be published on a Monday when the vast majority of people get the paper on Tuesday and read it late in the day. That means most readers will not see the delayed letter to the editor until after the polls close.
Is this enough for me to cancel my subscription? Possibly!
Larry Walley, Sparta
A decreasing lack of honor
I have long noticed the lack of honor in the multiple areas of service. Honor, according to Webster’s Dictionary, means adherence to what is right or to a standard of conduct. It means a keen sense of ethical conduct, of one's word given as a guarantee of performance.
Some of the services where we find a decreasingly lack of honor are politicians, large companies, renters, salesmen, buyers, advertisers, news reporters, etc. True, there are still some services that fulfill their obligations or responsibilities, but the number is dwindling. For instance, politicians promise on thing and fail to fulfill. Large companies withhold payments for services rendered to them and causing those small service companies to borrow money until they decide to pay them. Of course, these small companies cannot complain for fear of losing that service. Many services organizations do all sorts of manipulations to prolong or find loopholes to avoid the honorable outcomes.
In years long past a handshake or a verbal promise was held to be honored, even sacred. What is the underlying reason for this lack of honor in services today? I believe that adherence to what is right or honorable is determined by individuals with no set standards of what is right and just honorable. These individuals with this responsibility are under no supreme authority and teaching as to instruct and instill honor. The God of creation has the only power to instill such authority and teaching. Recognizing that man’s basic nature is selfishness and greed assures the continuance if this lack of honor. Unless society realizes their need to trust and obey God and his Son Jesus and the written word, there will be no standard of honor which to follow in these services.
Rev. Al Bingenheimer, Sparta
Anthony Scholze has my vote
I am writing to recommend Anthony Scholze for school board member.
I had the pleasure of meeting Tony through the Sparta Montessori School. We served together on the governance board and PTO from 2015-17 while he was the president and I was a parent member.
During my time on the governance board I was very impressed with Tony’s dedication to making our school the best it can be. He ensured each decision we made was carefully thought out, researched if needed, and discussed to make the choice was best for the children. He was always there for fundraiser set ups, and always treated staff, students and parents with kindness and respect.
One of the focuses Tony had as governance board president was to prioritize staff development through workshops and trainings. These opportunities provided our educators with many ways to further expand their classroom skills and professional abilities. This strengthened our educational environment.
Tony has the experience in the business world and as a member of several different boards that has proven him a qualified candidate. He understands the responsibilities that are involved in being a board member and is not afraid to brainstorm and implement ideas that will enhance our school district.
In these uncertain times, we need school board members who have the best interests of all the children who are in our district as their main concerns and he has proven that time and time again. In short, Tony Scholze will be a valuable member and asset to the Sparta Area School District school board and we would be lucky to have him making decisions for our students.
Kristen Koopman, Sparta
City Council raises
A member of the city council has suggested that members' pay should be increased.
Council members are paid $300 a month. That's about 50% more than paid school board and county
I was a member of the county board for 12 years. Not one member during that time ever complained
about the lesser pay, many of whom, like Nodji Van Wychen and Mary Cook, commute 50 or 60 miles
round trip four times or more a month for board and committee meetings.
The council should give this a proper burial.
Bruce Humphrey, Sparta
Vote for Anthony Scholze
I have known Anthony (Tony) Scholze for the past 20 years, first as a close childhood friend of our son (at Sparta High School) and more recently as a colleague in the Sparta Kiwanis Club. I am delighted to know he is running for a position on the Sparta School Board. I have watched Tony grow from a respectful, kind young man into a confident, thoughtful community member.
Tony is a dedicated and trusted business owner who has grown his company from 28 accounts to over 300 accounts nationwide. Tony knows how to work with all types of people- professional, middle management and entry level to help businesses reach their goals. He has also served in leadership roles outside of work in our community. Tony has served on his church council and as President of Sparta Montessori Schools governance board and PTO. He currently serves as the Vice President of Sugar Creek Bible camp where more than 600 children are served each year. Tony is dedicated to his own children and family as well as those in our community as he has clearly demonstrated.
I believe he is an excellent addition to our Sparta Board of Education and would continue to provide excellent service for the community.
Sincerely, Debra Smith, Sparta
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