Decision 2018 eau claire school board leader-telegram

Seven candidates — incumbents lori bica, joe luginbill and eric torres and challengers joshua clements, laurie klinkhammer, tim nordin and john plewa — are vying for four at-large seats on the eau claire school board in the april 3 general election. Incumbent kathryn duax is not seeking re-election. The terms are for three years.

Political experience: eau claire school board, one year; two terms on UW-eau claire’s university senate, served on academic policies committee and faculty personnel committee.

Education: bachelor of arts in psychology, michigan state university; master of arts and doctorate in developmental psychology, ohio state university.School board

Education: bachelor of arts in anthropology, university of minnesota-twin cities; master of science in education, UW-river falls; law degree, mitchell hamline school of law, st.


Political experience: eau claire school board, three years. Has served on eau claire county industrial development agency board, eau claire utility appeals board, eau claire county parks and forest advisory committee, and was student representative to eau claire school board.

Education: graduate, north high school; child welfare worker credential, UW-madison; studying for sociology major and family studies minor, UW-eau claire.Boundary lines

Education: bachelor of science in physics, iowa state university; master of education, rutgers university; doctorate in education with focus on policy, rutgers university.

Education: lawyer with specialization in constitutional law and political science; master of school administration; doctorate in curriculum and teaching with specialization in cultural studies.

Q: the school district currently has montessori and mckinley charter schools and is considering a new one at the little red school site. What role do you see for charter schools in the district going forward?

Bica: charter schools already play an important role in our district, and there is a place for additional programs that meet essential criteria for effectiveness: 1) a charter school must provide equal access to high-quality education for all children in the district; 2) charter schools must be held to the same standards of accountability and transparency as traditional public schools (e.G., disaggregated enrollment and academic performance data are made available to evaluate the school’s success in educating its students); and 3) charter schools’ primary focus must be to improve learning for educationally disadvantaged students.Boundary lines

Clements: the purpose of a charter school is to enable flexibility in delivering education due to limitations or rigid state curricular policy, and/​or to create immersive programs such as montessori or language immersion. Public charters should be carefully considered in perspective of delivering evidence-based curricular strategies. Public funds must stay in public education, and public charters provide one available tool to deliver an excellent system for a diversity of learning styles with options that retain students and families.

Klinkhammer: charter schools and other types of innovative program options can be great tools for the district to address a changing workplace and a changing world, but they need to align with the district vision, mission and goals.Boundary lines as a school board member, I would support using all the tools in the toolbox to educate our children, but charter schools need to be carefully considered to make sure they are economically feasible and positively impact issues of equity and access for all students.

Luginbill: public charter schools provide additional avenues for our school district to educate the whole child and ensure that all students are able to be successful, both academically and in their social and emotional growth. Much of our survey data indicates that families would like to see more choices in their child’s education.Boundary lines having spent time at both montessori and mckinley, I have been able to see firsthand how innovation, flexibility and the empowerment of staff helps to create a school culture that fosters student success.

Nordin: the district’s mission is “to inspire and prepare our students to live creative, fulfilling, and responsible lives.” achieving this includes providing multiple, personalized avenues of study, including our in-school innovation zones and our charter school options. When and if charter programs provide the best fit for improved learning in a fiscally responsible and sustainable way, the district should carefully consider that choice.School board

Plewa: my children attended charter schools, and I am strongly in favor of the district seeking as many options as possible to meet our diverse student and teacher needs. Charter schools also need to be accountable to the district and taxpayers, and (they) need to be inclusive, like all of our educational opportunities. Charter schools also need to further our district’s vision, mission and goals.

Torres: I support the rationale behind the original idea of establishing self-governing schools, which was “to find new solutions to pedagogical problems” or “alternative ways to educate disengaged students,” because it clearly offered new possibilities to respond to the mandate of equal educational opportunities.Mental health going forward, though, and considering budget limitations and that ECASD (eau claire area school district) is now structurally and organically invested in innovation, I believe that any new project must be designed to work for the common good, not generate competition for students, facilities or resources, and must meet the achievement and growth expectations set for every public school student.

Q: the district recently altered boundary lines between north and memorial high schools in order to address an enrollment disparity. Do you think other measures need to be taken to address inequity between the schools?Boundary lines if so, what would you propose?

Bica: as a current member of the school board, I strongly support all efforts to ensure equity between north and memorial high schools, including offering the same courses and co-curricular opportunities, aligning schedules so distance learning courses can be shared between schools, enabling teachers to travel between schools to offer courses, and limiting open enrollment of students coming from outside the district to balance enrollments. I propose regular reviews of all resource allocations to guarantee that north and memorial students have access to the very same high-quality education.School board

Clements: the first step is to better understand the nature of these disparities and then evaluate evidence-based options for effectively pursuing equity. These may include reallocation of staff, programs, or other resources, and working with staff, parents and partners to implement. These dynamics should be communicated so the entire community is aware and part of the solution.

Klinkhammer: enrollment disparity and inequity between schools seem to me to be different issues. If the district is trying to evenly distribute population between the buildings, then boundary lines are one consideration, although changing lines triggers its own set of difficulties such as transportation costs or disruptions of school placement for some families.School board if the goal is to address equity among the school populations, then moving boundary lines is a temporary fix at best. As a school board member making these decisions, I would want to see data or research that support best practices for solving this problem.

Luginbill: I was proud to help advance the recent boundary change. I also authored policy language to create a temporary equity committee structure in the ECASD and helped write a policy formalizing a regular boundary review process moving forward. We formed an equity committee to study donations between the two high schools, and the board and administration have worked to fully implement the committee’s recommendations.School board I would like to see the school board continue to form temporary equity committees to study specific topics and provide recommendations to the board.

Nordin: increasing educational equity across the district is one of the primary goals I have for the board, including issues regarding socioeconomic standing, racial/​cultural diversity, and special educational needs. The board must continue its efforts to identify areas where students need additional support and work to provide them. One area … Is the demographic data of students applying to choice programs within the district; ensuring that a representative section of our students are accessing our innovative programming and understanding how to best serve the needs of all students.Boundary lines

Plewa: altering boundary lines significantly disrupts the lives of our students and families, and should be done only when absolutely necessary. Attempting to remedy disparity and inequality by moving students seems cruel, outdated and ineffective. As someone who spends his days with children from a variety of backgrounds, I can only say that this question belies a huge, interconnected, and multigenerational issue that three sentences simply cannot hope to address adequately.

Torres: I think that ECASD must design and invest in an aggressive, comprehensive plan to close the achievement gap, especially for students of color, students who live in poverty and students with disabilities who do not perform at the expected levels.Boundary lines A special emphasis and priority must be given to the academic growth of all students, but especially those who need additional, equitable support. Teacher effectiveness needs to be supported through professional development that includes critical frames and culturally relevant pedagogical interventions.

Q: how is the district dealing with trends and changes that affect how education is delivered, as well as societal issues such as mental health and children living in poverty?

Bica: from the perspective of someone responsible for training future school personnel, I have been extraordinarily impressed with the district’s teachers, building-level administrators and central administration in terms of their knowledge of trends and changes advanced by current educational research, evidence-based decision making, designing and assessing innovative approaches of their own, and disseminating knowledge via presentations at professional conferences and scholarly publications.Mental health goal 2 of the school board’s strategic plan, student social and emotional growth, perfectly positions the ECASD to respond to societal issues affecting students now and in the future.

Clements: district officials and staff are vigilant and proactive in collecting and evaluating best practice and evidence to ensure the structure and methods of our educational system is as equitable and effective as resources and state law permit. Many of the most prominent and vexing challenges kids face in education is that they arrive at school with the accumulated stress of life, and schools are expected to resolve and still deliver excellent education.Mental health as a community development professional, I will reinforce efforts to build a whole-person strategy through increasing collaboration and synergy with community partners.

Klinkhammer: although incumbents are better suited to provide this answer, the district’s strategic plan is comprehensive and well-considered for addressing the many needs of our students. The district employees strive to provide a healthy, safe, and engaging learning environment that educates the whole child. As a board member, I would continue to support the strategic plan and the work of the staff.

Luginbill: our district’s vision is to “challenge minds, build relationships and nurture individual growth to prepare all students for postsecondary success.” when we say all students, we mean ALL students.Mental health our district has a number of programs that work with students to ensure that they are given equal educational opportunities in the district. ECASD also collaborates with area agencies and organizations as a united voice for change. I am the current co-chair of the child poverty-focused kids first action team for clear vision eau claire’s poverty summit.

Nordin: the district is actively seeking out ways to engage with modern teaching methods such as project-based learning and social-emotional growth, particularly in the work of innovation zones in our schools. We must continue to engage our teachers, administrators, and access outside resources to continually improve pedagogy.Boundary lines in terms of societal issues, we must tirelessly partner with service providers across the region to support children and families dealing with struggles. We need to evaluate how to improve our mental health support in schools, including advocating for increased funding at the state and federal level for mental health and social workers in schools.

Plewa: my knowledge of this is second-hand, from speaking to people who work in the ECASD central office, as I am not currently on the board so am not privy to some of this information firsthand. What I have been told is that the district has drilled down to each school, grade and classroom and is assessing the students’ progress in comparison to one another, as well as longitudinally with time.Boundary lines the district is keenly aware of the role that poverty, mental health, homelessness, adverse childhood experiences, etc., play as potential obstacles as our very skilled teachers and staff attempt to deliver the best possible education, but I do think my experience as a pediatrician may at times allow me to contribute to this conversation.

Torres: ECASD teachers have a clear understanding of the importance of addressing the whole child in their interventions. But it is important to continue enhancing their critical multicultural approaches to teaching and learning, their disposition to differentiate their instruction to secure the learning of all students learn, and their empathy and firm resolve to firmly address issues of racism, harassment, and other forms of violence and discrimination.School board