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SCC School Board race will pick three winners

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New Richmond, 54017
New Richmond News
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New Richmond Wisconsin 127 South Knowles Avenue 54017

Four candidates are vying for three open positions on the St. Croix Central School Board. Following is some biographical information on each and their responses to several questions.

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Name: Scott DeGross

Office seeking: School board director

Age: 44

Family: Wife and three boys in middle and high school.

Public service experience: Just completing my second full term on the school board.

Why are you seeking election?: I feel the board is going in the right direction and I would like to continue what we have been doing since my initial election.

What do you feel are the top three issues facing your school district?:

1. Budget issues are a top concern of all business and governments, the school included. Rising health care costs, energy costs, transportation costs, unfunded mandate costs, special services costs as well as mainstream education costs are always a challenge. Budgeting in a time of declining property values and steady enrollment is especially challenging.

2. The evolution from the traditional education model to a model with an emphasis on current technology is very challenging. Students must be prepared to compete globally and that requires evaluating, and when necessary, shifting our methods. There is pain in change but it is necessary an it cannot be looked at as a cost, rather an investment.

3. Staying focused on the real reason we are here. Kids. Really a school's only reason to exist is to educated children. We need a generation of critical thinkers. We need high achievement if we want our economy to grow so we older people can retire better. We need physically fit youth to reduce heath care costs. We must "lose" as few students as possible to keep societal costs low (i.e. crime). These things all take commitment, and yes money. They also take community and business involvement. We do OK, but we can do much better.

Name: Howard Kruschke

Office seeking: School board director

Age: 52

Family: I am married to Doreen and have three sons who all graduated from St. Croix Central schools.

Public service experience: I have served on the St. Croix Central School Board since 1999. I have had leadership roles in the Scouting organizations, Roberts-Warren Fire and Rescue and on the school board. My goal has always been to serve the best interests of the community.

What do you feel are the top issues facing your school?:

In these challenging times, it is easy to lose track of the primary job of the schools, which is to provide the best education to our children possible and prepare them for a productive future in life. Though we face many financial challenges as a school and community in the future, we are financially sound and have faced these issues before. We have always found a solution.

St. Croix Central is in a transition phase in which many of our most senior and experienced staff are retiring. Though we are losing many excellent staff members, the school board did anticipate this process and started planning more than three years ago. Steps have been taken to capture the knowledge and experience of those staff members retiring as well as implement new teaching methods and techniques brought in by new staff members. As we strive to increase student achievement, the school board has implemented a teacher professional development program to train and reinforce the techniques and utilize technology to achieve the highest student achievement. With much material to learn and a limited amount of time to teach it, the best utilization of teacher-student contact time becomes critical.

We are also working to align the curriculum with the state testing standards to concentrate on the subject areas that are important. This does not mean teaching to the test but rather, reconciling differences in curriculum so students will be tested on subject areas taught. This reconciliation means changing the curriculum so that eighth grade students are not tested on subject areas in the fall which are not covered until spring, for example. With the work we are doing on the St. Croix Central School Board, I would ask for your continued support in the upcoming election to continue the great work this school board is achieving.

Name: Kay Zwald

Office seeking: School board director

Age: 53

Family: I'm married to Bob Zwald and we have five children who attended St. Croix Central from kindergarten through graduation. All of our children either have a college education or are currently enrolled in college. We have four grandchildren. We, along with my husband's brother and his wife, own and operate a 600 cow dairy farm.

Public service experience: Outside of the school board I am also a 4-H leader, a member of the St. Croix County Dairy Committee and I serve on the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.

Why are you seeking election?: I know how important education is and have spent the past many years on the school board in an attempt to help make our schools the best they can be. I have tried to be available for comments and concerns from the public and take in as much information as possible before making my final decision. I have always voted in favor of what I believe to be the best choice for our students, even if it was not the popular choice.

What do you feel are the top three issues facing your district?:

There are many issues that I feel are important areas of concern for the school board.

The first of these is the hiring of new staff members. We currently have many teachers who are going to be retiring soon. The school board has the final say when determining who will be best suited for a job opening in our district. This is a responsibility that I have been honored to be a part of, and if I am elected to continue, will strive to make the best decisions to meet the needs of our next generation.

The second issue I feel is an important area of concern is funding. In a time where our society is struggling to stretch every dollar, our schools are doing the same. This is one of the most challenging issues the school board faces. Determining whether funding is best spent on technology, salaries or non-curricular events, is always a decision that needs to be considered from a variety of angles.

The third issue of concern is technology. To remain a competitive school, we need to keep up with current practices in the field of technology. It is a struggle to purchase the newest and latest advances as well as to keep our staff trained to best use these devices.

Name: Dana Cottrell

Office seeking: School board director

Age: 46

Family: Wife (Nancy) with two children.

Public service experience: Coach soccer, baseball, basketball; participant community and school committees; board member, Midway Chamber of Commerce.

Why are you seeking election?: I've always had a strong commitment to our community, especially education. My belief is that as a resident of the community you have a personal responsibility to support the important organizations that operate within your community. I also have a vested interest in the school districts success as I have two children attending St. Croix Central schools.

I want our district to provide the best opportunity for our students to succeed. I hope to bring a strong background of success helping large institutions operate in an efficient manner. I have worked with other large districts, St. Paul School District, large colleges, (University of St. Thomas, University of Hamline, Minnesota State University) and others achieve success. I am committed to applying my experience to our district. I look forward to providing my leadership to the district. My goal is education and operation excellence.

What do you feel are the top three issues facing your district?:

1. A strong strategic plan to support the difficult financial challenges we will be facing. I believe we can work together to achieve our goals by operating in an efficient and effective manner. We'll need to develop new ideas to meet these challenges. I have ideas that can help overcome these challenges.

2.With the increased impact of the global economy we will need to provide our children a "world class" education. To this end I am committed to ensure we have the best tools and systems available to take advantage of our resources. It is critical that we consistently put our best foot forward.

3.Growth of the school district. Clearly our district is evolving. As a member of the school board I will work to balance growth with financial constraints. We will need to accomplish this if we are to continue to offer a quality education experience to our children. I will work to obtain consensus within the community. I will also apply my experience to all the challenges that we will face.

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