MANITOWOC – Five candidates are vying for four open seats on the Manitowoc School Board — incumbents Dave Nickels, Richard Nitsch and Elizabeth Williams are challenged by Meredith Sauer and Seth Damrow — in the April 2 spring election.
These candidates have filled out a candidate survey provided by USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin to give our readers a taste of who they are and what they stand for.
Absentee ballots are available from the City Clerk’s office — ballots can be mailed to registered voters upon receipt of an absentee ballot request form, or people can vote in person by absentee ballot at the City Clerk’s office at 900 Quay St., Manitowoc.
Voters must be registered and provide a photo ID, such as a driver’s license or Wisconsin Department of Transportation identification card, when voting. To register, people can visit the City Clerk’s office or go online at myvote.wi.gov and provide proof of residence.
Education: Currently doing online classes through Southern New Hampshire University to obtain a bachelor’s degree in political science and a minor in criminal justice. I also have a certificate from Penn Foster for dog training/instructor
Work experience: I have experience working retail, postal, factory, food, tow driver, animals and health/mental health. Currently work for HIL in Manitowoc and I am a professional dog trainer/instructor.
Political experience: None as an elected official.
Volunteer/community involvement: I volunteer for the NAACP, ACLU of Wisconsin, HRC (supporter), Democratic Party of Wisconsin, Lakeshore Humane Society and Sheboygan County Humane Society.
Years resided in Manitowoc County: One year starting in June.
Fun fact about you: Like many of you, I am a shareholder of the Packers. My father is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. I love staying educated by reading books. And I am originally from Sheboygan.
Why are you running for this office? I would like to ensure our kids have a better education than what we got in our days. Help Manitowoc become the best education system in Wisconsin. Also, to gain experience and knowledge before running for higher offices.
What sets you apart from your opponent? I have an extensive history dealing with mental health issues. It’s my current job to work with mental health clients, but I have also dealt with it in my family.
How do you plan to interact with your constituents? I will be happy to give my constituents my contact info so that we can talk about any issues or ideas you have. I will be excited to make public appearances if asked or even if you want to invite me to your home for a private conversation.
What would you like to see change in the school board? I would like to see all classes change over to hands-on education because it has shown to be more effective than the standard form. Also, fix any issues that the faculty has with the IEP/BAP.
What was the school board’s worst decision in the past year and why? I haven’t heard of a decision that has gone bad for the board in the last year. This board has worked well together in making the best possible decisions with what’s been given to them.
What was the school board’s best decision in the past year and why? Putting enough money together to renovate Rubick Field. With the amount of issues with the field, one of these student-athletes could’ve gotten themselves seriously hurt. Go Ships!
Political Experience: Manitowoc School Board, six years; and Manitowoc County Board, seven years
Years resided in Manitowoc County: Lifetime resident
Why are you running for this office? I understand the needs of our students, parents, staff and community and the role of the Board of Education in this process and enjoy working for the community.
What sets you apart from your opponent? I listen to my constituents and am well prepared to make decisions based on what is best for all involved parties.
How do you plan to interact with your constituents? I am available to interact with constituents in a manner that is best suited to their needs.
What would you like to see change in the school board? Very few people follow the board proceedings unless an issue directly affects them. It would be helpful if input were received from constituents on a more regular basis. Also, improved communication between the board and our administration.
What was the school board’s worst decision in the past year and why? The decision to realign our grades has been very challenging and with better communication would have been a smoother process.
What was the school board’s best decision in the past year and why? All decisions we make are important and need to be handled as such.
Education: Master’s degree in school psychology and master’s degree in educational leadership
Military experience: Two years in the Army
Work experience: 38 years working in education: 16 years working as a school psychologist and 22 years working as the director of pupil services for the Two Rivers School District.
Political experience: Served on the school board for Manitowoc Public School District since April 2018 … filling a vacated seat.
Volunteer/community involvement: Have spent more than 20 years working with the United Way with at least 15 of those years serving on their board of directors. A member of the Two Rivers Rotary Club for more than 15 years, member of the Knights of Columbus, currently on the sustainability committee for The Haven Men’s Homeless Shelter for Manitowoc County, Meals on Wheels in both Two Rivers and Manitowoc, and serving on the school board for the Manitowoc Public School District (MPSD).
Years resided in Manitowoc County: 34 years
Why are you running for this office? I want the children of the City of Manitowoc to have the best education possible and believe that can be delivered through our local public school system. I believe that the MPSD does a good job of educating everyone who enters a classroom in the city of Manitowoc, but hope to help the district realize a greater standard of excellence. I cannot think of a community effort that is more important than providing a quality education for our children.
What sets you apart from your opponent? I believe that my experience working in public school systems sets me apart from my opponents. I came onto the board with knowledge of the many factors that impact an education system. I am familiar with the education jargon, understand the importance of using resources wisely, sensitive to the various needs of students, understand the importance of class size, recognize the importance of maintaining high standards, and have been exposed to most other factors that can influence the quality of education.
How do you plan to interact with your constituents? I believe that it is important that the school district sends a newsletter home periodically to keep the community aware of what is going on in the school district. I have personally found that email communications with parents who have concerns is an effective way to interact with constituents. I would also encourage constituents to attend board meetings and use the “public input” portion of the meeting to express their thoughts and concerns.
What would you like to see change in the school board? I believe that the current school board works very well together and has a positive working relationship with the district’s administrative team. Those are important qualities in a board if you want a system of education that can change with the times. I am not running for the board to change the board, I am running to hopefully have a positive impact on the quality of education in the city of Manitowoc.
What was the school board’s worst decision in the past year and why? I have been on the board for less than a year and hope that during that time there have not been bad decisions made.
What was the school board’s best decision in the past year and why? I believe that the school board’s decision to realign the schools for the 2019-20 school year is a good decision. I believe that ninth-graders should be educated at the high school and that a middle-school model should be put in place that includes sixth-grade students. However, this decision has not come without controversy because of proposed changes in course offerings.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in psychology, master’s degree in Christian education
Work experience: I have worked previously as a program coordinator, case manager and supervisor at various social service agencies. Most recently, I have served as a math faculty, career pathway coordinator, and currently as dean of general studies at Lakeshore Technical College.
Political experience: This is the first race I have entered.
Volunteer/community involvement: I have worked at a variety of fundraising events for various community non-profits, actively serve in my church, and I am currently a board member at Grow It Forward, which coordinates the farmers’ markets, Night Market 920, and the community gardens in Manitowoc. I have also worked for years with the Manitowoc Public School District, volunteering as a field trip chaperone, a band trip chaperone, and most recently on the team to revise the mission and vision statement for the district.
Years resided in Manitowoc County: 14 years
Fun fact about you: I am a huge Harry Potter fan and I love nerdy math jokes.
Why are you running for this office? I am extremely passionate about public education, seeing it as the road to equity in our community. I possess strong leadership, budgeting, supervision, innovation and organizational skills, as well as a comprehensive understanding of educational systems and trends. I have a vested interest, as my son currently attends Jefferson Elementary.
What sets you apart from your opponent? I have served as a teacher and as an administrator in public education, as well as in roles in social service agencies. I have a well-rounded experience in education to contribute as an objective presence. I am also the only candidate with a child currently in the district.
How do you plan to interact with your constituents? I am active in the Manitowoc community and attend a variety of events on a regular basis. I am available through social media, email and phone. I am open to conversations that are productive, serving as a listening ear and an objective member of the community.
What would you like to see change in the school board? I would like to provide more avenues for communication, evaluation and input from all stakeholders, including parents, children and teachers, in regard to classes, programming and ongoing changes. I am also interested in pursuing alternative forms of funding, including grants and award opportunities.
What was the school board’s worst decision in the past year and why? I am not running on negativity or because bad decisions have been made. I believe the board could value someone with a strong education background, an active community member and a voice of a parent. The board needs the current parent perspective whose family is experiencing consequences of decisions.
What was the school board’s best decision in the past year and why? The grade realignment was a solid decision. Moving K-5 to elementary schools and grades 9-12 makes sense and logical efficiencies. However, the district still has work to do to configure the curriculum and scheduling of the middle schools to provide a balance of strong academics and supplemental elective options.
Elizabeth Williams is also running for another term on the school board, but did not return the survey to the Herald Times Reporter by deadline.
Contact Alisa Schafer at 920-686-2105 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @AlisaMSchafer.
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