Green Bay school board candidates share views at forum
By Heather Graves
GREEN BAY – Three of the four candidates vying for two seats on the Green Bay school board went head-to-head in a forum hosted by the League of Women Voters of Greater Green Bay Tuesday, March 3, at the Brown County Central Library.
At the forum, candidates Laura McCoy, Dawn Smith and Paul Boucher took questions from the audience on a variety of district topics.
Candidate Jason Davies was invited to attend the forum, but declined saying he wasn’t comfortable participating.
“Those who know me, know that I am running to evoke change and that I do so with a very strong headwind,” Davies said. “In light of the serious infractions of (a candidate), I do not believe I want to associate with the mess.”
Smith said being on the school board is a huge responsibility, but that she is willing to take because it’s important the voters have a choice.
“We are talking about our kids,” she said. “There is no one-size-fits-all answer that is going to work for everyone. I don’t have all the answers. I am not a trained educator, but what I am good at is reaching out and talking to the people doing the work and have those answers.”
As the only incumbent, McCoy said serving on the board is rewarding work.
“I’ve connected to my community in a way I didn’t really anticipate when I decided to run the first time,” McCoy said. “I think there is plenty of work left to be done. I think our district is on an upward trajectory in many, many ways, and I’ve been a witness and hopefully a solid participant in that process for the last three years.”
Boucher said his sociology degree gives him a base to deal with the complexity of the district, especially around inclusion.
“I know there are a lot of great stories and success in the schools,” he said. “But we need to work to be more inclusive. I am the candidate of change. I have a lot of ideas and energy.”
Audience-driven questions at the forum focused around teacher shortages and retention, the Jefferson/Fort Howard transition, the new superintendent hire and the use of social media as a board member.
“I did make an attempt when I was first elected to engage on social media as a school board member, but found out very quickly that that has a lot of pitfalls,” McCoy said. “So what I decided, and this isn’t for everybody, that I am not going to engage as a school board member on social media.”
Smith said that social media can be a double-edged sword.
“We are at a really interesting point when we talk about communication and social media,” she said. “This question has come up often. I have a Facebook page and tell people to ask me questions and I’ll answer them. I think it’s important as a first time school board candidate that I’m available.”
Boucher said it’s important to remind everyone what goes on social media is “essentially there forever.”
It’s no secret the board has had communication and collaboration issues recently.
Smith said she has reached out to the current board members to begin building those working relationships if elected.
“I recognize that I lack that knowledge, and I am trying to learn,” Smith said. “I have been attending as many board meetings as I can just so I can understand all the complexity of what make our schools run and be successful.”
She said as a board member it’s important to be available.
McCoy said she is proud of the process the board has made this year at strengthening its working relationship.
“I am personally committed to supporting our new superintendent and working with my fellow board members,” McCoy said, “and telling people what a great district we have every chance I get.”
Boucher said the district needs to reach out to the minority community and assure them they are included.
“I notice pretty much everyone here is white, pretty much the school board is white and a lot of the teachers are white – but most of the students in the district aren’t,” he said.
On Tuesday, April 7, voters will narrow the pool of four to two – filling two seats on at the board table.