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Three candidates running for two seats on Howard-Suamico school board

By Press Times Staff

HOWARD-SUAMICO – A former village president is throwing her hat in the ring as three candidates vie for two seats on the Howard-Suamico school board.

Patrica Jelen, former president of the Village of Suamico, is running along with incumbent Garry Sievert and political newcomer Christina Amtmann.

Howard-Suamico serves 6,000 students in eight schools and nine community-based 4K sites, making it the 25th-largest school district in Wisconsin.

The Press Times emailed each candidate the same questions and gave them 100 words to respond to each.

Garry Sievert

Garry Sievert

Why should people vote for you?

I have been involved with the Howard-Suamico School District since 1979 when I was hired as a biology teacher at Bay Port.

Since that time, I have seen the district evolve as the student population has increased, resulting in building remodeling and new schools being built to accommodate the instructional needs of our students.

The district has adapted to current trends in education that focus on the implementation of technology and emphasizing career readiness and innovative personalized learning for all students; changes that are necessary to accommodate changes in society and preparation for future jobs and careers.

What’s the biggest issue in the Howard-Suamico School District?

Equitable school funding is the major issue in our district, which receives less funding than most districts in Wisconsin.

Despite being labeled a “low-revenue district,” every student receives an excellent educational experience providing a great return on investment for taxpaying residents, based on data from standardized test scores and the DPI.

The school board works closely with our local legislatures to share with them “our story” and the need for increased school funding. Many thanks to our taxpayers for supporting the April 2018 referendum to meet our operational needs, staff compensation and staff hiring for five years.

How can the District continue to grow with open enrollment so limited?

With new incoming families, 4K students transitioning to kindergarten and students transferring from private schools, the district is seeking long-term stability without the need of open enrollment.

Our HSSD community has been described as a healthy, safe and caring environment for youth by America’s Promise and one of the best places to live by Money Magazine.

The school board limits our open enrollment based on financial consideration and limited student space.

I hope families that recognize our quality education moved into our district and become part of our membership on a permanent basis.

Christina Amtmann

Christina Amtmann

Why should people vote for you?

I have four children enrolled in different schools within the district. I’m a Pediatric Nurse with 22 years of experience in healthcare.

Kids are my life.

Education is the foundation children need to succeed.

I’m fully committed and ready to serve.

I believe:

• All students deserve the opportunity to reach their full potential.

• School administration must be held accountable.

• The community has the right to be fully updated – budgets, referendums, progress, challenges.

• Taxpayers have the right to responsible stewardship of their tax dollars.

• We need safe schools, safety training and security policies.

• I support the utilization of an onsite psychiatrist.

What is the biggest issue the district is facing right now?

As a parent, safety is a concern.

Children and staff should not only be safe, but also feel safe.

Mental health is an important component of safety for a productive learning environment.

Teachers need proper training to respond appropriately and quickly to tense situations.

An onsite psychologist would be a resource for staff, students and families for support.

Funding is a challenge.

The current referendum is ending – the district will need to find ways to maintain 30 additional teachers, hired to minimize class sizes.

I will work diligently with all concerned to prioritize school funding and ensure smart fiscal decisions.

How will the district continue to grow while limiting open enrollment?

The district doesn’t need to grow to improve the quality of education.

We want the best education for all students.

Limiting open enrollment keeps the district at the right size and maintains smaller classes.

Money will be saved because the district only receives approximately 70 percent of funding for open enrollment students, as opposed to students living in the district.

If open enrollment is not limited, the district will need to hire more teachers and staff, which would lead to overcrowding and the need for more space.

The district doesn’t have the funds to do that at this time.

Patricia Jelen

Patricia Jelen

Why should people vote for you?

I have a history of leadership in the Green Bay area that drives change.

I very seldom believe the first thing I hear and I’m not afraid to ask probing questions in order to make things better.

Open, honest communication is vital.

I want to ensure the community clearly understands how HSSD decisions will affect their kid’s education as well as their tax bill.

Teachers also need to know that the board fully supports them and is willing to provide all of the necessary tools to allow them to do their jobs well, to protect themselves and protect school property.

What is the biggest issue in the Howard-Suamico School District?

Controlling costs while providing a quality education.

We need to curb spending on unnecessary amenities in buildings and focus on funding what teachers need in order to do their jobs effectively.

Paid training for teachers, student and parent accountability, oversight over administration spending, transparency in all aspects, fund current building maintenance before building new facilities.

Before every dollar is spent we should ask, “Is this the best way to invest our taxpayer’s money?”

Sometimes we need to say no to an expense, just as we do in our own homes.

We must remember government doesn’t make money, the taxpayers do.

How can the district continue to grow with open enrollment so limited?

The challenge of social-distancing/closures will provide great opportunity for re-thinking the way we educate our children.

Maybe the current methods can be improved.

We must be willing to change with the times, innovate and use technology.

This could open new avenues to bring in more students without adding physical space.

I don’t know if that means changing laws that currently bind our educational system or if it means changing the tools with which we deliver information.

We need to ask questions and discover new ways to keep up with and stay ahead of trends in an ever-changing world.

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