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Three seeking two seats on West De Pere school board

By Press Times Staff

DE PERE – Two incumbents are hoping to retain their seats on the West De Pere school board April 7 with a challenger on the ballot.

Incumbents Jenni Fuss and Joseph Bergner are being challenged by C-C O’Malley with the top two earning new three-year terms.

The district serves approximately 3,400 students.

West De Pere has a primarily community-based 4K program, two elementary schools for grades K-5, one middle school for grades 6-8, one high school for grades 9-12 and one charter school for grades 7-12.

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

Jenni Fuss

Jenni Fuss

Why should people vote for you?

I’m a lifelong resident of West De Pere.

My husband and I graduated from the school district and our three children are attending school here.

I’ve had the honor of being on the West De Pere Board of Education for six years and have played a key role in our biggest achievements during that time.

I’ve had an opportunity to experience each position on the board (member, clerk, treasurer, vice president and president), allowing me to truly understand our district, students and staff.

I’m passionate about meeting the educational needs of every student, while remaining fiscally responsible with taxpayer dollars.

What’s the biggest issue in the West De Pere School District?

As a result of our academic success, talented arts programs, athletic achievements and community involvement, West De Pere continues to be a district of choice.

We expect to see rapid growth over the next 10 years, requiring us to be thoughtful about how to support our students and retain staff while continuing to achieve exceptional results.

What’s the most pressing facility issue once the new intermediate school and multi-use facility are complete?

Our predictive models show that we’ll continue to grow over the next 10-plus years.

We need to be incredibly strategic as we think about how to prepare for that volume of growth.

Our path forward needs to include deep analysis of the projections, collaboration with community members and thoughtful planning.

Continuing to provide the best possible academic experience to all students is the No. 1 priority for our school board, administrators, teachers and support staff.

As always, we’ll continue to focus on student achievement and prepare for growth, while having minimal impact on taxpayers.

Joseph Bergner

Joseph Bergner

Why should people vote for you?

I’ve been serving the West De Pere community for the past 12 years at which time I’ve served as president, vice president, treasurer and secretary.

I’ve also served as the Legislative Representative to the Wisconsin Association of School Boards for 11 of those 12 years.

I have a thorough understanding of board policies as well as the pulse of the district and its needs.

I’m always willing to listen to all sides before making a decision that I feel is best for the district.

I have a passion for serving others and enjoy helping set the path for future generations.

What is the biggest issue in the West De Pere School District?

Other than the current pandemic and all that goes with it, our biggest issue within our district is growth, growth, growth.

What is the most pressing facility issue once the new intermediate school and multi-use facility are complete?

We need to remember that the taxpayers were generous in the last election for more than just the intermediate school and multi-use facility.

We are also adding classrooms to our high school as well as updates to our current middle school and Westwood.

Moving forward, we need to look at how our district continues to grow and how we can best prepare for that growth as well as hire and retain quality personnel to continue being a school district of choice.

C-C O’Malley

C-C O’Malley

Why should people vote for you?

I love education.

My goal is to continue to build the relevance and flexibility of our schools to better serve West De Pere, without increasing costs.

I taught in Green Bay and Appleton public schools for 25 years, and at St. Norbert’s Summer Language Institute for 10 years.

I have a master of science in education from UW-Oshkosh, and an e-learning and online teaching certificate from UW-Stout.

Currently, I’m enrolled in business classes at St. Norbert.

On a personal note, my five children and three of my grandchildren have attended West De Pere schools.

What’s the biggest issue in the West De Pere school district?

There have been significant changes in education, and tremendous growth in the West De Pere community in the last 30 years.

This is not slowing down.

Our biggest issue is how do we balance the challenges of our growth with the opportunities growth offers, and continue to prepare our children well while maintaining our close-knit community?

I believe that schools should serve as a relevant central hub of learning, information and resources for the whole community. Our new facilities give us a golden opportunity to look at how we want to use the space.

What’s the most pressing facility issue once the new intermediate school and multi-use facility are complete?

Our most pressing facility issue is that we will likely have outgrown our new facilities by the time they are built.

Our staff-to-student ratio is already the second highest in our conference.

As a community, we can get ahead of this by using the next few years to rethink how we use our facilities and our community.

How can we supplement our current system with online learning, satellite sites, apprenticeships, and staggered scheduling to relieve crowded conditions?

What effect will these models have on the community?

Let’s use the time we have to figure this out.

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