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Four on ballot for two Ashwaubenon School Board seats

By Press Times Staff

ASHWAUBENON – Four candidates are running for a pair of Ashwaubenon School Board seats.

Incumbents Cassondra Pink and Michelle Garrigan are being challenged by Alexander Alberts and Brett VandeWalle.

The Ashwaubenon School District has approximately 3,200 students in five school buildings.

The Press Times emailed each candidate the same question and gave them 200 words to respond.

What do you see as the most important issue facing the Ashwaubenon School Board, and if elected, how will you address it?

Michelle Garrigan

A: I am running for reelection to continue to advocate for the mental health of all students, equity and school safety.

While all three are important, the mental health of our students and staff is the most important. This was a concern before COVID, and is a greater concern after COVID.

I supported the 2020 operational referendum that provides funding to increase staffing for the next five years to meet the mental health needs of our students.

When I am reelected, I will work with district leaders to assess data to track the progress of these services.

I will support the district’s mental health initiatives, collaborate with district leaders to define continued needs and discuss funding options to meet the needs.

I have lived in the Village of Ashwaubenon for 40 years, I am a proud graduate of Ashwaubenon High School and my children have attended the district.

I have been on the Ashwaubenon School Board for four years.

I am a thoughtful civil engineer who listens to community input, questions why the district does what it does and makes data-driven decisions.

I would appreciate your vote to continue serving the community as a member of the School Board.

Alexander Alberts

A: The most important issue currently facing the Ashwaubenon School District is, without a doubt, the transition back to educational normalcy within our district and schools.

This means safely returning to how things were pre-pandemic, and assisting our students, teachers and families with this big transition.

Our students and teachers have displayed an inspirational degree of fortitude in the face of this adversity, and I think we owe it to them as leaders in our community to commit to returning to an educational environment that is safe, but also the best for students to learn and grow.

Our teachers have especially borne the burden of the pandemic, with many of our educators and staff members having doubled-up on duties to ensure our students could remain in-person, where they can learn most effectively and have the opportunity as children, teens, and young adults to interact with one another.

As a member of our School Board, I will be committed to ensuring that every policy decision we make going forward will be in the very best interest of our students, families, teachers and staff, and ensure that they align with a path of returning to educational normalcy within our district.

Cassondra Pink

A: Funding is the most important issue facing the Ashwaubenon School District, in my opinion.

With the pandemic we have Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funding that has helped us immensely, but only temporarily.

These ESSER funds have also allowed us to provide learning support teachers.

These positions work in small group settings, which allow staff to focus on the academic needs of students that are struggling.

These are critical positions that we need permanently, not temporarily.

If elected, I will advocate for these positions, and see how we can allocate the resources we have, to be able to keep these positions in our schools.

Brett VandeWalle

A: I decided to run for the Ashwaubenon School Board a year ago, as I have three small children in the district.

I saw the impact the last two years have had on them, and I made a promise to myself and my family to be part of this solution.

The pandemic has played a concerning role in student achievement.

Attracting and retaining a high-quality workforce has never been more critical.

One of the most important issues facing our district is teacher retention and recruitment.

If elected, I would like to see a more aggressive way in which Ashwaubenon promotes our brand.

I feel that some of our neighboring communities have surpassed us in this area.

We need to let the community know why it is a phenomenal district.

Compensation is an important factor in retaining and recruiting teachers, but it certainly is not the only thing.

Teachers need to feel supported and given tools to succeed.

We need to elicit feedback and get their input on educational initiatives.

It is imperative to provide opportunities for career development, reimbursement and applicable training to retain and attract quality educators.

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