Spring Election 2019: Wilmot Union High School Board Q&A

Photo by Kristen Price via stock.xchng

Voters in the Wilmot Union High School District will be able to vote in a contested election for school board in the April 2 election.

Incumbents Steve Turner and Sue Gerber are being challenged by Laurie DeMoon and Warren Regnier.

The same questionnaire was submitted by westofthei.com to each candidate by email.

Here is their biographical information followed by their question responses, presented in alphabetical order:

Laurie DeMoon — Age: 49. Education: BS Northwestern University, MFA. University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee. Occupation: Community Volunteer, former Headmaster First Stage Theatre Milwaukee. Previous elected offices: N/A.

Sue Gerber — Age: 59. Education:  High School. Occupation: Sales Service Associate, United States Postal Service. Previous elected offices:  Village of Silver Lake Trustee 2008-2013, Village of Silver Lake President 2013-2015.

Warren Regnier — Age:  No answer given. Education:  MBA, Bachelor of Science. Occupation:  Teacher and Coach. Previous elected offices: No answer given.

Steve Turner — Age: 50. Education: BA degrees in:  Psychology, Human Resource Management and Business Administration.  Minor:  Biblical Literature. Occupation: Major Account Executive; TransUnion. Previous elected offices:  Current Board Member / Finance Committee Member Wilmot Union High School.  Current Board Member / Finance Committee Member Lakewood School.

1.) Why are you the best choice for a school board seat?

DeMoon — As I have spent time attending Wilmot’s school board meetings and getting to know more about the school’s strengths and weaknesses, I have realized that I can bring a needed, fresh perspective to the board.  I am not afraid to ask tough questions and encourage change for the better. My only agenda, however, is the success of our students.

Gerber — As a Wilmot High School Alumni and I currently serve on this board with pride.  Wilmot is a school with great leadership, staff and faculty and a powerful parent and residential support.  As a current board member I look for ways to continue supporting the school and its many academic programs, sports, fine arts, and extracurricular activities while being fiscally responsible to the taxpayers of the District.

Regnier — My decision to run for the Wilmot Union High School Board is based on my passion and drive to enrich the school and the district. I share the same views on the importance of education and community with my wife who has been a teacher for more than 20 years and has inspired me to become involved with in our own community.  It is because of my strong belief in education that I left the business sector after 15 years to pursue my dream of helping students and becoming a teacher.  My experience and knowledge in both business management and education will be a great asset to keep moving Wilmot Union High School forward. As a teacher I understand how a school board decision can affect the students, educators, and parents in the community.

Turner — I have a passion for the school and the overall scholastic experience at WHS.  I have had two kids graduate from WHS, a current Sophomore and another coming up through Lakewood which is to say I’m vested in the education provided.  Additionally, my background has equipped me to contribute at a unique level.  I have deep experience in  policy making, financial planning, team leadership and performance management all of which lend themselves to effective board governance.

2.) What do you see as the chief challenges that Wilmot Union High School faces?

DeMoon — Right now the looming deadline for a new state budget should be a priority for the school board.  Advocacy is a part of the job.  The new budget may possibly bring major changes to the board and administration’s ability to plan for the future.

Gerber —  I don’t feel that there are really  “chief” challenges Wilmot High School.

Regnier — There is a need for improvement when it comes to student technology and continuous improvement of our scores on the school report card (WUHS can do better!).   Technology needs to be more prevalent in our classrooms to prepare students for the demands of the 21st century. The challenge is coming up with the funding to bring computers and other forms of technology into the classes without adversely affecting other programs. The responsibilities of an educational leader extend from budgets and material procurement to student behavior and community relations. All of these individual tasks, however, support a singular focus: developing students from children to contributing members of our community.  This will be an ongoing and continuous challenge, and my focus as a member of the WUHS Board of Education.

Turner — Broadly I feel the school needs to ramp up its trajectory of improvement.  The administration has a good working knowledge of the challenges it faces and has, moreover, functional plans in place to make the needed improvements.  Educationally, WHS lags its peers in several core performance areas.  Progress has not been consistent and needs to be in both ELA and Math.  Math has been a particular area of challenge for the school with strategies put in place to make advances.  The strategies need to be well executed for the needed improvement to occur.

3.) What would be your top initiatives for the next term if you are elected?

DeMoon — I will advocate to the legislature to help ensure that Wilmot High School has the ability to plan for the long term and stop relying on referendums for its funding.  Improving the school’s test results for math, along with the special education program, would also be a priority.  In addition, I favor exploring the possibility of a later school start time.

Gerber — To persuade our Legislators to improve funding for public schools.  Make fair and honest decisions for the staff/faculty and students based on facts.

Regnier — We need to think about how we are integrating technology at WUHS if we want our Panthers to be competitive in future job markets.  Technology integrated one-to-one is key to staying relevant in education today. Schools that provide each student with a laptop computer, as well as the appropriate support for both students and teachers, see significant improvement in academic achievement. We also need to focus on improving our scores on nationally normed tests like the ACT and SAT to ensure that our students have the opportunity to attend the best universities and programs in order to seize the futures of their dreams.  There are resources available for our students and teachers to improve those scores.

Turner — Simply stated, educational improvement as referenced in the prior question.  As a board, it is essential that we are partnering effectively with the administration to ensure the right priorities are in focus and the communicated improvement plans are both being administered and producing the expected results.  Moving the dial in our scholastic performance is job one in my mind and, based on the feedback I have heard from the community, there is clear alignment.  My focus, if elected, will center on educational improvement with an eye toward ensuring our fiscal position remains efficient on taxpayers and the leadership teams continues to stabilize and grow in cohesion.


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