Spring Election 2020: Wheatland J1 School District Board candidates Q&A

Voters in Wheatland J1 School District will be able to cast a ballot in a contested school board race on April 7 (or earlier with absentee voting).

There are two at-large seats open. The candidates with the two highest vote totals will win the seats.

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

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

Rachael E. Crane — Age: 38. Education: BBA IN Finance/Marketing from UW-Whitewater. Occupation: Retail Manager / Ag Banking Officer at Community State Bank. Previous elected offices: Wheatland J1 School Board

Randy Ebertowski — Age: 49. Education: Bachelor of Arts in Business Management from National University. Occupation: General Manager of a regional shopping center, and owner / operator of a small family farm located in Wheatland. Previous elected offices: None.  However, I have served on a number of boards.  Notably: Village of Gurnee Economic Development Committee, Lake County Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Board, Great Lakes Naval Museum Foundation Board,  Los Angeles Community Police Advisory Board, West Valley YMCA board member, to name a few.

Erik Zavacke — Age: 43. Education: Westosha Central High School – diploma, 1995. Carthage College – BA in Business Administration and Marketing, 2001. Occupation: Quality Manager. Previous elected offices: First time candidate.

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

Crane — I have a strong desire to help our community by using my time and talents in the financial industry.  My children attend Wheatland Center School and I like helping make decisions that will help guide the school into the future.  Our administration and leadership team have been a joy to work with and I look forward to continuing our “Flight to Excellence.”

Ebertowski — As a parent with 3 children, 2 of whom have graduated from Wheatland while one is currently enrolled, I have experienced first hand the successes and opportunities of Wheatland School District.  I also have 20 plus years managing successful, large real estate properties located throughout the country.  My background includes overseeing multi-million dollar expense and income accounts, researching and implementing large scale capital projects, building and fostering relationships, serving customers, delivering community presentations, negotiating & networking, and most importantly, managing a successful team of professionals.  It’s my belief that educating our youth is the most important responsibility of our community.  Further, my skills and experience are best suited to help Wheatland School District navigate the difficult challenges we currently face, and to plan for a prosperous future for our children.

Zavacke — I cannot state I would be the best choice without making assumptions. I can however state that I take an active role in the lives of my children and want to have a direct impact on their educational path (they are current students enrolled at Wheatland Center School). I also enjoy new challenges and continuously learning and expanding upon my own personal experiences. I believe serving on the school board would be both rewarding as a parent as well as having a positive influence on my personal career.

2.) What do you see as the chief challenges that your school district faces?

Crane — We are in the midst of one of the greatest academic challenges of our generation with the outbreak of COVID-19.  I will continue to support our administration and teachers as they find creative and innovative ways to educate our students outside of our school walls.

Ebertowski — The current school board, administration, and staff have done an outstanding job turning around Wheatland School District.  Previously a system that was losing children to other schools through open enrollment, Wheatland is now growing and flourishing.  It’s important that Wheatland stay competitive and continue to bring in new students.  In order to accomplish this, Wheatland must continue to build on it’s strong foundation, both physically and through strong leadership.

Zavacke — As the surrounding area continues to expand and open enrollment becomes more popular, a main challenge includes ensuring the district has the ability to maintain a level of resources that support this growth that is both financially responsible and maintains the high quality of education Wheatland Center School is known for.

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

Crane — I would continue to support the programs that we currently have, give our administration the resources to help our students and teachers succeed and encourage community participation in the school.  I also work to be a voice informing taxpayers that a strong school is one of the keys to a successful community.

Ebertowski — My priorities would be threefold:  first, continue to improve the physical campus, so the Wheatland classrooms are recognized throughout the state as best in class.  Second, support administration in hiring and retaining the best educators.  Third, fiscal responsibility through wise investment and adhering to a budget.

Zavacke — As a first time school board member, the main priority would be to acclimate myself to the board position to ensure I can best represent the community and also help meet the needs of the faculty and student body. Beyond that, financial stability and the quality of education would rank among my highest concerns.


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