Spring Election 2020: Central High School District of Westosha Board-Salem Seat candidates Q&A

Voters in the Central High School District of Westosha will be able to cast a ballot in a contested school board race on April 7 (or earlier with absentee voting).

There is one contested seat representing Salem.

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:

Karen Shoopman — Age:  59. Education: University of Tennessee, B.S. Business Administration, General Business Major; Licensed Real Estate Appraiser, (presently inactive). Occupation: Home Administrator; Previously Commercial Loan Officer for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, FDIC. Previous elected offices:  2016 elected to Central High School Board;  re-elected in 2017.

William (Bill) Watson — Age: 64. Education: Masters in ED . BA in Geography/History. Occupation: Retired teacher (30 years at Central), Substitute teacher, Supervisor/Observer for University of Wisconsin Parkside School of Education. Previous elected offices: none/was appointed to the Community Library Board for three years as representative from Central.

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

Shoopman — I have proudly served on the Central High School Board since 2016, and was re-elected in 2017.  I have been on the Policies and Personnel Committee; and the Curriculum and Compensation Committees.  I am a voice for parents, students, taxpayers and common sense.  I am not afraid to ask the hard questions, or make tough decisions. I want to ensure that every student is prepared for whatever path they choose; college, technical school, the military or workforce.  I want Central to be the best school in the region.

Watson — As a long time resident of Salem, a graduate of Central, a parent of two graduates and two future graduates, and a teacher and coach in the district for 30 years I believe I bring insights into the school and community that  someone who has not lived here for an extended time would not have. Our district is unique in that it is a 9-12 single building district, is both suburban and still rural and this offers us challenges for the future. To truly understand these issues and the role of Central in our community it takes someone who has been a member of this community for many years. 

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

Shoopman — School finances are challenging for every school in Wisconsin because of they way funding is calculated.  This has to be changed at the state level.   We want to attract and retain the best teachers so that our students have quality learning experiences.  We need to maintain the budget so that the tax levy is stable.  We need more funding for mental health programs and for school security. We need to consider modernizing the school and that would be done by asking the community what they want in their school.

Watson — Our first challenge is to update our building. The last real work done on the building itself was almost 30 years ago and it is outdated in many areas when compared to similar schools in our area. If we do not update we may begin to lose students through school choice to schools with more modern facilities. Next is to prepare our students for the challenges they will face in the future. While a good percentage of our students go to traditional four year universities and we do an outstanding job preparing these students we are seeing an increasing number go to technical colleges or into the trades and we need to prepare them for the types of jobs that are in their futures.

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

Shoopman — Last year the Central High School report card Overall Accountability Rating went from “Meets Expectations” to “Exceeds Expectations”  and our score had a huge jump from 66.9 to 74.8, which is the highest in the area.  We are doing a lot right, but there is always room for improvement.  We need to continue to increase school report card scores, provide creative learning opportunities for students and teachers so that our students can become successful and productive citizens. Build relationships with businesses so that we are a pipeline for employment in the area. Attract and retain the best employees.  With the new leadership that was hired last year the future of the school is exciting for the changes that will be coming.  

Watson — My first initiative would be to make sure Central is hiring and keeping the best teachers, staff, administrators and coaches that are available. Central has many outstanding educators and we need to keep them in the district. My second initiative is to make Central the center of our community. If we are going to update our facilities they need to be available to our community members. Whether it through the arts and music, outreach courses or the athletic facilities they need to find ways for the people of our district to feel ownership in the school. 


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