Spring Election 2020: Bristol School District Board candidates Q&A

Voters in the Bristol 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 and four candidates.

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

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

David Blair — Age: 49. Education: Bachelors in Strategic Management of Information Systems. Occupation: IT Security Analyst. Previous elected offices: School Board Appointee.

Steven Guion — Age: 53. Education: MBA – Finance Management – Northeastern University. Occupation: Director of Operations – Business Office – Abbott Labs. Previous elected offices: N/A .

Sue Kratowicz — Age: 55. Education: University of Wisconsin-Parkside, Bachelor of Science in Business Marketing. Occupation: Deposit Services Specialist. Previous elected offices: Bristol School Board Member, 2019-2020.

Adam Scheele — Age: 43. Education: Bachelor of Science-Music Education-UW Platteville 2004Master of Music Education-Kent St. University 2015. Occupation: Director of Bands-Central High School
Previous elected offices: None.

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

Blair — Having two children at Bristol School, I have a strong personal interest in the success and achievement of Bristol students. Having been appointed as a Board member in June of 2019, I was on the hiring committees for the District Administrator and Principal positions. I voted to select and hire Dr. David Milz, the District Administrator and Holly Graf, the Principal. I was also on the committees for the selection of candidates and the eventual hiring of the certified and non-certified staff positions. This school year Bristol School is faced with budget deficits, as a Board member I have worked with district administration to restore the budget to financial stability. As a Board member I have also worked to reverse the downward trend of the School Report Card in order to restore Bristol School to its previous position as a leader in academic achievement in Kenosha County. I have been able to use my professional experience on the Bristol School Board as well. I have worked in IT security for 10 years, the past 5 years at Case New Holland in Racine. This has helped in my role as Chairperson of the Technology Committee where savings from previously unused programs have been identified to help the school purchase IT equipment at a significant cost savings. I am also the Chairperson of the Building and Grounds Committee where a current building assessment is in the process to proactively identify any future repair, or replacement needs for more accurate budget planning.I believe that my work on the Bristol School Board in the last ten months has shown my involvement and commitment to Bristol School as well as to the Bristol community as a whole.

Guion — During my time as an interim Bristol School Board member from Oct 2019 to April 2020 I was able to see first hand the need for strong leadership and someone with the ability to be organized and communicative to the district parents, teachers and community members.   I feel I am that person who will continue to be a strong voice for our students and work to prepare them for their futures.  In order to do that you need to equip them with the tools.

Kratowicz — I am running for re-election to the Bristol School Board because I’m a parent who genuinely cares about our children, teachers and our Bristol School Community. I will work hard to advocate for the educational needs of all students at Bristol School. My promise and commitment is to work together with the other members of the Board to build and maintain a future of academic excellence.

Scheele — I am invested in education. I am in my 11th year of teaching at Westosha Central High School and this is my 16th year in education overall. In addition to my teaching experience, I have served on several interview committees, facility committees and administrator search/interview committees. I am currently on my school district’s grading committee, academic career planning committee, and strategic planning committee. I will bring an open mind, knowledge, creativity, professionalism, trustworthiness, and competence to the board.

2.) What do you see as the chief challenges that Bristol School faces?

Blair — Balancing the budget. Advance the academic standing. Developing the classroom technology. Building Utilization.

Guion — The 3 areas of challenge I see are the following: – Financial management – Just recently the current Board agreed to take a loan to partially fund teacher pay increases and other basic operating costs.  I believe this is a challenge the board needs to address with administration being able to fund out the operating budget and make difficult decisions on what is discretionary and manadatory. – Technology – Due to lack of budgetary funding there is tremendous risk of enabling students to advance on today’s technology and prepping them for next steps. – Building Capacity to house student growth and class capacity limits.

Kratowicz — My priorities as a Board member would include overall transparency, straight forward and open communication and financial stability. If re-elected, I will work hard to continue building trust internally and externally. Our school district has such potential and I am optimistic for the future of our district. 

Scheele — 1.  Restoring the board’s reputation and trust: I feel there is a lack of trust in our board members by our community.  The board’s reputation has suffered over the past couple of years due to many issues in the school district. There has been a lack in communication, our community isn’t being informed very well and there is a lack of transparency by our board. I will work to make sure our community and district staff stays informed.  Frequent communication is key to a successful relationship with our community and district staff.  The more our community and staff trusts our board, the better the results and successes of our district will be. 2. Fiscal responsibility: Unfortunately the Bristol School board’s fiscal responsibility has declined in recent years. Earlier this year the District had to take $500K from its reserve fund to cover the deficit that was created.  This came about through overstaffing due to the fact that the board took the hiring responsibilities away from administration and over hired too many staff.  In February several members of the Board voted to take out a $650K loan to cover a variety of things in the district.  As a board member I will make sound decisions based on what is best for the district financially.  There are other ways to cover the costs besides creating more debt for the district.  3. District growth: Our community is growing and we need to address the concerns with growing student enrollment. We need to be proactive and address the capacity limitations and study what the growth is going to look like in the coming years.  Will we need to expand our facility?  Will we need to cap our enrollment or what will open enrollment look like in a few years?  These are all factors that we will need to monitor and make informed decisions based on proper research and information.  We are part of an amazing community that attracts new families and new developments both residential and commercial and we need to be prepared for the growth that will follow.  

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

Blair — Balancing the budget by restructuring debit and looking for cost savings without asking the tax payers to pay for it. Improve school report card & academic standing by focusing on core instruction and sensible  electives Improving the classroom technology by cutting costs and applying savings to the classroom needs. Utilizing the current building to maximize the life span by proactively identifying any future needs and planning for them now.

Guion — Balance budget and prioritize putting spend management in place    – Build technology roadmap. – Review and analyze facility needs and provide recommendations to district.

Kratowicz — I’m excited to be running for re-election for the Bristol School Board. For the past year, it has been such an honor to serve and advocate for the educational needs of our district.  I’ve seen such positive changes take place this past year at Bristol School and I would be so proud to continue the work as a School Board Member.  I currently serve as a Co-Chair of the Educational Review & Curriculum Committee as well as the Buildings & Grounds Committee. I believe the Committee work the Board is doing is laying the ground work for major forward progress.  I look forward to assisting our leadership to ensure that Bristol becomes a top performing District in Kenosha County.  I have enjoyed working with a Board who is transparent, who listens and who is approachable.  We have wonderful students, great teachers, strong administrative leadership, an amazing board and a welcoming community with strong values.  I hope to earn your support on April 7th to continue my work serving our District.

Scheele — 1. I want to build a working positive relationship between the school board and our administration, staff and community.  School districts succeed because of positive support from the community, staff and administration.  I hope to improve the relationship by being actively involved in our school and community.  The school board needs to work closely with our PTA, athletics, clubs and other activities offered at Bristol School. Another way to achieve this is by recognizing the achievements of our students, staff, district, and community.  We need to promote these achievements more and make sure our community sees all the great things that make Bristol School one of the best districts in Southeast Wisconsin. Our community has many resources and businesses that can help foster positive relationships within our school district.  As a board member I want to utilize these resources and opportunities that are available to our school district. 2. Mental health awareness: This is a growing need now more than ever.  One of the benefits I can bring to the board is that I am a teacher.  I see this every day in our students and in our staff. I understand a lot of the struggles our youth face in this day and age.  As a board member I want to make sure Bristol School has the resources needed to make sure our students’ and staffs’ mental health needs are met.  3. Technology improvement: Bristol School is lagging behind when it comes to technology.  Just this year, the Bristol School PTA graciously donated $10,000.00 for the purchase of Chromebooks to aid a lack of current technology. The district needs significant upgrades when it comes to technology.  With the pandemic currently going on and shutting down our schools, administration and staff were scrambling to have their curriculum online and make do with what they have.  I do want to thank Bristol’s teachers and administration for their hard work as they were able to provide coursework online for the students.  Thank you for keeping our students engaged in learning! We have outstanding staff at Bristol School that quickly jumped into action to get the students on track. As a board, we need to be able to provide outstanding resources and have these resources available to our district in the time of need.  As a teacher, I foresee in the near future that with the ability to hold classes online, there will no longer be any snow days (sorry students!) or make up days due to events out of our control.  Being a teacher at Central, I have benefited from having to move classes online for the past couple of years.  Central is a leader in the state when it comes to integrating technology in or out of the classroom.  As a board member I will be able to bring my expertise to the Bristol School district.

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