Spring election 2022: Joint School District #1 Silver Lake-Salem (Riverview School) Board candidates Q&A

Voters in Joint School District #1 Silver Lake-Salem (Riverview School) will be able to vote in a contested election for school board in the April 5 election.

There are three candidates for two seats. One incumbent, James Walker, is not running for re-election.

Appearing on the ballot will be:

  • Mike Gentile.
  • Emily Herbert.
  • Joe Hurst.

The same questionnaire was submitted by westofthei.com to each candidate by email. Here are the candidates’ biographical information followed by their question responses, presented in alphabetical order:

Mike Gentile — Age: 43. Village, town, city where you reside: Silver Lake. Education: High School graduate . Occupation: Regional Sales Manager for Custom Truck One Source. Previous elected or appointed public office: 2 terms as School Board Member for Riverview School (Silverlake JT1 School District). Elected Board Member since 2004 for the Western Kenosha County Youth Football and Cheer Program (Jr Panthers), Parks Commission Silver Lake/Salem Lakes 2017-2019

Emily Herbert — Age: 35. Village, town, city where you reside: Silver Lake. Education: Graduated from Riverview Elementary and Wilmot Union High School, Bachelors of Science in Nursing from Alverno College, Masters of Science – Family Nurse Practitioner from Concordia University, Doctorate in Nursing Practice and Post-Masters Certificate in Nursing Education from Johns Hopkins University. Occupation: Nursing faculty member – Gateway Technical College. Previous elected or appointed public office: None public, served on the board for the Wisconsin League for Nursing.

Joe Hurst — Age: No answer given. Village, town, city where you reside: Silver Lake . Education: Some college, numerous technical certifications. Occupation:  I’m a project manager and co-owner of a construction consulting firm, in business for 22 years. I manage commercial projects from initial development to project completion: including overseeing million-dollar budgets; identifying, hiring, and coordinating multiple contractors; creating and implementing construction phase and cost schedules; and providing full project supervision. Previous elected or appointed public office: None 

1.) Why are you the best candidate for Silver Lake-Salem Jt. 1 School District board?

Gentile — I am running for a third term to serve as a member of the Riverview School Board to continue our district’s run of success as a top performing district in the state.  In my two terms on the board I have helped to maintain fiscal responsibility by working with administration to maintain the highest quality education without the need to go to referendum while almost all of our neighboring districts have had to ask for additional taxpayer monies. I am proud of our accomplishments in my terms on the board being a top 10 performing district in the state for back to back years and our continued growth over the past 6 years. I am very proud to be a part of a school board that has worked to keep kids in school 5 days per week during the pandemic.  I am also visible within the Riverview community and have a passion for our students’ success.  I pride myself on being accessible and a volunteer at numerous school events.  A vote for me is a vote for Experience, Knowledge and Impact. Experience  – 2 terms served with my last term being during one of the most difficult times in education in recent history.  I also have over 20 years of volunteer and community involvement. Knowledge – Proven track record of success as a board member with a practical understanding of the path we need to maintain for continued growth and success. Impact – Will continue working to provide the quality education our community has come to expect while being fiscally responsible to the taxpayers in the district.

Herbert — I first want to say that both of the other candidates running are excellent candidates. We are very fortunate to have great choices to fill the school board positions. I think that it is important for the school board to be comprised of community members from diverse backgrounds. I also think it is important to have at least one board member with a background in or knowledge of the educational process. As an educator, I have extensive knowledge of curriculum development and evaluation, as well as student outcomes data analysis. I have experience in grant writing for educational funds, and would be the only school board member who is an educator. This experience provides a unique perspective on the process of education.

Hurst — Four of my five children will be attending Riverview for the next 13 consecutive years. I am deeply invested in ensuring every child in attendance continues to receive the best academic opportunities available. I am also committed to managing the budget and avoiding public referendums levied on our local taxes. The current staff, administration and board have done a tremendous job operating the school academically and fiscally, as is reflected in the school’s state test scores, and it’s lack of referendums historically. I’d look to continue the established direction for Riverview. Having also attended every school board meeting over the course of the last year has given me the opportunity to be uniquely informed on school business, and will allow me to contribute positively, immediately.

2.) What do you see as the chief issues faced by the school board and how would you address them if elected?

Gentile — How do we maintain the level of success we have had with the challenges that will be upcoming due to budget constraints.  I do not believe we have seen the full effect of the pandemic as it pertains to state funding and it may cause us obstacles in the future.  We will need to work to maintain our healthy fund balance and continue to be fiscally responsible while working to give our staff and students the tools needed to be successful and I believe that my experience and time on the school board will prove to be an invaluable asset when having to make fiscal decisions in the future.

Herbert — While there are many challenges facing schools boards today, I think the biggest issue right now is balancing the budget while ensuring that both student and staff needs are being met. In 2017-2018, Riverview had 37.3% of students residing in economically disadvantaged homes. I would imagine, that given the economical hardships post-covid and with political events across the globe right now, this number has increased. We know that a large amount of the budget available comes directly from the taxable income locally. This directly impacts the resources available for the faculty, staff and students. Additionally, we know that children must have basic needs met in order to learn to the best of their ability. How can we as a district, bridge the gap between what is needed and what is available? My plan to address this issue is to look to grants and funding that is available to make sure that we continue to meet the needs of the students, as well as the faculty and staff.

Hurst — We are facing some issues from a fiscal perspective. There are some important educational tools and programs that have recently been implemented and are partially or fully funded by Federal Covid relief programs, allocated for schools. A determination will have to be made on how to continue to fund these programs once that federal aid is exhausted, while maintaining a functional budget. From an academic standpoint but also impacting the budget, projected enrollment is down for the coming years. It will be important to maintain and improve upon the exemplary educational success that has already been established at Riverview Elementary. State test scores have shown Riverview has trended upwards academically for nearly a decade, and for two consecutive years has been a top performing school in the state. Continuing this track record of academic success should help to partially alleviate some of these budgetary concerns, as higher academic success lends itself to higher enrollment, which in turn provides more state funding. In the event some budgetary cuts become necessary, I would look to work closely with the administration to first identify spending that has no academic impact, and reduce those expenditures to zero, before any consideration is given to educational cuts.


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