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Fox Point-Bayside School Board Voter's Guide

Voter's guide for April 2 election (two seats)

March 20, 2013

Thomas Hayssen

Age: 55

Employer/

occupation:president of a Racine-based manufacturer

Education: B.A. Yale University; M.B.A. University of Chicago

Contact: hayssen@ticon.net

Why are you the right person for the job?

I understand our task is to provide a quality education to our children at reasonable expense to taxpayers. The district thrives on the "pretense of expertise." They are the experts, you are not. I do not accept that premise. I am willing to question whether what they propose makes sense.

What would be your top priorities as a board member?

Our first priority is to hire a competent district administrator. We need to control our costs and improve the quality of education. We spend money poorly. We need to lift the veil of secrecy on district issues. The board website has become less, not more, informative in the past year.

How should the district look to balance budgets in the coming years, given the restraints from Madison?

We spend 25 percent more per student than Whitefish Bay, 14 percent more per student than Mequon-Thiensville. That is comparing our K-8 to those districts' K-12 spending. We do not have a revenue problem. We have been spending on technology with no savings in labor. Every advanced course we offer involves a student in front of a teacher. Home-schooled students make better use of online learning than our district does. We need to maintain our support for the "specials" that enhance the school experience. Our district office is too big and too expensive and robs money from the classroom.

David Smulyan

Age: 54

Employer/

occupation:founder/owner Optimal Solutions Squared

Education: B.A. Economics & History Washington University, St. Louis; M.B.A., Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management

Contact: (414) 379-4996; dmsmulyan@gmail.com

Why are you the right person for the job?

I have a passion for education and am committed to working hard to ensure our children receive the best education possible. I'm a thoughtful, open-minded individual with strong problem-solving and communication skills. I have a solid finance and business background, useful for balancing budgets and finding creative financial solutions.

What would be your top priorities as a board member?

First, making sure we hire the "right" new superintendent for our district. Second, ensuring an atmosphere of trust and open communication among the board, administration, teachers and community. Third, figuring out how to most efficiently use our precious resources to continue providing the quality education our community expects and deserves.

How should the district look to balance budgets in the coming years, given the restraints from Madison?

There are no silver bullets. On the expense side, we have to look closely at every line item in the budget and see if there is a more efficient or less costly way of doing things. We have to think creatively. For example, is there a way we can leverage the talents and commitment of parents in our community who are willing to volunteer time in our schools? Can we increase the class size a little and still maintain the quality? If expenses still exceed revenues, then, as a community, we have some difficult choices to make.

Michael Weidner

Age: 45

Employer/

occupation:math and computer science teacher at Nicolet High School

Education: M.S. mathematics, Marquette University; honors B.S. Mathematics Education, Marquette University; M.A. Administrative Leadership, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; K-12 Principal/Director of Curriculum and Instruction certificate

Contact: (414) 659-3588; MathManMike@gmail.com

Why are you the right person for the job?

I have 20 years of experience as a teacher, have earned administrative licenses, was treasurer for several years for a quarter-million-dollar nonprofit, and am a hardworking member when on committees. I believe all of these have prepared me to be an effective School Board member.

What would be your top priorities as a board member?

First, picking a new district administrator will be key. I also believe our board needs to communicate clearly and often with our constituents about important decisions. And, we need to encourage classroom innovation so our schools can remain places of excellence.

How should the district look to balance budgets in the coming years, given the restraints from Madison?

In the past, educators would decide what they needed to educate their students, and then tax accordingly. Now, we start with what the formula says we can spend, and then figure out how to best meet the needs. So, we need to look at every dollar we save as another dollar that can positively impact student learning. Ideas like consolidating services with other districts and using electronic resources effectively can save some precious dollars. Should the restraints be too severe, we can make the case with the public for needed funds through referendum, and let the voters decide.

Elizabeth Wick

Age: 51

Employer/occupation: owner/operator of Libby Montana Bar & Grill

Contact: (414) 446-5953; libbywick@hotmail.com

Why are you the right person for the job?

I am a community-minded citizen, a good listener, a strong communicator and an experienced problem-solver, dealing with difficult economic decisions in

my business. I would like to help make Fox Point/Bayside a high performing district that families and teachers want to be a part of.

What would be your top priorities as a board member?

To improve the education of our children within the district by improving the communication between the residents, the School Board, the administration, the teachers and the students.

How should the district look to balance budgets in the coming years, given the restraints from Madison?

We shouldn't simply be looking at larger class sizes and teacher pay and benefits. Everything should be on the table from the possibility of additional fundraising, to corporate sponsors, to investigating the possibility of writing grants. Every line item from administrative costs to the cost of hand soap should be

considered. We need to think creatively and be open to every option.

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