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Q&A

These are some of the questions that I receive from community members, with my answers.

What do you see as the role of a school board member and what should be the board’s priorities?

As elected representatives, School Board members hire and evaluate the Superintendent and set policy for the education of all children in the district. Board priorities include: student achievement and success; equitable opportunities for all students; fiscal responsibilities; communication with students, parents and community; providing for the well-being and safety of students and staff; and advocating with the Legislature for reliable and sustainable financial support for our public schools. 

What is the Coherent Governance Model and how does it work?

The Coherent Governance model provides our district with a consistent and stable leadership framework because the role and work of the School Board are clearly defined and structured. By Wisconsin State Statute the role of the School Board is to hire a Superintendent and develop policies for the education of all its students that are consistent with state laws. Under the Coherent Governance model, the School Board establishes policies around results and operational expectations. The Superintendent is responsible for implementing these policies and providing to the Board, and District, data and reports that permit Board members to monitor the effectiveness of these policies.

We receive detailed reports from the Superintendent and other administrators demonstrating how financial and human resources are meeting specific operational and results expectations. The Superintendent uses survey data gathered from students, staff, parents, and community members to determine if student academic, social and emotional needs are being addressed.  She just initiated a second survey designed to capture students’ sense of well-being and mental health.

The Coherent Governance model includes the very important voices of community members, teachers, staff and parents through an annual cycle of listening sessions (linkages). We use task forces with teachers, parents and community members to provide us with feedback on budget and financial matters, instructional technology, and instructional calendars. I’ve participated in sessions with parents of students with special needs and parents of multilingual students, as well as meetings with PTO’s and parent groups from each school, administrative teams, and groups from the community. I met with the Youth Rising Up group and with the leaders of the high school extracurricular clubs. We welcome and seek out feedback as it enhances our work as a Board and is an essential part of the framework of Coherent Governance. 

 

What ideas do you have for helping the district achieve goals relating to equity and inclusion?

The School District’s priority is for “equity, growth, and excellence for all.”  The School Board wants to see equitable experiences and opportunities for all students and staff in all our schools, for all races, religions, ethnic groups, genders, and abilities. I want to see equity in academic work and achievement, in extracurriculars, in class participation, in curriculum and instructional materials, and other areas of our school district. I know this is not an easy undertaking for teachers, staff or administrators and we must support our teachers, staff and administrators as they lean into the important and challenging equity work. 

 

The School Board examines the data and reports that we receive to ascertain that our policies and procedures are moving us in an equitable direction. We hear reports from principals, teachers, and administrators on achievement data and the work focused on achievement gaps. I ask questions and request information about what curriculum and supports are needed for teachers and their classrooms;  how students are represented; and what is needed to “move the needle” towards equity.  And I continue to educate myself about equity – through reading, attending presentations, and taking classes.

 

We conclude every School Board meeting asking how we moved the bar on equity in that particular meeting.  It makes me stop and think about if we have, and how; and if we haven’t, why not, and what we can do to refocus our efforts. 

What ideas do you have for dealing with enrollment issues?

Shorewood, like many school districts across the country, is feeling the consequence of lower birthrates.  We have more students graduating than we have entering Kindergarten.  We have investigated several ways to address enrollment issues.  One was to find ways to increase enrollment in K-4 and formed a committee to investigate full day K-4.  The committee did not recommend full day K-4, instead deciding to work  with the Shorewood Recreation Department to create a wrap-around system full day option for children in K-4.

Another way we have stabilized our enrollment is through the Open Enrollment Program.  This is a State provided program that allows families to apply for their children to attend another school in the State; the sending district pays a State determined amount of funds to the receiving school.  This has allowed us to fill some of our lower enrolled sections at specific grades with additional students.  We focus on open enrollment in the youngest grades so as to have the children stay with us throughout their education.  We watch the cohorts and class sizes very closely as we determine the number of students to accept and in what class levels. 

 

I encouraged the School Board to reach out to the Village Board to discuss options for affordable housing. Recently, both Boards participated in a presentation on “Affordable Housing and its possible impacts on school enrollment.” 

What is your response to the lower State Report Card scores for the Shorewood Intermediate School?

 

The Superintendent, with the School Board, responded to those scores by implementing some changes.  We have a new principal who is very focused on data and she began engaging teachers in the ‘whys’ of the data and provided more resources where she could.  SIS instituted a no cell phone policy in the school for the entire day as a way to refocus students on school work and activities.  One of the results we have seen is that  7th and 8th grade scores on the Fastbridge tests in Winter 2024 went up considerably and in some areas were the highest in the district on those tests.  Our SIS students have demonstrated their growth and performance in many other ways, such as: 3 students won financial awards from the Annual Bill of Rights Day contest hosted by the US Federal Courts; the 7th grade science classes developed a light show for the Light the Hoan Bridge; and the band performed at a Bucks game. 

What are your top 3 priorities for the School Board?

  1. Provide for financial stability for our district which is necessary if we are to find the funding to support our schools and provide the excellent academic experiences and programs for all of our students.

  2. Attract, retain, and support our teachers, administrators, and staff.  We need to explore ways to attract more teachers to teaching and then work to retain them at Shorewood.

  3. Stabilize and increase Enrollment by using creative means to attract students, including open enrollment.

 

What do you see as the role of education and mental health professionals in determining curriculum and school policies?   

I am supportive of the School Board and District’s prioritization of the mental health of all students and the development of a  partnership with Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin for mental health services. School curricular policies are developed collaboratively with our Curriculum Director, principals and teachers in Shorewood. The well-being and health of our students and their academic achievements are considered as we develop curricular and extracurricular offerings.

What steps has the district taken or should it take to prevent and/or prepare for potential violence in schools?

Shorewood School District recently completed major safety upgrades for all school buildings with items such as: new entrances, locking devices, and emergency vehicle entrances. Safety administrators have established clear procedures and protocols. Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and our school professionals provide care for student mental health issues. We prioritize ensuring students develop strong relationships with adults in the schools, and feel cared for and safe within our buildings.

 

Where do you see the role for parents in determining curriculum?

Parents should and do help determine the values of a school district. We have heard clearly that parents value authentic learning, a whole child focus, advanced learning, and equity of opportunity and outcomes. We rely on educational experts to develop curriculum that reflects these values. We hold listening sessions with parents to ascertain their concerns and answer questions on school matters. We are currently seeking parental input on instructional technology and its use in the classroom.

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