Good Government Questionnaire: Altoona Board of Education
When: Tuesday, April 4th, 2023; polls open 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Find your voting location at myvote.wi. All absentee ballots must be requested by March 30th, 2023 and turned in no later than 8:00 p.m. on April 4th either by mail or dropped off in-person. In-Person absentee voting will start Tuesday, March 21st and end Friday, March 31st. This will take place at City Hall. You can vote Monday-Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. If you plan to vote by mail, voters are strongly encourage to mail their ballots as soon as possible to ensure their ballot is received by the deadline.
What it’s about: There are 3 candidates running for the 2 School Board seats this April. The Altoona School Board includes 5 members who each serve a three-year term. The candidates include:
Hillarie Roth (Incumbent)
Nicole Breed (Incumbent)
Who can vote: The election is open to all eligible voters in the Eau Claire Area School District.
Where you vote and who is on your ballot:
Go to myvote.wi.gov
Enter your voting address to learn which races are on your ballot and where you vote.
Why this questionnaire: The Good Government Council (GGC) is a committee of the Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce dedicated to encouraging voter participation and providing members of the business community with non-biased information about candidates’ positions on important issues. Although the Chamber is active in policy issues, it is non-partisan and does not endorse political candidates.
1) What are your background and qualifications for this position, and why are you a candidate?
I am running for School Board and an incumbent with three years of service under my belt and I remain passionate about ensuring quality education for all students. Students are the future of our community and we need to ensure that they receive the best educational opportunities possible. As a former board member for the Wisconsin Association for Talented and Gifted I have advocated for educational services and funding at a state and national level. As a substitute teacher I have worked in classrooms grades kindergarten through 12, and with all levels of students abilities from special ed, mainstream, and advanced placement. I feel that these opportunities have given me an understanding of the unique challenges of education in today's world and that those insights are an attribute to the School Board.
I’m a current school board member running for re-election. I am also an educator.
2) In addition to the school board election, the district will be holding a tax levy referendum on April 4. What is your position on the referendum, and why?
Ultimately this lies in the hands of the voters. As a parent of two students within the district and as a taxpayer, I support the referendum. In the 2021-2022 school year, a comprehensive Facility Audit was done. The results of this facility audit were presented to the board on September 13th of 2022. In their study, they broke down space, repair, replacement, and betterment needs by building and then by priority of high, medium, and low. They then presented the Board with potential concepts for addressing space and condition needs. Here are some key takeaways from the research that has been done on this issue. Adding on to the elementary school plus addressing remodeling on the main campus would cost approximately $70 million. This would need to happen in phases and would create an additional challenge with the size of the Elementary School. Our elementary school has around 550 students. Adding grades 4 and 5 there would increase the student population at that school to more than 825 students. The research-based target size of an elementary school is 300-400 students. To me, this addition of grades 4 and 5 would create a learning environment that is challenging at best and a tax burden that is more than what residents of the district can afford. The cost of a completely new high school would be roughly $105 million. That is also more than what the district can bear. The option of creating appropriately sized educational spaces to meet the needs of our students while at the same time saving the taxpayers many millions of dollars is a solution that I support. I encourage everyone to find out more information at https://www.altoona.k12.wi.us/district/media/future-facility-planning
I support it as our best option right now. We need more space to accommodate our growing population. We also need to update current facilities.
3) With a strong local economy and low unemployment, many businesses report difficulty in filling key positions. What can the school system do to promote a skilled workforce for the area sufficient to meet the needs of business and industry?
Workforce development starts in our school system and I feel it is the key to solving many of the issues we are facing with workforce shortages. I would like to see more apprenticeships, school-to-work and other similar training programs within our district. The School District of Altoona already partners with Chippewa Valley Technical College on programs in which high school students can earn an Associates Degree WHILE they earn their High School diploma. These students graduate from Altoona High School with their High School diploma AND an associates degree! This allows those students who don't travel the four-year (or more) college path to be workforce ready at no/low cost to them or their families and puts trained, skilled individuals into the workforce quickly.
Altoona is leading the way in College and Career Readiness, which includes excellent partnerships with business, industry, and higher education. I’m also very proud of our Educators Rising group which will help address the teacher shortage.
4) If you could accomplish one major goal in the next three years, what would it be and what impact would it have on student learning?
Throughout the next three years, I think that the most important work of the board will be to continue to build community relationships with all stakeholders and ensure that the strategic plan, developed and implemented in 2021 by our current board, administration, and community members, for preparing tomorrow-ready citizens remains a focus. We have made great strides in the Altoona School District over the last three years even as we have navigated a pandemic and weathered administrative changes. We need to ensure that we stay on course and maintain this momentum.
The board would adopt policies that ensure equity for all students.
Unfortunately, we received no response from candidate Lauren Otto.
Posted by Mallory Williams Governmental Affairs Intern