- The race for three seats on the Oconomowoc Area School Board
just got a little more lively. Originally, incumbents Don Wiemer
(president), Jessica K a r n o w s k i (clerk) and John Suttner
(treasurer) were seeking re-election against two newcomers - James
Wood and Juliet Steitzer. Now, three more write-in candidates have
thrown their hats into the ring. Here’s what all eight
candidates had to say on what would be their top priorities if
elected on Tuesday.
current board clerk, says she is looking forward to finishing the
difficult work she has started. She aims to serve the community in
the greatest capacity, by working to ensure that all academic,
social and emotional needs of all children are met. This work
drives her. She says perseverance is a value held by the community
and her dedication to the board is evidence to that.
am tenacious, approachable and a good communicator. I work hard to
understand all facets of an issue, and have the drive and
conviction to see things through to completion,” Karnowski said.
says that through her work in the CIA committee, she has built
strong relationships with administration and staff and helped
guide rigorous academics that support the growth of students as a
whole person. Karnowski says there’s still work to do in this
area, including creating innovative practices that support the
needs of all learners.
the lines of improvement, she says the district can listen to
stakeholders, parents and teachers to see how current policies and
past decisions have impacted them. She says the greatest strength
of OASD is the dedicated community.
have teachers and support staff who do whatever it takes to
promote student achievement,” Karnowski said. “We have a
community dedicated to upholding the values of inclusion,
collaboration, dedication, and hard work.”
is another write-in candidate who has tried to make it onto the
School Board in the past. He too is concerned with what he terms a
“lack of transparency” in the district and test scores not
being as high as he would like to see. He did acknowledge that by
allowing all students to take an AP test, regardless of whether or
not they are in the corresponding class, AP test scores will be
lower, which he is OK with.
a great communicator. Communication I think for me comes very
easily. I’m very metric-oriented. When the district sets goals,
I can help them meet them. I’m also a good listener, which is
something I think has been lacking in the district over the last
few years,” Kelly said.
says that by having more transparency through the administration
down and really advertising the positive aspects of OASD, positive
growth can happen.
have great families that are involved in their kids’ education.
We really do have great teachers that are just as involved in
doing the right thing. I just think we need to listen to them a
little bit better,” Kelly said.
Jason Laatsch has decided to run for a seat on the board after he
says he started questioning communication between administration
and families after the resignation
of previous Oconomowoc High School theater teacher Tom Klubertanz.
and messages weren’t being replied to for a long period of time
and we thought it wasn’t right. I decided to do what I can for
my kids and kids coming up through the district,” Laatsch said.
says transparency is a key component of his campaign. He wants to
be a voice between parents and teachers on the board. Over the
last month-and-a-half, the positive things happening in OASD have
not been heard and Laatsch says the district really doesn’t have
the issues media has brought to the schools.
we all see a need for change on the board. I have passion, a great
love for the teachers and students of our community,” Laatsch
and retaining quality teachers and maintaining a strong curriculum
are also key points in his campaign.
to the race as a writein candidate, Osmon Bahr has considered
becoming a part of the board for years, but could not find the
right timing. Now, as a parent of an OASD student and a district
taxpayer, she wants to take the next step in being involved. As a
health care consultant, she has worked with boards in the past in
an industry she says is parallel to education.
think you have a very engaged community. We’ve got really
amazing parents in this community. One of the strengths is the
diversity of students that go to OHS. Elementary school report
cards are improving .. that is happening,” said Osmon Bahr.
thinks students open enrolling out of OASD and losing educators
are two of the biggest issues the district faces right now. Osmon
Bahr believes it is critical that Oconomowoc become a destination
where teachers want to stay.
she sees the current conversation on diversity education in
schools becoming a key factor in the district in the coming years.
the only topic that people can talk about and I agree that
diversity is going to be very important — is very important.
That’s something we have to consider when it comes to
incorporating it into our curriculum.”
is another parent in the school district who decided to run
because she has seen more and more students choose to open enroll
out of OASD. She believes it is important for the district to step
up and meet the needs of all students. With two special needs
children, she knows what these needs sometimes entail. As an
online teacher, she also has a greater knowledge to pull from when
it comes to that side of education.
district has adopted a philosophy of personalized education, but
delivers it in a top-down mandate. What happens when you talk
about effectively personalizing for kids, ideas have to come from
the bottom up. The best ideas come from the parents and teacher
who are working with that child,” Steitzer said.
says she is in favor of public school choice, as it makes sure
districts are held accountable and fosters healthy competition.
She also says the facilities in OASD are top-tier and that the
district does a very good job of securing kids. Coordination with
the police department in the future to secure monies from recently
available state grants would be something she would consider when
it comes to school safety.
current school board treasurer, Suttner says that there
is ongoing work that needs to be completed, including finishing
referendum work and making sure the school district continues on
with a balanced budget and strong curriculum.
think that I bring more of a business-mind to things. What I mean
by that, yes I have children in the school(s), but I look at
things from a business approach. I make sure the books are
balanced. I’m generally a conservative, so I like us to remember
our history,” Suttner said.
says one area OASD is doing well is having a strong administration
that is pushing the envelope. The district has a plan and mission
in place that keeps them on track.
says the district can continue to improve test scores, look for
the best facilities possible and look for the best educators
can’t achieve goals if you don’t have them,” Suttner said.
current board president, also says that there is work happening in
the district that he wants to continue to oversee. With activity
happening at the high school main campus, east campus and Meadow
View Elementary, completing construction efforts is at the front
of his mind as he helps lead OASD forward.
a board, everybody brings their own specialty to the table. What I
bring to the board is, I believe, leadership qualities. I’ve
been president of the board for over 13 years ... and (I have)
those abilities needed to lead the district forward,” Wiemer
says OASD is strong in the quality of its administrators and the
quality of teachers and staff. The district is now becoming a
district of choice thanks to their work.
far as growth, Wiemer says the district is growing both by the
number of developments in the city and in the level of student
improvement in our kids’ test scores that we’ve been seeing in
the last yearand- a-half has been outstanding and that needs to
continue,” Wiemer said.
his involvement with the board over the last three years by
attending Facilities Advisory Committee meetings, Wood says he is
now “jazzed up” on being involved with the moves the district
is making strategically. He has a background in security, which he
says will help him lend continual improvement resources to the
school district. He aims to make sure students are exposed to
different career paths,
whether they are in the trades or not. Making sure each building
is modernized and appropriate for today’s era of learning and
improving security are also some of his priorities.
work for a contractor and we do a lot of teaching on the job. We
have to get the kids excited about the trades and the
opportunities available out there. That’s why I’m so excited
about the East campus,” Wood said.
says OASD is strong in its growth planning and curriculum and
instruction. Rebuilding transparency and trust between the
district is a must, as well as continuing to keep an eye on test
think it’s nothing but a good thing to put (candidate) options
out there from experienced to just fired up,” Wood said.