Tell us about yourself!
My wife and I have two daughters in the district. Our oldest is is a sophomore at the high school and is involved in cheerleading, DECA, and is a member of our church youth group. Our youngest daughter is a fifth grader at Nature Hill and she is involved in sailing and competitive ski racing. Jami and I both graduated from Coe College in Cedar Rapids Iowa in 2000. I earned a degree in business administration with a minor in economics. After graduation we moved to Wisconsin so I could work full time in my families commercial swimming pool business which my parents and I started in 1998. Since our move here I have held many roles in the company and currently serve as the President managing the day to day operations. Over the past 20 years we have grown from a home office in my parents basement to two locations in Jefferson Wisconsin and my hometown of Oelwein Iowa. We represent many different product lines and our territories cover Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, and the UP.
I am also an instructor for the National Recreation and Park Association; Aquatic Facility Operator certification. As well as the Pool and Hot Tub Alliance; Certified Pool Operator certification, this role allows me to travel around the country teaching commercial pool owners and operators responsible pool operations.
After living in multiple communities in Southeast Wisconsin as the business grew Jami and I decided to move to Oconomowoc 6 years ago and make this our home. It was our tour of the schools and sense we had that the school was an integral part of the community as a whole that helped us make the decision.
Are you currently, or have you ever been a teacher or administrator for any school district?
Have you attended any school board meetings over the last year?
Why are you running for the school board?
I believe that our school district as a whole is extremely strong and offers a top tier education to all students at all levels with multiple career and education options when they graduate. That being said, I believe that COVID has exposed areas for improvement at the board level. Our district needs strong leadership that will, most importantly, listen to the majority of constituents that it represents and provide support to the administration that was put in place to guide our district forward. As a father of district students, a successful business leader and an experienced board member, I have proven skills and the ability to work with the community and administration to ensure academic excellence now and in the future. As the pandemic has polarized our communities, it is even more important that community leaders are able to set aside their own personal agendas and act in the best interest of the OASD students.
What skills and experiences do you have that will prepare you to be a board member?
I have served on many boards and committees over the years including the Park and Recreation Board for the Village of Hartland, OPEF, YMCA facilities committee, Wisconsin Park and Recreation Foundation, and the leader of our church's renovation committee. I also believe that my experiences working with both public and private entities in the Midwest gives me a unique perspective that many others may not have.
What differentiates you from other candidates running for the board?
My time serving on the Park and Recreation Board for the Village of Hartland gave me great experiences that I still refer back to. During my time on the board, we proposed a large community center project. Even though the project was ultimately turned down by the residents of the community, I learned an important lesson in community activism. I also learned that we, as a board, should have done more to get our message out, and worked harder to get community involvement before moving forward with the project. I also served on the park board when we partnered with an outside organization to build the Hartland Splash Pad - a project that proved to be an asset to our residents and businesses alike.
Did you support the recent recall efforts?
If you answered yes, what actions did you take?
I agreed that something needed to be done when the board veered so far from the parent survey. I personally began the serious consideration that led me to the position I am in today, running for the board. As I was considering this decision I intentionally worked to keep myself neutral as it related to the recall. This was done because if I were to be elected to this position it will be imperative that I am able to work with the current members on the board to move our district through this difficult time.
What is your vision for education in this community?
To continue to help OASD honor the tradition that has been put in place before my time in the district, the tradition that brought us to the community. But more then that to continue to move our district farther ahead in the future so that OASD students are prepared to take their place in the world when they leave our schools. This place may be college, vocational school, the military, or working in an area that they find themselves passionate about. Eventually COVID will be in our rearview and when that time comes we need to be poised to begin helping our children recover from the time they have lost. I want to be able to put this in place not only for my children but to do my part to help the community as well.
What issues do you believe our district needs to address? What are your recommendations?
To me, the biggest issue we face at the moment is dealing with the COVID crisis and what it has done to our education system. I feel the district did an outstanding job in the spring switching to virtual on very short notice and working to provide connectivity to all students. However that being said I do not feel that the hybrid model we find ourselves in today provides an education that our community expects and quite frankly deserves. This community has made a tremendous investment in our schools over the years and we should expect a return on that investment. I am especially concerned for the older children in the district, the high school children to be exact. They have a very limited amount of time to be high school students before moving on to their futures. They don't have years to make up for lost time and they need someone who will stand up for them now. I know how hard it is to serve in a public capacity, and I have respect for all members of the current board who were dealt this terrible hand as it related to educating our children during COVID, but I believe this boards inability to make and stick to a decision has set up a near-impossible situation for our students, staff, and administration. If I am elected I will do my best to help get our children back to school full time.
How does a school board balance the need to provide quality education with the need to respond to the taxpayer burden?
With every decision we make we need to consider the tax payer burden. As a homeowner and small business operator I understand the effects that increased taxes can have on your ability to grow. But I also understand that taking the stand of zero tax increases ever is not a sustainable approach and would ultimately harm our schools and eventually our community. Like I said earlier the taxes we pay are an investment in our children's future, and our community as a whole. Quality schools increase home values, attract employers, and enrich all levels of a community. I do however believe COVID has put us in a situation that will require responsible management to get through. This is not much different then navigating our business through these trying times and attempting to keep our doors open while a majority of our customers were forced to close, keep people employed, and be ready for what is to come when we emerge. To me the biggest difference is if I am elected to the school board I will be making these decisions while spending someone else's money which is a tremendous responsibility that I will take extremely seriously.
How do you feel about the common core curriculum, what are its advantages/disadvantages?
I can only answer this based on my experiences with my children. But I feel that common core has a tendency to reinvent the wheel in a way that makes it harder for the parents to be a part of their children's education. Taking the example of math it seems that common core has added steps that don't need to be there. Since we were not taught this way it makes it harder for parents to be involved in their children's education. In my opinion the current situation has exposed this as a weakness in the common core curriculum. When parents needed to step up and take a more prominent role in their children's education we were not able to be a successful because they are being taught in a different way.
What is the best way to address differences of opinion among board members?
First you must attempt to understand where the other person is coming from and work under the premise that they also have good intentions for our students. However when serving in an elected position personal opinions should carry far less standing in decision making then listening to the constituents you represent. This also places some burden on the community members a whole to be involved and engaged. I for one will say that prior to this current learning model I was not as involved in my children's education as I should have been. I believed things were going in the right direction. What I have learned is that whether I am elected or not I will remain involved in the discussions and decisions that are being made.
How will you communicate with and be accessible to the community you represent?
The use of social media is and will continue to be a tool we can use to communicate with each other. I also believe that email is a strong communication tool, and is how I have communicated with the current board over the past few months. But ultimately I believe direct conversation is the best way to communicate with someone regarding questions or issues. When you talk with someone directly you are less likely to be misinterpret what is being said. This is why I have made every attempt to attend the board meetings in person, when they have them, and speak at those meetings.