Shorewood — Retaining administrators and big picture ideas for the the future of the district were among the topics discussed at a School Board candidate forum last week sponsored by the Shorewood Education Association.
Incumbents Paru Shah and Ruth Treisman led the field in the February primary, receiving 323 and 241 votes, respectively. Newcomers Gregg Davis and Margaret Schmidt took third and fourth with 171 and 138 votes. The coming April 1 election will decide which of the four will win two seats on the School Board.
Though the SEA submitted a questionnaire to the candidates after the forum and intended to make an endorsement, the union board later decided not to endorse a candidate.
"The SEA determined that endorsing or recommending a candidate would likely not garner the organization or its members any stronger affiliations or any clearer voice in the workings of our district," SEA President Mike Halloran wrote to the candidates.
Asked what the single most important thing the district does or provides for students, Treisman said the district needs to look at students holistically, as a whole, and understand each student's individual living situation.
Davis said the district, first and foremost, needs to instill a love of learning in students.
"Everything would stem from that," Davis said. "If they're not loving what they're learning at school, you've semi-lost them already."
Schmidt said the district has to cultivate lifelong learners, and the best way to do that is to focus on early childhood programming.
"We need to promote and nurture and foster the natural curiosity of children," Schmidt said.
Shah commented that, in order to have students who are passionate and enthusiastic about learning, Shorewood should continue to offer a variety of programming which appeals to each student's individual interests.
Five years out
Davis' vision for the district in five years includes a repeal of Act 10 and the restoration of collective bargaining. He said he would also advocate for more state funding and hope to have built better relations with teachers and staff.
Schmidt said the district is falling behind in its science curriculum and should increase its focus on those offerings, as well as increase its emphasis on global literacy and empathy in an effort to prepare graduates for the increasing international student population at universities.
Shah said the district needs to continue to implement the science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) curriculum and be a leader on educational and policy matters. Shah cited the board's recent adoption of transgender student guidelines as an example of progressive leadership.
"I hope we (on the board) continue to push the district, and say these are the things that matter to us, and we're going to be the first ones to do it," Shah said, "and we're not scared of what that means for the people who don't necessarily agree with us."
Treisman said academic rigor is something that needs to be a continued focus, as well as financial stability, and an emphasis on closing the achievement gap between minority students, economically disadvantaged students, and their peers.
"It's something that we on the School Board take seriously," Treisman said.
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