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West Allis-West Milwaukee School Board race

Voter's guide for Tuesday, April 7, election

March 24, 2009

Patricia Kerhin

Age: 59

Education: high school degree

Years lived in West Allis-West Milwaukee: lifelong resident

Previous government experience: School Board member since 1990

Community affiliations: CESA Board of Control, St. Matthias, Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools, Governor's Task Force for High School Restructuring

Contact: (414) 545-0711; pat@byteharmony.com

With the economy in a recession, what steps should the district take to maintain services while not burdening taxpayers?

Reduce travel; continue with our energy cost reduction program to minimize operational expenses, increase grant writing to offset district expenses, review curriculum and special education to see where changes can be made to be more effective and less costly.

What area would you like to see addressed next in the district's restructuring plan?

Our next area of focus should be the high schools. Dottke Alternative School has been very successful in helping kids to graduate despite students' poor personal learning habits. We need see which of our buildings can accommodate more students in this learning format. Additionally, we need to make changes in the curriculum at both high schools to better prepare students for postsecondary education and the work world.

How can the district make sure parents are involved in the decision-making process? Do you feel the district does an adequate job now?

Our advancements in contacting parents electronically by Internet and telephone have made great gains in informing parents about upcoming educational and social events in their schools. Parents are able to contact their student's teachers directly by e-mail, and telephones have been installed in every classroom for quick access and safety in case of emergency situations. The board created a communications committee, which reports monthly on monitoring and updating procedures to improve communications with parents.

Sue Sujecki

Age: 60

Education: work-related courses at Milwaukee Area Technical College, Marquette University and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Years lived in West Allis-West Milwaukee: 21 years

Previous government experience: School Board member since 1999

Community affiliations: Holy Trinity Church, West Allis Woman's Club, West Allis-West Milwaukee Community Coalition-Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Abuse, West Allis-West Milwaukee PTA Council

Contact:sujecki@wi.rr.com

With the economy in a recession, what steps should the district take to maintain services while not burdening taxpayers?

I would like to see the restructure of our high schools from general liberal arts courses to a more career-oriented curriculum and expand our high school alternative program to meet the diverse needs of our students.

What area would you like to see addressed next in the district's restructuring plan?

We will examine all our programs and activities and be prepared to make adjustments. We will look at any possible cuts when Business Services examines next year's budget.

How can the district make sure parents are involved in the decision-making process? Do you feel the district does an adequate job now?

We use a variety of methods. We start with open houses in the fall to make each student and parent feel welcomed and informed. We continue with school newsletters, school and district Web sites, a parent portal for grading information, surveys, special meetings, school clubs and organizations, cable channel 13 and School Board meetings. I am in our schools on regular basis. I make an effort to communicate with teachers, parents and students regarding their concerns.

Darlene Ziemendorf

Age: 54

Education: associate degree, Milwaukee Area Technical College

Years lived in West Allis-West Milwaukee: 29

Previous government experience: School Board member since 1995

Community affiliations: Christian Education coordinator at Martin Luther Church; American Legion Auxiliary Unit 416

Contact: (414) 453-5408; Jzeahouse@aol.com

With the economy in a recession, what steps should the district take to maintain services while not burdening taxpayers?

We need to continue working with our state and federal officials to get our fair share of the funding for public education. We have a grant writer that has done a great job at finding funds for our schools and for our before- and after-school programs.

What area would you like to see addressed next in the district's restructuring plan?

I would like us to make sure we are preparing our students for their future after they graduate from our high schools. We need to look at our curriculum that we offer and that our students have the skills they need - such as business and civic literacy, communication skills, leadership and technology skills.

How can the district make sure parents are involved in the decision-making process? Do you feel the district does an adequate job now?

Parents are a very important part in their child's education. We need to offer different ways in getting information to our parents. The district uses school newsletters, parent-teacher conferences, district cable channel, superintendent's message, televised School Board meetings, information in different languages for our non-English speaking families, and district ad hoc committees that have parents on them. And our teachers make telephone calls to our parents. We need to always have open communication with our parents.

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