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Wild Rose School Board candidates respond to questionnaire

Bruce Williams

Area 1

Wild Rose School Board

1. My name is Bruce Williams and I am running for the Wild Rose School Board

2. Being on the Wild Rose School Board has been something that I have always considered. My father and grandfather were both school board members for many years, so growing up it was just a part of what my family was about. After graduating from Wild Rose, my wife and I went to college in Green Bay, but always knew we wanted to raise our family in this wonderful community. After receiving our degrees from UW-Green Bay, Stephanie was offered a teaching position in the area and we didn’t hesitate to move back home.

Shortly after returning to this community, I was hired by the school district as the Varsity Girls Basketball Coach and served in that position for 10 years. As an employee of the school, I was not eligible to run for a seat on the school board. Now that I am no longer a paid employee, it seems like the right time for me to offer to serve the school in a different way.

Wild Rose has been home for nearly my entire life. I love this community and want to do everything I can to help the school system, and in particular, the students succeed.

3. I am currently serving on three local boards and one state-level committee. I have been a board member on the Wildcat Booster Club for over 15 years and have been the vice-president for the past 10. As an elder at the Wild Rose Presbyterian Church, I have been a session (governing body) member for 10 years. I am also Co-Director and a board member of Welcomed, a

non-profit organization located right here in Wild Rose. Welcomed exists to surround vulnerable children and the families who support them with caring communities of volunteers. In addition, I am an active member of the Foster Parent Advisory Committee, a group that acts as a resource for the Department of Children and Families (DCF) that meets regularly in Madison.

Prior to starting Welcomed, I worked for 11 years as part of the administration team at Wild Rose Hospital. My responsibilities at the hospital ranged from overseeing human resources, budgeting and finance, employee development, physician recruitment, and more. The hospital experienced tremendous growth during that time, and I was a part of the team that worked with the Wild Rose Hospital Board as we focused on continuous improvement objectives.

As the father of eight children (biological, adopted, and foster) I hear regularly first-hand how things are going at school and in the community. My children share both the positives and the areas where they feel improvements could be made. As a frequent attendee of sporting events and other school activities, I am consistently engaging with parents and community members regarding district-related issues. These school and community connections, along with my xperience, provide me with valuable insight as a potential board member.

 

4. It’s important to note that, while state aid is dropping 15% per year on average, that does not mean that the district operating budget is dropping by the same amount. State aid makes up only a portion of those dollars, with the majority coming from property taxes paid by those within the school district. While funds available for school district use are decreasing, it is at a much more gradual rate than the 15% number would suggest. That being said, this is an important issue that the Wild Rose School District must address.

Difficult decisions need to be made, especially in smaller school districts with lower enrolment, about what will and will not be offered. The school district has financial limitations, but I believe there are creative ways to continue offering a quality education while dealing with a reduction in support. New ideas and fresh perspectives can be very valuable when making these tough decisions. My work with both the hospital and Welcomed have provided me with a great deal of experience in making these kinds of decisions. Both are non-profit organizations with very tight budgets, requiring a great deal of ongoing fiscal responsibility.

While experience is important, there is also tremendous value in looking at things from an angle that may not have been considered before. Creating more opportunities for parents and community members to share their thoughts and provide feedback is key. Most importantly, I believe it is essential to allow the students more of a voice in determining what the school offers and how it functions. While they might not have the wisdom and experience to make the difficult decisions, their insights should definitely be a part of determining the path the school takes.

 

5. Open enrollment has impacted school districts throughout the state. The best way to retain current families is to focus on providing the most quality opportunities possible for students to grow and prepare for life after they graduate. It’s important to understand that the board needs to be fiscally responsible given that there are not unlimited funds available to educate our students.

At the same time we need to be continuously asking ourselves if we are making optimal use of the resources we have available. Are we taking full advantage of the technology we have available to offer all we can to our students? Are we preparing all students for life after high school, regardless of whether they plan on continuing their education or heading directly to the workforce? It’s important that the school district continuously ask itself these questions. Are we changing as the world changes, or are we doing things a certain way just because that is how we have always done them.

6. There are various roles that are critical to every organization, including a school district. I believe there are three critical aspects related to these roles that directly affect the success of any organization: How hard-working and dedicated the players are in each role, how well each group works together for a common goal, and the approach leadership takes in challenging each group to continuously grow.

Teachers are highly trained professionals who are often undervalued in today’s world. They not only play a role in their students’ success in the educational world, but more importantly they play a role in how their students function and impact our communities and society in general.

School administration has the responsibility to oversee and motivate all employees within the district to be the best versions of themselves and to work together, keeping the common goal in mind. The support staff within the district (maintenance, food specialist, custodians, bus drivers, classroom aids, administrative support, accounting, human resources, etc.) all play an extremely important role as well that is often unseen. They are the glue that makes the district stick together.

The board’s role in all of this is to provide leadership, community insight, and guidance in how to best achieve the goals that have been set. It is important that board members have an understanding of the history of the school and community. However, it is equally important that they be open-minded as to what the future holds and solicit valuable perspective from community members, parents and other stakeholders while developing the path to future success.

7. Wild Rose Schools should provide everything possible within its financial means. As stated before, funds are limited and difficult decisions have to be made each year when it comes to what the school can offer. The school board’s role in this process is to continuously ask

questions about how funds are being used and if there is potentially a better way to achieve the goals that are set. I believe it is critically important to include parents, students, and teachers in this process. They have invaluable insight and are the ones most impacted by the board’s decisions.

There are times when it makes sense for a school district to continue doing things the way they have for years prior, but other times when that type of thinking limits possibilities. New board

members with fresh perspectives add value for this very reason. While having some consistency within any board is important, diversity and new perspectives offer opportunities for school districts to grow.

8. Integrity – being honest and having strong moral principles is extremely important in life and when serving on any board of directors. Communication – listening to others and being open to suggestions and feedback has the power to impact everything. The great communicators I know cannot only express their thoughts, but more importantly take the time to hear others.

Open minded - No one person has all the answers or best ideas. However, if we are willing to listen, be open with our communication, and open to sharing ideas and perspectives in a positive and professional way, great things can and do happen.

9. There are some very positive things happening within our school district that we should all take pride in. There are also opportunities for improvement. Some examples are providing additional support to the special education program, or finding unique ways of offering additional educational opportunities for our high school students to prepare for the future. Being proud of a districts’ accomplishments is a great thing, but we should never become complacent or be satisfied with things being good enough. I believe there are changes that could be made that would provide improvement opportunities for Wild Rose Schools.

If the community elects me, I will continue to support the school, its staff and the students. I will also ask questions and push for new opportunities. I will challenge the thinking that we should continue doing something a certain way because that’s how we’ve done it in the past.

The school board is made up of elected members that serve the school while representing

those that elected them. Who we elect to these positions is one of the main ways the community can help determine the direction of a school district. I will not be bringing an agenda with me to the school board. I will however bring an open mind, fresh perspective, and experience to help shape the future for the Wild Rose School District.