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Greenfield School Board voters guide

Feb. 8, 2012

LEONARD CICH

Age: 71

Address: 4366 S. Honey Creek Drive

Employer/occupation: Retired, Consolidated Freightways; former operations manager, Waste Management of Chicago; former small business owner in the area of residential and commercial remodeling

Education: Pulaski High School; attended the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Political/related experience: no political experience but experience as a manager, business owner and service in the military, involvement in the community

Family: Married, 48 years

Contact: lcich@wi.rr.com

Why should people vote for you?

I have been attending School Board and city meetings for years and decided to get more involved. I want to get our students all that they need while staying within the affordability range of the taxpayers. The 11.2 percent tax levy increase of two years ago must be a thing of the past. We must think, work and spend smarter to get the job done, for our students and the taxpayers.

What is the biggest issue facing the schools and how would you deal with it?

The biggest challenge, in these uncertain times, is providing a quality relevant educational experience for our students while holding the line on spending and taxes. We must put tax dollars into the classroom, pursue more parental and community involvement including volunteers and mentors. I believe we can collaborate with the city, county and other school districts to promote the sharing of services, which would benefit all involved.

MICHAEL GIERL

Age: 57

Address: 5933 S. 35th St.

Employer/occupation: Sam's Club in West Allis on the audit team

Education: Bachelor's degree in marketing and MBA, both at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Political/related experience: Served on Greenfield School board for four years (2004-2008)

Family: Single (divorced in 1998); two children, both graduates of Greenfield High School

Contact: mgierl@me.com

Why should people vote for you?

I have a strong educational background, experience and a record of working well with others. I pride myself on my problem-solving skills. Very opened minded. I will work very hard to make sure that your hard earned tax dollars are spent in an effective manner that benefits the students educational opportunities and the community.

What is the biggest issue facing the schools and how would you deal with it?

Money is the main issue. Can't really answer this in 100 words but the board needs to be open-minded about ideas, suggestions, etc. We are in the 21st century and still operating with the 20th century model. Can we effectively utilize technology (like iPads) to increase learning in a cost-effective way? Are there things we can combine with other neighboring districts to benefit the students and taxpayers? Do we need all these different districts or can we combine? The school year, structure (K-12) are all things to look at. Keep an open mind.

RICK MOZE (INC.)

Age: 58

Address: 8901 Whitaker Ave.

Employer/occupation: Miller/Coors, 36.5 years brewing technician

Education: Graduated from West Allis Nathan Hale in 1971

Political/related experience: Served on the Greenfield School Board since 2009; served on the board's Business Administration Committee for five years, two years before School Board election.

Family: Widowed; three children, ages 21, 24 and 27

Contact: rmoze@wi.rr.com, (414) 541-5224

Why should people vote for you?

Education is vital for Wisconsin's success and crucial for job growth. We need to use taxpayer dollars resourcefully to provide Greenfield's students with the high-quality education that drives economic prosperity. My three children received a quality education from the Greenfield schools, and I want all present and future students to receive that same quality of education.

What is the biggest issue facing the schools and how would you deal with it?

The budget. It's tough balancing a quality education and limited funding. I've already proposed that we work with the residents of Greenfield to create a strategic plan that would provide for the future success of the district while keeping control of costs.

PAUL PALAMA

Age: 49

Address: 4201 S. 64th St.

Employer/ occupation: St. Charles Borromeo Church and School maintenance manager

Education: attended the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Oakton College in suburban Chicago

Political/related experience: Ran for Greenfield School Board last year; member of the parish building and grounds committee; performed administrative functions in the Army as a drill sergeant and training noncommissioned officer

Family: married, one daughter, age 21, who graduated from Greenfield High School, and one son, a sophomore at GHS

Contact: paulpalama@att.net

Why should people vote for you?

I would like people to vote for me because: I feel that I would bring an opened-minded approach, one which has no predetermined agenda of cutting or raising taxes, adding/removing programs. I will look at both sides of every issue and make the best decision that will benefit the education system and the taxpayers of the district. I also have a vested interest in the education process since I still have a child in the school system.

What is the biggest issue facing the schools and how would you deal with it?

The easy answer is to say the budget. It is the beginning and end question every school year. Everyone wants more but nobody wants to pay more. The real challenge is what needs to be included within the budget. School maintenance, employee salaries, educational programs, transportation requirements, student and faculty security and many more are important issues which need to be addressed. I would work hard with the other members of the School Board to give the district's students, employees, and taxpayers the best educational system possible.

RUSSELL SPAHN

Age: 58

Address: 5340 W. Whitaker Ave.

Employer/occupation: Greenfield fire chief (retired June 1, 2011)

Education: Milwaukee Area Technical College, associate degree in fire science; Southern Illinois University, bachelor's degree in public administration; Alverno College, master's degree in instructional design and organizational development

Political/related experience: Ran for Greenfield School Board last year; managed a multi-million dollar budget and led a high-risk emergency fire and rescue department; have worked with local, state and federal politicians; city employee for nearly 40 years, DPW and Fire Department union leader for 22 years, manager/supervisor/administrator for 18 years; adjunct instructor for MATC for 20 years, adjunct instructor for Upper Iowa University for nine years; long experience of teaching and creating curricula at various levels

Family: Married, two sons

Contact: russ.spahn@gmail.com

Why should people vote for you?

My nearly 40 years of work experience, education, and involvement in the Greenfield community provide me with a solid and well-rounded background to perform the responsibilities that are necessary for a School Board member. I have the passion to funnel my skills toward positive outcomes for these trying economic times in the Greenfield School District.

What is the biggest issue facing the schools and how would you deal with it?

The greatest challenge is providing the best education possible with available tax dollars.We cannot lower taxes, and taxpayers are tired of seeing their taxes continually raised, especially when their household incomes have either been frozen or their wages have been cut. The School Board must strive to invest the taxpayers' money wisely. As a School Board member, I will challenge the administration on all levels concerning curriculum, state mandates, operational and capital equipment expenses. The board must challenge the way the district has operated in the past in order to improve operations and academics for the future.

BRAD SPONHOLZ

Age: 47 

Address: 4407 W. Ohio Ave.

Employer/occupation: Registered nurse

Education: Bachelor's degree in nursing, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, 1997

Political/related experience: Ran unsuccessfully as the Republican candidate for state Assembly District 7 against longtime incumbent Democrat Peggy Krusick in 2008 and 2010 

Family: Married with two sons and a daughter

Contact: bsponholz@yahoo.com, (414) 839-1202

Why should people vote for you?

First, I am a parent of three school-age children and understand real time what it is like to have children in school. We have faced the struggles of working all day and still managing homework. Second, I am a taxpayer and will balance the fact that the taxpayer is not an endless source of money. To have people on the board whose solution to every difficult question is to raise the levy. One candidate voted to raise our levy by 11.2 percent last time she was in office.I will treat the taxpayers' money as if it is my own.

What is the biggest issue facing the schools and how would you deal with it?

The budget. I think our educators are doing a fine job. We can provide the schools with the money they need to operate without forcing the taxpayer to pay more and more. I have some ideas, such as virtual classrooms for self-motivated high schoolers. We can educate our youth for less money while still maintaining the high standards already in place. Lastly, I would like to see the trades active in our high schools again. Education is not all about math and reading; getting a head start on a career and developing work skills are part of education, too.

CATHY WALSH

Age: 59 
 
Address: 7117 W. Allerton Ave.
 
Employer/occupation: Retired disclosure specialist/tax auditor
 
Education: Bachelor's degree in accounting, Lakeland College, 2001; bachelor's degree in elementary education, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, 1974; Greenfield High School, 1970
 
Political/related experience: Greenfield School Board, 1992-2010; Southeastern Wisconsin Schools Alliance, five years; Greenfield Park and Rec Board, 11 years; Greenfield Partners of Park and Rec volunteer; and GHS Varsity Football Boosters member
 
Family: Married 37 years with two adult daughters
 
Contact: cjwalsh52@yahoo.com; 414-545-7117
 
Why should people vote for you?
 
I believe the board must work harder than ever to help solve serious financial and educational problems facing Greenfield. This is not the time to cut meetings to once a month. But board agendas must reflect real concerns of the community, including frank discussions about test scores, behavior issues, input on major purchases, detailed updates on the budget, and other financial concerns such as the fund balance and taxes. We must not continue to decrease the board's power, allowing administration to make crucial decisions without board input. The board must not lose the right to represent the community's interests. 
 
What is the biggest issue facing the schools and how would you deal with it?
 
Funding problems will continue to be a serious issue for Greenfield, but we can't let that prevent us from improving. The DPI just announced a major change in the statewide high stakes test and it is predicted that our students' performance level on the new tests will drop dramatically unless we change how we do business. The board must create a strategic plan focusing on student achievement, truancy and graduation rates, future facility needs, staff training and funding issues. The board's annual evaluation of the superintendent must include meeting benchmarks related to the goals established by the strategic plan.

 

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