School board candidates weigh in on referendum question
By Adam Hocking
MARSHFIELD — After the February primary, the race for Marshfield School Board is down to four candidates vying for two spots in the April 5 election. The remaining candidates — Mark Critelli, Amber Leifheit, Dan Wald, and Dale Yakaites — will face the question of whether or not to support placing an override referendum on the November ballot.
With that decision looming, Hub City Times asked the four candidates about their position on the potential referendum through the following question:
The district’s current override referendum will expire at the end of next school year. The school board will likely decide in August this year whether or not to propose a new referendum on the November ballot. Do you believe that it is a necessity for the well-being of the district that another referendum is approved? Why or why not?
This question is important and a good example of why the choice of school board members is important. Some school board members or candidates might hold the primary agenda of “cutting taxes” regardless of the outcome. Others might be of the mindset that you can never fund education enough. I believe that the district, and thus the school board, has the obligation to facilitate efficiency, innovation, and frugality at all times — being responsible to consistently use the taxpayers’ money wisely while producing the best education possible for our youth.
Because of my six-year firsthand experience on the school board and the fact that I have three children attending our schools and one recent graduate, I do believe that Marshfield has consistently innovated and improved efficiency. However, when efficiency and innovation alone are not enough, the community deserves the opportunity and choice a referendum offers to maintain the highest education possible.
I do believe a referendum will prove necessary. In turn, the taxpayers should expect continued innovation, efficiency, and the provision of a high quality education.
The Marshfield community has shown that it values education and wants an excellent school system. The school district has been a good steward of that support, providing an exceptional education for its students.
Data proves that excellent schools contribute to an economically healthy community by attracting and retaining employees and businesses. Property values are directly correlated to schools’ performance as well.
The Marshfield public school system has one of the most comprehensive educational programs in the state. The breadth of Marshfield’s curriculum allows for every student to find his or her own niche, anywhere from technical classes to college-level advanced placement classes. I believe this is crucial to providing an appropriate education for all students.
If the referendum fails, many of the programs, staff, and extracurricular activities would need to be cut. Class sizes would probably increase. These potential cuts would reduce the quality of our students’ education.
I encourage all to join me in support of this potential referendum in order to maintain our excellent schools and provide for an economically stable community.
For more detailed information, visit my website amberforschoolboard.com.
We certainly need to continue operating and educating our students. Ensuring we have the resources to maintain our staff and programs is crucial. Overall, I feel communities in general are in support of operational referendums, and statewide many are supported.
As a school board member, I need to be responsible with our resources and feel we need to find areas to improve upon financially. We need to find areas of cost savings, while at the same time maintaining staff and programs. This can be challenging. I am concerned when we hear teachers will be laid off or programs cut if a referendum does not pass.
I have found in my profession in manufacturing, there are always ways to address operational expenses without reducing quality or direct workforce. Evaluating program enrollments and effectiveness, fiscal limitations, and district efficiencies requires a school board team effort. We do need to find areas for improvement, transparently present that prior to a referendum, and follow through with proposals. Doing so can provide us opportunities to reduce a referendum request or perhaps avoid a referendum.
I would change the words “necessary for the well-being of our district” to “necessary for the well-being of our children.” Marshfield is a school district that supports education. That support has been shown by the passage of several referendums that have provided funds for programs for our students.
Past school boards have done a good job of listing the programs that would have to be cut if each referendum were to fail. The projected cuts included many academic offerings that would impact students’ career pursuits and postsecondary education opportunities. Music, art programs, fine arts, and middle school sports would also have been cut.
Since the details of another operations funds request have yet to be determined, my support for another referendum would depend on the dollar amount, number of years involved, the effect on taxpayers, and the impact on student programs.
I do feel that offering a quality education is one of the most important things we can do for our children, and adequate funding for school programs is indeed “necessary for the well-being of our children.”