Six seek seats on Parkview School Board
Footville area residents Steven Haberman, Charles Hagmann and Bill Wingerson are challenging Newark incumbents Ed Bell, Craig Jones and Eric Stelter.
Bell, Jones and Stelter support the referendum to build permanent classrooms at Orfordville Elementary School to allow Newark and Footville schools to close. They agree closing the two outlying schools at the same time is the best option to heal the decades of divide between the communities.
"It's going to help with staffing—teachers will be able to collaborate, work together and overall it's going to be best for the education process," Jones said.
Closing the schools would save the district money, which could be used on technology, textbooks and other things that have been cut in recent years, Bell said.
Bringing all the kids together from the start would help all programs, activities, sports, discipline problems, Stelter said, because he's seen the divide growing up in the district.
Haberman, Hagmann and Wingerson say the district doesn't have to spend $5 million to consolidate. They support closing Newark and consolidating the students into Orfordville and Footville at no cost.
As declining enrollment continues in the next few years, Footville could close when Orfordville has space to accommodate all students, they say.
Wingerson can't see spending money to add classrooms when enrollment is declining and a school could be closed without spending money, he said. If a permanent addition is built, the school might end up with empty classrooms in a few years, he said.
Raising taxes, closing Footville and replacing it with new classrooms doesn't wash with Hagmann, he said. Two buildings in Footville and Orfordville can be used until Footville can be consolidated, he said.
Haberman doesn't oppose consolidation, but he's against the way the board is planning to spend $5 million to do it, he said. His biggest concern is improving the district's test scores, which would attract more students into the district.
If the referendum fails, the board plans to rent or buy eight modular classrooms to put at Orfordville Elementary to accommodate the Newark and Footville students. Sixth grade would move to the junior high.
Stelter said he still supports the portables because consolidation is needed.
Bell said he agrees with the plan, but the board would have to discuss with the residents who have concerns how to make the plan work better.
Jones said he would look at the portables and a "number of options," including addressing maintenance at the high school if the referendum fails.
Wingerson, Hagmann and Haberman oppose portable classrooms.
Wingerson said there isn't enough room at the junior high for the sixth grade, and he's heard from people who say they will pull their children out of the district if portables are added.
Hagmann also has heard concerns from the public about them.
Haberman doesn't understand the need to spend nearly $1 million on the classrooms when the district has a facility available.
High school improvements
While much of the attention has been focused on consolidation at the elementary level, a list of maintenance projects for the aging high school remains. Other board members and residents have said the district should be addressing the high school needs.
Voters have rejected multiple referendums over the years for maintenance projects, including plans in 2002 and 1999 to build a new high school.
Stelter said he thinks the board would have a "very good chance" of passing a referendum for the high school after the district is united for 10 years—the length of the borrowing for the elementary addition. The best success for the high school is elementary consolidation, he said.
Residents were "highly upset" about cost when the board talked last year about building a new high school, Bell said. He agrees work is needed there and should be studied in about seven years so a plan could move forward after the elementary debt would be paid off in 10 years.
Jones left the door open to looking at high school work if the referendum fails. If it passes, he said they probably would have to wait about seven years to start planning for high school renovations.
Hagmann said a comprehensive study from an outside consultant needs to be done on the building to provide ideas and budget figures.
If the district spends money for a new elementary addition, it never will see money from voters for the high school, Wingerson said. He would like to see work done there, and closing Newark without expense would give the district a chance to look at the high school next.
Haberman said the focus should be on improving test scores and stopping families from leaving through open enrollment before major improvements are considered.
"I'm just not looking at spending a lot of money until we get this declining enrollment leveled off and turned around," he said.
PARKVIEW SCHOOL BOARD CANDIDATES
Ed Bell (I)
Address: 9502 S. County H, Beloit.
Job: Retired from Warner Electric and United Steel Workers
Education: High school graduate
Community service: Previous president of Beloit Labor Council and vice president of Warner credit union board, South Beloit, Ill.
Elected posts: Completing first term on the Parkview School Board
Address: 481 Janesville St., Janesville.
Job: Farmer and owner of Haberman Trucking
Education: Parkview High School graduate, various classes at Blackhawk Technical College
Community service: Organizer of children's pedal pull in Footville and Brodhead, former president of Evansville FFA Alumni
Elected posts: None
Address: 332 N. Gilbert St., Footville.
Job: Sales associate at Ace Hardware in Orfordville, previously worked more than 24 years in architectural/structural design, chief petty officer in the U.S. Navy Reserves Seabees.
Education: Associate's degree in architectural and structural design
Community service: Helps maintain the Sugar River Bike Trail, member of Golden Retriever Rescue of Wisconsin.
Elected posts: Footville village trustee for the past three years
Craig Jones (I)
Address: 7247 W. Beloit-Newark Road, Beloit.
Job: Real estate and personal property appraiser
Education: Bachelor's degree in education from UW-La Crosse
Community service: Served 10 years as Viking youth basketball and baseball coordinator, scorekeeper for high school football.
Elected posts: Completing third term on the Parkview School Board
Eric Stelter (I)
Address: 11504 W. Cleophas Road, Beloit.
Job: Plant manager at Everbrite in Elkhorn
Education: Parkview graduate, miscellaneous business classes.
Community service: Building sets for school plays and performances, volunteer for FFA and 4-H, youth T-ball coach, Cub Scout den leader.
Elected posts: Finishing his first term on the Parkview School Board
Address: 214 Janesville St., Footville.
Job: Retired from 32 years at Hormel Foods, also is firefighter/EMT for more than 25 years with the Footville Fire Department.
Education: High school equivalency degree, attended classes at Blackhawk Technical College.
Community service: Previous president of Footville Little League for 15 years
Elected posts: None