GLENDALE - Three experienced candidates are competing for two seats on the Nicolet School Board in the April 4 election.
Voters will be asked to choose two of the following three candidates: Theresa Seem, an attorney who has served eight years on the Glendale-River Hills School Board; Leigh Wallace Tabak, an assistant clinical professor in UW-Milwaukee's Department of Administrative Leadership; and Joe Kasle, who has served on the Nicolet School Board for the past six years and previously served on the Maple Dale-Indian Hill School Board for six years.
Kasle said he would be unable to respond to questions for this article, as he is in northern Africa with limited internet access until April 2. He was also unable to attend a candidate forum on Tuesday, March 21. Seem and Wallace Tabak were asked to answer the following three questions in 50 words or less.
Why are you running for school board?
Seem: With eight years of experience on the Glendale-River Hills School Board and as president the last two years, I feel I can contribute significantly to the Nicolet School Board decision-making on issues in public education, e.g., equity, closing the achievement gap, career readiness, funding for public education, et al.
Wallace Tabak: As a parent and educator, my commitment, perspective, and skillset will be an asset to the board and Nicolet community. I care deeply about public education and want to be a part of the conversation that ensures all students attending Nicolet have the very best educational experience possible.
What do you think is the most important issue facing the Nicolet School Board, and what do you think should be done to address that issue?
Seem: The most important issue not just for the Nicolet School Board, but all public schools, is funding for public education. Investment in quality public education is a significant part of the cost of maintaining quality communities. That being said, I refer to myself as a proud, pragmatic progressive: proud to support public education, but pragmatic enough to make tough budget decisions.
Wallace Tabak:Schooling — and education — as we knew it 20-plus years ago, has changed. As a board, we have to be committed to supporting the school as it moves forward in new and innovative ways, while also keeping our focus on academic excellence for and the emotional well being of all students.
Nicolet School District voters approved referenda in 2011 and 2016 to make up for a funding gap caused by declining enrollment, which means less state aid and less taxing authority. What can the school board do to either rein in expenses or increase enrollment?
Seem: Consider allowing, if statutorily possible, all K-8 partner schools’ open enrollees into Nicolet. This would add approximately $198,000 per year in revenue. The majority of the approximately 30 open enrollees in eighth grade started in first grade or earlier. The cohort /relationships of students would be maintained, and advantages gained from taxpayer investment and the efficacy of the cohort’s academic growth would not be lost.
Wallace Tabak: The board must champion Nicolet at the local and state level, advocate for fully funding our public schools, ensure our teachers are provided the resources they require to best meet the needs of our students, and promote our strengths as a school. This requires commitment and creative problem solving strategies.
Leigh Wallace Tabak
Address: 215 W. Ravine Baye Road, Bayside
Occupation: Assistant clinical professor, UW-Milwaukee, Department of Administrative Leadership (School of Education), program coordinator for educational administration program
Education: Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in secondary English education from the University of Kentucky and Ph.D. in urban education from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; licensed as a Wisconsin principal, superintendent, and English teacher.
Political history: First time running for local office
Phone number: 414-405-0447
Twitter handle: DrLeighPhD
Email address: email@example.com
Address: 1800 W. Woodbury Lane, Glendale
Education: University of Virginia, B.A., 1986; Marquette University, J.D., 1993
Political history: Glendale-River Hills School Board member 2007-2008, 2009-present; president, 2015-present
Phone number: 307-690-7482