SHOREWOOD - School funding, teacher retention and improved communication with the public are some of the top issues identified by the three candidates seeking two seats on the Shorewood School Board in the April 4 election.
Shorewood School Board President Paru Shah is seeking re-election to the board, and Shorewood residents Pablo Muirhead and Emily Berry are seeking to join the board for the first time.
To help inform voters about the candidates, North Shore Now asked them to answer the following three questions in 50 words or less.
Why are you running for school board?
Shah: I am running for re-election because I have worked hard over the last four years with my fellow board members, staff and community partners to put us on a path to distinction. I have demonstrated my ability to work collaboratively with a wide range of individuals, and am the most experienced candidate in local and state education politics and policy.
Berry: I want to preserve the tradition of academic excellence in Shorewood schools, and bring back tradition of meaningful public engagement by district leadership. Shorewood is lucky to have highly educated, supportive community members. Their interest and enthusiasm is a precious resource to be tapped, not a nuisance to be managed.
Muirhead: As a lifelong Shorewood resident, a former SIS and SHS teacher, and now a teacher educator, my profession has centered on education and learning. My academic preparation, career as an educator, political advocacy and my long connection to Shorewood are unique qualities that I hope to bring to our schools.
What do you think is the most important issue facing the Shorewood School Board, and what do you think should be done to address that issue?
Shah: Public education is under currently under attack, and as a board we have to continue to advocate for public education in Wisconsin. We have been able to withstand the budget shortfalls over the last 10 years while maintaining our mission of a strong liberal arts education by being strong stewards of tax-payer dollars, by being creative in cultivating resources and by working with our foundation partners.
Berry: The board established policies in 2015 that hinder it from effectively overseeing district administration. A great deal of authority now rests with the superintendent, who is not an elected official. Until the policies known as “coherent governance” are amended or discarded, the board can’t deliver on its educational mission.
Muirhead: Public education is fundamental to the success of our community. Cuts in funding and attacks from the federal and state level require deep understanding and experience to be managed successfully to ensure to that our schools continue being able to sustain our high-quality programming and grow into the future.
The school board is going to create a master plan for potential facility renovations. What are some of the biggest issues you would like to see addressed in the master plan?
Shah: The board undertook the facilities assessment to get a better handle on a number of issues, including growing enrollments, use of current facilities, and public safety. Each of these will be addressed in the master plan, and provide us the framework for making decisions about allocating resources in the short term and long term.
Berry: Our teachers’ voices should carry the most weight in our facility plan — they know what kind of environment facilitates learning. We should also spend more each year on building maintenance and plan to periodically replace aging infrastructure so that we aren’t faced with the same problems over and over.
Muirhead: Should our community decide to move forward with a master plan, it is vital that we are able to modernize our buildings for the next hundred years while preserving their historical richness. Additionally, input from all constituencies will be pivotal as will close attention to fiscal responsibility.
Address: 4259 N. Larkin
Occupation: Professor of Political Science at UWM
Education: BA from University of Michigan, MA from University of Illinois at Chicago, PhD from Rice University
Political history: Shorewood School Board member since 2013
Phone number: 414-988-9132
Twitter handle: @parushah_mke
Address: 1304 East Lake Bluff Blvd.
Occupation: Director, Corporate Communications at Anthem, Inc.
Education: BA, Kenyon College
Political history: First time school board candidate - Co-President, Lake Bluff Elementary PTO
Phone number: 414-336-8012
Twitter handle: @BerryforSchools
Email address: email@example.com
Address: 3726 N. Morris Blvd., Shorewood, WI 53211
Occupation: Coordinator of Teacher Education, Instructor of Spanish and Teacher Education
Education: Ph.D. in Urban Education with a specialization in Curriculum & Instruction, M.S. Curriculum & Instruction and Spanish; B.A. in German and Spanish 1-12 Education
Political history: No prior office
Phone number: 414-861-9990
Twitter handle: @PabloMuirhead