WHITEFISH BAY - The three candidates running for Whitefish Bay School Board would bring a diverse set of skills, viewpoints and backgrounds to the board.
Incumbent board member Doug Armstrong is seeking re-election, and newcomers W. Brett Christiansen and Friederike Lemaitre are seeking to join the board for the first time. Voters will be asked to choose two of the three candidates in the April 4 election.
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?
Christiansen: Whitefish Bay is a community that values and prioritizes public education, which benefited me greatly. I want to contribute to that tradition, helping to guide our district in the 21st Century. I feel my professional experience can provide a fresh perspective on preparing our students for the modern world.
Armstrong: I’m privileged to serve in a community that cares as deeply as this one about its schools. A second term will allow me to guide continued progress on initiatives begun in my first term: administrative transition, adoption of skills-based learning, and funding of our long-term capital improvement trust.
Lemaitre: I am well versed in the functioning of the school district and have detailed knowledge of its curricular and extracurricular offerings through my 15 years of involvement, especially in the gifted and talented program through my children Sophia (class of 2012), Coretta, (2013), Clara (2017, Valedictorian) and Abraham (2021).
What do you think is the most important issue facing the Whitefish Bay School Board, and what do you think should be done to address that issue?
Christiansen: Our students are facing an ever-changing world. We must promote skills such as creativity, collaboration and adaptability that will prepare them for a future that we cannot predict. We need to encourage development for our teachers to utilize new methods that focus on these skills for lifelong learning and change.
Armstrong: Preserving our art, music and world language programming at all levels in the face of shifting high school student preferences for elective courses in math and science. The district needs to re-examine graduation requirements and pre-requisite obstacles that close doors to students seeking a more balanced education.
Lemaitre: Keeping and hiring the best teachers: We are ranked as the No. 1 public school in Wisconsin, and we have a world-class English department and US history department. Right now, we have the best science department at the high school since 2008. Parent involvement is critical for us to have a healthy community.
Gov. Scott Walker has proposed a $200 increase in per-pupil aid for next school year and another $200 increase in aid for the 2018-19 school year. Assuming the additional funding is approved by the legislature, how should this additional revenue be allocated by the Whitefish Bay School District?
Christiansen: I’m concerned that this increase will be short-lived, so we should not spend with the assumption that this level of aid will always be available. After handling the deficit in our current budget, we should save the revenue as protection against future cost increases or cuts to education spending.
Armstrong: Unfortunately, due to the freeze in state mandated revenue caps the past few years and miniscule increases in student aid, the district begins the budgeting process with a $350,000 deficit. Any increased aid will help close this budget gap but leave little to add anything new.
Lemaitre: Strengthening the world language program at the elementary school level would be a top priority, which would benefit all schools. The high school and middle school cafeteria could use some remodeling.
W. Brett Christiansen
Address: 5007 N. Berkeley Blvd.
Occupation: Software engineer
Education: University of Wisconsin-Madison, graduated with distinction 2008, and Whitefish Bay High School, graduated valedictorian 2004
Political history: None
Phone number: 414-502-7388
Twitter handle: @WBrett12
Address: 735 E. Lexington Blvd.
Occupation: Fiction writer
Education: BA, Journalism, University of Minnesota
Political history: Chairman, Yes-Yes Referendum Campaign, which won approval of a $22 million bond issue to improve Whitefish Bay School facilities in 2009; elected to the Whitefish Bay School Board, 2014
Phone number: 414-332-9319
Address: 5428 N. Lydell Ave.
Education: Medical Doctor in Germany with thesis in medical imaging; taught and tutored German at Eastbrook Academy and Recreation Department; working with students for more than 20 years.
Political history: None
Phone number: 262-408-7427
Twitter handle: @Lemaitre4WFB
Email address: Lemaitre@wi.rr.com