When it comes to the big issues, the candidates have varying views of what should concern the school board for the Oak Creek-Franklin Joint School District.
Two seats are available on the board in the spring election, which takes place Tuesday, April 4.
The candidates, incumbents Amy Mlot and Mark Verhalen plus newcomers Juli Murphy and Sean Kingston, discuss some issues facing the district and how they would fix them. All candidates are up for the same two seats. Candidate responses were limited to 50 words, and some responses were edited for length.
1. What do you think are some of the biggest issues facing the district and how would you address them?
Mlot: Improving communication was my number one concern prior to being elected. Going forward, we need to remain focused on improvement district wide and continue working together with all stakeholders to ensure every child is safe, engaged and challenged every day they are entrusted to our care.
Verhalen: In the years to come, it is going to be challenging for the school district to maintain the broad curriculum and specialized classes that students will need to attend a four-year college. We need to be very mindful of monitoring and updating curriculum to meet those standards.
Murphy: Ensuring our teachers are actually teaching and not just showing up to receive a paycheck. The children and what’s in their best interest should come first – not just what’s the cheapest for taxpayers. Issues that are presented to the board need to be thought about intelligently before making any decisions.
Kingston: I think the biggest opportunity for the district is making sure we are providing a safe environment for learning in a financially responsible manner for all students that sets them up to be contributing members of the community.
2. Oak Creek is experiencing a development boom and Franklin has development in the works as well. With that likely brings more children to the district. Do you feel the district is ready for this influx in the years to come, or what do you think could be done to better serve these new and existing students?
Mlot: It’s exciting to see development throughout our communities and it comes at a time when the community has supported expansion with the building of two new schools. We are evaluating our capital improvements and facility planning to determine where improvements are most needed and ensure we are addressing the expansion.
Verhalen: With the addition of the ninth-grade center and Forest Ridge elementary school the district is prepared for the future student populous from both cities. Our school district has focused on the future needs to provide great opportunities for our students.
Murphy: I’ll admit I don’t yet know enough about Franklin’s schools. However, I don't believe additional elementary schools have been added to assist with Franklin’s growth. That should be discussed before overcrowding becomes an issue. Oak Creek may also need another rezoning with added subdivisions and apartments to the area.
Kingston: I feel the district is ready for the influx of students with the recent additions. However, I feel that the district lines are not well set up for this future growth, and we will likely need to redraw these lines in the future.
3. What makes the Oak Creek-Franklin Joint School District stand out to you – why should parents want to have their child in this school district?
Mlot: As a parent with a students at the high school and East Middle School, I have seen first-hand the high-quality educators we have throughout the district. With a focus on being career and college ready and graduating students with four or more "high credentials" our district is a proven leader.
Verhalen: The Oak Creek-Franklin school district has standardized curriculum along with specific goals for faculty and students. The district has shown that we meet or exceed state recommendations. Students are very well prepared for all types of higher education.
Murphy: As the parent of a deaf child and children with ADD, I can honestly say the support and services we have received are probably better than anywhere else in the state. Our district’s bullying intolerance and its open-mindedness towards LBGTQ students and parents is something I brag about often.
Kingston: I feel the district provides a great opportunity for our kids to learn and there is no reason to pursue a private education when living in the district. There is room for us to improve, and we should strive to create the best environment for learning in southeastern Wisconsin.
Address: 8951 S. Ridge Croft Drive
Political history: Oak Creek-Franklin School Board since April 2016
Phone number: 262-977-5254
Address:1200 E. Ryan Road
Political history: Alderman 3rd District 2007-2009, 2015 to present, School Board member 2010 to present.
Phone number: 414-322-0337
Address: 8635 S. Golden Fields Drive, Oak Creek
Political history: Former president of Golden Fields Homeowner's Association
Phone number: 414-333-2280
Address: 2480 W. Grays Lane
Political history: No previous political experience
Phone number: 262-385-2383