MENOMONEE FALLS - Experience sets apart the three candidates running for two Menomonee Falls School Board positions this spring election.
Ron Bertieri brings 50 years of community service experience, Mark Nadolski has 20 years in accounting and Lowell Kellogg spent 16 years as a school district employee.
Incumbents Bertieri and Nadolski are being challenged for their seats on the board by Kellogg during the spring election Tuesday, April 4. This is Kellogg's fourth attempt at running for the board.
Northwest Now spoke to the candidates about the upcoming election.
Now: What sets you apart from other candidates?
Nadolski: I have worked as an accountant for nearly 20 years. Much of that experience has been managing budgets from $35 million-400 million. I have been tested over the years to find efficiencies and strategically prioritize spending. I bring that background to my role on the school board. Beth and I also have two sons in the district, which helps keep me grounded in how school board decisions impact students and parents.
Bertieri: Experience, experience, experience! I have over 50 years of involvement in the Menomonee Falls community and Waukesha geographical area with over 20 organizations representing industry, government, educational institutions, and profit and non-profit organizations. I have served on their board of directors and board of trustees and have held officer positions on these boards. I’m currently on five different board of directors, which includes Waukesha County Technical College. I have been a member of the board of trustees for 22 years and have been chairperson twice. I have been on the Menomonee Falls School Board for nine years and am a past president and currently vice president and chair of the personnel committee.
Kellogg: I have institutional knowledge as a former 16-year School District of Menomonee Falls employee. Oftentimes, the information that the board receives from the SDMF administration has been greatly sanitized. If elected as a member of the school board, I would have the ability to call out the SDMF administration on their misinformation and half truths.
Now: What solutions do you have for the district’s financing problems if the referendum fails?
Nadolski: The district has been preparing many solutions over the last couple of years should the referendum fail. The most significant change is re-structuring elementary schools, which is necessary to effectively manage class sizes and achieve further savings. Other solutions involve reduced course offerings and fewer courses taught by certified staff. We would also continue to adjust staff compensation and benefits while staying competitive in the region. It is a balancing act to cut costs while maintaining quality schools.
Bertieri: In order to balance our budget, I am recommending the following changes if the operating referendum fails to be approved.
- Restructure elementary schools to partner schools
- Increase class size of elementary, middle and high school levels
- Reduce courses, elective offerings and extracurricular opportunities.
- Eliminate 40 staffing positions district-wide.
This would be accomplished over a three-year period during the 2017-18, 2018-19 and the 2019-20 school years.
Kellogg: Obviously it would be to run the SDMF within its financial means. Sending SDMF employees abroad or to U.S. territories is not within the financial means of the SDMF. If elected as a member of the school board, I would focus on the issues facing the SDMF and not elsewhere.
Now: What is your primary goal and how do you plan to accomplish it?
Nadolski: My primary goal is to find the best balance of decisions in serving the needs of the entire community. Nearly 80 percent of the residents do not have children in the district, so I feel accountable to make efficient use of taxpayer resources for the good of the whole. We have seen a strong recovery in Menomonee Falls and the reputation of the district has never been better. I would like to play a part in continuing that trend.
Bertieri: My primary goal is to prepare all students for college and career. We must continue our Quality Improvement Programs at all grade levels in order to achieve the desired outcomes. I will continue to promote these goals within the budget resources at our disposal. I will continue to provide proactive legislative advocacy to garner additional state funding for our district in order to reduce the potential impact to our local taxpayers.
Kellogg: During the last election, I was the only candidate running against two incumbents and they were in favor of both referendums. I was publicly opposed to both referendums, and I am opposed to the referendum on the April 4 election. With Gov. Walker's recent proposal of $200 per student over the next two years, I wonder if the referendum on the ballot would even be merited.
Address: W150N7040 Country Lane
Political history: Only in serving on the school board for Menomonee Falls for the last three years.
Phone number: 262-993-3489
Address: N86 W15895 Riverside Bluff Road
Political History: Three terms on the Menomonee Falls School Board (nine years total); seven terms on the Waukesha County Technical College Board (22 years total).
Phone Number: 262-251-3574
Address: W147 N6677 Ash Drive
Political history: This will be my fourth attempt running for school board
Phone number: 262-703-0943