Don’t forget that the school board election is Tuesday, April 3rd! Going to be gone on spring break on election day? Make sure to take advantage of in-person early voting beginning March 12th until March 30th at the Kenosha Municipal Building.
The Kenosha Education Association KEPAC committee interviewed each school board candidate and asked them each the same set of questions, all of which focused on current issues educator members have identified as high priority. Additionally, we asked them to describe in detail how they would address those issues, as well as how they would collaborate with KEA, should they be elected to the board in April.
After the completion of all candidate interviews, the committee met to make a recommendation to the general membership for endorsements. The committee and the general membership voted to endorse Mary Modder, Mike Falkofske, and Tom Duncan. Todd Battle, when asked during the interview process if he would accept an endorsement from KEA, responded by saying that he was not sure and would have to think about it. Therefore, the committee decided not to offer him an endorsement.
Please view summary profiles of candidate interviews below:
As a retired KUSD teacher, a parent of a child with special needs, and an involved community member, Mary Modder has the experience and perspective of someone who knows what it means to be a great school board member.
Modder has worked with children for the past 30 years, and is personally invested in working towards a reduction in the achievement gap, specifically for minority and special education students. She is also active in the schools, working with organizations like the Peace Learning Circles, the Shalom Center, and other community organizations that focus on ensuring our students are living positive and supported lives in and out of the classroom.
“As a retired educator, I have the energy and time to devote to KUSD schools and to my role as a school board member,” Modder said.
She is also committed to finding ways to make sure educators are compensated fairly and competitively, and believes that a policy is necessary to ensure that educators have independently-led prep time that is not encroached on. These areas of concern, are areas in which the KEA, given the opportunity, can help move things forward in a positive direction.
“In order to get things done we need to work together. KEA is the most efficient way to listen to teachers who serves as a voice for educators in the classroom. It is a waste of resources not working together.”
Last year, Mary was endorsed by former KUSD Superintendent, Joe Mangi, the AFL-CIO, UAW Local 72, the Mahone Foundation and the Kenosha Firefighters Local 414.
Mike Falkofske will be running for his second term as a KUSD school board member, and he says while it is a tough job, he enjoys the work he does. “I enjoy working with people… and being on the KUSD School Board gives me an opportunity to do that.”
If elected for another term, Falkfoske would like to see the board transform into a body that is more democratically run and makes collective decisions that ultimately gives staff more freedom as professionals.
“We need to hear from the people on the frontlines,” Falkofkse said, which is why he is dedicated to meeting regularly with educators. In the past, Falkofkse has never turned down a meeting request with KEA educators and is committed to continuing to meet regularly to discuss issues and concerns.
While he acknowledges bargaining limitations, and understands that it is important to follow the law, he doesn’t see anything preventing a collaborative relationship between KUSD and KEA, who he sees as a legitimate voice in the District.
Like Modder, Falkofkse believes that educators should be rewarded and compensated for the challenging work that they do, as long as it doesn’t come at the cost of program cuts at schools. Additionally, he believes that educator prep time should be prioritized as a policy that helps to keep administrators more accountable.
Over the last several months, Tom Duncan has toured Kenosha schools and is excited about the possibility of collaborating with the community and local organizations to promote our great public school system.
Duncan is “all about collaboration” and finding common ground to invest in our students and educators. “Our kids are our foundation. Every student deserves the highest level of achievement, and for that to happen it means investing in their teachers,” Duncan said.
He believes that in order for teachers to have the tools they need to be successful in the classroom, we need to be hearing and listening from the bottom up. “If we aren’t listening, we are failing,” he said. “We won’t know of the issues if we aren’t having discussions. Success is not based on what administrators think, but what is actually happening in the classroom.”
Duncan believes that there shouldn’t be anything preventing a collaborative relationship between the District and KEA and sees collaboration not as a negotiation, but simply a discussion. As a certified group, he views KEA as the voice for educators that should be heard at the District level and wants to help break down walls to foster more inclusivity, collaboration, and communication to ensure that teachers have the tools they need to be successful.
Duncan was also instrumental in helping KEA develop a health care plan agreement between the WEA Trust and the District. He believes that if we want to recruit and retain high-quality educators in KUSD, working to maintain fair and competitive pay and benefits is essential.