Four vie for two seats on Superior school board
Superior residents have a diverse set of candidates from which to choose in Tuesday’s spring elections.
Mary Klun, finishing her fourth term, is the only incumbent running for re-election. She served one term from 1999-2002 and then returned to the board in 2005.
Incumbent John Hendricks chose not to seek re-election. He has served since 2007.
James Farkas, Sheila Keup and Steve Stupak joined the race for two open seats. The top two vote getters serve three-year terms.
“It’s about the children,” Farkas said of his decision to run.
For the past three years, Farkas has volunteered his time to teach chess at Great Lakes Elementary School and has participated in the school’s rolling reader program for two years. He also volunteers at the high school through the Superior Rotary Club.
“My experience teaching chess, reading to third-graders and volunteering in the high school has provided many lessons about the issues that our students face, has helped me identify the many constraints our educators are under and has provided me with a real passion to assist in the development of our future leaders,” Farkas said.
If elected to the School Board, Farkas said he would explore ways to improve the school system, with the focus being on the children. He said it is important for the Board to listen to the community and take all concerns seriously.
Farkas was among the community members who spoke out against the School Board’s approval of a one-day waiver to the school district’s drug and alcohol policy to host a Green Bay Packer Tailgate Tour. As a candidate, Farkas said the Board needs to send a consistent message on drug and alcohol use. “No waivers on this important policy ever,” he said.
Farkas also said the Board should work to improve graduation rates, provide additional opportunities for technical career choices and increase community involvement while remaining fiscally responsible.
Keup is one of two former school district employees running for a seat on the Superior School Board. She worked as a school aide for the district and later as a bus driver.
“Having a background and experience within the school system, in business and also in the community, I would offer fresh perspective,” Keup said.
Keup experienced the Superior school district first as a student and later as the parent of a student. While working as a bus driver, she served as a union steward for AFSCME Local 1397.
Through that experience, Keup said, she saw first-hand the struggles district employees have faced in recent years. She holds deep concerns about the repercussions of Act 10 and hopes to provide staff members an informed voice on the Board if elected.
“It is my belief that the community and our children might be better served with one or more Board members who are in tune with the staff in our district,” Keup said. “I also believe that every child has the right to a quality education.”
Keup said the major challenges facing the district are financial responsibility and the need to retain quality employees.
When Klun first ran for a School Board seat, her hope was to provide a voice for parents. She’d heard concerns about lack of input while serving as a member of the Pattison Site Council and president of the PTA.
“Parents were concerned about things like not being kept updated in curricular changes or why they were being made, or the fact that they might pay their child’s lunch money on Tuesday but it wouldn’t get credited to their child’s account for several days,” Klun said “I felt strongly that parents needed a voice on the School Board.”
In her 12 years serving on the Board, Klun said she has seen a number of positive changes. One decision made years ago recently paid dividends.
“Some years ago I was a part of the Board that dedicated money from a Money Market Account to be put aside to benefit the long-term technology and building needs of the school district,” Klun said. In October, money from that fund was dedicated to construct the NBC Spartan Sports Complex.
Klun said it was motivating to see the positive impact the Board can have, and she hopes to continue working to make the district the best it can be.
Klun said the two key issues facing the district both deal with finances.
“Since the governor of Wisconsin made changes to teacher benefits, it has taken a financial toll on their income,” Klun said. “At the same time the governor said to school districts, ‘Since you don’t have to pay for those benefits anymore you don’t need as much money from the State,’ and (he) decreased funding of our schools.”
Klun said the Board will need to look for creative ways to improve the employment situation for district staff while staying within its state-imposed budgetary restrictions.
For more than three decades, Stupak served as a chief engineer in the Superior school district. He serves as director of buildings and grounds for the Wrenshall (Minn.) school district, and he feels both experiences help him bring a unique voice to the School Board.
“I believe that my years of experience as chief engineer of a large high school and my current role as director of buildings and grounds of another district will allow me to enhance the expertise of the other School Board members and cause us to make the best decisions for the students, faculty and the public,” Stupak said.
Like many of his fellow candidates, Stupak believes fiscal responsibility is a key issue for the district. He said the Board needs to make financially sound decisions, but they cannot do so at the expense of the students or staff.
“I will honor the union contracts and negotiate in good faith to retain our professional teaching staff,” Stupak said.
If elected, Stupak would focus on providing students the best learning environment possible.
“I believe it is imperative to provide a safe and professional learning environment for our students,” Stupak said. “In turn, this will improve our academic scores and increase the population of graduates from our school district.”