Superior School Board race heats up
One incumbent and two challengers seek seats on the board.
SUPERIOR — Three candidates are vying for two seats on the Superior School Board in the April 5 election.
Ed Gallagher is a detective with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office; Brooke Taylor is a stay-at-home mother and substitute teacher; incumbent Christina Kintop is a chiropractor who brings 19 years of board experience to the table.
Taylor taught for four years before having children. She said her educational background, years of teaching and substitute experience give her a better understanding of what goes on in the classroom and schools. She has a great level of appreciation for teachers and aims to include their voices in school board decisions.
“Our teachers are the ones in the trenches day in and day out. They implement most of these policies and should be included, by the school board, when making important decisions,” Taylor said. “I want to listen to, and be a voice for, teachers, parents and the community as a whole.”
Kintop brings with her a history of advocacy and an intricate understanding of school funding. She has testified before the state’s Joint Finance Committee seven times seeking funding increases for the district. Her work has brought awareness to the state of how underfunded the Superior School District is, Kintop said, and she has fought to increase funding for special education.
“The severe underfunding of special education costs our district $7 million a year,” Kintop said.
The fight is ongoing.
“Your Superior School Board has moved the needle and brought awareness, but more work needs to be done,” said Kintop, who has received endorsements from current and past board members, the Superior Federation of Labor, the American Federation of Teachers-Wisconsin and others.
Gallagher said his work with the sheriff’s office provides significant insight into student mental health, substance abuse, bullying and how out of class issues can affect a child in the schools.
“I would hope to bring resources or guidance to the district that can help our students overcome some of the issues they face,” said Gallagher, who also serves with the 148th Fighter Wing of the Air National Guard.
A realist, he wants to know both the good things going on in the district and the bad.
Gallagher pinpointed the district’s 84% graduation rate and low test scores as the top challenges the district is facing. In order for test scores to go up, he said, teachers need to be able to focus on teaching. Behavioral problems are making that difficult, and the district’s restorative practice model isn’t working.
“Within the restorative practice model, we have classes coming to a halt and education ... being frequently interrupted. If we want to fix the behavioral problems, we need to be able to adjust what we are doing, instead of waiting for it to work,” Gallagher said.
Taylor also highlighted behavioral problems and declining graduation rates as issues to focus on. She proposed reexamining the disciplinary model the district currently uses.
“In 2019, our district implemented a single model encompassing elementary, middle and high school,” Taylor said. “I believe we may need to look into separate models for each level.”
In addition to restorative practices, Taylor said consequences need to be included.
As for graduation rates, the mother of six would like to examine statistics, identify barriers students are facing and look for partners in the community to provide the resources they need to be successful and improve graduation rates.
“I want to get to the root causes of our declining rates,” Taylor said.
Funding is the number one issue plaguing public education across the state, Kintop said.
“Forty percent of public schools will receive less aid (this year) than last year,” she said, and Wisconsin’s reimbursement for special education costs is under 25%.
“Every year we are asked to do more and more with less revenue,” Kintop said. “With fair and equitable funding, Superior could avoid making cuts of staff, programs and services, provide more competitive salary and benefits, provide the needed services our children and staff deserve.”
Mental health resources
All three candidates agree there should be a stronger push for mental health resources for students.
For Kintop, it’s again a question of funding.
“We cannot meet our students’ ongoing needs with grants or one-time money. We need sustainable, recurring funds to hire and retain qualified staff, establish consistent services and support from our community, our city and the county,” Kintop said.
She pointed out the role the school board played in changing school social worker licensing to make it easier to hire social workers in the area. More services could be available if the state increased its Medicaid reimbursement rate, Kintop said.
The area lacks significant resources, Gallagher said, and treatment facilities are booked solid with long waiting lists.
“Social workers and psychologists are great, but I also think we should look at mentor programs within our schools,” Gallagher said.
He proposed pairing upper classmates with younger children in voluntary programs and pairing with outside agencies like Mentor North.
“We need to make the resources and information that we do have readily accessible for the students and encourage them to support them to seek help when needed,” Gallagher said. “We also need to join forces with local governments — Douglas County and the city of Superior — to help expand on those resources we have for adults by adapting them to meet the needs of children.”
Taylor said she would strive to find more resources, including physical locations that are more accessible and have availability for students.
“Perhaps discussion of an interstate compact on mental health would be possible,” Taylor said. “The Clarity Project coming to Duluth might be a helpful option for some of our youth, but obviously the challenge is that it is across state lines. If that’s not possible, as a school board member, I would continue to research and look into other alternatives.”
To combat employee shortages, both Gallagher and Taylor said they would make a push for early recruitment at local universities and technical colleges. Competitive wages and good benefits are also essential to retaining quality employees, Taylor said.
“I think in all, we need to ensure our staff have a voice and make them feel like they are supported and appreciated every chance we get,” Gallagher said.
Age: 38 years old
Family: Wife Becky (who is an elementary teacher in the Superior School District), two kids in the district (one in the middle school and the other in elementary school)
Town/neighborhood: I've grown up and raised a family in Superior. I reside in the South Superior area.
Occupation: Employed with the Douglas County Sheriff's Office as a detective; 21 years with the 148th Fighter Wing, Air National Guard, set to retire in May.
Civic and community engagement: Basketball and soccer coach at various age levels; PTA member; WPPA Local Union member and current secretary/treasurer
Why are you running for school board? My primary reason for running for the school board is for my children and all children. I want to help steer the direction of the district so that all students are cared for, all students are safe and that all students succeed academically. My secondary reason is because I believe the teachers and staff need more support. The teachers and staff are constantly being required to do more, that they need a board that will listen to them, engage with them and include them in some of the policies being created and those already in place.
Family: Married, four daughters
Civic and Community Engagement: Superior School Board 19 years, Vice President 13 years, member of the Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools 25 years, board member 5 years; board member Superior Scholarship Committee, 10 years; member of the Human Growth and Development Community Committee 2016, 2021; appointed by Gov. Tony Evers to the Statewide Complete Count Census Committee 2020; member of the Superior Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee 2021; served on the Wisconsin School Board Association Resolution Committee, 2 years; delegate to the Wisconsin School Board Association Delegate Assembly, 12 years; member of the Wisconsin Public Education Network 10 years; PTA Board President, 3 years.
Why are you running for school board?
As a lifelong resident, proud graduate of Superior and an alum of UWS, as well as a business owner in this community for over 30 years, I am fully invested in this community. I am a proud parent of four daughters, all who have graduated from Superior public schools and have benefited from the success of our district. I believe my level of commitment has helped our school board and district leave a legacy in Superior, from the playground at Four Corners, to the Spartan Sports Complex to the addition of two state-of-the-art schools. I believe my experience, my public school advocacy work, and my leadership will ensure that as a district we can create real and lasting solutions that will progress the School District of Superior into the competitive 21 st century.
Family: Husband Jesse, son Kamren (10), daughter Aubrey (8), son Tavion (7), son Jaxon (7), daughter Vivian (5), daughter Brynleigh (1)
Town/Neighborhood: Superior midtown/city center
Occupation: Stay-at-home mom and substitute teacher in the Superior School District
Civic and Community Engagement: Coached youth basketball for a combined three years; coached high school basketball for two years; coached track and field at the middle school level for two years; coached high school volleyball for three years; involved in adoption connection for two years; PTA member and helped organize school activities for three years.
Why are you running for school board? Short answer, the students! It’s about them! When I decided to pursue a seat on the Superior School Board it was because I realized just how important it is to be involved. I have six children, five of which are school aged. Running for school board is an opportunity to impact the decisions that affect my kids, their peers and their futures. I truly want to be a voice for the community I represent. I needed to put myself out there and advocate for positive changes in our district.