WFB School Board Candidate: Kathy Rogers

Candidate Profile, Election, School

Here's a long-form candidate letter from WFB School Board Candidate Kathy Rogers:


Thanks to Kevin Buckley for offering to post a letter about my School Board candidacy on the Village Spillage blog. In the months since I declared my candidacy, I have been talking with a lot of voters in the village. I thought I would share some of their comments with Village Spillage readers.


First, some information about the election itself. Election Day is Tuesday, April 7. In Whitefish Bay we have a seven-person School Board, and this year, three seats are up for re-election. Citizens will get to vote for three candidates.


What makes this election unusual, besides being a year when three seats are up, is the fact that none of the incumbents are running. In other words, voters will be electing three new School Board members.


Voters I have spoken with have raised a variety of issues, questions and concerns. Here are some of the most common, along with my responses.


Substance abuse among students: I attended the community meeting at the Middle School March 18, facilitated by Toni McBride and June Rubner (regular readers of Village Spillage will recall that June and her son, Justin, currently incarcerated for drug use, have shared their stories in this space.) Calling their initiative “Bay United,” the women support a broad-based approach to helping kids. 


In specific regard to the schools, questions were raised about the adequacy of the curriculum, the effectiveness of school policies and their enforcement, the effectiveness of the district’s relationship with the police department, and the wisdom of having an open-campus policy at the high school. The School Board had requested a review of relevant policies even before Bay United’s meeting, and these are legitimate areas of inquiry.


Several people suggested that school administrators are afraid or unwilling to acknowledge the extent of substance abuse among students. It seems clear that, in order for school policies to be credible, they must be seen by the community as reflecting the most accurate information we can acquire about the scope, depth and causes of the problem.  


Our best results will come from the kind of collaboration Toni and June are advocating, between students, parents, teachers, administrators, and law-enforcement and treatment professionals. 


Investment lawsuit: For the moment there is no School Board activity on this issue, pending the outcome of the lawsuit filed by Whitefish Bay and four other affected districts. As a School Board member, I would support a settlement that was fair and equitable to Whitefish Bay, even if it meant a separate settlement from those of the other districts.


Chapter 220/Open Enrollment: Both programs allow non-resident students to attend Whitefish Bay public schools. I feel that the district has participated responsibly in both, with careful attention to the different ways the programs are funded. Chapter 220, a school desegregation program, fully funds participating students and provides transportation. Open Enrollment does not fully fund participating students or provide transportation, and the reimbursement to the district is less than our per-pupil cost. The district has been careful to only accept Open Enrollment students in cases when seats were available and no additional costs were incurred.


Facilities upgrades: The School Board appointed a public committee to study the district’s facilities and make recommendations of repairs and upgrades that would be needed over the next 15 years. Its report outlined three possible approaches (and funding levels) to making improvements.


The district is limited by state law in the amount of money it can raise from property taxes. It could not embark on any significant facilities improvements unless voters approved their funding in a referendum. However, some suggest that, in the current economy, voters shouldn’t be asked or expected to approve a referendum.


I am open-minded on all facilities questions. Our buildings, though well-maintained, are old and in many instances incompatible with modern curricula and technology. Deferring maintenance could cause problems that would be more expensive to repair in the future. Prior to deciding whether to hold a referendum, the School Board would hold outreach meetings to inform the public of the proposed improvements, explain why they were necessary, and hear questions. I would also support taking a survey to assess public support, prior to incurring the expense of a referendum. 


Support for the public schools. Voters I have spoken with have expressed support for strong public schools. Even families who don’t have kids in the schools have commented that quality schools keep property values high. I have realized, more clearly than I understood before, that the schools are widely seen as a defining element of Whitefish Bay’s identity. 


My background. My husband and I have lived in Whitefish Bay for 16 years and have a son who attended Cumberland School and is now in sixth grade at the Middle School.  I have an extensive background in education: bachelor’s and graduate degrees in education; high school and college teaching experience and 18 years as a college administrator.  For the past six years I have been substitute teaching in Shorewood and Whitefish Bay, so I am familiar with our schools and our community’s expectations.  I have served on the UWM Children’s Center Advisory Board, the Cumberland School Parent-Teacher Council and the district’s Social Studies Curriculum Review Committee, and I am the past president of Advocates for Education of Whitefish Bay.


Again, thanks to Kevin Buckley for making this space available to me.  If I am elected to the School Board, I will do my best to encourage community involvement, and to help ensure that the issues we face are considered in an open and inclusive way.


Kathy Rogers


Make sure you read other items:

  1. Joe Martinelli - School Board Candidate
  2. Gerry Steele - School Board Candidate
  3. WFB Police Chief Addendum
  4. WFB Police Chief on the record..
  5. DeMuth Drops out of School Board Race
  6. Drug death - Day 3
  7. Searching for answers..
  8. Another Sad WFB Overdose
  9. Are you in the WFB Crime Zone?
  10. The Real Property Tax Report
  11. Buckley for WFB Trustee?
  12. Here's an idea: WFB Wi-Fi

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