/ Articles / Six candidates vie for two seats on the LUHS school board

Six candidates vie for two seats on the LUHS school board

February 14, 2020 by Brian Jopek


There are five at large seats on the nine member Lakeland Union High School district’s Board of Education. 
Two are up for election this year and will require a primary on Tuesday, Feb. 18. 
Currently, Sarah Kemp and Shari Nimsgern hold those seats.
Kemp, however, has decided not to run for re-election while Nimsgern is running again. 
The other five primary candidates are Dana Schmidt, Brian Jackson, Heidi Fink, Mark Pertile and Tom Maulson.
Tuesday’s primary will narrow the field to four candidates for the two seats in the April 7 election. 
Note all six candidates were asked their opinion of next Tuesday’s LUHS referendum question, but not all answered. 

Dana Schmidt
My name is Dana and I was born in our beautiful Northwoods. I graduated from Lakeland Union High School in 2010 and was able to secure a management position, before graduation, thanks to the work study program offered to me at LUHS. I attended Nicolet College for a few semesters before deciding to put my full efforts into my career. 
I was a general manager for a local restaurant for many years before moving into my current role as an automotive advisor. I have found my niche in customer service and I enjoy being able to interact with all members of the community.  

Why are you running? 
I, honestly, have no rhyme or reason for running. I woke up one day and decided I wanted to give back to the community and found the school board. I picked the LUHS School Board because my time at Lakeland shaped me into the person I am today. I want to be a part of making a difference in future students’ lives. I have two young children that will be attending LUHS one day and I hope to help shape the foundation on which they learn. 

What sort of things do you believe the LUHS district does well? 
I believe the LUHS district has a broad curriculum and diverse course choices for every student, regardless of their learning styles. I have worked with many current students and recent graduates and each of them have had different success stories. 

What specific problems or issues are facing LUHS and how would you address these?
The ever-changing educational environment has been a tough hurdle to overcome. As technology progresses so do problems such as poor penmanship and handheld communication devices in the classroom. The need for handwriting and spelling has all but disappeared thanks to the advancement of computers and spellcheck. Note passing in class has been replaced by a quick text around the room. The opportunity for distraction has increased tenfold in the past few years. The benefits of technology are vast, but it is not always being used for its intended purpose. It is tough to balance between discipline and the learning opportunities presented with technology. This is a gap that we need to bridge. 

What are your thoughts on the LUHS referendum question to be asked on the Feb. 18 primary ballot? 
I was skeptical about a recurring referendum, at first. However, after looking at the projected budget and seeing how the money is going to be used, I believe it will beneficial to our school as well as the community. 

Brian Jackson
Teach in a manner that respects and cares for strong identity of our students is essential if we are to provide the necessary conditions where learning can most deeply and intimately begin. Family Focus: Married to Melissa Doud with five children; Grason, 8; Alton, 12; Maquain, 19; Mish, 24; Marquis, 26.
• Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe Tribal member.
• Master of education degree from the University Minnesota (current doctoral candidate) Indigenous Education Teaching & Learning at the University Minnesota. 
• Veteran of the Army National Guard.
• Employed by the Lac du Flambeau Public School District as the behavioral health director — Cultural Connections American Indian Studies Act 31 team .
• Lac du Flambeau certified Family Circles facilitator — trainer. 
• Current Wisconsin Indian Education Association President and part of WIEA board since 2005.
• Elected to the National Indian Education Association Board in 2018. 
• Grass and traditional dancer. 

Why are you running? 
I believe with 23 years of American Indian Education experience I can help strengthen and build on efforts for relationships. Furthermore, with an enrollment of 189 American Indian students, it’s important students and families are represented and see a reflection of themselves.

What sort of things do you believe the LUHS district does well? 
I believe LUHS is committed to technology, achievement gap, and strengthening collaborative efforts. 

What specific problems or issues are facing LUHS and how would you address these? What are your thoughts on the LUHS referendum question to be asked on the Feb. 18 primary ballot? 
How many communities have been visited on the strategic vision of LUHS?

Heidi Fink
I’m Heidi Fink and I am running for LUHS School Board. I would be a valued member of the board because I am passionate about the success of our schools, community, fiscally responsible and seek out the “true story.” 
Born and raised in the Lakeland Area, having attended AV-W Grade School and Lakeland Union High School. 
My husband, Michael, and I are LUHS alumni as are our boys: Brian, Andy and Davey.
My work experience includes employment at a local bank for over 10 years and currently work with my husband and sons at our local business, Fink Brothers. 
Over the years, I have willingly dedicated much of my time to support area community groups. While my children were attending AV-W grade school, I volunteered in many capacities, was actively involved in the Parent Group, and attended many school board meetings. During the year that the referendum failed, AV-W was forced to cut all extra-curricular activities. Together with several parents and community members, we helped raise over $30,000 during a four-month period to cover various costs, including sports activities. 
Two years ago, I helped with the creation of the LUHS Alumni Small Business Owners Scholarship which specifically is meant for a LUHS graduate who has plans to attend a tech school. I will soon begin my 18th year as a WIAA varsity volleyball official and continue to attend many T-Bird basketball games. 

Why are you running?
I have always taken pride in Lakeland Union High School and the Lakeland Community as a whole. My hope is that all who come to LUHS will have a positive experience whether you are a student, parent, staff member, volunteer, community member or visitor. 
If I am elected to the school board, I know it will be a learning experience and I’m ready for the challenge. I will do my best to listen, ask the right questions and be fully informed prior to making any decisions.  

What sort of things do you believe the LUHS district does well? 
When my children were students at LUHS, a task force was developed consisting of students, teachers, administrators, parents and community members. 
This task force dissolved and became Lakeland Proud, a group of people who were willing to help wherever needed. 

What specific problems or issues are facing LUHS and how would you address these?
I am a firm believer that the only way to get the right answer is to ask the source. On several occasions, I have found myself sitting in a principal’s office asking questions of circumstances of which others had different interpretations. 
Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with Mr. Szews and Mr. Updike and talk about the support our local businesses give towards Lakeland High School.

What are your thoughts on the LUHS referendum question to be asked on the Feb. 18 primary ballot? 
As far as the upcoming referendum is concerned, the only way to know what is truly going on is to attend the meetings, listen to the presentations, and ask questions. 
If a person wants to be an informed voter, he/she needs to seek as much information as is available to make the right decision. 
When attending these presentations, the voter will get more of the nuts and bolts of what is happening in our school. 

Mark Pertile 
I grew up in the quieter side of the Northwoods and am a past attendee of LUHS from 1990 to 1994. 
After high school I received an associate’s degree in civil engineering from Chippewa Valley Technical College in Eau Claire.
I worked in the Wausau area for 15 years for an engineering firm until the fall of 2014. At that time I was offered the position of public works director for the Town of Minocqua.  
My family moved up to Minocqua during the spring of 2015 at which point our oldest daughter transferred from the DC Everest School district to LUHS in the middle of her freshman year.
Our oldest daughter has now graduated from LUHS and is in the Air Force.
Our other two children currently attend MHLT.
My experience with local government has been both as an employee and also as an elected official.
I was an elected official for the Village of Kronenwetter for six years prior to moving back north to Minocqua.

Why are you running?
My focus is to create a learning environment that prepares kids for the real world.
Fundamentally our kids have challenges with general life skills, even after completing high school.
I believe there is plenty of room for adapting curriculum programs to prepare students not only for successful work opportunities after high school but also for making correct career choices for secondary educational advancement.
Creating a better learning environment will be a high priority. The goal will be to recruit, train, and retain excellent staff at LUHS. 
Our students need to see consistent faces in an educational program. Not only does this provide a sense of security for our students but it also builds relationships that foster learning. 
Budgeting ... setting realistic priorities that benefits learning opportunities for student growth.
Evaluate more thoroughly infrastructure spending to get the most value for our dollar. I want to ensure taxpayers get the best return on our dollars spent.
Community and safety ... look at ways to allow the taxpayers access to LUHS facilities and creating a more open and inviting atmosphere to the school while maintaining a safe facility.   
Extra-curricular activities ... supporting programs that give opportunities to build team and character skills.

What sort of things do you believe the LUHS district does well? 
I believe the current LUHS administration is more connected with moving the school forward to meet the students’ needs than in recent years.   

What specific problems or issues are facing LUHS and how would you address these?
Fiscal responsibility, in my opinion, is the biggest challenge for LUHS.
I would consider prioritizing student programs that will help lead to success after graduation while also taking into consideration infrastructure and maintenance.

What are your thoughts on the LUHS referendum question to be asked on the Feb. 18 primary ballot? 
I was able to attend an informational session put on by LUHS staff and I really think additional time is needed to focus on providing the public more detail on both short and long term plans.
Although additional funds may be needed for operational costs and projects, a blank check may not be the best way to approach it.
I am deeply concerned with the effect on the taxpayers within the district as other taxing entities may too consider increasing their revenues.

Tom Maulson
My name is Tom Maulson. I am a tribal member of the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians and have resided on the Lac du Flambeau reservation my entire life. 
I was (a member of) one of the first graduating classes at LUHS. 
I have been involved in government for the last 35 years. 
I have been an elected official as a tribal council member and a tribal chairman. I was also a former judge residing in the Lac du Flambeau judicial system for six years.
My chief position as a judge was in the field of Indian Child Welfare. I’m also currently a Vilas County supervisor.

Why are you running?
I feel I can make a valued contribution to the LUHS board with my open mindedness and past experiences. I am looking for support for the at large seat on the LUHS board from the voters who wish to see a change. 

What sort of things do you believe the LUHS district does well? What specific problems or issues are facing LUHS and how would you address these? 
There are many areas that the LUHS district does well although there are also some areas that need improvements, including communication with the student body and the surrounding communities. 

Shari Nimsgern
I’m Shari Nimsgern, wife, mother, educator, business owner, and community volunteer. I’ve been a part of the Lakeland community for the majority of my life.
I have been a steadfast advocate for advancing the educational opportunities in the Lakeland area for all youth. I previously served two terms as president of the AV-W Parent Group and currently am finishing my third term on the LUHS Board.
I have enjoyed being a part of and involved in the many positive programs and services LUHS has offered its students and community members.

Why are you running?
I am running to ensure that exceptional educational opportunities and offerings continue to advance the future for students of all abilities and socio-economic status. I also recognize the LUHS facility as a community gathering place and want to see it maintained to the highest standards and be accessible to all.

What sort of things do you believe the LUHS district does well?
My husband and I have been married for 37 years and together have raised our seven children. 
All seven children attended LUHS and, as of June of this year, all will have graduated from LUHS. The youngest will be heading to college in the fall.
The others have all received college degrees and currently two have earned their master's. 
I believe LUHS provided the opportunities, experiences, and knowledge for all of them to be prepared and to pursue successful, yet diverse, career paths. All of them also participated in extracurricular activity offerings which furnished them a well-rounded education.

What specific problems or issues are facing LUHS and how would you address these? 
LUHS is faced with the constant need to upgrade equipment in order to keep up with new and innovative technologies in all disciplines and the professional development for the LUHS exceptional teaching staff. 
I will make certain that the administration continues to be open and transparent about spending needs and I will hold them accountable for their expenditures and decisions on operational and capital projects.

What are your thoughts on the LUHS referendum question to be asked on the Feb. 18 primary ballot? 
Administration has projected future budget shortfalls due to declining state funding and other revenue sources. Passing the referendum will give LUHS a buffer against rising costs and will help fund operational and capital needs that LUHS will soon be facing. 
I will strive to uphold the highest standards of education at LUHS and the limited taxpayer dollars.
Brian Jopek may be reached via email at [email protected]m.

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