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Candidate Q&A: Oregon School Board
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ELECTION 2021 | OREGON SCHOOL BOARD

Candidate Q&A: Oregon School Board

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Wisconsin State Journal (copy)

Four candidates are vying for an open seat on the Oregon School Board in the Feb. 16 primary. The top two vote-getters will move on to the April 6 election. The term is for three years.

Joshua King

Age: 46

Address: 150 Jwana Circle, Oregon

Family: Married with two Oregon High School students

Job: Vice president of marketing

Prior elected office: None

Other public service: Former Naval officer, Boy Scouts, youth football coach

Education: Bachelor’s degree in biology, Louisiana State University-Shreveport; master’s degree in business administration, University of New Orleans

Email: joshking4osdboard@icloud.com

Mary A. Lokuta

Age: 54

Address: 624 Sumac St., Oregon

Family: Married with two children, an Oregon High School sophomore and an Oregon High School graduate

Job: Director of regulatory affairs, Stratatech Corp., a Mallinckrodt Company

Prior elected office: None

Other public service: None

Education: PhD in medical pathology, University of Maryland at Baltimore in collaboration with Johns Hopkins University; bachelor’s degree in biology, Saint Francis College in Loretto, Pennsylvania

Website: facebook.com/votemarylokuta

Sheri Pollock

Age: 54

Address: 815 Liliana Terrace, Oregon

Family: Married with one son, an Oregon High School freshman

Job: Director of the Bureau of Enterprise Solutions, Department of Workforce Development

Prior elected office: None

Other public service: Former member of Law Related Education Committee, State Bar; former Oregon High School mock trial attorney coach

Education: Law degree, UW-Madison; bachelor’s degree in social science/emphasis political science, Carthage College

Email or Website: pollocksheri@gmail.com, www.sheri4oregonschools.com, facebook.com/sheri4oregonschools

Aaron Zitzelsberger

Age: 45

Address: 709 Foxfield Road, Oregon

Family: Married with two children at Prairie View Elementary

Job: International grants manager, Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.

Prior elected office: None

Other public service: Oregon School District Boundary Committee (2019); Oregon School District Start and End Time Working Group (2019); United Way of Dane County’s Campaign Cabinet (present); member of Wisconsin Harbor Advisory Council (present); and board of directors of Madison International Trade Association (present)

Education: Law degree, William Mitchell College of Law; bachelor’s degree in political science, UW-Madison

Website: facebook.com/aaron4oregon

Q&A

What distinguishes you from your opponents?

King: I come from a family of career public school educators, served my country as a Naval officer in combat operations and now lead innovative medical technology companies. I bring an unbiased, critical eye that can enhance transparency of school operations, return the standard practice of public voting to the board and help set OSD apart in academic achievement.

Lokuta: Far from a one-issue candidate, I believe in student-centered learning, equity and inclusion initiatives, recruiting and retaining quality educators, and responsible financial stewardship. I’ve had the privilege of spending countless hours volunteering in our schools seeing the incredible impact of teachers on students. Professionally, I’ve cultivated the ability to listen, learn and collaborate with diverse stakeholders to solve complex issues.

Pollock: I am the only candidate with experience advising and representing education leaders. As legal counsel at the Department of Public Instruction, serving three administrations, I regularly worked with school attorneys and boards on nearly every issue local school boards face. As co-incident manager, I have led a large public agency through two major business disruptions, including the current pandemic.

Zitzelsberger: What differentiates me is my work on important issues OSD faces, now and in the long-term. I participated on the OSD Attendance Boundary Task Force as well as the School Start and End Times Work Group. Participating in these groups gave me insight into what must be done to bring people together to craft effective solutions all stakeholders can support.

What’s the most important issue in this election and how would you address it?

King: Safely returning our children and teachers to in-person school is the most important issue we have today. Researchers and many other public schools have demonstrated the ability to open safely backed by substantial data, mitigation protocols and continued testing guidance which are ready to implement so that all students can reclaim lost time, especially those needing individual attention.

Lokuta: Making sure our community understands this election is about choosing a board member who believes that all kids should feel safe, heard, respected, valued, and see themselves in the curriculum. I support equity and inclusion initiatives and understand the critical role the board plays in setting our values as a district and bringing our community together, not driving it apart.

Pollock: The most important issue is choosing a person that will effectively collaborate with others to address the demands of recovery from the pandemic; ensure equitable, inclusive and safe schools for students and staff; and, retain and attract high-quality educators. My professional experiences collaborating with and leading diverse groups on contentious issues prepare me well for this.

Zitzelsberger: The biggest challenge we face is our ability to manage the effects of the pandemic in a way that ensures students receive the highest possible quality education and that we minimize the learning gaps resulting from students not being in the classroom. A comprehensive plan to effectively address educational gaps, regardless of whether they return to the classroom, is essential.

What education-related priority would you lobby the governor and Legislature to include in the next state budget?

King: COVID-19 has exposed the need for decentralized, digital learning channels so students can access effective content to supplement, enhance and accelerate traditional in-person education. Resources to acquire or develop digital content to advance STEM and computer science learning will prepare our students to contribute to the tech economy and provide alternative options where brick-and-mortar education is not possible.

Lokuta: State aid and the property tax levy account for over two-thirds of our district’s revenue sources and allow us to provide support and resources for our kids and educators. I strongly encourage our state’s elected leaders to work together to prioritize funding for K-12 schools as we come through this pandemic to address needed special education and mental health support.

Pollock: Fair and adequate funding for schools modeled after then-state Superintendent (Tony) Evers’ “Fair Funding For Our Future” proposal. Current funding models pit taxpayers against teachers and families and still leaves schools underfunded, unable to do everything we expect them to accomplish. Fair funding ensures adequate resources, regardless of zip code, further enabling our district’s fulfillment of our mission and values.

Zitzelsberger: As schools emerge from the pandemic, increased financial resources as well as expanded flexibility in curriculum and planning will be essential to address educational gaps resulting from students not being in the classroom. The challenges for each school and student are unique and will require individualized planning. The governor and Legislature should act to provide essential funding and flexibility.

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