Monona Grove School Board
Three 3-year terms
Eric J. Hartz
Jeff Simpson, incumbent
Cottage Grove, WI 53527
1. What in your professional and community background qualifies you for this elective office? As a former MG board member, who had to resign due to moving out of state, I have experience with the responsibilities of the position. As an accounting and management professional I can relate to the issues of working with limited or declining budgets and the tough choices those require. My experience with a diverse workforce professionally will also help when communicating with the public, teachers and support and administrative teams. My construction background will be an asset as the district navigates spacing issues.
2. How should the district address disparities in student achievement? To me it is about figuring out how each student learns effectively. Some students are better reading independently to comprehend material, while some may need more group discussion. Because of these differences we must identify each student’s need early and set them up to succeed in every way possible. It starts with early identification of student needs and tailoring a plan for that student while at MG. In business you interact with each person differently to reach them. It’s the same with student learning. My daughter and I absorb information completely different.
3. Are there additional steps the district should take to effectively recruit and retain an outstanding and diverse workforce? In the private sector it comes down to motivating a workforce to believe in the direction of the company. You can use different motivators besides money. That does not translate the same way in an educational setting because it is nearly impossible to offer additional vacation days for example. However, the goal is to have the team believe in the overall mission of educating students. With our current salaries and benefits being very competitive, what outside the box things can we offer? More educational options? More co-teaching? I am not sure, but this needs more exploring.
4. In this time of uncertain state and federal support for public education, what are your top three spending priorities for the district? I would rather try to ensure that we are maximizing the dollars we do have. Every organization has inefficiencies in processes that cost them extra dollars. How do we identify these inefficiencies at MG? I would expect the board to direct Administration to look for these as additional savings opportunities. I don’t believe the board should be looking for these inefficiencies. As a firm believer in making investments in technology to aid student learning I would look to the educators to advise the board on where to make those investments. We must maximize the investment for our students.
1. What in your professional and community background qualifies you for this elective office? My educational credentials (Masters of Counseling) has enhanced my working experience and training in the area of educational programming and my educational credentials in (BA in Business Management) has enhanced my work experience and training in the area of employment. I have negotiated contracts and grant proposals and built partnerships, in the community with vendors for fund-raising. From previous volunteer boards, I have extensive experience in short and long term planning, establishing performance goals and measures, conducting performance evaluations and development and monitoring policies and procedures. I currently volunteer as a coach and mentor to children in my community.
2. How should the district address disparities in student achievement? We need to adopt a broad definition of educational disparities to include those differences that overlap with social class, reflect bias and differential treatment in the educational system and examine the factors that contribute to the success of underserved students. Also, we need to investigate the teacher-student dynamics that are associated with discipline and academic achievement gaps.
3. Are there additional steps the district should take to effectively recruit and retain an outstanding and diverse workforce? An internal system, not WECAN, that would inform employees of available positions would help spread the word and attract new candidates. The hiring process would need to be simple to encourage new prospective employees. We must be mindful of biases about other cultures, communication styles, and decision-making processes to not interfere when recruiting and making a hiring decision. Conducting interviews with a diverse panel would encourage other perspectives, and lend for better interaction with candidates. Cross-cultural communication training would help staff work well together and be more effective. I believe this would help recruit and retain a diverse staff.
4. In this time of uncertain state and federal support for public education, what are your top three spending priorities for the district? As the state of Wisconsin is ranked #16 in K-12 funding below levels, this would be tricky. However, my top three spending priorities for the school district would be improving teacher quality, trimming class size and expanding learning time. Education is very important to me and I believe we are on the right path for success.
Eric J. Hartz
1. What in your professional and community background qualifies you for this elective office? I have a Bachelors Degree from UW-Madison in Rehabilitation Psychology, a Masters Degree in Special Education from UW-Whitewater, and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Edgewood College. In addition, I am a cross categorical teacher for the Madison Metropolitan School District, where I direct a transitional program in coordination with Madison College. I also teach graduate and undergraduate classes at Edgewood College in the Education Department. Furthermore, I coached the Monona Grove boys freshman soccer team for the last two years and volunteer as a disc jockey at Monona’s radio station WVMO 98.7FM.
2. How should the district address disparities in student achievement? There is a disparity in student achievement for Black or African American students, and Latino/Hispanic students. The rate of proficiency for both groups of students is significantly less than their White peers. Other disparities exist in the areas of Special Education and students who are economically disadvantaged. We can address these by decreasing class size and making sure we give teachers, and staff, the support they need in their classes and schools. As a teacher, I understand the importance of more time dedicated to students and the benefit it has on learning related to closing the achievement gap.
3. Are there additional steps the district should take to effectively recruit and retain an outstanding and diverse workforce? The district should be recruiting outstanding and diverse teachers, while making sure we keep the extraordinary teachers we currently have. Monona Grove needs to be a competitive district in Dane County where educators want to work and start their careers. The district’s starting teacher salary is $2500 less than the city of Madison. Making sure the district has a competitive pay scale is vital to get highly qualified staff, in addition to providing adequate, meaningful, and continuing professional development so that teachers stay current on best practices in education.
4. In this time of uncertain state and federal support for public education, what are your top three spending priorities for the district? The Monona Grove School District should focus on the following three spending priorities:
1. Student learning environment, so students have access to the latest tools and technology to engage in personalized learning. Smaller class sizes will help move them towards proficiency and closing the achievement gap,
2. Recruiting and retaining high quality educators, so teachers receive a competitive salary, and are provided with ongoing meaningful professional development,
3. Facilities and structure, so that students have the best learning environment that supports them during their transition from elementary to middle school and high school to post secondary education.
1. What in your professional and community background qualifies you for this elective office? I have a degree in Business Administration and Certification to teach High School Business from Beloit College. I am the only incumbent in the race and have served two terms. I am a blogger and have my own blog, where I focus on education issues, Wisconsin & current events. I am a parent of two school aged children (freshman and 6th grade), married to a school social worker in the Madison district, have lived in the Monona Grove School district for 13 years and have had a lifelong passion for public education.
2. How should the district address disparities in student achievement? Data needs to be looked at regularly and acknowledged, root cause analysis needs to then happen with all stakeholders (including families and kids) on a regular basis in order to target areas of improvement. Academic and behavioral data needs to be looked at together since they are not mutually exclusive. We also have to be constantly looking at social emotional learning and make sure it is being integrated into our curriculum and our culture.
3. Are there additional steps the district should take to effectively recruit and retain an outstanding and diverse workforce? It is very important that we walk the walk of actually prioritizing equity work in a big way. We will never be the highest paying district, so it is also imperative that we meet and confer with our staff often and partner with them in all issues big and small. We also must go beyond traditional ways of recruiting and meet candidates where they are. We have to partner with local universities and colleges to introduce ourselves before they graduate (via interviews, intern assignments, shadowing, speechs, etc..) and enter the workforce.
4. In this time of uncertain state and federal support for public education, what are your top three spending priorities for the district? In this time of record cuts to education, it is important that every nickel spent, is looked at and prioritized to what is most important and will positively affect children in the classroom the utmost. That being said the three things I feel we need to prioritize currently is 1. Figure out the best way to ease our overcrowding and prepare for our projected growth. 2. Teacher retention and staff wellness. 3. Focus on prevention work (Social emotional learning, Restorative Justice, PBIS, more student service staff, etc.) to shift culture, climate and lower the gap.