Verona Area School Board
Two 3-year terms
Thomas Duerst, incumbent
One 3-year term
Meredith Stier Christensen, incumbent
Verona, WI 53593
Town Of Montrose, WI 53593
1. What in your professional and community background qualifies you for this elective office? I am a life-long resident and Verona Alum and have served on the Verona Area School board for a total of 12 years. I am a parent and all four of my children are successful graduates of the Verona Area School District. I believe that my concrete and practical values have helped ensure the positive growth of the Verona Area School District, and I would like to continue my work as a school board member so that our district continues to grow in a way that best serves our students and faculty.
2. How should the district address disparities in student achievement? I think that Advanced Placement classes play a big role in bridging the achievement gap. For the last four years the Verona Area High School has been promoting our Advance Placement Classes to all students, and we have succeeded by tripling the number of AP students in the achievement gap. Also, more students from all levels of achievement have been taking these classes than in previous years; AP classes will help give students the required courses and knowledge that will make it easier for them to further their education in post-K-12 endeavors in life.
3. Are there additional steps the district should take to effectively recruit and retain an outstanding and diverse workforce? Yes, and in the last four years, the Verona Area School district has quadrupled its minority staff. Our great successes in ensuring the diversity of our education staff have been achieved through incentivizing employment in our district by having one of the best salary and benefits packages in Dane County, partnerships with the Urban League and the University of Wisconsin, and through programs such as ‘Grow Your Own Teachers’, which helps prospective teachers with higher-education and employment in our district. As a board member, I want to continue using these programs to ensure our growth and diversity as a district.
4. In this time of uncertain state and federal support for public education, what are your top three spending priorities for the district? My number one priority is maintaining student equity by appropriately allocating our student funding from K-12. We also need to maintain our great salary and benefits package so that we can keep our qualified faculty and staff in our district. Lastly, it is important that we maintain the professional development of our faculty and staff so that we can continue to provide high-quality education to current and future students in the Verona Area School District.
Verona, WI 53593
Meredith Stier Christensen
1. What in your professional and community background qualifies you for this elective office? I am the proud parent of a current VASD student and a longtime district resident. As our board’s Vice President, I bring my training and experience as both an attorney and former educator to the board table, as well as to my extensive committee work in the areas of curriculum, policy, and planning. Additionally, I serve on the board of the Verona Area Education Foundation and on the Town of Verona’s Ordinance Committee. I am deeply committed to ensuring the success of all of our district’s students, since their successes are ultimately those of our entire community.
2. How should the district address disparities in student achievement? I strongly believe in our district’s mission that every student must succeed. Success is defined differently for each child and our district has undertaken an ambitious personalized learning initiative designed to reach our students at their individual stages of academic and personal development. Ensuring success requires serving the whole child: their physical and emotional well-being, as well as their academic needs. To accomplish this, we must continue to professionally equip our educators to meet each child at their own level, and provide meaningful supports that enable our staff to effectively address the ever-growing array of students’ needs within their classrooms.
3. Are there additional steps the district should take to effectively recruit and retain an outstanding and diverse workforce? Our dedicated and talented staff is undoubtedly our district’s greatest asset. To help ensure our staff more closely mirrors the diversity of our community, our district has embraced the Grow Your Own program, which provides tuition assistance to VASD graduates and support staff seeking to enter the teaching profession and loan forgiveness for those employed by our district upon graduation. Also critical is ensuring our interview teams reflect our diverse student population. Under these practices, staff diversity has significantly increased. As a board member, I fully support building upon these outstanding initiatives our district administrators have identified and successfully implemented.
4. In this time of uncertain state and federal support for public education, what are your top three spending priorities for the district? The most pressing current issue for our district is planning for and proactively managing our district’s continued growth. Our successful 2017 referendum provides the blueprint to effectively address our future infrastructure needs. Additionally, I strongly support our district’s on-going commitment to recruit and retain high-quality educators. And undoubtedly, effective resource allocation is a top priority for every school district. As a board member, I will continue to support our district’s administration in their efforts to implement innovative budgetary measures that, in turn, promote our district’s continued financial stability and increase our ability to meet the needs of all our students.