For the second consecutive year, six people are running for three seats on the Platteville School Board.
Incumbent board president Brian Miesen and board members Nancy Bongers and Abulkhair Masoom are being opposed by, for the second consecutive year, challengers Brian Brown, Jeremy Johnson and Curt Timlin.
Miesen, an agronomist/crop consultant for Reddy Ag Service, has a junior and middle school student with wife Ann. He is seeking his fifth three-year term on the board.
“Having served on the board for the past 12 years, I feel I have more to give of myself to the constituents in the Platteville school district,” he said. “Where else can nine individuals collectively come together to positively and profoundly affect the future of our youth? I’ve thoroughly enjoyed volunteering to serve these last 12 years and look forward to continuing my duties in the future.
“The recent influx of recognition for our schools can attest to the district’s commitment to educating all students. From Platteville being a Best Community for music education, to the middle school being a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence for Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing, the commitment to educating our students couldn’t be more evident.”
Bongers worked in Platteville Public Schools for 31 years as school social worker and elementary guidance counselor before retirement. She is seeking her fourth term.
“My entire professional career was dedicated to serving the students and families of the Platteville School District,” she said. “In retirement, serving on the board allows me to continue being a part of supporting the excellent education available to our students.
“Given the limited resources, I think we do an excellent job of educating our students. For a district our size, we not only provide a wide range of academic opportunities, but have an exceptional number of extra curricular activities from sports, to music, drama, forensics, Science Olympiad, Model UN, and many others too numerous to mention. The goal is to provide every student with the opportunity to develop his/her interests and reach his/her potential. We always strive to find ways to continue to improve and there are things we would like to see added as funding permits.”
Masoom, a UW–Platteville engineering professor, has been on the board for 11 years.
“I have had three children go through our Platteville schools — my youngest daughter is graduating this June,” he said. “So, between my life as a parent and my experience on a number of school district advisory committees, as well as being a board member for over a decade, I am very aware of the needs of the school district and the community. I am prepared, and willing to offer my time, effort, and expertise to help steer our school district through these troubled times of declining enrollment and dwindling fiscal resources. That’s what I said when I first ran for this position 11 years ago, and when I make a commitment to our families and to our teachers and staff, I am determined to see it through.”
Timlin, a small business owner, has two children in the school district.
“I am running for school board because I believe with two children in the district I should be involved,” he said. “Just as important I believe I can make a difference, but the only way to do that is to get involved.”
Brown, who works at Lands’ End and has a daughter at Platteville High School, said he is running “to bring a new point of view to the school board.
“I would like to work with the district to implement their long-range plan, and help them adapt to the future needs of parents and students as they prepare to continue their education. I would like to see more college leveled course offer in high school to help offset the costs of college or technical college.”
Johnson owns Diesel Doctor in Platteville.
Miesen believes the school district’s most important issue is its budget. “As of late, the budget we are watching the closest pertains to the referendum dollars approved last spring,” he said. “Those dollars are being utilized as efficiently and effectively as possible to make the necessary improvements to the buildings in the district.
“Last year’s referendum is a perfect example of representing the interests of the taxpayers in the district. A variety of public listening sessions were made available for parents and taxpayers to ask questions and offer ideas relating to how [and] where the referendum dollars should be allocated. The input garnered from those forums was invaluable. It is a vital part of the lengthy and ongoing process being used to best utilize the taxpayer dollars.”
“The most important issue facing the school district is doing more with less, while maintaining the quality education our community has come to expect,” said Bongers. “My position is that we must be fiscally responsible, while doing the very best we can to support our staff and continue to provide the high quality education and variety of opportunities for our students.”
“At the risk of sounding too much like my teenage daughters, I have to say the most important issue we’re facing right now is our Hillman Pride,” said Masoom. “We have a lot to be proud of in this school district. … But we can’t operate on spirit alone — and that’s exactly why we’re struggling so much right now. With our recent budget cuts and consistently declining enrollment rates, our teachers and staff have been asked to make sacrifices over and over again, on top of everything else they already give up just to serve our children and our families. We need to stand together as a community, offer a real listening ear and more support for our teachers and staff than a few talking points, and support our students in all of their endeavors, whether they’re academic, artistic, agricultural, or athletic.”
Brown’s two most important issues are “first, how to use limited financial resources to maintain the high quality of education we have in Platteville,” and “Secondly, continue adapting education to an ever changing society.
“Presently the school district is doing a good job educating our children. The one area that could use some improvement is adapting to the needs and changes required in the future.”
“The most important issue facing the schools right now is no different than any other time — it is taking care of our most valuable assets, the students and the educators,” said Timlin. “The challenges are ever changing but we have to keep up to them and keep adjusting our course. The next most important challenge currently facing us is the construction project. We need to stay on top of it because the taxpayers were kind enough to give the school board a $15 million vote of confidence.
“Discipline issues in and out of the classrooms are huge distractions for our teachers and students. This can hamper all students learning, but I believe it is potentially the largest distraction to the student in the middle. We need to have our administration backing up our teachers with firm and consistent policies.”