On Tuesday, April 6, the City of Platteville will hold elections for state and local positions. The ballot includes seats on the Platteville School District board, three Alderpersons and the State Superintendent of Public Instruction.
The Platteville School District board has three contested seats in next week’s election with five candidates vying for them. Incumbents Vikki Peterson, Colleen McCabe and Katrina Hecimovic aim to hold their current seats, while challengers Jen Kasper and Jessica Brogley hope to earn their places on the board.
The Exponent reached out to each candidate for statements on a few questions to help gauge their positions and goals for this election.
What made you run for a position on the Platteville School Board?
Vikki Peterson: As I near the end of my fourth year on the Platteville School Board, I’m seeking reelection because I believe in the power of public education and the impact it can have on the lives of students. I am an educator, myself, here on campus. I teach about 150 students each semester in my Concepts of Biology and Essentials of Anatomy and Physiology courses. I believe that the foundation students receive during their education shapes the lens through which they see the world. Being on the school board allows me to support and empower administrators and teachers by making sure they have the resources they need to reach every child. It also gives me the opportunity to serve my community, advocate for diversity and inclusion in our district and to take part in setting the vision and goals for our schools. I believe that all children can achieve excellence if empowered with the right tools. I love serving on the school board because I get to play an active role in making this happen.
Colleen McCabe: During my run for my first term the district was facing the excitement and challenge of a successful referendum. The task of selecting a new superintendent fueled a run for my second term, and now my interest in serving for a third term stems from wanting to do my part to support our district with the enormous challenges of the global pandemic and social injustice crisis. Either of these challenges alone could derail the best intentions of any of us, but I am proud to have been and will hopefully continue to be a part of reimagining and strengthening our district’s commitment to our shared mission to ensure high levels of learning for all in a safe and inclusive learning community; “Every student, Every day.”
Katrina Hecimovic: I am finishing a three-year term on the board and running for a second term because there are projects and movements in the district that I do not feel are complete. Having four young children in the district, I have a vested interest in the district for the success of my children and all the children of the Platteville community. There is much good happening in the district that I want to see continue and move forward.
Jen Kasper: I have been a long-time advocate for the kids to go to school five days a week as opposed to the virtual learning format. I also know that there are so many more emotional and basic skills that are lost when the kids aren’t allowed to be with their peers, participate in music and sports or are only doing class work on an electronic device. In March of 2020 all schools were closed and the remaining months for the kids were incredibly challenging. In July the school board held a special meeting to decide how to proceed when the new school year started. One of the board members, who is also running for the position, made a motion to go completely virtual with no option for the parents who wanted their kids to be able to go to the in-person model of learning. Even after being presented science-based evidence that offered that children weren’t at great risk of getting sick or dying from COVID-19 she was adamant that the only option was virtual learning. I believe that we need to make decisions based on facts and not fear. That is why I decided to get involved. Jessica Brogley: I live in the district and have kids who attend. Not only do I have 20+ years of experience in public education, I once worked for the district. I currently teach courses in educational technology in the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.
I feel my creative mind, collaborative spirit, and compassionate heart could be very useful to the district.
What are your goals if you are elected? What are the main issues you wish to address?
Peterson: Students of all colors, ethnicities, religions, sexual identities and differing abilities deserve to feel welcome and included at school. If re-elected, I will continue to advocate for a more inclusive and equitable school district for all students. I will support and encourage diversity training and the implementation of a DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) coordinator who will help weave this into the fabric of our district and community.
McCabe: I believe public school districts which will thrive in the future are those that have truly become student-centered in their approach to all facets of a student’s educational experience. We will need to continue to serve our students through a more individualized style of both in-person and virtual learning. To do this, we will need more time and energy placed in developing the academic career plans that students and families will need to be well versed in to identify and strengthen the 21st century life and career readiness skills needed for their future success.
Hecimovic: As a district we need to continue to focus on every student, every day. There is a great potential in the new diversity coaches at each level, especially if they are paired with a diversity, equity and inclusion coordinator as a member of the administration team. The new green house, agriculture and construction programs at the high school are exciting. The creative STEM prospects, and the potential for more dual credit opportunities and partnerships with trades (through Southwest Tech and UW-Platteville) to send our students out into the world with post-high school training are projects I would love to see grow and flourish.
Kasper: If elected, I hope that I can bring a common sense approach to the discussions that occur regarding the pandemic educational pivot plans, pandemic protocols & other related topics that deal with how to proceed with our kids’ education and special activities in the future. There are currently some board members who have a very narrow viewpoint of how problems should be solved, and I hope to bring some more thoughtful ways of solving those problems.
Brogley: If elected, my goals are to support the district in creating opportunities for our students, supporting teachers in professional growth and helping our district think through tough decisions. My main issues to address are in providing insight, increasing relevant learning across the district and thinking of opportunities not yet developed.
Why are you qualified to for a position on the school board?
Peterson: There are no particular qualifications required for holding this position; however, I feel I am well suited to continue to serve on the school board because I am invested in public education, and I enjoy being involved and connected in the Platteville community. One of our jobs as board members is to serve as a liaison for community members to share concerns and feedback. I take this responsibility seriously and always answer emails and return phone calls. I am not afraid to have difficult discussions, and, in fact, I think they’re important to move our school district forward.
McCabe: As a 36-year career educator I want to use my experience and knowledge in the field of education to serve the students and families of Platteville. My educational background is as follows:
• Provost and Vice President of the Wisconsin Technical College System, past four years.
• Former UW-Platteville Professor and Department Chair, 18 years.
• Former secondary educator and coach at Monroe High School, 14 years.
• Doctorate in Educational Leadership–Edgewood College
• M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction–St. Mary’s Winona
• B.S. in Health, Physical Education, Adapted Physical Education– UW-Oshkosh
Hecimovic: With each vote that I have made on the board, I have considered the health, safety, education and well-being of all children and families and all our teachers and staff. Being on the board is about compromising on issues, but not on ethics. It is about critically thinking and seeing both sides of a situation and being able to problem solve with the entire community in mind. I believe that I have been able to successfully do this and will continue to do this into the future.
Kasper: I am the Director of Sales for QueenB Radio-Wisconsin. In that role, I have been responsible for the revenue budgets of four radio stations. I have also served on the Platteville Common Council and have planned their annual budget. My 30 years spent in Platteville are well-rounded. I graduated from UW-Platteville in 1994, moved to Platteville in 1996 and have raised my five children here. I currently have two children in the school district. Annelise is in fourth grade and Hans is in second grade. I also have three grown daughters. Holly went to UW-Platteville and Southwest Technical College and is a nurse, Katherine is serving in the U.S. Air Force and Julia is attending UW-LaCrosse. Because all my kids were active in athletics and academics in the Platteville School District, I know how vital a role the teachers and coaches in Platteville have played in my children’s lives.
Brogley: I’ve worked in public education in rural areas for over 20 years. I understand how to support teachers, connect with the community and find opportunities. With a long track record of leadership in education, I truly feel I’m a viable candidate for the Platteville School Board. You can learn more about me at my website.
Polls open for the election at 7:00 a.m. and close at 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 6. The polling location for Districts 1, 2 and 4 is the Broske Center in Legion Park, located at 1155 North 2nd Street, and the polling location for District 3, which includes the UW-Platteville campus, remains at Ullsvik Hall, located at 30 South Hickory Street. Social distancing will be required at polling sites, and the city recommends voters wear masks while at these sites.