VoteButtonFlag webTwo incumbents, two challengers discuss poverty, test scores

By Jason Arndt
Staff Writer

With Lakewood School in the midst of a rebuilding effort, the stakes are high in the April 5 Board of Education election, which consists of two incumbents and two challengers for two seats.

The rebuilding effort includes redevelopment of the reading curriculum after the school saw state standardized testing scores, which ranked in the lower half of the nine districts in western Kenosha County the last five years.

However, external factors are attributed to low test scores, including poverty, according to some candidates.

District Administrator Joe Price reported 55 percent of students receive free or reduced lunch, a state guideline for poverty in schools.

“It is important to note that this is only based on those who apply for the program and not a complete indication of students who would qualify,” Price said.

Other candidates attributed low test scores to an ever-evolving standardized testing program, noting the change from the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exam to the Badger State Assessment, a one-year wonder.

The diverse population and test scores present a challenge for those in the race that include incumbents – Amanda Hahn, current Board President, and Board Clerk Kathy Ticha – and challengers Steve Turner and Scott Whipple.

The candidates, listed in alphabetical order, provided the following information about their platforms and intentions at the request of the Report.

Amanda Hahn (Inc.)
Address: 609 Herda Avenue, Twin Lakes.
Age: 38.
Resident of town: 11 years.
Occupation: Project Manager, Purchasing Systems and Compliance, AbbVie
Education: College of Lake County/University of Phoenix (Axia College)
Political experience: Current School Board President, elected in 2013.
Organizations: Wisconsin Association of School Boards
Family: Married 16 years with four children ages 13, 10, 6 and 4

Amanda Hahn is seeking re-election, citing her rewarding experience on the board, where she saw facility upgrades, personally reinforced relationships with administration and staff, and recent grants awarded.

While test scores have been low, she said the district is in process of restructuring the curriculum and that external factors play a role, including poverty.

“There are a lot of contributing factors to our test scores. Our population is one of them,” Hahn said. “I think the curriculum we are implementing, and the work we are doing on culture is going to improve the test scores.”

Students that applied for free or reduced lunch are receiving help from a local organization – The Sharing Center.

“We take a lot of time to think about the personal situations of our students,” she said. “We partner with the Sharing Center to make sure snacks are provided for the students.”

While reading is the school’s first goal to tackle, she hopes to see improvement in other subjects.

“The most important thing that is needed here is our curriculum, and that is being addressed,” Hahn said. “We are starting with reading as our priority, but that needs to be expanded to all different areas.”

Kathy Ticha (Inc.)
Address: 2062 Meagans Way, Twin Lakes.
Age: 71.
Resident of town: 40 years.
Occupation: Self-employed.
Education: High school.
Political experience: Lakewood School Board since 1999. Member of Twin Lakes Board of Review.
Organizations: Charter member of the Lakewood PTO since 1978. Member of Twin Lakes Seniors.
Family: Married 51 years with four adult children.

Kathy Ticha, a board member since 1999, is seeking another term noting continuity, demonstrated by a steady budget.

Also, Ticha said she offers diverse representation.

The current clerk said concerns are minimal, and that the school is undergoing needed internal and external changes.

“My concerns, there really are not that many. Things have been improved with the addition of the gymnasium and all that. That was a thing that made people very happy,” Ticha said.

She also noted a strong staff of teachers.

“The staff are unbelievable. Lakewood is very fortunate to have a superior staff who want to be here and love being here,” Ticha said.

In regards to exam scores, she believes the tide will turn with a new standardized test.

“Last year’s tests were very difficult and they are not going to have those same tests anymore. It is getting thrown in the garbage,” Ticha said. “Now they are bringing out new tests, and I expect those scores to improve.”

Steve Turner

Address: 805 Hickory Road, Twin Lakes.
Age: 46
Resident of town: Eight years.
Occupation: Executive Vice President of Operations: Yunker Industries.
Prior: 20 years concluding as Senior Vice President – North America. Recognized for leading multiple business segments toward operational excellence.
Oversight of overall business performance including all financial aspects, human resources, learning and development strategy and execution.
Education: Bachelor of Arts, Business Administration, Psychology and Human Resource Management, Simpson University.
Political experience: Current Wilmot Union High School Board Member.
Organizations: Active basketball and baseball coach in the community since 2008; current coach of Wilmot Jr. Panthers fourth-grade basketball team.
Family: Married to Marcy for 23 years. Son: Trey, 19, attends Stanford University – Palo Alto, Cal. Daughter: Ellie, 18, senior at WUHS. Sons: Cy, 12, and Dane, 10, both attend Lakewood.

Steve Turner, who touts more than 20 years in organizational management, wants to apply his skills on the Lakewood School Board and play an integral part in the community.

One of his goals is developing a passion for learning among the students, and wants help improve test scores at the school.

“There are significant concerns with test scores and execution of programs,” Turner said. “They have done a good job of bringing in programs and upgrades, but we are not seeing results.”

Additionally, he said research shows families are leaving the district through open enrollment, a concern that needs to be addressed.

Currently, the school experienced 130 outgoing open enrollments, compared to 29 students that open enrolled in.

“Every year, we see people open enroll out to other schools,” Turner said. “That is not good for the school.”

If elected, he will use a hands-on approach, stating it is about putting all the tools together.

“My intentions, if elected, are to be hands-on in execution,” Turner said. “I think we got a good school with a lot of good teachers that have the best interests of students in mind.”

Scott Whipple
Address: 1336 E. Lakeshore Drive, Twin Lakes.
Age: 35
Resident of town: 11 years.
Occupation: Elementary and Primary Assistant Principal.
Education: Bachelor of Science in Biology and Health Education, Master of Arts in Education Leadership
Political experience: First experience running for elected position.
Family: Married to Amy Whipple; Sons Kie, 9, and Finn, 7.

Scott Whipple, a current school principal, wants to offer his educator perspective on the board if elected.

“I have been in education for 12 years and there is no one currently (on the board) that is in education,” Whipple said, adding that he values diversity.

However, he credited the school for its recent facility and curriculum development, and wants to be part of the future at the school.

“My son is in the fourth grade, and has been at Lakewood since K-4,” Whipple said. “Renovating the whole environment was a huge upgrade.”

Despite recent test scores, he believes Lakewood should be assessed on student progress, not an exam taken once a year.

“It should not be focused on one test score a year, but rather a focus on student growth throughout the year,” he said. “How many students are

 
 

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