The race for the new Racine Unified district No. 9 is only one of two seats that is contested and does not include an incumbent candidate; district No. 6 is the other one. District No. 1 is comprised of the Village of Sturtevant, part of the Village of Mount Pleasant and a piece of the City of Racine and has one candidate running unopposed.

Former BOE candidate Robert Wittke is giving a run another try, and he is joined by newcomer Kurt Squire.

Click here for a map of the District No. 9 boundaries.

Robert Wittke

Robert Wittke, 58
11 Sandalwood Court
I am a tax professional with a background in finance & accounting. Currently, I am employed by Corptax Inc. a subsidiary of Corporation Services Company (CSC). Corptax is a leading provider of tax accounting and compliance software solutions for Fortune 1000 companies. I assist customers in implementing our product line and contribute subject matter expertise to our product development efforts. My career includes positions in Tax Departments of local companies Modine Manufacturing and Snap on Tools. I graduated from UW-Eau Claire with a BA in Accounting. I am a graduate of Horlick High School, class of 1975.

Why do you want to serve as a member of the Racine Unified Board of Education?

I believe our District can do a better job of preparing students for life with the K-12 education it delivers and I want to contribute to those efforts. I have two children in the District, one in high school and the other finishing middle school. Being actively involved with them and their classmates, I want these young people to possess the tools to seize opportunities for realizing their ultimate dreams, no matter where those aspirations lie. In my opinion, that starts with stronger leadership at the Board level. High performing school districts have equally high functioning Boards of Education. We need individuals who can work collaboratively to establish the “big picture” vision for the District, chart the course to follow, effect constructive change to set sail along the course, and properly measure our progress to insure we stay the course, realizing the results we envision.

What do you think Racine Unified is doing right that you want to build on?

Implementing tangible changes for improving performance that are structured from successful methods realized in other similar school districts. Increasingly shifting the focus to the student, their needs, and impact on their achievement. Making a more concentrated effort to develop a stronger relationship with the local business community.

What do you think Racine Unified can do better and how would you tackle this challenge?

There are a number of areas that carry equal weight. For example; establishing a culture which provides our students the best environment to achieve, communicating accurately and timely with our parents, and embracing transparency at all levels of operation. As a Board Member, I plan to utilize my skills and experiences to build a stronger policy framework to facilitate improvement, to insure we are making the appropriate measure of progress, and collaboratively formulate alternative courses of action to gain the desired results.

How can we encourage our community to better support our students?

Demonstrate improvement in academic achievement and performance. Show consistency, and follow through in our day to day operations. Continue to pursue investment in the District by the local business community. Be persistent in improving and expanding our day to day communication with parents and other community stakeholders. There is no singular, simple course of action to develop this support. It is going to take hard work and unwavering efforts by all to realize measurable results.

Do you support block scheduling? Why or why not?

Yes. I have experienced it personally through my middle schooler for the past three years. In my opinion, the benefits outweigh the detriments. Individual class periods offer our students more instruction time and opportunity for teacher assistance. The schedule affords some of our students a better chance to keep pace and complete homework. It also allows our students to take additional elective courses and is more conducive to project-based learning. The movement to block scheduling is part of our larger initiative of transitioning our high schools to the academy based educational model. Block scheduling supports the operation of the academies. This is not a standalone change.

Do you support the Academies of Racine concept? Why or why not?

Yes. In my opinion, we need to change our methods and be more successful in preparing our high school students for the next stages of their life. This model is generating improvement in other school districts facing challenges similar to ours. It promotes more opportunities for our students to engage and be successful in their high school education. In addition, the academy model provides a vehicle for the local business community to make a greater investment in our District and career choices available to our students.

What idea would you like to see come to life – no matter how impossible it might seem?

I would like to see the District become a magnet in Southeastern Wisconsin. An institution individuals and businesses seek out for the education opportunities it offers. A District where one consistently finds our schools in the top of performance rankings, no matter what the measurement. I would relish seeing the successes of our students dominate the news rather than the adversarial issues and dysfunction I see now.

Kurt Squire

Kurt Squire, 61
214 E 4 Mile Rd
retired, former UPS management, graduate of Horlick High School, Bachelor of Science in Business Management, UW-Parkside

Why do you want to serve as a member of the Racine Unified Board of Education?

I believe in service to the community. Education is a building block to a viable and thriving community. The successful future of the next generation demands that all children receive an excellent education that includes knowledge, practical application and the required soft skills. I have the business experience that can make a school board “unified”, by using my ability to bring together diverse groups with at times, have conflicting objectives to achieve common goals.

What do you think Racine Unified is doing right that you want to build on?

I believe Supt Haws has a vision of success for the RUSD, that the North Star Vision will provide each child with a complete education. I also am encouraged that there is out of the box thinking on the future of RUSD. Money is tight, and the idea of purchasing the Sportsplex building is an example of this thinking. Of course I will have to review the entire study that reflects the fit into the long-term strategic vision for the district, the immediate and long-term use plans, is the initial investments, capital improvements and on-going operations costs support a Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) business case. Additionally, have busing and Maintenance & Repair Operations (MRO) been included in the TCO business case?

What do you think Racine Unified can do better and how would you tackle this challenge?

In my career I have learned that change is constant, necessary, but is always something that can be difficult to implement. Effective change management includes teams working together with open, honest and regular communication to and from all necessary parties. I believe I can help monitor that change.

How can we encourage our community to better support our students?

I believe we should do more to encourage involvement from the business community, and encourage more voluntary opportunities for our students. We should exposing our students to as many positives experiences as possible.

Do you support block scheduling? Why or why not?

I believe in the concept of block scheduling. Is block scheduling going to be 100% successful for all students and teachers under the planning schedule set? I would like to see the lines of communication improved so administration, teachers and the community can make the transition successfully.

Do you support the Academies of Racine concept? Why or why not?

I support the concept of the Academies of Racine. I understand the desire to have specializations and career paths. It is very important to have our students hit the pavement running when they graduate. This could be accomplished, while not losing the complete high school experience and the vision of the North Star, that is academic, social/emotional and career/life skills.

What idea would you like to see come to life – no matter how impossible it might seem?

I would like to see more options for the students of RUSD for after school programs,supported by RUSD. With budget constraints, there are only so many options available. I have been involved with establishing a Boys and Girls Club in Racine for many years. Partnering with these types of organizations can be beneficial for the students, and provide many services to not only the students, but the community as well.

 

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