The Racine Unified School District is switching over to block scheduling and an academy model of teaching, and this is a key sticking point between Racine Unified District no. 5 candidates: Chuck Goodremote and Steve Hooper.

But after the state law changed to a district representation system versus an at-large election, the entire nine-member board is up for re-election on April 5.

Here’s the map of District 5.

Racine Unified has looked at implementing a block schedule/academy model since Sept. 2014, but officially rolled out the plan in December. The model features academies that focus on business, engineering, arts and sciences and several pathways that students can choose. However, students would have eight 90-minute periods divided over the course of two days versus eight 51-minute periods in a day. The new schedule would also allow for more electives.

Some teaching staff, students, and parents have voiced the need for the school district to gain more feedback from the community and staff before implementing it.

Here’s where they stand on the issues:

Chuck Goodremote

Age: 57

Address: 138 Mourning Dove Lane, Mount Pleasant

Professional and education background: Chief Information Officer, Modine Manufacturing. Masters in Business Administration from UW-Parkside, BS/UW-Stout

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

I have a strong desire to help improve public education in Racine and the surrounding areas. As a seasoned business leader, I frequently observe the concern of prospective employees as they evaluate the quality of our educational system when they consider moving their families into the area. I believe we are making steps in the right direction under the leadership of Dr. Haws and the efforts of her staff and dedicated teachers, but progress needs to accelerate if we are to become the educational choice for families in the southeast region of Wisconsin. I sincerely believe we have the potential to become a great district if we can find new ways for the board, administration, and teachers to start pulling consistently in the same direction. As servants of this community, we need to put our interests behind those of the children and taxpayers.

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

Clearly educational performance is improving as evidenced by the published metrics that track graduations rates and reading and math scores. I especially appreciate the focused efforts of the administration to collaborate with teachers, businesses, post-secondary institutions and our community as we plan for the Academies of Racine. We need more of this fresh thinking and must make every effort not to slow things down. All of the community must continue to find ways to pull together to move from the doldrums of the past into a bright new future.

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

I’m convinced that the most serious issue in RUSD is disruptive behavior in the classroom. There appear to be no easy answers to this problem, but I think finding ways to better leverage the collective brainpower of educators, parents, and community leaders would be a good step. We might also research other schools in the US that have overcome similar problems. We must all come together on this one.

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

We must find ways to get more of the community more involved in our schools. A good place to start may be with focused listening sessions on subjects that the community cares about. Sessions where the board encourages the public to comment and provide input on predetermined subjects of interest. I think we must make efforts to engage the community and make sure they understand that the board will listen and act in their best interest. The main goal of the board and educators must be to use the money of the taxpayer in the most efficient way possible to create a learning environment that maximizes the probability of each child in the district reaching their full potential.

Do you support block scheduling? Why or why not?

All forms of scheduling have pros and cons, but I think the pros of block scheduling outweigh the cons in our situation. Ford Next Generation Learning, our mentor in implementing the Academies of Racine, suggested block scheduling as a prerequisite. They believe it to be a key success factor. It is clear to me that longer class periods should better enable internships with local businesses. I also like the idea of the reduced number of transition periods between classes. I think we have very talented teachers that have the best interests of our students in mind and will be fully capable of making block scheduling a resounding success.

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

The Academies of Racine seems like a brilliant idea to me. How can anyone argue that providing students with the advanced skills they need to be successful, productive citizens in college, career, and life is in any way not a great concept. The concept, if successful, will provide students with hands-on learning opportunities in our local businesses and post-secondary institutions and organizations. Maybe all stakeholders in our community can become more engaged as we together transform the educational system in RUSD.

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

I would like to see every RUSD student educated to their full potential, such that they are well prepared for a productive, fulfilling life.

Steve Hooper

Age: 37

Address: 3113 Fenceline Rd. Racine, WI 53406

Professional and education background: Development Technician, Bachelor Degree-Biology from UW-Parkside

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

I would like to see parents of students represented on the school board. It seems that the school board is being run as a political organization. To me, the decisions the school board makes should be based objectively and solely on the benefits to the future of the students in RUSD, never on party lines or allegiances.

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

I think it’s a great direction to look into gearing high school students for career readiness. There are so many students who can benefit from that direction as long as the plans are rolled out successfully with communication and cooperation from all of those involved.

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

I think RUSD needs to use the resources we already have in place (i.e., teachers, administrators, etc.) along with wide open lines of communication to effectively implement improvements to the district.These people are professionals with so much knowledge. We should always go there first.

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

RUSD has a bad reputation with some residents of Racine. I think we can change that opinion by being collaborative, decisive, and reasonable. The communication with our community is vital to regaining their respect. Residents of Racine want to know exactly where their money is going and how it is being spent.

Do you support block scheduling? Why or why not?

Yes and no. Yes, because I believe it will help create a greater depth and focus during each block. The students may benefit from not having seven different subject to focus on each day. For those going on to higher education, it will be much closer to that type of schedule. No, because I worry how this may affect the arts and other electives within which students may find new paths for themselves. I am very interested to find out more about block scheduling.

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

Readying students for life beyond high school is vital to any strong community. I would love to see that RUSD takes the right amount of time and training to roll it out successfully. This roll out needs to be completed with open and honest 2-way communication to provide the students with the greatest possible chance of success.

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

I would like to see a board that is comprised of people that make their decisions objectively for the good of the students of RUSD. They will communicate openly and honestly with staff and the residents of Racine. They will change the reputation that some of the public has about RUSD, and make our school district into a model that other districts look up to long into the future.

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Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for Patch.com, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.