The Hudson Board of Education is hosting elections and the primary will be held to narrow down the candidates on Tuesday, Feb. 21. The top four vote-getters will move on to the general election on Tuesday, April 4.
Current board members Heather Logelin and Carrie Whitacre are up for reelection, with three additional community members vying for the positions.
Only two will be elected.
Here’s who’s running, in the order they’ll appear on the ballot.
Occupation: Director of research and policy development at the Minnesota Private College Council, a consortium of 18 private nonprofit colleges.
Prior political positions: None.
Education: Grew up River Falls where she attended K-12 public education; bachelor’s in economics from Carleton College; master of Public Policy from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a focus on advanced policy analysis and education policy.
Family: My husband, Anand, is an attorney. We have two daughters. Sarka is a second grader at Houlton Elementary School. Roza is two and will begin 4K in 2025.
Why did you choose to run: As the school board has considered closing Houlton Elementary and Willow River Elementary, I became active in advocating to save our community elementary schools, which I think are key to allowing our children and our community to thrive. As I worked with other families advocating to save our schools, I noted that there aren’t any school board members who currently have kids in our community elementary schools.
I think it is important that parents of young children are represented on the school board. I think that my research and policy background and my understanding of the education to workforce pipeline will be an asset to the school board and the district.
What are your top 3 priority issues?
1. Saving Houlton and Willow River Elementary: Our six community elementary schools are woven into the fabric of our community. Small community schools are good for our kids and our neighborhoods.
2. Increasing transparency from the school board and district and increasing input from parents and teachers on district policies and plans: Parents should not have to wait several months to see school district policies in writing. The district needs to provide better access to information that is accessible and easy to understand.
3. Improving academic outcomes so that all students have the necessary skills and knowledge for their post-high school college and career plans: Recent data show that 53% of our high school students are not meeting standards in math and reading. And the share is even higher for low-income students and students of color. We can and must do better.
More can be found about priorities at meganforhudsonschools.com.
Recent conversations around gender diverse students have dominated conversations at board meetings. What are your positions on how the district should handle accommodating this student population? At school board meetings gender-nonconforming students and their families have spoken about the bullying they face at school. This is unacceptable. All students must be fully supported and feel safe at our schools. I understand why some parents are upset that the district won’t immediately inform them if their child talks about their gender identity with a teacher or school counselor. I would like to believe my kids will come to me with anything, but they might not.
When I was a teenager, there were times I needed to talk to a trusted adult about things I wasn’t yet ready to tell my parents. I would rather have my child talk with a teacher or school counselor than feel alone or turn to the internet. School counselors supporting students to build the skills to address this issue with parents is a great idea.
Another major issue at the district level right now is declining enrollment and need for additional funds. How do you plan to prioritize spending taxpayer dollars? It is crucial that the school district spend and budget wisely. The district is in a tough spot because per pupil state funding in Wisconsin has barely kept up with inflation over the past decade and there are no state funds given to school districts to address renovations and maintenance. That is why the district has to hold referendums this year.
Taxpayer funds should be used for investments that will increase academic outcomes and address capital needs in our buildings. I believe the use of taxpayer funds must be focused on needs not wants. As a school board member, I will focus on efficient, effective spending and wise budgeting. I will always consider the impact that spending has on taxpayers. The school district should only go to referendum for funds that are needed to run our schools and pay for necessary building maintenance and renovations.
Would you consider closing Willow River and/or Houlton elementary schools, or other Hudson schools? No. Saving Willow River and Houlton Elementary is my number one priority. Our six community elementary schools are important for the quality of our kids’ education and our neighborhoods. I haven’t talked to a single resident of our school district, from parents of young children to retirees, who supports closing Houlton or Willow River.
How do you think the district should be addressing student mental health? A recent report from the Wisconsin Office of Children’s Mental Health highlighted that 52% of students reported anxiety and 34% felt sad or helpless every day. A staggering 25% of female students reported considering suicide. And 40% of Wisconsin students feel like they do not belong at their school. There is a mental health crisis among our youth. I am not a mental health expert and I don’t work with students everyday like our teachers and counselors do.
I think the district should launch a volunteer mental health taskforce consisting of teachers, school counselors, mental health professionals and parents. This taskforce should examine mental health and bullying in our schools. The taskforce should research which initiatives have worked in Hudson and other districts, which initiatives haven’t worked, and make recommendations for increased support and programming for students to address mental health and bullying in our schools.
What are ways the district can attract applicants for support staff positions, an issue faced prior to the beginning of the 2022-23 school year? We need to look at both short and long-term solutions. When the district was considering closing Houlton and Willow River, that sent the message that these support staff jobs were not stable, could not be counted to be there in a year or two.
Now that closing schools is off the table for at least three years, I think we need to advertise more about the stability of support staff positions. The cost of housing in the Hudson school district is a big issue in terms of attracting support staff and our district’s enrollment. We need starter homes in our community so that families with young children and people who want to work in our schools can afford to buy a house.
Occupation: Retired biotechnology commercial and management training professional.
Prior political positions: None.
Education: Bachelor of science.
Family: Married, three sons.
Connection to the district: Concerned citizen.
Why did you choose to run? The civil rights issue of the 21st century is the hostile environment of public schools toward families with traditional values and academic expectations. A promise was made to citizens of Wisconsin in the 1787 Northwest Ordinance, “Religion, morality and knowledge being necessary for good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.”
It is time for a voice on the Hudson school board to represent the creed upon which our public schools were founded.
What are your top 3 priority issues?
1. Parental rights.
2. School choice.
3. Financial frugality.
Recent conversations around gender diverse students have dominated conversations at board meetings. What are your positions on how the district should handle accommodating this student population? The business of the Hudson schools should not be accommodating or affirming gender confused students. There are two genders, male and female. All curriculum regarding gender should be affirming boys to become men and girls to become women. Should enough parents decide they need to send their children to a school that embraces “gender diversity”, we can turn an elementary school into a “gender diversity” magnet school.
It is inappropriate for parents, who want a traditional education for their children, to have to look for alternative educational choices outside of the Hudson School District.
Another major issue at the district level right now is declining enrollment and need for additional funds. How do you plan to prioritize spending taxpayer dollars? We don’t “need” additional funds, we need fiscal restraint. We are facing very difficult financial times. Frugality is required.
Would you consider closing Willow River and/or Houlton elementary schools, or other Hudson schools? My preference is to create magnet schools to provide school choice. Both schools have passionate support for keeping Willow River and Houlton open. Give each parent group the budget for the school and commission them with developing a plan to keep the school running with the money allotted.
How do you think the district should be addressing student mental health? Mental health issues are not the responsibility of the public schools. Just like heart surgery is not the responsibility of the public schools. Neither is it the responsibility of the schools to have unhealthy students in the classroom. If the school believes a student should be treated by mental health professionals, the parents should be advised to seek care for the child.
What are ways the district can attract applicants for support staff positions, an issue faced prior to the beginning of the 2022-23 school year? The district could conduct interviews or focus groups of personnel, former personnel and personnel from other districts. Oftentimes the best solutions are from the people who are doing the work.
Occupation: President, CEO of the St. Croix Valley Foundation.
Prior political positions: Hudson School Board, 2017-present.
Education: Bachelor’s in psychology from Occidental College; master of business administration in nonprofit management from the University of St. Thomas.
Family: My son, Jack, is studying engineering at University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Hudson High School 2021 graduate; my daughter, Addie, is a junior at Hudson High School. We have a dog and two cats.
Connection to the district: I have lived in the Hudson School District for nearly 20 years. As a parent, I have experienced firsthand the incredible staff who educate, encourage, challenge and support our students. As a volunteer, I have served the boards of numerous organizations providing services to the district's students and families, including the Family Resource Center St. Croix Valley, St. Croix Valley Habitat for Humanity and the Free Clinic and Pierce and St. Croix Counties.
Through both my professional and volunteer work, I have developed relationships with a wide range of Hudson residents, from those whose families have been here for generations to those who have recently relocated to Hudson. As an elected member of the school board, I have had the opportunity to develop a much deeper understanding of the district's history, programs, curriculum, operations, financials, facilities, accomplishments, strengths and challenges.
Why did you choose to run for re-election? Strong public schools are critical not only to the future success of our students but also to the continued growth and prosperity of our community. When done well, the work of school boards creates an environment where students, staff, families and community can work together to meet the needs of each and every one of our students. I chose to run for school board because I believed - and continue to believe - that my skills, experience and passion are an excellent fit for the work of the school board, and that serving on the school board is an impactful way for me to give back to my community.
What are your top 3 priority issues? While there isn't a single issue that sparked my interest in running for the school board, there are definitely several issues that I believe will need to be addressed by the board in the next few years. If pressed to identify the top three, I'd prioritize
1. Financial sustainability: I don't imagine financial sustainability is a surprise. We need to find a way to continue to provide a great 4K-12 experience to all students within the financial boundaries set by the state, through its funding formula, and our community, through taxes.
2. Attracting and retaining great staff: Attracting and retaining great staff is another clear priority. Quality instruction is the single largest predictor of students' educational outcomes. We currently have an incredibly talented and dedicated staff. Our challenge is to provide them with a work experience, including their compensation package, that makes them want to stay.
3. Continuing to strengthen our academic/career planning program: Finally, the rapidly changing nature of our society means that our academic and career planning program needs to be constantly changing to help students prepare for success after high school. Whether planning to go directly to work, go to trade school, go into the military, go to college, start a family or pursue some other path, I want all Hudson High School students to feel they received the information and support needed to make the decision that is right for them.
Recent conversations around gender diverse students have dominated conversations at board meetings. What are your positions on how the district should handle accommodating this student population? Recent conversations about the district's approach to supporting gender diverse students have engaged students, staff, parents and community members with a wide range of opinions and beliefs. I want to sincerely thank everyone who made time to come and speak to the board.
We make better decisions as a board when we have broad community input. The board's subsequent conversations focused primarily on potential legal and political ramifications of various approaches, with relatively little conversation about what the research - and our own counseling staff - indicates is the best way to support these students.
The Hudson School District's mission statement commits us to providing a "student-centered environment.” In this case, I think we fell short, as we adopted guidance that did not consider the feedback from students most impacted by this issue - students who I believe deserve to be listened to, heard and respected.
To be clear, I fully support family involvement as the goal in these situations but believe the recently adopted guidance fails to offer a "safe space" for those students who need it most.
Another major issue at the district level right now is declining enrollment and need for additional funds. How do you plan to prioritize spending taxpayer dollars? The way the state of Wisconsin currently funds 4K-12 education, combined with declining enrollment in our schools, is creating a "perfect storm" for the financial future of our district. Moving forward, if we want the Hudson School District to continue to be a "high-performing" district, we will need to address the projected shortfall. While the community's support of the proposed $8 million operating referendum will address the projected shortfall, we will need to continue to be diligent about spending, ensuring that taxpayer dollars are used to fund the things that contribute most to the success of our schools.
Would you consider closing Willow River and/or Houlton elementary schools, or other Hudson schools? I grew up attending school in a small rural community and my own children attended North Hudson Elementary, so I understand when people speak passionately about their love of "neighborhood schools." During the process of redrawing elementary attendance boundaries, I heard, as a member of the school board, from parents at each and every one of our six elementary schools how much they love their local school. If we can find an equitable, financially viable way to keep all six of our elementary schools open, I would love to be able to do that - and I hope that's where we land.
If, however, elementary enrollment continues to decline, we will need to revisit the possibility of closing one or more of our elementary schools. The board has committed to waiting three years to revisit this conversation.
At that time, we'll engage the community in a discussion of updated enrollment and demographic data, financial projections and options moving forward. In the meantime, I hope to see the Hudson community coalesce around strategies that would be likely to result in increased elementary enrollment, especially the development of housing that is affordable for families with young children.
How do you think the district should be addressing student mental health? Increasing student mental health issues have been a concern for many years and COVID-19 only exacerbated the situation. The good news is that our district is already doing a lot to address student mental health issues, including work "upstream" to help students develop strong socio-emotional skills and resiliency.
We are also providing professional development to help staff develop the knowledge and skills to identify and support students who are struggling. The district partners with professionals from outside the district to provide school-based mental health services to students unable to access services elsewhere. The district's Mental Health Advisory Council engages a wide range of parents and other community members to inform and support the district's work in this area.
The district is also taking advantage of grant dollars available to support student and staff mental health initiatives. I am proud of the proactive approach our district has taken to student mental health and anticipate - and support - additional investments in this work.
What are ways the district can attract applicants for support staff positions, an issue faced prior to the beginning of the 2022-23 school year? I anticipate the district will continue to attract and retain support staff positions as long as the labor market remains as competitive as it currently is. Even for those who may want to work for the district, when they realize they can earn several dollars an hour more at a less stressful job elsewhere in the community, the district may not be where they ultimately land.
Our district has a strong human resources department that is constantly trying new and creative ways to reach potential applicants. (If someone reading this has ideas the district hasn't yet tried, please share them with our human resources staff!) In the meantime, the work of the school board is to support policies and budgets that continue to support a positive work culture, making the Hudson School District an attractive employer for those living in and around Hudson.
Occupation: Part time administrative assistant at Saint Patrick Catholic School.
Prior political positions: Three terms on the Hudson School Board.
Education: Bachelor’s in business management from Simpson College.
Family: I have been married to my husband Lance for 33 years; we have two adult daughters, and two Labrador retrievers – who definitely demand the most time.
Connection to the district: Our two daughters graduated from Hudson High School.
Why did you choose to run for re-election? I chose to run for the school board, and again for re-election, out of a sense of responsibility to the Hudson community – both for children’s education and accountability to taxpayers.
What are your top 3 priority issues?
1. Fiscal precipice we face due to the funding model from the state.
2. The facility needs at many of our schools.
3. Addressing bullying and kids’ sense of connectedness to peers and school.
Recent conversations around gender diverse students have dominated conversations at board meetings. What are your positions on how the district should handle accommodating this student population? I feel the school environment should be welcoming to all students and support their academic and emotional growth and development. I do not feel it is a teacher’s place to push students to “identify” or “out” themselves. Should a student reach out to a teacher questioning their gender, I support the district’s recent memorandum that the teacher contact the student’s counselor so that they can work with them to converse with the child’s parents.
Another major issue at the district level right now is declining enrollment and need for additional funds. How do you plan to prioritize spending taxpayer dollars? I feel the primary focus of taxpayer dollars must always be to provide quality, well rounded instruction to our students, while recognizing and appropriately compensating our teachers.
Would you consider closing Willow River and/or Houlton elementary schools, or other Hudson schools? I would not consider closing Willow River or Houlton Elementary. If the resolution to exceed the revenue cap by $8 million in operational expenses does not pass this April, and student enrollment does not increase, I fear this may be a topic that will be addressed by future boards.
How do you think the district should be addressing student mental health? I think that students’ mental health is best addressed by forming positive relationships with adult role models including parents and teachers, and with peer classmates and teammates. People are innately called to connectedness and community, and social connection is an integral component of health and well-being.
Teachers can facilitate these relationships in the classroom by deliberately making positive connections with students and reaching out to families. Should stressors occur that require intervention, additional supports and referrals are at families’ disposal to which they may avail themselves.
What are ways the district can attract applicants for support staff positions, an issue faced prior to the beginning of the 2022-23 school year? The sign on bonuses, in addition to retention and referral bonuses, are one way to address the staffing shortages. Job sharing and flex scheduling would also be a way to accommodate potential employees’ unique needs.
Occupation: Sales and marketing director.
Prior political positions: None.
Education: Minneapolis Business College graduate; 2-year certificate in graphic design, business and advertising; certificates for several other continuing education classes.
Family: I’ve been married for 18 years to my husband Matthew. We have three children, Lilia, 14; Brielle, 10; and Evin, 7.
Connection to the district: I have lived in Hudson almost my entire life and am an alumna of Hudson High School. My family owns a home in Hudson and my children attend school in the district. I volunteer in the community as president of the Trinity Academy Parent Teacher Organization, event coordinator and fundraiser for several different organizations, and as a bible school teacher, and have taught community art classes.
Why did you choose to run? Quality curriculum should be the focus in our schools, but it’s not. Instead students are becoming increasingly distracted and bombarded by social issues that have no place in a classroom and should be discussed at home with parents. It is imperative that we get back to the basics; reading, writing, arithmetic and life skills are essentials that must be taught.
What are your top 3 priority issues? Transparency regarding,
1. What’s being taught and supported within our schools.
2. Parents’ rights when it comes to being informed when issues arise with their children.
3. How our taxpayer dollars are being spent.
Recent conversations around gender diverse students have dominated conversations at board meetings. What are your positions on how the district should handle accommodating this student population? This is a super sensitive topic. We need equal opportunity for all students. The school’s first priority is to provide education, not counseling services. Parents need to have the first opportunity to support these children. If these kids need more support and their families are unwilling to provide that support, then it may be appropriate for school counselors to step in to work with the parents while continuing to facilitate the best possible learning environment for the child and contact social services when appropriate.
Another major issue at the district level right now is declining enrollment and need for additional funds. How do you plan to prioritize spending taxpayer dollars? While the declining enrollment in Hudson may be in part due to aging families, there's more to it. Trust has been violated at a national level and there are instances that make the Hudson School District no different.
For example, kids don’t need to know certain things about their teachers, such as sexual orientation, preferred pronouns or political affiliation. Parents want what’s best for their kids, and thus, we are seeing a decline due to these types of issues. Schools need to stop pushing ideas and making accommodations for things that are distractions versus supporting a quality education for our children.
Then parents will re-enroll their kids. My goal is to prioritize responsible spending by approving only necessary maintenance in lieu of upgrades that might be nice. If an upgrade does nothing to enhance a student’s learning, then it is not something on which the district should be spending taxpayer dollars.
Would you consider closing Willow River and/or Houlton elementary schools, or other Hudson schools? We have great schools in Hudson and the fact that we have some smaller schools with a hometown atmosphere is partially responsible for that. It's not a goal on my list to consider closing Willow River, Houlton or any other Hudson schools at this time. Costs will unfortunately dictate that if unnecessary spending continues. Let’s fix that.
How do you think the district should be addressing student mental health? Provide a positive learning environment where students feel safe to express their opinions and interests. Social media has proven that it impacts people’s mental health in many ways; using tools that help students feel seen, heard, and connected without phones should be prioritized.
Motivational Speakers can help foster feelings of empowerment and connectedness. Internet safety classes for parents and students to develop appropriate age restrictions to facilitate understanding of the barrage of advertisements, posts, snaps and videos that our kids are subjected to for likes and popularity. Being connected at the palm of our hand is a constant distraction.
We need to disconnect, especially while at school to focus on “smarter things.” Some kids will struggle more than others. Providing guidance that encourages kids to have tough conversations with their parents and helping them to create strong bonds, face-to-face, with good friends and family is essential.
What are ways the district can attract applicants for support staff positions, an issue faced prior to the beginning of the 2022-23 school year? By prioritizing learning. Telling teachers what they have to teach and ideas they have to support versus asking teachers and staff to have compassion and kindness are very different topics. Stop filling schools with political propaganda, we are losing half of the crowd, and teachers are scared to do or say the wrong things.
We have made it so kids can disrespect teachers and parents and get away with it. No one wants to go to work and feel disrespected or ousted for who they are or what they believe on along any part of the spectrum. The solution is to cut the distractions and put the focus back on education
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