WEST ALLIS — The five candidates running for the West Allis-West Milwaukee School Board had differing views on improving school discipline that ranged from using veteran teachers to help others with classroom discipline to making sure administrators back up teachers in disciplinary decisions and situations.
Three incumbents and two challengers will run for three seats in the April 4 general election.
The incumbents are Dan Bailey, who has lived in West Allis for 36 years, is retired from sales management and is semi-retired from human resources and communications; West Allis native Diane Narlock who is an administrative assistant for District Council 32; and lifelong West Allis resident Gail Radonski who is an insurance authorization representative at Aurora Healthcare.
The challengers are Brian Keller, who has lived in West Allis for 14 years and is in human resources, specializing in recruitment; and Noah Leigh, a West Allis resident for 10 years who is a virologist for the Milwaukee Health Department.
All five have answered three questions in their own words:
School discipline has been raised as a concern, what do you think might be done to keep better order in the classroom?
Dan Bailey: Many veteran teachers believe that discipline is not control from the outside; it is order from within, classroom management. We need to tap into the experience of these seasoned professionals so that discipline is providing an environment in which positive learning and positive teaching are occurring at the same time.
Diane Narlock: Set high expectations for staff and student behavior, and adopt supportive, instructional, and therapeutic approaches to school climate and discipline that do not hinge on exclusionary discipline. Every student deserves to learn—and every educator deserves to teach in a safe school.
Gail Radonski: Teachers have a job to do, and that is teach. Teachers are expected to teach students about character, acceptable social morays, finance, and relaxation/behavior. These lessons should be taught at home. Students should not be allowed to stay in the classroom if they are a distraction to other students' learning.
Brian Keller: Teachers should have the ability to handle their classroom in a manner that minimizes distractions that take away from other students' ability to learn. They need to be supported in those decisions by administration. Ideally, there should be some type of districtwide behavior policy at each level of education.
Noah Leigh: It is important to have cohesive behavior policies so that all students are aware of the expectations and consequences. Once behavior becomes disruptive to the learning of others, teachers should be able to rely on their administrative teams for further action, leaving the teacher to focus on the remaining students.
School achievement is another concern; do you support any initiatives in that area?
Bailey: We need to have an unwavering focus on student achievement through curriculum and school culture. Culture is created from our district’s mission, vision, values and beliefs. A positive school culture has many benefits. We need to continue to develop positive cultures in a way that will further engage each student.
Narlock: Not all students learn at the same pace and not all styles work for every student, we need to figure out what works best for each child, whether it is traditional or next generation learning we need to find the balance and engage them to reach their full potential.
Radonski: Wisconsin's legislature has implemented mandates for reporting student achievement. I believe with IEP’s, personalized learning plans for all students, interventions, testing and data collection, there are multiple mechanisms to meet student needs. The students have to apply themselves and do the work to achieve success.
Keller: Everybody learns in their own way. Initiatives that allow students some freedom in their education, while still holding them to the appropriate standards for their level, are important to make sure that each student maximizes their educational path. It is important to set each student up for success.
Leigh: Achievement in our schools is paramount to the success of students in our district and is a main determining factor when prospective parents are searching for a new home. Initiatives such as NxGL and STEM have certainly met with some success, however, these initiatives may not work at every school.
Aside from those two issues, do you think the schools need to take a new approach in any area, or is the board on the right track and why?
Bailey: The board needs to anticipate problems. By taking a proactive approach to predictable problems we can streamline and accelerate change. For example, some issues have occurred due to lack of communication. The school board needs to communicate better with the public in order to gain back public trust.
Narlock: I believe we are heading in the right direction, but there is a lot of work to be done. We must focus on fiscal responsibility and stress open communication. I would like to continue to be a part of the strategic planning we started to achieve our district goals.
Radonski: We need to restructure the 1:1 technology initiative. This has been a huge expense. We tried it, and the iPad was not used the way we envisioned. Lack of adequate control of access, which I and other board members asked for, was partly why. Poor teacher training was another factor.
Keller: We really need to continue to work on our budget and improve the way that we communicate with our families and community. It is important to get ahead of messaging and make sure that families hear important news from the administration and not from the media or other sources.
Leigh: The board needs to be better at communicating transparently. Often times decisions are made or topics discussed with little notice. The board also needs to have more forethought regarding the consequences of its decisions. For example, the Lincoln closure should have been anticipated before the 70th St. buildings were sold.
Dan Bailey (inc.)
Address: 2975 S. 94th St.
Political history: West Allis-West Milwaukee School Board, 2011-present
Contact phone: 414-543-2805, home; 414-520-8110, cell
Diane Narlock (inc.)
Address: 1034 S. 89th St., West Allis
Political history: Finishing first term on the West Allis-West Milwaukee School Board, serve on the human relations and the student services committees, formerly on the West Allis Beautification Committee and the block grant committee
Contact phone: 414-333-2578
Gail Radonski (inc.)
Address: 7822 W. Manitoba St., West Allis
Political History: Finishing second term on the West Allis-West Milwaukee School Board, having served as board clerk and currently as secretary; former president, and committee chair for three PTA's in the district schools and currently a member of the Alumni PTA, and the Hoover PTA; PTA member for 24 years; involved in the West Allis Lion’s Club
Contact phone: 414-852-1945
Email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Website: Facebook page open to public
Address: 2055 S. 79th St., West Allis
Political history: First try for public office; member, West Allis Board of Appeals, West Allis-West Milwaukee School District 20-Year facilities planning committee, former member of the Little League of West Allis board of directors
Contact phone: 414-587-0278
Address: 7026 W. Rogers St., West Allis
Political history: First try for public office
Contact phone: 414-460-5267