Questions and Answers from Cudahy School Board Candidates

March 23, 2011

Cudahy School Board Candidates:

Scott Mulqueen (I), Gary Schlunz (I), Kevin Fech, Jenny Cummings

Cudahy School Board Elections: April 5, 2011

Questions and Answers

Question 1: Why are you running for Cudahy School Board?

Scott Mulqueen -

I have been born & raised in Cudahy and I am a product of the Cudahy School system. I made up my mind a few decades back to give back to the city I love and that has given my family so many great things over the years. From the day I first was approached to run as an alderperson right up to today, the input and support of my fellow Cudahy residents has helped me realize I made the right decision and that ,in a small way, I have helped us change and become better.


Kevin Fech -

I am running for School Board to bring the perspective of a parent who has children currently in the School system. I understand that my 3 children all learn differently and we need to ensure that all of our students are getting the best education possible. We must utilize all of our resources to reach the most students possible.


On a daily basis I am seeing and hearing what is going on in our schools. I am also exposed to how technology is working for my children and enhancing their education experience. I believe that quality schools can be a huge asset for our community.


Gary Schlunz -

I was a teacher and principal for 41 years within the Cudahy School District. I am now a school board director completing my first three year term. I do this because my interest in education and the pride I have in our community. Our students must receive a quality education that will prepare them to be future productive citizens.


Jenny Cummings -

I am running for Cudahy School Board because I believe that the parents need a voice on the board. The current board members are not present in the schools on a regular basis and have an everyday feel for what is going on in our schools. I believe our parents and teachers have really great ideas and we need more people to be able to tap into those and share them with the rest of the board.


Question 2: What experience do you bring to the table?


Scott Mulqueen -

My experience is multi faceted. This is my 2nd term on the Board of Education; I have served as the District’s Clerk, Treasurer and Vice President. I have served as the Chair of Athletics & Recreation, Building & Grounds, and have sat on numerous contract negotiating teams. Prior to my first term on the board I was the Alderperson of the 1st District in Cudahy . While serving on the Common Council I chaired the Board of Public Works, Personnel Committee, and Traffic & Safety Commission. I have twice held a seat on the Cudahy Board of Health. I also served on the Cudahy Fire & Police Commission and have twice held a seat on the Cudahy Library Board.


Kevin Fech -

My time on the Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities (BPDD) has taught me that one issue can affect different people in different ways because of their perspective. An example could be on employment. A parent may just be happy that their child with a disability has a job, but the individual who is working is not happy because they are being paid sub minimum wage because of their disability and the employer just feels good about offering the job. It is through these sometimes lively debates that we are able to come up with policy statements. While we may not always agree with the statements, we respect the decision of the group as a whole.


While working in the private sector, I learned to negotiate with vendors and customers to maximize profits. I had to ensure a good return on investment. The same would hold true in our schools, we need to ensure that we are not only getting the most out of our educators, but out of our students as well.


Gary Schlunz -

I have an understanding of the workings of the school district as a professional, parent, school volunteer, school board director, and taxpayer. As a result, I have questioned funds to be spent as I viewed unnecessary. I fully realized as a school principal how financial decisions can have an effect on students. It's not how much money you spend but how you spend it that makes a difference.


Jenny Cummings -

I am very active in the Kozy PTA, being on the committee for our breakfast with Santa, our carnival, teacher appreciation week, etc. I also volunteer both in my child's classroom and for other events for the school. I am a self employed business owner so I know how to work with a budget and make the most out of what you have. I was also an assistant girls swim coach this past fall so I am creating relationships with students, parents and staff at the high school as well.


Question 3: Do you have children or relatives in the school district? Or have you had children or relatives in the school district?


Scott Mulqueen -

My wife, Donna and I are both Cudahy graduates, as are our son David and our daughter Jennifer. I have had many nieces, nephews, cousins and siblings go through our Cudahy Schools. My Mom & Dad believed that the Cudahy District was a great place to educate their children, a belief that they passed along to my siblings and I – who also all graduated from Cudahy . We all went on to be productive members of society in many different ways, but we were all shaped by the education we worked to achieve here in the Cudahy School District. I would debate anyone who claims that in order to be a good school board member you must currently have children in school. We have been fortunate to have had many great residents run and serve on this Board, I know of several who NEVER had any children in the district. The current board make up is a blend of many different viewpoints and opinions that make for a great working relationship between its members. While we all may or may not agree on a given topic, we have a great respect for each other and each opinion on the board.


Kevin Fech -

I currently have 3 children in the school district. My older two will be going to the Middle School next year. My youngest will be entering 4th grade at Lincoln. My oldest son has a developmental disability, so I am familiar with the Special Education programs. But I also have my other two children and I need to make sure they are getting a quality education as well. My focus would be to advocate for all of the programs, from Special Education to the Gifted and Talented. We need to ensure that all students are receiving the best education possible.


Gary Schlunz -

My daughter is a Cudahy teacher who with her brother attended Cudahy schools as youngsters. As a result of her and my previous employment, I recuse myself from the personnel bargaining to prevent any conflict of interest and/or any perceived influence in negotiations.


Jenny Cummings -

Yes, in the fall I will have a kindergartener and a 3rd grader in the district.


Question 4: How many school board meetings have you attended in the last year?


Scott Mulqueen -

I have missed 1 meeting in the last 3 years due to an illness.


Kevin Fech -

I have attended about 6 School Board meetings in the past year. I have read the minutes from past Board meetings on a regular basis.


Gary Schlunz -

I attended all meetings except when on a vacation or ill.


Jenny Cummings -

Probably about 8-10 of them.


Question 5: Is there anything that would preclude you from fully executing your duties as a Board member? Do you have sufficient time to devote to this position?


Scott Mulqueen -

This position, like any other, is shaped by the time you put into it. I spend a lot of time before, during and after meetings on my own going over issues and their effect on students, parents, and taxpayers here in Cudahy . I have never felt that I have any issues that preclude me from executing any duties on the Board. If you want to do public service you better make the time to serve the public!


Kevin Fech -

My work schedule is flexible. I can schedule any appointment around Board commitments. During the summer, I would work around any baseball/softball games to ensure that I am at the meetings.


Gary Schlunz -

As stated, I do not participate in any bargaining because of the need to remove any conflict of interest. Yes I do have the time to devote to this position.


Jenny Cummings -

Nothing would prevent me from executing the duties of a board member. I am very passionate about the education system here in Cudahy and just want to see it improve. I believe by not working full time I am able to solicit more ideas and communicate better with the community about what is going on in our school district. I think ideas need to be communicated much better and further in advance so discussion can happen. Some things seemed to be rushed and nobody has had a chance to even understand why things are happening.


Question 6: With the current budget cuts we are facing, what are the top 3-5 things that you will fight for to retain for the students in Cudahy?


Scott Mulqueen -

Any candidate that claims to have a grip on the current budget and its implications at this date and time is a LIAR. Any candidate that tells you that they will lower your taxes is a LIAR. Too many fingers go into making a tax bill to get all of them on the same page. Federal, State, County, MATC, MMSD, Schools, Cities, the lottery and recycling all go into the bottom line of your tax bill. So no one candidate on any single board or common council can truthfully make that claim. All I can and will promise anyone is that I treat every dollar like it comes out of my own wallet and I always make sure to get the largest bang for every buck!


The current budget issues brought to us by Madison will leave us with a large funding gap – we cannot exactly predict how bad it will be, but at this point we have streamlined our District so well that there is not much room for more cuts. Our budget is made up of approximately 80 percent for wages & benefits and 20 percent for educational programs. The fiscally conservative policy on the current board will help us, as we move forward, to continue to find ways to do more with less. Our OPEB (Other Post Employment Benefits) position and fund balance are the envy of many districts, Cudahy was one of the few districts that made and kept its commitment to set aside funds to get these fully funded rather than use the pay-as-you-go system that others have chosen. Current and past boards have struggled with many issues but have kept focus and hard work on the critical financial issues that coupled with the proposed budgets cuts may put many districts in an even tighter money crunch. We are currently still working to sort out the exact ramifications of this new budget and the “budget repair” bill.


My top 3 concerns to protect in this budget are:

*Funds for Technology – We must keep pace with current tools & trends that our students will need as they emerge from our system. We must filter this into every level of grade & students as it is the future of our world.


*Funding for Core subjects – I feel we need to be sure that every child that we pass through these doors has EVERY opportunity to become the best student they can be and that we are certain that a “core” group of educational items have been given to him or her to help then start their life’s journey.


*Producing “Well Rounded” Students – I feel that the district cannot simply offer and push students in academics, but must also develop student interest in other areas of their development as well, not limited to but including Music, Arts and extra curricular activities. Most colleges (2yr & 4 yr) are looking for the best students, and while grades are a critical part of that mix, many have criteria that address the “total” student they are looking for, a well rounded student who will better adapt to life after high school and success!


Kevin Fech -

I will work to retain a suitable and acceptable teacher to student ratio, especially in the grade schools. I believe that early personal interaction with students gives them a good base in their education as they move forward.


I will work to keep all science and technology programs in place. I believe that these are the careers of the future and we need to make sure that our students are prepared for that future. I also believe that progressive foreign languages need to be explored i.e. Mandarin Chinese.


I would work to keep all extra curricular activities. If for some reason it is not possible to keep a program, I will make sure that we have information available to the students so they can continue to pursue their dreams. I believe that students who excel in extra curricular activities, especially the arts, do better academically.


Gary Schlunz -

Quality Education

Fiscal Responsibility and Accountability

Safe Schools,

Student and Adult Behavior

Building Facilities Maintenance

Improve Internet Communication to Parents and Community

Promote Improved Administration and Staff Performance


Jenny Cummings -

I don't want to give specific examples because we have no idea right now how much money is going to be cut and what our district is facing. I think our biggest priority should be to keep as many teachers in the classrooms and think of other creative ways to cut other costs. It is also important to keep many extra curricular activities as those help our students become well rounded people of society. Things are going to change, that is inevitable, but I believe if we open our minds and reach out to the community, we can come up with ways to cut money and still keep everything we have right now and maybe even better some areas. I believe our biggest focus needs to be on the high school and raising expectations so that the students can graduate and be successful at any college they attend. I am ready to give my all to the school district and believe I have great ideas and lots of resources to help us better our schools and make a difference in children's lives.


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