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Candidate Profile: Jill Gaskell
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Pecatonica School Board

There are two candidates for two seats on the Pecatonica school board. Roy R. Ruegsegger, an incumbent, and Jill Gaskell are on the ballot.

Position sought: Pecatonica Area school board

Age: 56

City/town of residence: York Township

Family: Married to Steve Demler; three children - Harley, Cora and Kevin

Education: BS in Biology and Chemistry, MS in Bacteriology

Occupation: Molecular biologist at the Forest Products Laboratory, Madison

Previous elected positions held: None

What are the top issues facing this district/municipality and how would you work to resolve them?

I believe that the major issue facing the Pecatonica Area School District and most school districts is that the Legislature in Madison expects schools to do more with less, and increasingly less, while using punitive measures as assessments and attempting to make public schools and teachers out as scapegoats.

Schools have to deal with the budget cuts as best they can. The low-hanging fruit was cut years ago; there are no easy solutions. But it is important to recognize where the problem lies - with the Legislature - and not let it divide our community against itself. As a prospective board member, I will work to inform the public on what the Pecatonica school district is doing and encourage community cohesiveness and involvement. I will make my decisions based on what is best for the education of our students.

What are other key issues facing the district/municipality, and how would you work to resolve them?

With money so tight in public schools, we need to be able to follow a path that has been chosen based on good science and educational practices. That means that it needs to be chosen by education professionals, not the Legislature.

Some members of the Legislature have decided that they are experts in Educational Science. The Smarter Balanced Assessments have not even been given once and the Legislature has decided that we need something different. I am not an expert in education or Smarter Balanced Assessments, but I know that the district administration and the teachers invest plenty of time, energy and funds to prepare students, only to have Robin Vos and Scott Fitzgerald change their minds.

Public schools, teachers, administrators and even State Supt. Tony Evers have been belittled publicly. Morale among teachers is very low and fewer college students are going into education. Wages are low, especially for young teachers and the hours are considerably longer than an 8-3 school day. In countries where education is high level, teachers are amongst the highest paid people in their society and are honored and respected for their profession. We will not attain our high expectations by trying to humiliate those who teach tomorrow's leaders.