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Candidate Profile: Jill Gaskell
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Pecatonica School Board

With three open seats, the Pecatonica school board election should be relatively simple for voters on April 3. Incumbents Roy Ruegsegger, Jill Gaskell and Marissa Theorin are running for their seats unopposed.

Age: 59

City/town of residence: Blanchardville

Family: Husband, 3 kids

Education: Master's in Bacteriology

Occupation: Retired Molecular Biologist

Previous elected positions held: School Board

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

We need to provide our students with the education and resources that prepare them for the world that they are moving into. That might be college or technical college or a job. They need both soft and hard skills. Communication skills are vital to listening and being heard, as well as communicating exactly what you mean. Adaptability will be a key skill in the future. Life doesn't always go as planned, but they need to find their way forward.

While our students will probably have more education or training after high school, we need to send them out with life skills that will see them through. Grades and academic achievement are important, but so are the more subtle parts of their education: how to succeed in their world.

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

In our community, students get out of high school and leave. Few of them ever come back, or they move back but work in the Madison metropolitan area. When people leave the area every day, they do their shopping somewhere else, they seek their entertainment somewhere else, and often they take their kids to daycare somewhere else, often leading to open enrolling out of the district. This is a death spiral for small communities.

Pecatonica has made inroads in this with our 4K and before and after school care, but more needs to be done. We need more housing that is affordable, better internet, better access to transportation alternatives such as a light rail coming to Dodgeville and Monroe that gives people an alternative to driving, more food options such as take out sandwiches or soups from the grocery stores. We need to work as a community with a school at the center to make this a desirable and practical place to live and work. As a School Board member, I will work with County, State and National elected officials to keep our rural schools and communities thriving.