From: Steve Schild
Winona Area Public Schools Board
Throughout my time on the School Board, I’ve said that money put into buildings we don’t need is money taken away from education — from music, art, extracurriculars, and opportunities for students. I stand by that statement, and if voters turn me out of office, I’ll leave knowing I’ve done my best for what I believe is best for the people we serve.
Kendall Larson wants to keep all five elementary schools open. I don’t believe we can afford to. That disagreement is at the heart of her recent letters criticizing me, which I’ll address briefly here.
Regarding my work on the School Board’s Negotiating Committee: My wife Margaret, who’s been Community Education director for 24 years, is one of a handful of administrators who aren’t in a bargaining unit. After contracts are negotiated for employees who are in a bargaining unit — principals, teachers, educational assistants (paraprofessionals), maintenance, food service and clerical workers — the administrative group that includes Margaret receives the same percentage raise other employee groups have gotten.
With every superintendent and board chair I’ve served under, I’ve offered to leave the Negotiating Committee given my relationship with Margaret. Every time I’ve asked, I’ve been told there was no need for me to step down. When committee assignments were discussed recently, I again offered to leave the Negotiating Committee. A board member suggested that I continue on the committee but not vote; I thought it better to resign from the committee, which I did the next day.
It is simply not true that I have done anything unethical or shown any favoritism to Margaret on the School Board or negotiating committee.
Ms. Larson criticizes the board’s choice of the Wold architectural firm to analyze facility needs. Wold was recommended by an administrative team that ranked firms competing for the work, Ms. Larson wanted another firm that she thought would steer us toward renovating, and therefore keeping open, all the elementary schools.
Ms. Larson wants to create a diversion: If we’re talking about my ethics or Margaret’s compensation or hiring Wold, we’re not talking about bigger questions, such as how do we ensure an equitable education for all students and where would we find millions of dollars to continue operating buildings we don’t need.