Meet the School Board Candidates

Jeff Shields

Name: Jeff Shields

Bio: My wife, Kristin, and I moved to Mount Horeb in 2017 with our two kids (now 3rd & 2nd grade) mainly for the school district and small community. Our kids have loved the educators and experiences thus far and we love the close-knit community and getting to know the families through sports, school & other community activities. I have owned my own business (Ameristone Masonry) for around 20 years, I’ve been an assistant coach for my son’s baseball/basketball teams and am on a building committee in town.

Why are you running for a seat on the Mount Horeb Area Board of Education?

Shields: I am running for a seat because I feel that I have a calling to be of service to the Mount Horeb community and our great school district.

Which qualities, skills and/or experiences make you the right candidate for the job?

Shields: I have been running my own masonry company for over 20 years. Almost everything I do daily would be beneficial to my seat on the board: I work with budgets, multiple contractors & customers at once, and must keep lines of communication open at all times.

The past two years have been difficult for everyone, including children and teens in the Mount Horeb Area School District. What has the school district done right during the pandemic, and what should it do differently moving forward?

Shields: The Mount Horeb Area School District has navigated some of the most difficult & unexpected decisions through this pandemic; stepping up in an extraordinary way to create virtual learning programs for our children. The board should stick to keeping students/staff’s best interests at the forefront.

The physical toll of the COVID pandemic is clear and fairly easy to quantify. The long-term developmental, psychological, and emotional damage caused by the pandemic (and the steps taken to try to fight it) are much harder to gauge. But it’s clear that people – particularly children – are increasingly isolated and fearful, and that learning outcomes have suffered, in Mount Horeb and across the country. How can the school board balance the risk of physical harm from COVID with the amorphous problems the fight against the pandemic can cause?

Shields: The Board needs to continue to keep kids in mind first when making decisions.

The local school district includes about 2,500 students and serves eight communities. It receives $30 million in funding annually, and receives 40 percent of the local tax bill. Talk about the current state of school funding, and your vision for its future?

Shields: It seems school funding always seems to be a hot topic. The Board needs to continue to keep kids in mind first when making decisions.

What, as you understand them, are the responsibilities of a local school board member? What is the scope of your responsibilities if elected? Local issues? County issues? State issues? National ones?

The responsibility of a board member is to represent the community to give them a voice, keep the best interests of educators/staff/students first and keep transparency at the highest level possible.

Who are school board members elected to represent? With the complexities and problems of the pandemic thrust upon everyone in a way that was maddening for pretty much everyone, the community debated whose interests the school board should be looking out for, particularly because those interests do not always run in tandem. Students? Teachers? Parents? Taxpayers? (Please do not say “everyone” because not everyone always has the same stakes or interests.)

Shields: Board members represent students and the community  (including parents, teachers/staff), so it does feel like the answer would be YES to representing all these parties. As a candidate, if you can choose just one of these parties to represent, then you shouldn’t be running!

What can the school board do to promote and protect local government transparency?

Shields: The board and local government should have open meetings and records available to everyone if interested.

How do you define Critical Race Theory and what do you feel its role, if any, should be in the classroom?

Shields: I believe all students should have the same opportunity to be their best at MHASD and with the help of the educators, staff and community, everyone can achieve what they strive for in the future. Opportunities are available to everyone with support.

If elected, what are your top priorities?

Shields: a. Keep children in school; b. Support/retain teachers; c. Equality/opportunity for all.

What are the school district’s biggest challenges in 2022 and beyond?

Shields: The district’s biggest challenge in 2022 & beyond is to give our students the tools and skills to achieve and grow and turn into productive, contributing & respectful members of society.

What are its greatest opportunities?

 Shields: The district has a great opportunity to address the issues in today’s workforce with a lack of skilled tradesmen. Higher education is essential for some occupations, but the trades are an area that should be emphasized!

What role can/should local schools play in addressing mental health issues in the community?

Shields: Mental health is a major issue in all walks of life in the community and that needs to be taken seriously. The schools and community should work hand and hand with addressing these issues on high priority.

Three years ago, the Mount Horeb Area School District completed work on $38.5 million in building expansions and upgrades approved and paid for through a voter referendum. It was the largest successful referendum in district history, and future referenda are currently in the works. What role should these ballot measures play in funding the district going forward?

 Shields: Referendums are voted on by the people with the issues and needs of the district at hand.

What is the district currently doing well?

Shields: The district has a challenge of trying to please everyone during a very divided pandemic, which is an impossible feat. With two kids in the district, the teachers/staff have done an exceptional job of communicating directly with the parents and making a tough situation feel more tolerable. Our experience has been great, and I hope that new families entering the district can feel the same.

In what areas could it improve?

 Shields: This is a loaded question. Every district wants to continually evolve, grow and improve and make the school experience the best it can be for everyone and Mount Horeb is no different.

In a very crowded field of candidates, what message would you like to make sure voters hear about you and the job you would do on the board if elected?

Shields: I’m running for the board to help make MHASD the best around. We want people to continue moving to Mount Horeb, because of the schools, and retain current families because of the schools. It’s a team effort and I would like to help in any way possible. 

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Mount Horeb, WI

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