New member on Clintonville School Board
By Erik Buchinger
The Clintonville School Board named Laurie Vollrath its newest member Monday, Sept. 11.
Seven candidates returned a Declaration of Interest for the board vacancy, including Vollrath, Gerald Smith, Patricia Schoonover, Mary-Beth Kuester, Larry Czarnecki, Ward Wittman and Tracy Strey.
Smith withdrew from his candidacy on Sept. 6, and Wittman withdrew prior to the candidates giving their statements at the meeting.
“I have a statement prepared, and I was in full intention of maintaining my candidacy,” Wittman said. “After sitting through the first part of the meeting, I’m not sure I’m your best candidate.”
Vollrath was the first candidate to give her presentation to the board.
“I never thought twice about what went on in the school district, and frankly I didn’t think it mattered what I had to say about anything,” Vollrath said. “Well that all changed last May when my little boy was due to start school at Dellwood, and there was talk about the school closing. They were going to close the building, and I was really concerned that my 4-year-old, who is nonverbal and half the size of a normal 4-year-old, was going to go to a big school like Longfellow. I decided to go to the school board meeting and voice my thoughts.”
Vollrath said she was nervous to voice her opinion to the board, but it was something she believed in.
“I told you all my thoughts, and most of you agreed closing Dellwood would have been a mistake for this year anyways,” Vollrath said. “I realize that at some point it may be in the future, but when I left here, I didn’t even give it a second thought.”
Vollrath said several people in the community came up to her and thanked her for helping to keep Dellwood Early Learning Center open.
“That’s when I realized my voice was heard and what I had to say did matter,” Vollrath said. “Never in a million years would I have thought that I would apply for a vacancy on the school board, but here I am. I’m not saying I have all the answers and can fix the problems, but I have ideas, and I have an open mind.”
Board member Lori Poppe asked Vollrath more about her background.
Vollrath said grew up in Marion and has lived in Clintonville since she was 19 years old. She has two daughters – a senior and a sophomore and a son who is in 4K. Vollrath said she speaks at the Diversity Day at the high school for her son with Down syndrome. She is a teller at Fox Communities and makes a lot of trips to Milwaukee for her son’s health.
After the candidates gave their speeches, four candidates received votes from the board, including Vollrath, Schoonover, Czarnecki and Kuester.
When a motion to nominate a candidate was made with a second, the six-member board voted until there was a majority.
Schoonover received three votes, as did Czarnecki. Vollrath was the third candidate voted on and received four votes.
School Board President Ben Huber said she would be sworn in during the next school board meeting.