School Board Candidate Responses – 2024

Please provide some personal background information (name, occupation, list any community activities you are involved with).

Timothy Hess: Name – Timothy Hess
Occupation – Statistician / Developer / Development Consultant / Former Professor of Mathematics
List any community activities you are involved with – Board member of Greater Oshkosh Economic Development Corporation and emeritus board president of Habitat for Humanity of Oshkosh

Kristopher Karns (incumbent): Name – Kristopher Karns
I am currently employed at the Advanced Spine Center of Wisconsin where I am the Administrator (think CEA).  I helped in opening up the surgery center almost 5 years ago.  I have been on the school board for 3 years, I am president of Oshkosh United Soccer Club for almost 2 years, and I am coaching basketball with Oshkosh West Basketball Club.  I am the dad to two boys (6th and 9th grade) and the uncle to a soon-to-be graduating niece at Oshkosh West. My wife is currently student teaching and will be graduating with her bachelor’s and teaching degree in May.

Chris Wright (incumbent): Name – Chris Wright
Occupation – Screening Specialist, Molina Health Care
List any community activities you are involved with – Current Oshkosh School Board Member “Treasurer”, Former Town of Algoma Board; Supervisor, Former Winnebago County Board Member, Youth Coach, Former Reeve Union Board President, Former Vice President of UW-Oshkosh Student Council, Former Advocap Board of Directors Members, Former Winnebago County IT Committee Member

Beth Wyman (incumbent): Name – Beth Wyman
Occupation – Community Volunteer
List any community activities you are involved with – Currently I am the president of the OASD School Board, attend all OASD committee meetings and chair of the Oshkosh Yacht Club youth sailing program.

1. What do you believe is your primary responsibility as a board member? What will be your most important objective if you are elected to the board?

Timothy Hess: My primary responsibility will be to hold the administrative leadership team accountable. This includes evaluating performance in academic achievement as well as critically evaluating the budget priorities and ensuring fiscal transparency to the taxpayer.

We need to see a change in mind-set. My primary objective will be to bring the science of education back into the board room, rather than the politics of education we see now. By the end of my three-year term, my hope is that my other fellow board members will begin to see that it is acceptable to critically evaluate our educational leadership in a respectful manner.

Kristopher Karns (incumbent): Education is how we change the world.  It is that simple for me.  It is the ultimate equalizer and it is imperative we give our children the tools to be successful.  My primary focus right now is our literacy scores and our long term facility plan.  We have paid off $40 million of our debt early so set us up for phase 2 with very little impact on the taxpayers.  Right sizing our district to the appropriate buildings allows us to save hundreds of thousands per year on overhead costs and allows us to staff our buildings to the level our students deserve.

Chris Wright (incumbent): My primary responsibility as a School Board Member is to ensure that as many students as possible are College, Career and Community ready when they leave the Oshkosh Area School District. My most important objective as a School Board member is to ensure that the school district is putting the right programming, curriculum and leadership in place to ensure that as many students as possible are College, Career and Community ready when they leave our School District. I believe that we have made great strides in these areas. The relationship between the Chamber and District is strengthening. Literacy Scores are up 3 percent, staff engagement has increased dramatically and we are losing fewer and fewer students to other districts each year.

Beth Wyman (incumbent): There are four primary board responsibilities – 1. Setting policy which drives every board decision. 2. Community Leadership – Advocating for our district through community engagement and legislation. 3.  Along with the superintendent, set the budget (always considering the impact that it will have on taxpayers and to serve as good financial stewards), vision, and expectations that will move the district forward. 4.  Evaluate the superintendent to ensure that strategic goals are being met. The most important objective is to be visible and available to every constituent to ensure their voices are being heard.

2. There are distinct differences between each of the four candidates who are seeking positions on the Board of Education. Please outline what distinguishes your candidacy and qualifications from those of your opponents.

Timothy Hess: I am likely the most rigorously trained candidate for this position given that I hold a PhD in statistics and educational research methods. I am capable of critically evaluating programs or interventions for academic rigor and effectiveness in the planning stages as well as during and after completion of the program. My opponents seem to take on blind faith that because our administrators are highly educated that any program suggested will simply work despite effectively seeing no change during their tenure. In part, this is because they rely on administrative leadership to tell them what data is important and how to present it. In turn, one shouldn’t be surprised that what is presented tends to hide anything that doesn’t appear to be a favorable result.

In addition, my experience as a development consultant and expert in tax increment financing will aid me in critically evaluating the budget and financial decisions that impact the local property tax payer.

Kristopher Karns (incumbent): I have lived in Oshkosh my entire life and I understand the differences throughout our community.  I made it a goal of mine to visit every school in our district and I completed it this past fall.  It is important to understand the differences in our community when we are discussing and voting on items that affect so many.  My wife is a teacher and it is helpful for me to understand the challenges teachers face and how the board can support our staff.

Chris Wright (incumbent): I would say that my proven track record of getting things done as an elected official and my connections to the schools and community distinguish me. As a Town of Algoma Supervisor we were able to get the first park built and we were able to put in place a really good comprehensive plan and infrastructure strategy. During college I was a part of Reeve Union’s rebuild. Now as a School Board Member we are reshaping and improving facilities, curriculum, staff engagement and our key performance indicators. In a few years the community will be really proud of the work that is occurring now. Currently I have 3 children attending OASD and they are in 4th, 7th and 9th Grade. They attend West High School, Traeger Middle School and Tipler Middle School/Alps. I have kids in Elementary, Middle School and High School. So I am really invested in OASD and its future success.

Beth Wyman (incumbent): Those items which distinguish me are my extensive leadership positions for not-for-profit boards and my volunteer involvement in the OASD.
Community Volunteer and Roles: I have been honored to serve as board president of the Paine Art Center, Oshkosh Public Museum, Oshkosh Area Community Foundation, UWO Foundation, Oshkosh Yacht Club, Oshkosh Yacht Club Sailing School, Inland Lakes Yachting Association.
Oshkosh Area School District Volunteer Roles:
Washington School: PTO President, Box Top For Education Promoter, Counter and Enthusiast. Along with Sara Kroll (now at Oakwood) raised enough money to replace the playground when it was taken away.
Webster Stanley – Helped complete the fundraising efforts for the auditorium chairs
Oshkosh North – Member of the redistricting committee, co-chair of the Bill Van Lieshout tennis court refurbishment and Light the Lights (court light project), Post prom chair and committee member
OASD – One of the founding members and chair for many years of Oshkosh4Education, a program to connect our school district with our community. Co-chair of the inaugural OASD Gala 2023 to benefit the arts/music. We were able to raise over $106,000 which directly impacted students. The accomplishment I am most proud of was the district’s Curb Appeal project. A one-day community event where school and community members came together to beautify and enhance each school’s curb appeal. I still get shivers when I think of everything, we accomplished that day.

3. The Department of Public Instruction produces annual report cards that indicate overall student achievement and engagement.  While the Oshkosh Area School District received an overall score of 68.4, which puts the district in the “Meets Expectations” category, there are still opportunities for improvement when compared to the rest of the state in Advanced and Proficiency ratings such as English Language Arts & Mathematics.  As a member of the Board of Education, what will you do to ensure improved scores in these two areas?

Timothy Hess: As stated previously, my background in statistics and program evaluation will allow me to be able to critically appraise programs and action plans proposed by district leaders. Part of what I have seen is that our board simply does not understand much of the information or strategies presented to them. I would encourage that any new program or plan come with an evaluation logic model that will help illuminate just how any program is likely to impact our students prior to implementation. In addition, I will call for any plan to delineate clear and measurable outcomes or metrics as well as a plan for the timing of analysis. The logic model and regular analytics might help identify shortcomings as early as possible so that we can effectively bring the appropriate resources to a given problem as quickly as possible.

Kristopher Karns (incumbent): As a current board member I have been part of the board that has put literacy goals into policy.  That shows how important we feel literacy is to our community and our district.  Math will get added to policy eventually.  We did see a 3% improvement in literacy and the admin team has already made changes going forward so we see a larger improvement for next year.  Over the past 3 years we have laid the groundwork for the generational changes we are going to see in literacy and in math.  It may take a couple years to fully realize this, but we have the right people and soon the right programs in place to support our students to achieve at the level they deserve.  I want to continue my work on the board to turn Oshkosh into a destination district for many (education, sports, arts, music and more).

Chris Wright (incumbent): First of all I would like to highlight that Oshkosh North finished first in the FVA on the last DPI report card and that Oshkosh West finished 3rd. That means that our system is successful at improving students’ outcomes. Oshkosh North finished ahead of high schools like Kimberly, Hortonville and Neenah etc. Oshkosh West finished ahead of all of them except Neenah. With that being said we still have a lot more work to do. Last year our literacy scores improved by 3 percentage points and I think that we are putting systems in place that will be able to make that growth continual and consistent. The key components in our literacy and math programs that will need to keep being refined and improved continually are high quality staff retention “Teacher engagement has improved greatly”, our Key Performance Indicators “we didn’t have those when I got on the board” and curriculum “we will have some curriculum changes in the near future that we will need to get right “I will not approve those until I am confident that they will lead to better outcomes for all of our students”. I believe that focusing on those areas will allow OASD and its students to reach its full potential.

Beth Wyman (incumbent): Our plans for every grade need to be consistent with built in content areas in literacy including phonetical concepts. By using rapid cycles of improvement and continuing to monitor intermittent iReady test results given in the classroom three times a year, we will ensure that similar concepts are being understood and are applicable. It is imperative that we recognize if a student is not at grade level so an individual plan can be developed at once. We will be adopting a K-5 new core curriculum for the 2025-2026 school year. A committee of teachers, administrators and community members has been formed to evaluate the proposed curriculum. They are looking at proposals which will include the Science of Reading foundation which is based on phonemic awareness, vocabulary, comprehension, and phonics.

4. OASD is committed to ensuring all students graduate College, Career and Community Ready (CCCR). What qualities do you feel a student graduating College, Career and Community Ready possesses?  Do you feel that OASD is currently succeeding in creating CCCR graduates? If not, what areas need improvement, and how would you help facilitate that as a member of the Board of Education?

Timothy Hess: I wholly agree that our success shouldn’t solely be determined by scores in English and Mathematics. We must be cognizant of the diversity of plans our students might have after graduation and try our best to support whatever direction each student chooses. Some of our students are college ready, but some that want to go in that direction are not. However, the career and community readiness areas are something I feel like our schools are doing a good job on. Here, employers are looking for graduates to be able to work with others or in a team, and other soft skills. Our classrooms seem to do a good job of encouraging collaborative work.  I believe our district has continued to work with the chamber and business leaders to stay up to date with the desire of local employers. I would continue to advocate for and support these collaborations.

Kristopher Karns (incumbent): It is important to understand not all students will go to college and that is absolutely acceptable.  We need to give all students the tools to be successful when they graduate.  We have a number of programs currently available and we continue to connect with more local businesses to increase the options.  We need to continue connecting with our community to grow our program opportunities.

Chris Wright (incumbent): I feel like a lot of our students are graduating College, Career and Community Ready. I think that continuing to strengthen our relationships in the community with the Chamber and Businesses will make even more students College, Career and Community Ready. As a current Board Member I am in regular contact with Business Leaders in the Community and we have continual dialog about employment needs and the job skills that OASD students will need to be successful.

Beth Wyman (incumbent): We need to educate the whole student, meaning that each child has a passion that can be nurtured. The qualities of a successful student are one that is involved, empowered, and engaged in every aspect of school life. One area that we can continue to improve is by offering extracurricular activities and providing classes that allow a student to explore their passions and learn what interests them for the future. Improving reading and math scores for all students will provide a larger pool of students ready to be more successful after high school in college, careers, and community

5. Tech Education – the old Industrial Arts programs – has been slowly disappearing for many years for various reasons. Please describe your thoughts as to the need for these programs. Describe how much emphasis/weight you personally would put on this in your decision-making process as well as from a policy, expectations, and accountability stance.

Timothy Hess: I have assisted my friend and business partner for nearly two decades in the realm of development and general contracting and believe that these skills are in extremely high demand and can provide family supporting wages. But beyond the employment potential, having a well-rounded understanding of mechanical systems or construction methods will aid the younger generation in maintaining their homes. We will continue to need well trained individuals in these fields and would support maintaining these programs in our schools.

Kristopher Karns (incumbent): I see a lot of the previous question in this one regarding College, Career and Community Ready.  We need to continue to invest in these programs to give our students the options to be successful.

Chris Wright (incumbent): I think that these programs are needed and that our district is improving in this area. The Old Industrial Arts programs are greatly linked to having qualified teachers, community partners and proper facilities. Middle School Students at the new Val Phillips Middle School now have more access and better programming in this area because of the new Middle School that our community built. Programming improvements have been made to the old Industrial Arts programs at North High School and the relationships between the Chamber, Businesses and community have been improving in this area. Personally my Middle School Child has participated in the Old Industrial Arts programs offered at Carl Traeger Middle School. I will continue to advocate for access to this programming and for the continual relationship building between OASD and the Business community.

Beth Wyman (incumbent): The CTE program continues to thrive and grow in the OASD. Recently a district wide program audit was completed. From this information the internship program director has developed Career Path Program Improvement plans in Manufacturing, Construction, Education, Healthcare and Business. These five areas account for nearly 70% of our labor market. The district has made great strides in overhauling the school to work program as a manufacturing capstone experience for seniors. From a policy perspective, we have partnered with FVTC to ensure our students can participate in dual credit options and are more likely to be hired after graduation. As a district understand the need to educate many of our students in the trades. We need to continue to support our efforts to recruit, retain, and train licensed CTE staff and find business partners willing to work with our district on CTE initiates, including curriculum facility upgrades and youth apprenticeship employers. These are all elements which are the hallmark of the ACE Program in Fond du Lac. The programs we are offering are making substantial inroads and partnerships with many local businesses. Any time we can bring in a professional into a classroom it has a positive impact, but we need to do so much more. I’m so pleased to see the increased CTE exposure in the Vel Phillips middle school. This year’s annual OASD Gala is focusing on our CTE pathways and providing much needed equipment upgrades at our schools.
Here is more information about the 2024 Gala

6. Long-Range Planning – Oshkosh has made significant progress regarding facility improvement, and current examples are the opening of the new Vel Phillips Middle School in the fall of 2023 and the new Menominee Elementary School, which is currently under construction.  However, Oshkosh area residents have seen their annual OASD tax bills increase by over 30% since 2020.  With an updated 10-year Facility Plan in place, please describe how you will stabilize and prioritize this expenditure growth with more proposed school improvement projects on the horizon.  Also, discuss your thoughts on how the OASD should address replacement plans and long-term preventative maintenance on its aging facilities, specifically our high schools.

Timothy Hess: I can appreciate the effort that has gone into developing a long-range facilities plan. It is important for our community to understand the potential needs of our schools and allow our educators to make the case for continued improvements. That said, the price tag that comes with the plan will, in my opinion, will overburden our local taxpayers. Before we move forward on any next phase, I believe we need to get an updated facilities study. In part, I say this because our last report was generated in 2017 and thus outdated. However, I also substantially question the validity of the report. I say this, because I was one of the four people that bought Smith School from the district. In my opinion the reported needs and associated costs were substantially overstated. Moreover, I believe any facilities study should be conducted by an independent firm that doesn’t stand to make substantial consulting fees from the construction of new buildings.

Before the community will support any new buildings, I believe our district leaders need to make substantial efforts to increase fiscal transparency. In large part, the reason the school portion of the property tax bill has increased is because our district has chosen to tax substantially more than what we were told to secure our vote. For example, someone who owns a property valued at $200,000 paid just under $1,200 more in property taxes over the last two years than what the district told us in 2020 and still has on their website. If we did levy what we were told in 2020, the entirety of the 30% increase taxpayers have seen would go away. District leaders have been clear that their goal is to get the levy up next year to the point that would support the next $170 million referendum planned for the spring of 2025. If they accomplish this, they will then be able to say to the taxpayer, “If you vote for this, it won’t cost you much more.”  I believe this is wrong and that we should be following through with what we originally told voters to secure their votes.

That said, I appreciate our leaders desire to continue to advocate for updated facilities. However, when it comes to large investments in our built environments, these decisions must be left to the voting public.

Kristopher Karns (incumbent): The current long range facility plan came about because of the many failing buildings and decreasing enrollment in Oshkosh.  The decreasing enrollment is not just isolated in Oshkosh as more than half of the districts in Wisconsin are seeing declining enrollment simply due to low birth numbers.  We have long been a “low” spending district when it comes to our property taxes and we needed to adjust that so we didn’t see so much variation through the next phases of our facility plan.  The current tax model actually saw a .3% reduction in taxes in the City of Oshkosh for 2023 and is setting us up for very little increase for phase 2 next year.  It would have cost us over $160 million to band-aid our current issues and the district and board at that time realized we needed to invest in long term changes to the current buildings.  We created a fund where we can continue to take care of maintenance issues going forward so our district never gets in the current situation again. Also our district paid off $40 million from the last referendum early to save our taxpayers from long term borrowing and increased property taxes. Investing in our school district, our buildings and our students is the best way to safeguard our property values and increase development in Oshkosh.

Chris Wright (incumbent): Our School Districts Facilities and Maintenance needs have to be on a regular and consistent schedule. For too long we didn’t have a proper building Replacement and Maintenance plan. Because of decades of non planning we got ourselves into a building needs crisis “at one point building maintenance needs were well over 100 million dollars”. Fortunately the Community and Board came together and developed a comprehensive Long Range Facilities Plan to address these needs. The Community and School District will never be able to thrive with old outdated and non efficient buildings. However it is critical that this plan is implemented properly and that the Tax Levy is at the forefront of this implementation process. I voted in favor of restructuring our debt and because of that decision we have saved roughly 40 million dollars in interest payments. Additionally we are now self funding OASDs health insurance. These decisions will allow the community to have the option of addressing our Long Term Facility Needs with little impact to the Tax Levy. Furthermore the consolidation of our secondary schools is contributing to a lot of operational savings. The NorthSide secondary schools consolidation will lead to between 1.5 to 2 millions dollars of Annual consolidation saving. Our facilities are becoming more modern, attractive and efficient while offering better learning opportunities. This process will allow us to stabilize or reduce the Tax Levy and put our Facilities on a non compressed building Replacement and Maintenance Schedule. In fact the City portion of the School District Tax Bill stabilized this year with little to no increase.

Beth Wyman (incumbent): The increased tax levy in 2020 was put into place to help the district financially fit Phases 2 and 3 of the Long-Range Facilities Plan, adopted by the Board in January 2020, into a future budget. We knew we needed to prepay debt to reduce the debt in future phases. By stepping up the tax levy the past three years and prepaying debt, we will be set up to move into phases 2 and 3 with a lower need for overall tax levy increases. Because of the pre-work payments we would be able to move into Phase 2 (South Park, North auditorium, expansion to Franklin, Oakwood, and Traeger Middle, close Roosevelt) with an increase potentially less than 1% next year. This means that we have gotten to the point where we can pass the next referendum with minimal tax impact for property owners. The method allows the district to flatten the tax impact and allows a small amount of prepayment so Phase 3 (new West High School) will also have a minimal impact on taxpayers. Phase 4 will address North High School renovations and updates. West High will be 64 years old, and North will be 52 years old this year. In the future we should not wait as long as we have to renovate and build schools. If we continue with our current financial plan, we should be able to touch a building at least once in a 90-year period.

7. What reforms, if any, would you support to fund public school operations?  What is your view of school choice?

Timothy Hess: I am supportive of the state investing in proven methods that significantly increase academic achievement, provide resources for mental health, or increase student safety, through increased appropriations from the general fund that will not increase the local tax levy. The problem I see is that our state leaders prefer to use political rhetoric rather than rigorous evaluation to determine if a program is effective thus would suggest my support might be few and far between. Our schools did see a significant increase in funding from Governor Evers this last summer. I believe our schools should be able to live within their means.

I do support the use of school choice vouchers. Given the achievement we have seen in our public schools, I cannot blame parents for wanting to seek alternative programs for their children.

Kristopher Karns (incumbent): I do not support the school choice / voucher program.  There is no transparency or accountability for private schools that take public money.  If this system continues then there needs to be equal accountability and transparency when it comes to student achievement, open meetings, and decision-making.

Chris Wright (incumbent): I applaud the State for dedicating more funding to Public Schools within the past budget cycle. I have no problem with parents having the choice to pick which school fits their child’s needs the best.

Beth Wyman (incumbent): One area that I would continue to support is additional state funding for special education. This area continues to grow, and the current funding model is not sustainable. Currently the state reimburses us at 33%.  Many legislators requested 60% reimbursement.  You can see the discrepancy. Many of our paraprofessionals work with our special ed students.  We have recently modified their job descriptions and pay brackets to reflect their current responsibilities.  They certainly have changed in the past 15 years.
I have no problem with school choice; however, it is important that community taxpayers fully understand the funding that is given to the voucher program.  Currently the voucher program for parochial schools receives more per pupil than the public schools. Why? Currently our two parochial schools are 53% and 35% funded by the voucher program. However, our public schools (taxpayers) pay for the bussing for voucher school students and often provide special education services to the students there. Special education students in the voucher program receive 100% funding. There is talk that in two years our parochial schools may be 100% funded.  That would mean that we have two educational systems. If the parochial schools are accepting that amount of funding what makes them a private school?  This is a state issue that needs to be addressed.

8. WDPI studies report concerning trends within the current education workforce, including declining teacher retention rates on new teachers within their first five years, education program enrollment still below levels seen in 2008-09, and only 67% of possible new teachers entering the public education system along with high numbers of unfilled K-12 education positions.  As a member of the Board of Education, what will you do to ensure improved retention rates among educators?

Timothy Hess: Our teachers are one of the most critical factors for improving our performance. We need to ensure that they are compensated fairly and provided with a supportive work environment. A solid market study should be able to determine fair compensation, however, many teachers I have talked with are concerned about the caliber of their health insurance. This is something that needs to be reviewed closely.

There are two factors I have heard in terms of a supportive environment. First, the teachers are looking for servant leadership from the administrative team. The concern is that many initiatives or training take time away from teachers being in front of students and that this should be minimized. And second, it is abundantly apparent that the voice of the teacher is substantially absent in the board room. We need a tool where teachers can anonymously weigh in to programs and/or curriculum without facing any retribution for providing input and without it being filtered by administration.

Kristopher Karns (incumbent): Our district’s retention numbers are about average for the industry, but where Oshkosh shines is our extremely high staff engagement numbers.  We do need to do a better job supporting and paying our staff and I believe there is an opportunity real soon to take care of that with our operational savings from our new buildings/facility reduction. That is an important area of focus is to make sure all our staff members are financially supported to the level they deserve.  That is one more way we can become a destination district, not just for students but also for staff members as well.

Chris Wright (incumbent): Attracting and retaining quality teachers has been a priority of mine during my time on the Board of Education. I believe that we attract and retain talent by creating a positive work environment that compensates teachers and staff members fairly. We have made some good strides in teacher pay by implementing some of the highest raises for teachers in the history of the district. Also, our staff engagement has increased dramatically. Additionally, continuing to build on the relationships that we have established with UW-O and other Universities will be crucial to attracting the best upcoming available talent.

Beth Wyman (incumbent): There are three areas:
1. Creating and promoting a positive and engaged culture. It has been shown that those that are involved in their workplace and enjoy coming to work every day (most days) tend to exude a positive learning culture. The staff engagement survey that is conducted twice a year tells us that we are meeting the mark. The new emphasis on principals being the leader of the building, both educationally and culturally, shows how important teacher and staff involvement is. We need to scream from the mountain tops of our successes. How exciting that our two high schools placed 1 and 3 in our athletic conference for the state report care. That rating says important things about every level of our education and most importantly that the longer the student is with us the more successful they are as a student and contributing member to society.
2. Community Engagement. We saw at the Vel Phillips open house the number of community members that want to help. With 80% of our voters not having children in school, it is critical that to give them the opportunity to be included in the positive impacts our schools have on our neighborhoods and the local work force. Volunteers can be a tremendous asset in aiding our staff and most importantly our students.
3. Community. The school district and the Chamber have reignited the partnership program between individual schools and business/organizations. These relationships will give students even more opportunities to be college, career, and community ready. There have been and will continue to be improvements to our community that will encourage community development which leads to an improved quality of life for all Oshkosh residents. We are all in this together. One thing we learned from Oshkosh4Education is that businesses, employees, and their families come to communities that have a rock star public education. We are there and getting better.

9. The Oshkosh Chamber of Commerce is working with local businesses and the school district on programming to help create employable students. Some surrounding communities have created alternative/untraditional programming, such as the ACE Academy in Fond du Lac, that allows industry professionals to teach their skilled trade specialties directly to as many as 300 students within the existing school year using hands-on applications. With teacher shortages and upcoming building construction already in consideration, would you consider adding alternative education options into strategic planning conversations if supported by the local business population?

Timothy Hess: We must continue to be open to offering novel forms of education that get students ready for the next stage of their lives. Many of our students want to enter the workforce immediately after graduation and programming like this can help these students achieve more skilled positions and help our local business community address the substantial workforce shortages they are facing. I would be fully supportive of looking more into this type of programming.

Kristopher Karns (incumbent): I think it is important to always be open to new ideas when it comes to education.  While we are a very large public school district, we do have a lot of resources within our community to educate our students so they are successful when graduating.  I welcome more of those conversations as to how we can help our community and how our community can help the school district.

Chris Wright (incumbent): Yes, I would absolutely be open to his type of programming if it was supported by the local business population. I am a big believer in the trades. Part time I help pour concrete for a local concrete company and my father in law owned a local construction company for many years in Oshkosh. Also, my wife is currently working in management for one of the biggest manufacturing companies in Oshkosh. Connecting businesses in Oshkosh to the schools has been and it will continue to be a big priority for me as a School Board Member.

Beth Wyman (incumbent): Absolutely, the ACE Academy in FdL has been extremely successful in engaging students in the fields of architecture, construction and engineering. Providing relevant education about each one of these fields allows students the opportunity to explore careers, get firsthand experiences, and gain industry specific knowledge. This year the OASD Gala held on May 3, 2024, will focus on fundraising opportunities to make our CTE experiences more relevant and industry focused. I would most definitely support discussions about adding alternative education options into the strategic plan.
Here is the link with more information about the gala.

10. What are the literacy challenges students face, and how would you address them?

Timothy Hess: With under 36% of students being proficient likely students are struggling in many areas. However, to figure out what specific challenges they face we would need to look at the individual domain level results of the Forward Exam and the i-Ready assessments. Typically, this level of detail isn’t shared at the board level. However, given that literacy had been a primary focus in the district for years and we have seen little improvement, it might be time that the board looks at this information and requests of administration a logic model that addresses the individual domains to see how proposed solutions can actually help students.

Additionally, we have to question the proposed curriculum we are looking to use in the near future. Wisconsin Act 20 put in place financial incentives for districts to use rigorous curriculum in line with the phonics-based Science of Reading. The WI DPI assembled an Early Literacy Curriculum Council to evaluate various curricula. Ultimately this council selected 4 programs that met the rigor called for in the state statutes. However, the DPI decided to overrule the council of experts, in my opinion, for political expediency. Now two of the three curricula OASD is considering to pilot next year are absent from the Early Literacy Council’s approved list (but are on the DPI’s list). It is troubling that we might choose to ignore the recommendations of the experts in the state rather than demanding rigor for the students of Oshkosh.

Kristopher Karns (incumbent): The biggest focus of the current school board is on literacy rates.  We have an “all hands on deck” approach right now as the admin team is selecting new literacy curriculum and we use our highly trained staff to vastly improve our literacy rates.  A big challenge in Oshkosh is almost half of our students are either at or below the poverty line.  Many families have real challenges just meeting basic needs every day.  We can always use more community support to help those families.  All our students have a fundamental right to learn to read and write and as long as I am part of the board we are going to use all available resources to support our students, staff and family members.  We all succeed when our kids succeed, and that is my focus going forward.

Chris Wright (incumbent): The Oshkosh School District has roughly 750 kids that are English Second Language Learners and 61 different languages are spoken within the School District. Our ESOL program is terrific at teaching English to these kids but at the same time we also need to ensure that our curriculum and teaching methods are coordinated properly with their individual needs. Also, we have roughly 1450 children in the school district with Special Education needs. So it is important that our Literacy Curriculum is tailored properly to each one of the students’ individual needs. The coordination of having the proper structure, teachers and curriculum is vital to the success of each student. I think that our programming and instruction for Literacy is improving but Literacy has to continue to be our top priority. It is paramount that we stay focused on Literacy because every child deserves to be given the gift of reading.

Beth Wyman (incumbent): The biggest hurdle students face is being left behind. We need to meet each student where they are and develop an individual plan to get them to grade level and challenge them even more to excel above grade level. As a board we need to ensure that there are adequate resources for extra help for struggling students. The curriculum needs to be rigorous and challenging. All of this is especially complex in achieving our goals given the 61 languages which are spoken in our district. Increasing our literacy rates is our number one priority because we know that an increase in literacy attracts the workforce, draws talent, and provides workers to the community. Students need to be proficient in reading, writing, and speaking to take advantage of the opportunities that await.
Hers is a link to the 2024 strategic plan. On page 5 you will find the KPIs for reading.