Sara Baker

1. What is the role of the school board?

Fundamentally, the role of the board is to set district policy and adopt the budget. While this is too simplistic, it emphasizes that the board is supposed to be at arm’s length from the running of the District.  

The board should establish a shared community vision for the district but not be involved in the day-to-day operations. That is the role of the administration and staff. They are hired professionals trained for those tasks.  

Micromanaging the district will lead to increased conflicts and will lead to tension and complaints from staff. In addition, it is important for the board to not be involved in the routine aspects of school business so that they are neutral and unbiased in the event they need to become involved in discipline, termination, or litigation.

Effective school board members recognize that in order to carry out any of their roles they must work to foster good two-way communication with administration, staff, students and the community. They need to be advocates for the students and be ethical in all they do putting the students and the District first.  

2. What is the most important issue facing Flambeau students and the school? What idea/plan do you have to face that issue?

Our current school board has lost its ability to collaborate and work effectively with administration. This continues to have a negative effect on the staff and the students of Flambeau. Several staff have expressed fear of losing their jobs, morale is low and there is an unfortunate division within the District.

With a new school board I would like to see the board’s focus be on working with administration to empower students and staff to achieve academic and career success. There are so many great things happening at Flambeau and those stories need to be shared and celebrated.

It’s time for the focus to be back on the students and encouraging them to be lifelong learners rather than on personal agendas and vendettas.

3. What is the role of the district administrator?

The Flambeau District Administrator is to be the district’s educational leader. They are to serve as the board’s main adviser on educational matters and are responsible for ensuring the board is informed about district operations, activities and needs.

It is the District Administrator’s job to implement the school board’s vision by making the day-to-day decisions about curriculum, programs, spending, staff and facilities. They hire, supervise and manage the staff and the school principals. Our District Administrator should be an advocate for students, teachers and staff. They should represent all things Flambeau in a positive manner.  

4. What is your experience with public school?

I attended public school as a child growing up in Eau Claire and currently have two children attending the elementary school at Flambeau. I am an involved parent who participates in my children’s school activities both curricular and non-curricular.

As an employee of Ladysmith Federal I have spent several years promoting financial literacy in the classrooms of our local schools including Flambeau, Ladysmith and OLS. I’ve taught on topics such as being smart savers and how to build credit for our youth in grades K through 12.

I have been recognized and awarded at the Governor and the Wisconsin Bankers Association State for my efforts. I’ve been attending the Flambeau School board meetings for the past seven months and have done independent research to become familiar with board policy and state statutes regarding school board functionality.

5. What experience do you have with budgets?

As Vice President of Ladysmith Federal I have significant fiduciary responsibilities. In this position I have a fundamental role in making, implementing and carrying out our bank’s budget. Throughout my career I have been on the board of numerous non-profit organizations such as the Rusk County Community Foundation, the Greater Ladysmith Area Chamber of Commerce and Ladysmith Main Street and have been part of the development and implementation of the budgets for those organizations.

My Business Administration minor in college and ongoing management courses I take for professional development have given me experience in the areas of finance and accounting as well.  

6. How can the school board prove itself accountable to the needs and goals of the community?

How the public is treated at board meetings can either alienate people or make them feel welcome and important. The board can hold itself accountable by listening to the community and providing opportunity for them to give input and then act on that input or explain why it’s not possible to.  

Creating an environment where transparency is present will also foster good attitudes and promote trust amongst the community. One of Flambeau’s core values is respect. In order to prove itself accountable to the community, board members need to demonstrate respect amongst each other, with staff and with the community.

7. What sets you apart from your opponents?

Over the last several months I have voiced my concerns over my opponent’s inability to effectively govern the school district and his lack of leadership and decision-making abilities. I, along with the majority of members of the Flambeau community, feel that he no longer has the best interest of the District in mind. This has been demonstrated by the decision to put the Administrator on leave for three months and how he went about implementing that leave and the financial and personal toll it has cost.  

My position at the bank as well as those on several organizations in the community require a high level of ethics and integrity. They have given me valuable knowledge and experience as well as opportunity to seek out others’ opinions and recognize that everyone has value to bring to the table.  

I am committed to putting in the time and taking the training that will allow me to be the most effective Board member I can be.

My children attend school at Flambeau, and I am a taxpayer, here, who wants to do what’s best for not only my children but everyone in the District. I am not running for election because of a personal agenda or vendetta unlike Mr. Stewart. My highest priority is to prepare our students for their lives beyond school and give them the greatest opportunity to be successful.  

Ruth Opachan

1. What is the role of the school board?

To work along with the district and administration in a positive and constructive manner, while focusing on the values and priorities that will make our students, school and community a better, safer place to be.

2. What is the most important issue facing Flambeau students and the school? What idea/plan do you have to face that issue?

A lack of transparency and focus on the education and well being of our students. Instead of positive energy and excitement, there are looks of defeat and exhaustion. There is a division within our school that is affecting our students and district.  

With so much negativity, we have lost sight of all the great and positive things the students and district have accomplished. We need to have an environment where students thrive and feel involved and most importantly want to keep coming back.

The Flambeau school and community has so much to offer all who attend the school and live in the community. I would like to see more involvement with the school board. There are many different clubs and organizations that our students, school and community members have or can benefit from. If we can see all the hard work, time and effort put into all these different things, then we can all get a sense of how important our school and community is.  

I would also like to see more input from our students. Everyone learns at a different level and pace. I believe that if we get the concerns and input of our students, who deal with education every day, then we can get a better feel on what would be the best for our students.

3. What is the role of the school district administrator?

To work with the district and staff in making the best educational decisions that are needed for our students, staff and district. Having strong communication with staff and the school board, knowing the needs of our staff and students and setting goals and improving everyday functions of the school to make it a positive learning environment.


4. What is your experience with public school?

Other than attending and graduating from a public school, I have 4 children, 2 who graduated from Flambeau and 2 still attending the district. In my years at Flambeau, my children have been and are still involved in educational and athletic activities.

In my travels to many functions, I have been exposed to other public school facilities and have seen and talked with parents from not only our district but from other districts on how things are done differently and also on things that our districts have in common. I have heard positive feedback from members outside our district about our school, while also noticing many positive things that happen outside of our school district.

5. What experience do you have with budgets?

I help manage our household budget of 6 and I also help make decisions with the Flambeau Booster club when it comes to our financial account. Just like my household budget, I will look at prioritizing items by working with staff on the needs within our district. I have minimal experience with budgets but am open and willing to learn all aspects on how to help manage a budget the size of our district.

6. How can the school board prove itself accountable to the needs and goals of the community?

By focusing, listening and having an understanding of all opinions and not just those of your own. Making suggestions and moving forward as a united front, agree to disagree for the total betterment of our students and district. Recognizing areas needing attention and focusing on all aspects in order to set goals and achieve those goals.  

Setting standards for staff, parents, and students that will help us achieve the goals that are in place, having good communication on how we are meeting and achieving our goals, reward and recognize when we meet these goals and re-evaluating when we feel it needs to go in another direction.

7. What sets you apart from your opponents?

With having 4 children in the district I have attended many events and activities and become very active within our district. I love seeing the excitement, achievement and school spirit on not only the faces of our students but also our staff, administration and community.

There is so much that our district has accomplished that truly makes a person proud to be a Flambeau Flacon. We expect the best out of our students and they deserve the best out of us. Not only do they deserve a quality education, but they deserve to be in an environment that even with differences, we can still work together and show each other dignity and respect.  

I have learned a lot about this community and school district. I have talked and listened in the last several months to many different views, opinions and suggestions. All things, that if we put differences aside and focus back on our students would truly help make an impact and move us the right direction.  

This district, along with teachers, coaches and members of the community have played an important role in our family and we are forever grateful. It’s time for everyone, including myself to come together, create solutions instead of problems and fix our district.  

Sam Stewart

1. What is the role of the school board? What is the role of the school district administrator?

I’ll answer the first and third questions together....the roles of the school board and administrator are on the school website, in the Board Policies and Bylaws, in the Quick Links section. I agree with what you will read if you look them up, and I encourage everyone to do so.

2. What is the most important issue facing Flambeau students and the school? What idea/plan do you have to face that issue?

The most important issue is the education. That is what the majority of the board was working on, then some rumors were started, and here we are. I want to get back to discussion and proceed in the best direction for Flambeau’s students. Anyone telling you we would of cost the school district funding is outright not telling you the truth.

3. What is your experience with public school? What sets you apart from your opponents?

My experience with public school: I grew up attending a public school (Flambeau). I’ve been a parent of two honor students attending a public school (Flambeau). I’ve been a board member for almost 20 years (at Flambeau). That is what sets me apart from my opponent.....I’ve grown up attending school here and I’ve been on the school board and have the experience.

My opponent has thrown out some accusations that are simply not true, period. I have always worked hard to help Flambeau achieve. If anyone wants the truth, give me a call, I would be happy to talk to you.

4. What experience do you have with budgets?

The making up of the budget is not the board’s responsibility, but, I have gone over them and approved budgets every year on the board. We go over them as a board, discussing items necessary and approving as appropriate. I have also been, and currently am, on the finance committee.

5. How can the school board prove itself accountable to the needs and goals of the community?

As far as holding the school board accountable for the needs and goals of the community, every three years there is an election. If we aren’t doing what the community believes is in the best interest of the district, we are voted out. That election is in April of every year.

Danielle Zimmer

1. What is the role of the school board?

The roles of school boards are clearly defined in state statutes and the role of the Flambeau school board is defined in policies. School boards carry out and implement state statutes as they apply to education and work with district residents to do so as best for the district.

2. What is the most important issue facing Flambeau students and the school? What idea/plan do you have to face that issue?

This remains the same to me as when I first ran for the board. Bullying. As I’ve stated before this hits home. It is why my children do not currently attend the Flambeau School.

Bullying needs to be a topic of continued discussion and in my opinion it is time that not only students be held accountable for their actions, but, administration also be held responsible for their inaction in bullying situations.

3. What is the role of the school district administrator?

Again, as with the first question, the roles of administrators are clearly defined by state statute and district policies. Administrators are the day-to-day oversight of staff and business operations of the district. They are supposed to be the primary source of information for boards to make informed decisions.

4. What is your experience with public school?

Born and raised in the Flambeau District and I attended Flambeau for K-12, coached at Flambeau for two years, was employed as a Paraprofessional by Flambeau for a year and a half, my children attended for a year (part of a year for my son due to the issue raised in the 2nd question).

5. What experience do you have with budgets?

Through my job I work with a budget and through the school board I have reviewed and approved budgets.

6. How can the school board prove itself accountable to the needs and goals of the community?

School boards are comprised of elected officials, that in itself is accountability enough. Every three years the community is given the opportunity to evaluate the board members, as we will be doing in April, just 6 weeks after an this election where the financial burden is entirely on the district.

7. What sets you apart from your opponents?

Throughout all the lies and negativity I have remained a positive person who would never resort to that same sort of negativity that has been hurdled at me month after month, meeting after meeting. In the long run I have my high set of standards for Flambeau to meet and that is all that matters. I want what is best for the district and the students the district is entrusted to educate.

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