Gary J. Kunich
|Gary J. Kunich|
|Board member, Kenosha Board of Education, At-large|
|Years in position||1|
|Elections and appointments|
|Last election||April 1, 2014|
|First elected||April 1, 2014|
|Associate's||Community College of the Air Force|
|Bachelor's||Thomas Edison State University|
|Service/branch||U.S. Air Force|
- 1 Biography
- 2 Elections
- 3 Campaign themes
- 4 What was at stake?
- 5 About the district
- 6 Recent news
- 7 See also
- 8 External links
- 9 References
Kunich served in the United States Air Force until his retirement in 2006. He earned an associate degree in Public Affairs from the Community College of the Air Force in 2000. Kunich later received a bachelor's degree in journalism from Thomas Edison State University in 2004. He also holds a master's degree in digital media communications from Regent University. Kunich reported on educational issues for the Kenosha News for four years. He currently works as the communications director for the Milwaukee Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Kunich and his wife, Ruth Ann, have three children currently attending district schools.
Gary J. Kunich ran against five other candidates in the February 18, 2014 primary election. The top four vote recipients advanced to the general election on April 1, 2014.
|Kenosha Unified School District, At-large General Election, 3-year term, April 1, 2014|
|Nonpartisan||Gary J. Kunich||26.1%||6,346|
|Nonpartisan||Jo Ann Taube Incumbent||22.3%||5,423|
|Source: Kenosha County Clerk, "Spring Election," April 1, 2014|
|Kenosha Unified School District, At-large Primary Election, 3-year term, February 18, 2014|
|Nonpartisan||Jo Ann Taube Incumbent||19.7%||1,917|
|Nonpartisan||Gary J. Kunich||18.7%||1,826|
|Nonpartisan||Robert Nuzzo Incumbent||13%||1,271|
|Source: Kenosha County Clerk, "Spring Primary Election," accessed February 18, 2014|
Kunich reported $5,776.06 in contributions and $3,657.52 in expenditures to the school board secretary in his March 24, 2014 pre-election report, leaving his campaign with $2,156.54 on hand.
Kunich did not receive any official endorsements for his campaign.
Kunich's campaign website listed his campaign themes for 2014:
But now, because of the Board's antagonistic actions toward the Superintendent THEY hired then forced from the district -- you, the taxpayer, are on the hook for her half-million-dollar retirement package. Think of how teachers and classrooms could have used a half million dollars to teach our children. If there were issues with the superintendent, it was the Board's responsibility to provide oversight. The Board did not do this.
In order for our next superintendent to be successful in Kenosha, that person must meet the three C's: Communication, Collaboration and Common Sense. I want to be on the Board that helps choose the next Superintendent, along with citizens of Kenosha, to keep moving us forward.
—Gary J. Kunich's campaign website, (2014) 
What was at stake?
Issues in the election
Involvement of outside groups
The Kenosha board election attracted significant resources from state and national groups seeking to influence board policies. Conservative group Americans for Prosperity joined the fray after the February primary with a field team conducting phone banks and door-to-door canvassing. State director David Fladeboe noted that the group did not support any particular candidate but shares concerns with district residents about the school board's 2013 contract negotiations with teachers. Jo Ann Taube expressed surprise about the group's involvement in an interview with Wisconsin Public Radio:
I'm amazed they're (AFP) interested in a school board election in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where school board members receive a stipend $4,500 a year. 
—Wisconsin Public Radio, (2014) 
A group of 60 demonstrators protested Americans for Prosperity's involvement in the election outside of the district's Educational Support Center on March 29. The protest was organized by the Kenosha Education Association, which backed Taube and Mike Falkofske in the February primary. Outside groups including the Greater Wisconsin Committee ($10,000) and the Wisconsin Education Association Council ($8,500) financed automated calls and mailers opposing Kunich and Dan Wade.
Accusations of racism
Former board member Pam Stevens accused Taube of racially charged remarks about minority students at district schools. Stevens cited comments made by Taube during a January 29 forum at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside regarding achievement gaps in the district. Stevens quoted Taube as saying that "if black males are the problem we have to look into that." Taube countered that the quote was distorted because Stevens supported Kunich and Dan Wade ahead of the April 1 election. The Kenosha News published the full quote from Taube in a February 21 report:
There has been a concern nationally about over-identifying minority students, especially African American males. We need to understand that, but we also, if they pick up any bad habits, need to try to nip that in the bud as early as we can. 
—Kenosha News, (2014) 
During the January 29 forum, Taube cited Head Start and early kindergarten programs as essential to teaching all students the social skills necessary for academic success. Wade explained his views on the achievement gap in response to Taube:
There is definitely inequality, I think, in the school system when it comes to minorities, and I believe the majority of that has to start at home, whether it be social skills or respect for authority and just respect in general...If they are not getting it at home, it may sound ridiculous, but maybe the parents should go back to school. 
—Kenosha News, (2014) 
February 5th forum
All six candidates for the Kenosha Board of Education participated in a forum hosted by the Kenosha Area Business Alliance on February 5th. The candidates debated the selection of a new superintendent as well as the board's negotiations with the Kenosha Education Association over a new contract. Robert Nuzzo noted that dysfunction on the board drove away former superintendent Michele Hancock, forcing the selection of a new superintendent. Mike Falkofske countered that Hancock hired friends as consultants and wasted resources on conferences rather than classroom expenses. Falkofske argued that the district needed an experienced superintendent to improve academic performance.
Kunich and Dan Wade took current board members to task for negotiating a new contract with the teacher's union in fall 2013. Both candidates believe that the contract violates Act 10, a state law restricting collective bargaining. Wade's daughter, a former teacher in the district, filed suit against the district in November 2013 with the help of the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty. Jo Ann Taube argued that the new contract provided a stable working environment for teachers and staff after two years of uncertainty.
Issues in the district
Board negotiations with teachers' union
In November 2013, the Board of Education agreed to a new contract with the Kenosha Education Association (KEA) by a 4-3 vote. This agreement with the teachers' union drew attention because collective bargaining over public employee salaries is limited by state law under Act 10. This 2011 law also prohibits employers from withdrawing involuntary contributions to public employee unions from wages. The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL), a conservative legal aid organization, and Kristi Lacroix attempted to block the contract in court after the board vote. The WILL argued that the contract exceeded salary increase limits in Act 10. District officials countered that teachers were given one-time bonuses rather than salary increases under the agreement.
A 4-3 vote by the board during a June 5, 2014 meeting settled the lawsuit with WILL by paying $10,500 in legal fees. This settlement also nullified the 2013 agreement with the KEA.
Censure vote for Kyle Flood
The Board of Education unanimously voted during a February 25, 2014 meeting to censure board member Kyle Flood for citations issued by University of Wisconsin-Whitewater police officers. Flood, a student at the university, was ticketed for possession of drug paraphernalia on November 11, 2013 and vandalism in late December 2013. On February 14, 2013, Flood issued an apology but stated that he will not resign from the board.
The censure vote was supported by board president Rebecca Stevens and Jo Ann Taube. Both members noted the district's efforts to ensure drug-free campuses in their support for the vote. District resident and former teacher Kristi Lacroix initiated an online petition to force Flood's removal from office after the incident became public. This petition effort did not lead to a recall or Flood's resignation.
About the districtKenosha County, Wisconsin. Kenosha is home to 100,150 residents according to the U.S. Census. Kenosha Unified School District is the third-largest school district in Wisconsin, serving 22,986 students during the 2010-2011 school year.
Kenosha underperformed in comparison to the rest of Wisconsin in terms of higher education achievement in 2010. The United States Census Bureau found that 22.9 percent of Kenosha residents aged 25 years and older had attained a bachelor's degree compared to 26.4 percent for Wisconsin as a whole. The median household income in Kenosha was $49,641 compared to $52,627 for the state of Wisconsin. The poverty rate in Kenosha was 16.2 percent compared to 12.5 percent for the entire state.
Note: The United States Census Bureau considers "Hispanic or Latino" to be a place of origin rather than a race. Citizens may report both their race and their place of origin, and as a result, the percentages in each column of the racial demographics table may exceed 100 percent.
This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the term "Gary + Kunich + Kenosha + School + District"
- All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.
- Kenosha Unified School District, Wisconsin
- Kenosha Unified School District elections (2014)
- Kenosha Unified School District elections (2015)
- Friends of Gary J. Kunich, "About," accessed February 3, 2014
- Information submitted to Ballotpedia through e-mail from Stacy Busby on March 25, 2014.
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
- Friends of Gary J. Kunich, "Issues," accessed February 3, 2014
- Wisconsin Public Radio, "Americans For Prosperity Gets Involved In Kenosha School Board Election," March 27, 2014
- Kenosha News, "Demonstration draws 60 to ESC," March 30, 2014
- Kenosha News, "Racism accusation aimed at School Board member," February 21, 2014
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Cite error: Invalid
- Wisconsin Reporter, "Sauk Prairie school board may have violated Act 10 with new teachers’ contract," November 27, 2013
- Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, "Kenosha schools, teachers union at odds over deducting union dues," February 11, 2014
- Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, "Kenosha School Board settles lawsuit over Act 10 dispute," June 6, 2014
- Kenosha News, "School board votes to censure Flood," February 25, 2014
- Kenosha News, "Unified board president, vice president support Flood censure," February 14, 2014
- United States Census Bureau, "Kenosha, Wisconsin," accessed January 31, 2014
- National Center for Education Statistics, "ELSI Table Generator," accessed January 27, 2014
- Kenosha County Clerk, "Previous Election Results," accessed January 31, 2014
- United States Census Bureau, "Frequently Asked Questions," accessed April 21, 2014
- Each column will add up to 100 percent after removing the "Hispanic or Latino" place of origin percentages, although rounding by the Census Bureau may make the total one- or two-tenths off from being exactly 100 percent. This Ballotpedia page provides a more detailed explanation of how the Census Bureau handles race and ethnicity in its surveys.
|2014 Kenosha Unified School District Elections|
|Election date:||April 1, 2014|
|Candidates:||At-large: • Mike Falkofske • Gary J. Kunich • Jo Ann Taube • Dan Wade|
Candidates defeated in the primary: • Michael Kehoe • Robert Nuzzo
|Important information:||What was at stake? • Key deadlines • Additional elections on the ballot|