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Mike Falkofske

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Mike Falkofske
Mike Falkofske.jpg
Board member, Kenosha Board of Education, At-large
Member-elect
Elections and appointments
Last electionApril 7, 2015
First electedApril 7, 2015
Term limitsN/A
Education
Bachelor'sUniversity of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
Personal
ProfessionGIS specialist
Websites
Campaign website
Mike Falkofske campaign logo
Ballotpedia's school board candidate survey
Mike Falkofske is a member-elected for at-large representative on the Kenosha Board of Education in Wisconsin. He was elected to the board in the general election on April 7, 2015.

Falkofske previously ran unsuccessfully for the board in the general election on April 1, 2014.

Biography

Falkofske earned a B.A. in geography and history from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in 1995. He has worked as a mapping specialist for MGP Inc. since 2000. Falkofske has three children who have attended or will attend district schools.[1][2]

Elections

2015

See also: Kenosha Unified School District elections (2015)

Opposition

Three at-large seats were up for election on April 7, 2015. Mike Falkofske and Tony Garcia challenged incumbents Carl Bryan, Tamarra Coleman and Mary Snyder in the general election.

Bryan withdrew from the race as he was moving outside of the district, but the withdrawal was not in time to have his name removed from the ballot. If he had won in the general election, the vacancy on the board would have been filled by appointment. Such an appointment was avoided as Falkofske, Snyder and Coleman won the election.

Results

Kenosha Unified School District,
At-Large General Election, 3-year term, 2015
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngMike Falkofske 23.7% 6,692
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngMary Snyder Incumbent 23.2% 6,555
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngTamarra Coleman Incumbent 20.8% 5,862
     Nonpartisan Tony Garcia 20.4% 5,764
     Nonpartisan Carl Bryan Incumbent 11.2% 3,172
     Nonpartisan Write-in votes 0.6% 179
Total Votes 28,224
Source: Kenosha County, "Current Election Results," accessed April 7, 2015 These election results are not official and will be updated when certified results are available. You can submit certified results by contacting us.

Funding

Falkofske began the race with an existing account balance of $1,402.23 from his previous campaign. He reported $6,763.78 in contributions and $5,326.32 in expenditures to Kenosha Unified School District, which left his campaign with $2,431.16 in cash on hand as of March 30, 2015. Incumbent Carl Bryan gave his remaining campaign fund balance of $116.42 to Falkofske after announcing his unofficial withdrawal from the race.[3]

Note: The amounts listed here are verbatim totals from Falkofske's January continuing report and his March pre-election report. According to the totals and his January continuing report starting balance, Falkofske should have had a balance of $2,839.69 as of the March pre-election report. Ballotpedia has been unable to confirm the source of the discrepancy between those totals and Falkofske's reported balance of $2,431.16.

Endorsements

Falkofske was endorsed by Wisconsin Progress and Kenosha Educators Politically Active and Concerned (KEPAC).[4][5]

2014

See also: Kenosha Unified School District elections (2014)

Opposition

Mike Falkofske 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.

Results

General
Kenosha Unified School District, At-large General Election, 3-year term, April 1, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngDan Wade 28.2% 6,858
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngGary J. Kunich 26.1% 6,346
     Nonpartisan Mike Falkofske 23.4% 5,688
     Nonpartisan Jo Ann Taube Incumbent 22.3% 5,423
     Nonpartisan Write-in votes 0.2% 43
Total Votes 24,358
Source: Kenosha County Clerk, "Spring Election," April 1, 2014
Primary
Kenosha Unified School District, At-large Primary Election, 3-year term, February 18, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngJo Ann Taube Incumbent 19.7% 1,917
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngGary J. Kunich 18.7% 1,826
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngMike Falkofske 18.1% 1,764
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngDan Wade 17.3% 1,688
     Nonpartisan Robert Nuzzo Incumbent 13% 1,271
     Nonpartisan Michael Kehoe 12.9% 1,255
     Nonpartisan Write-in votes 0.2% 21
Total Votes 9,742
Source: Kenosha County Clerk, "Spring Primary Election," accessed February 18, 2014

Funding

Falkofske began the pre-election reporting period with an existing account balance of $3,793.55 from a previous report. He reported $3,720.00 in contributions and $2,353.22 in expenditures to the school board secretary, which left his campaign with $2,426.77 on hand.[6]

Endorsements

Falkofske was endorsed by the Kenosha Education Association ahead of the February 18, 2014 primary.[7] He earned the endorsement of the Kenosha News for the April 1 general election.[8]

Campaign themes

2015

Ballotpedia survey responses

School Boards-Survey Graphic-no drop shadow.png

Falkofske participated in Ballotpedia's 2015 survey of school board candidates. The following sections display his responses to the survey questions. When asked what his top priority would be if elected, the candidate stated:

My top priority is to create a new strategic plan, new mission statement, and new vision statement by using the information contained 2013 District Curriculum audit. The district will never be able to fix it’s problems if it doesn’t know how to define itself. The districts needs to have a clear vision of where it will be in the future and a roadmap for getting there. The district needs to stop being a reactive organization and instead become a proactive organization that can successfully navigate all the challenges it will face.[9]

—Mike Falkofske, (2015)[10]

Ranking the issues

The candidate was asked to rank the following issues by importance in the school district, with one being the most important and seven being the least important. This table displays this candidate's rankings from most to least important:

Education policy
Education policy logo.jpg

Click here to learn more about education policy in Wisconsin.
Education on the ballot
Issue importance ranking
Candidate's ranking Issue
1
Closing the achievement gap
3
Expanding career-technical education
2
Improving education for special needs students
4
Improving college readiness
5
Balancing or maintaining the district's budget
6
Expanding arts education
7
Expanding school choice options
Positions on the issues

The candidate was asked to answer 10 questions from Ballotpedia regarding significant issues in education and the school district. The questions are in the left column and the candidate's responses are in the right column of the following table:

Question Response
What is your stance on implementing Common Core standards?
"They should be implemented."
Should your district approve the creation of new charter schools?
"Yes."
Should the state give money to private schools through a voucher system?
"No."
Are standardized tests an accurate metric of student achievement?
"No."
How can the district ensure equal opportunities for high and low achieving students?
"The first step is prioritizing where the money is spent. We need to spend more money at the building level and less for administrative travel and conferences. Smaller class sizes will also help students at both ends. We need to strengthen our community partnerships to bring more mentors into the school to work with our students. Finally we need to be a strategic plan based of the 2013 district wide curriculum audit. The audit was full of suggestions on how we could improve learning for all students."
How should expulsion be used in the district?
"Expulsion should be used for serious offenses to ensure the safety of other students as well as the integrity of education at district schools."
If a school is failing in your district, what steps should the school board take to help the students in that school?
"The school board should interview administrations, teachers, parents of students at the school, parents who moved their children to a different school, and the community organizations that work in the neighborhoods near the school. The school board must find the real causes of the issues, so that real solutions can be created. The school should also be given the highest priority when the district hires new teachers or increase money for other resources. They should also work with community organizations to leverage additional resources to help these schools."
Do you support merit pay for teachers?
"For groups of teachers not individual teachers."
How should the district handle underperforming teachers?
"Set up a mentorship program for the underperforming teacher with a more experienced teacher in the district."
How would you work to improve community-school board relations?
"The community will never trust any organization if it doesn’t view that organization as being transparent. I will visits schools to talk with teachers, parents, and students to gauge how well the school working for it’s students. I will send out monthly newsletters and use social media to communicate with constituents about the ongoing priorities in the district. Most importantly I welcome criticism as we can't improve the district unless people are willing to give honest feedback about how policies are impacting them."

2014

Falkofske's campaign website listed the following themes for 2014:

  • I believe that the School Board Members are elected to be the voice of the electors of the District and the Superintendent is the executive hired by the School Board.
  • I will work to provide students with truly personalized learning programs where the high fliers are just as challenged as the students who struggle to learn.
  • I think that the local schools need to be empowered to resolve their own issues and provide learning environments best suited to their students of that particular school.
  • I will push the district for consistent enforcement of the code of conduct as well as stronger policies that discourage bullying at all levels.
  • I will monitor the District finances to ensure that taxpayer money is being used in the most effective manner to provide our students with excellent education they deserve.

[9]

—Mike Falkofske's campaign website, (2014) [11]

What was at stake?

2015

Initially, three incumbents and two challengers were seeking the three seats up for election on the Kenosha Unified Board of Education in 2015. Incumbent Carl Bryan's withdrawal from the race on January 26, 2015, guaranteed at least one new face would join the board. However, Bryan's withdrawal came too late for his name to be removed from the ballot. Votes were still cast for him, and if he had won, the vacancy created by his depature would have been filled by an appointment following the election.

Bryan had been part of a minority faction in the board's voting record. The board voted unanimously on 77.97 percent of its votes between January 1, 2014, and July 1, 2014, with voting data indicating that Tamarra Coleman, Mary Snyder, Gary J. Kunich and Dan Wade were the governing majority on the board. Either Coleman or Snyder could have been replaced in the 2015 election, affecting this governing majority. Rebecca Stevens and Carl Bryan were the minority faction, and Kyle Flood's voting pattern was not consistent with either faction.[12]

In the three preceding elections, the district garnered an average 2.29 candidates per seat up for election. In 2015, each seat up for election only garnered 1.67 candidates.

Issues in the district

Teacher contracts

Three union contracts with the Kenosha Unified School District were declared to be in violation of Wisconsin's Act 10 by Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge David Bastianelli. The district abandoned the contracts in June 2014 after lawsuits were filed against it, but the Kenosha Education Association, the AFSCME Local 2383 and the SEIU Local 168 defended the provisions in the contract.[13]

At issue was the requirement that non-members pay union dues. According the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty and the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation (NRTW), that requirement violated the freedom of association of their plaintiffs, a teacher and a taxpayer. Judge Bastianelli agreed, as Act 10 restricted the use of mandatory dues for government workers.[13]

Reform bills & failing schools

Assembly Bill 1, which was introduced in the State Assembly on January 7, 2015, could create a new board to oversee school accountability and force the conversion of public schools with poor performance scores into private charter schools, which could affect at least six of Kenosha's schools. Bradford High School, the Edward Bain School of Language and Art’s Creative Arts program, and Brass, Frank, Grant and Wilson elementary schools would fit the definition of failing schools under this law. Additionally, the bill would require all state-funded schools to administer "achievement exams." While public schools would have to take the state standardized tests, state-funded private schools would be allowed to choose the exams their students take.[14]

District Superintendent Dr. Sue Savaglio-Jarvis expressed concerns that the assembly version of the bill would remove local control. She also questioned the use of separate testing for different types of schools, saying, "Until all students in Wisconsin take the same test, there will be no true comparison." Board members Carl Bryan and Tamarra Coleman questioned the speed at which the bill was moving through the legislature. Bryan stated, "I certainly value the need for accountability; we want to hold ourselves to a higher standard, and we support the idea of bringing the voucher system and the independent charter system into the same accountability standards as the public system," while Coleman stated, "When we rush, we make mistakes, so I want to make sure that we are looking at this closely. How does this affect our students, how does it affect our staff, how does it affect our families and how does it affect our community?"[14]

Local state legislators have weighed in on the measure. Assemblywoman Samantha Kerkman (R-61) supported passing the bill quickly and expressed no reservations about any part of the bill. She stated that the bill was an attempt to set up a uniform system for holding schools which receive state funds accountable, and she defended the separate testing standards for private schools, citing the need to provide "individual choice." She described Bradford High School as having problems when asked directly whether or not she considered it a failing school. Her colleague Assemblyman Tod Ohnstad (D-65), however, questioned the bill and claimed that its wording as introduced could lead to a weakening of accountability, instead. He also opposed the charter school conversion provision.[14]

The vote for AB 1 was postponed in March 2015, but it was not the only bill introduced in 2015 regarding school accountability. Senate Bill 1, SB 67 and AB 78 all relate to accountability reports, as well, but would not utilize the charter school conversion or varied testing requirements included under AB 1.[14][15]

About the district

See also: Kenosha Unified School District, Wisconsin
Kenosha Unified School District is located in Kenosha County, Wis.

Kenosha Unified School District is located in Kenosha County in southeastern Wisconsin. The county seat is Kenosha. In 2013, Kenosha County was home to approximately 167,757 residents according to estimates by the United States Census Bureau.[25] During the 2011-2012 school year, Kenosha Unified School District was the third-largest school district in Wisconsin and served 22,905 students.[26]

Demographics

Kenosha County underperformed in comparison to the rest of Wisconsin in terms of higher education achievement in 2012. The United States Census Bureau found that 23.8 percent of Kenosha County 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 County was $55,117 between 2008-2012, compared to $52,627 for the state of Wisconsin. The poverty rate in Kenosha County was 12.2 percent between 2008-2012, compared to 12.5 percent for the entire state.[25]

Racial Demographics, 2013[25]
Race Kenosha County (%) Wisconsin (%)
White 87.9 88.1
Black or African American 7.2 6.5
American Indian and Alaska Native 0.7 1.1
Asian 1.6 2.5
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander 0.1 0.0
Two or More Races 2.4 1.7
Hispanic or Latino 12.3 6.3

Presidential votes, 2000-2012[27]
Year Democratic vote (%) Republican vote (%)
2012 55.4 43.2
2008 58.1 40.1
2004 52.4 46.5

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.[28][29]

Recent news

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See also

External links

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References

  1. LinkedIn, "Mike Falkofske," accessed January 31, 2014
  2. Campaign to Elect Mike Falkofske, "Biography," accessed February 25, 2014 (timed out)
  3. Margaret Koenig, "Email communication with Stacy Busby, executive assistant to the Kenosha Unified School District Board of Education," April 5, 2015
  4. Wisconsin Progress, "OUR ENDORSEMENTS FOR SPRING 2015," accessed February 25, 2015
  5. Kenosa Education Association, "KEPAC Announces School Board Endorsements," February 20, 2015
  6. Information submitted to Ballotpedia through e-mail from Stacy Busby on March 25, 2014.
  7. Kenosha Education Association, "The Non-Endorsed Candidates for School Board," February 14, 2014
  8. Kenosha News, "Falkofske, Wade for Unified School Board," March 30, 2014
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  10. Ballotpedia School Board Candidate Survey, 2015
  11. Campaign to Elect Mike Falkofske, "Home," accessed February 25, 2014
  12. Kenosha Unified School District, "Meeting Minutes," accessed June 23, 2014
  13. 13.0 13.1 The Washington Free Bacon, "Judge Strikes Down Coercive Dues in Wisconsin School District," March 27, 2015
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 Kenosha News, "Kenosha Unified administrators anxious about school reform bill," January 13, 2015
  15. The Capital Times, "Wisconsin Assembly committee vote on school accountability bill postponed," March 11, 2015
  16. Wisconsin Public Radio, "Americans For Prosperity Gets Involved In Kenosha School Board Election," March 27, 2014
  17. Kenosha News, "Demonstration draws 60 to ESC," March 30, 2014
  18. 18.0 18.1 Kenosha News, "Racism accusation aimed at School Board member," February 21, 2014
  19. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named forum
  20. Wisconsin Reporter, "Sauk Prairie school board may have violated Act 10 with new teachers’ contract," November 27, 2013
  21. Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, "Kenosha schools, teachers union at odds over deducting union dues," February 11, 2014
  22. Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, "Kenosha School Board settles lawsuit over Act 10 dispute," June 6, 2014
  23. Kenosha News, "School board votes to censure Flood," February 25, 2014
  24. Kenosha News, "Unified board president, vice president support Flood censure," February 14, 2014
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 United States Census Bureau, "Kenosha County, Wisconsin," accessed August 28, 2014
  26. National Center for Education Statistics, "ELSI Table Generator," accessed January 27, 2014
  27. Kenosha County Clerk, "Previous Election Results," accessed January 31, 2014
  28. United States Census Bureau, "Frequently Asked Questions," accessed April 21, 2014
  29. 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.