Sharon Fenlon

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Sharon Fenlon
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Board member, Appleton Board of Education, At-large
Term ends
April 2017
Years in position 28
Board President
Elections and appointments
Last electionApril 1, 2014
First elected1987
Term limitsN/A
ProfessionRetired educator
Office website
Ballotpedia's school board candidate survey
Sharon Fenlon is an at-large member of the Appleton Board of Education in Wisconsin. She first won election to the board in 1987. Fenlon won re-election to the board in the general election on April 1, 2014.


Fenlon worked as a public school teacher prior to her retirement.[1]



See also: Appleton Area School District elections (2014)


Sharon Fenlon ran against fellow incumbent Diane Barkmeier and challengers John DeVantier and Barry O'Connor in the general election on April 1, 2014.


Appleton Area School District, At-large General Election, 3-year term, April 1, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngSharon Fenlon Incumbent 27.3% 4,183
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngDiane Barkmeier Incumbent 27.2% 4,172
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngBarry O'Connor 27.2% 4,164
     Nonpartisan John DeVantier 17.8% 2,731
     Nonpartisan Write-in votes 0.5% 80
Total Votes 15,330
Source: Information submitted to Ballotpedia through e-mail from Kimm Smith on May 12, 2014.


Fenlon did not report any campaign contributions or expenditures to the school board secretary by the March 24 pre-election reporting deadline.[2] State law allows candidates to claim exempt status from campaign finance reporting if contributions and expenditures do not exceed $1,000 during a calendar year.[3]


Fenlon did not receive any official endorsements for her campaign.


Fenlon, Barkmeier and John Gosling won election to the board on April 5, 2011. Incumbent Spencer Rotzel was defeated in the race for three available seats.[4]

Campaign themes


Fenlon explained her themes for 2014 in an interview with the Appleton Post-Crescent:

Can you tell us how long you’ve been on the board and why you’re running for re-election?

I’ve been on the board for 27 years. I would like to continue being a voice for the Appleton Area School District. I think we have a great district and I want to continue to play a part in that district.

What’s the biggest issue facing the board and how would you address it?

Our successful referendum, which was just passed a few weeks ago, includes improvements to buildings, technology and science and other instructional areas. Then we have an ongoing amount, which will support repairs to technology and teachers who will be teacher support for technology. Our goal will be to inform the public how we’re spending that money, how the repairs and improvements are coming along and how we’re using technology for instruction for students.

What budget challenges do you see and do you see opportunities for cost savings?

Our budget has been challenged in the past. The reason we went to a referendum is that we chose to devote our resources to what was best for our students. We tried to maintain class size. We tried to maintain course offerings. We tried to not lay off teachers. So, devoting our resources to that in the face of declining state aid, that meant what needed to be held in place and that was the buildings. Going into the future, I don’t know what the state aid will be. We’ll do the best with what we’ve got.

Regarding the referendum, how can schools best use technology to improve the education of their students?

The teacher part is key. The teacher will guide the instruction. But the students should have access to finding out materials. Also, when we implement new testing, that will be done with technology. ... In a classroom with students of varying abilities and varying knowledge ... the teacher can keep track of where students are and where they’re going. The individualized instruction is going to be a key element.

Common Core standards have become an issue in the state. Do you have concerns about them?

I do not. I have concerns about the Legislature, which adopted them and thought they were a really good idea. They don’t involve a federal takeover of education or a federal takeover of curriculum. What they do is describe the proficiencies that students should have at high school graduation. Local control involves the school district deciding the curriculum that will be taught to achieve those proficiencies. Our district has added some new curriculum and the testing is based on the new curriculum. The standards are more rigorous than what the Wisconsin standards were, and if we choose to go beyond that, we’re not restricted by the standards.

If you’re elected, what’s the biggest change you want to see in education in the district?

We need to continue to do our best to attract great teachers. We now have a mentoring program so, when new teachers come to our district, they’re mentored and supported by the staff in the school and by our superintendents. I want to see that continue. There have been a lot of challenges in our funding for teachers. We’ve tried to work collaboratively with them. I want to continue to do the best we can for teachers.


Appleton Post-Crescent, (2014) [6]

About the district

See also: Appleton Area School District, Wisconsin
Appleton Area School District is located in Appleton, Wisconsin
Appleton Area School District is located in Appleton, Wisconsin, the county seat of Outagamie County. According to the United States Census Bureau, Appleton is home to 72,635 residents.[7] Appleton Area School District is the sixth-largest school district in Wisconsin, serving 15,194 students during the 2010-2011 school year.[8]


Appleton outperformed the rest of Wisconsin in terms of higher education achievement in 2010. The United States Census Bureau found that 31.2 percent of Appleton 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 Appleton was $52,605 compared to $52,627 for the state of Wisconsin. The poverty rate in Appleton was 10.5 percent compared to 12.5 percent for the entire state.[7]

Racial Demographics, 2010[7]
Race Appleton (%) Wisconsin (%)
White 87.5 86.2
Black or African American 1.7 6.3
American Indian and Alaska Native 0.7 1.0
Asian 5.9 2.3
Two or More Races 2.0 1.8
Hispanic or Latino 5.0 5.9

Presidential votes, 2000-2012[9]
Year Democratic vote (%) Republican vote (%)
2012 48.2 50.0
2008 54.9 43.3

Note: Each column will add up to 100 percent after removing the "Hispanic or Latino" percentage, although rounding by the Census Bureau may make the total one- or two-tenths off. Read more about race and ethnicity in the Census here.[10]

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