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Two PW-S School Board members not running for re-election PDF Print E-mail
Written by BILL SCHANEN IV   
Wednesday, 13 December 2017 19:49

Decision by President Gremminger, Port representative Shinners to step down will bring change to stable board

    Two of the three Port Washington-Saukville School Board members whose seats are up for election in April — including board President Carey Gremminger — are not running for re-election.
    Gremminger, who was appointed to represent the Village of Saukville on the board  in 2005 and elected the following year, and Michelle Shinners, who has held a City of Port Washington seat on the board since 2012, filed declarations of noncandidacy last week.
    The third member whose seat is on the April ballot, board Vice President Brenda Fritsch, is running for re-election, Supt. Michael Weber said. She has held a City of Port Washington seat on the board since 2012.
    Gremminger said it was always her intention to step down from the board when her daughter graduated from Port Washington High School, which will happen in June.
    “I didn’t ever want to experience any feelings of disconnect to the buildings when I no longer had a child attending,” she wrote in a letter to staff members.
    Gremminger cited other personal reasons for her decision, including the deaths of two close relatives last year.
    “I have become brutally aware of how short life can really be, and I feel very pressured and called to serve in new ways,” she wrote.
     The board elected Gremminger as its president in 2014, and her tenure has included the approval of the most expensive referendum in the history of the Port Washington-Saukville School District — $49.4 million — in 2015, as well as planning for and supervision of the projects the referendum financed — a $3.8 million addition to Dunwiddie Elementary School completed in December 2016 and the ongoing $45.6 million Port Washington High School project to be completed in 2019.
    “I know it may be unexpected for me to leave the board in the middle of a significant building project, but I felt resolute in my decision because of the strength of our administration, board and staff,” Gremminger wrote.
    Shinners said she, too, is stepping down for personal reasons, noting that her son is also graduating from Port High in June.
    “It truly is personal in the sense I have so much going on in my life that I don’t feel I have the time to devote to the board anymore,” she said.
    Shinners and Fritsch were elected in 2012 in a contentious race against self-described conservative candidates who were critical of the School Board’s decision to extend teacher contracts following the passage of Act 10, the Wisconsin law that ended most collective bargaining for public employees. Gremminger fended off a challenger in that race.
    Weber said Tuesday that no one has taken out nomination papers to run for Gremminger’s or Shinners’ seat. Those papers are currently available and must be returned to the district by 5 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 2.
    Meanwhile, School Board members are scrambling to collect enough signatures to ask voters for permission on the April 2018  ballot to change the way one of the nine board members is elected.
    The problem is the seat represents a small, sparsely populated section of the school district in the towns of Saukville and Grafton and has been vacant since October 2015.
    The board wants to change this seat to an at-large position that can be filled by someone who lives anywhere in the district, not just in this small area.
    Board bylaws currently call for the board to consist of five members from the City of Port Washington, two from the Village of Saukville and one each from the Town of Port Washington and the towns of Saukville and Grafton. The proposed change would only affect the Saukville-Grafton town seat.
    Although board members represent specific areas of the district, all voters may vote for all candidates. For example, a Village of Saukville resident may vote for a City of Port Washington School Board candidate.
    The proposed change, seen by officials as a preferred alternative to reducing the number of board members to seven, is not, however, a quick fix, and is one that must be approved by voters.
    The School Board had intended to propose the change on the April 2017 ballot, but fell short of the 500 signatures needed to present it to voters. The problem, school officials said, wasn’t opposition to the change but the amount of time it took to explain the issue to residents and ask for their signatures.
    This time around, board members are circulating the petition at events where the issue can be explained to a number of people at once and petitions are available to sign.
    Weber estimated this week that just more than 300 signatures have been collected. The district has set a deadline of Jan. 8, which would give officials time to verify the signatures before they have to submit them to the county clerk later that month if the issue is to be put on the April ballot.
    If school officials are successful in presenting the change to voters and the measure is approved, it will not take effect until the three-year term of the current town of Saukville-Grafton seat expires in April 2019.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 December 2017 19:50
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