Fritsch keeps seat; fourth run is the charm for Paulin

Incumbent garners most votes, perennial candidate finishes second to win PW-S School Board seats

Brenda Fritsch and Aaron Paulin
Ozaukee Press staff

Incumbent Brenda Fritsch had no problem holding onto her seat in Tuesday’s Port Washington-Saukville School Board race, and for perennial candidate Aaron Paulin, his fourth run for a seat on the board was the charm.

Fritsch, 50, who has served six years on the board, received 1,961 votes (37.8%) in a three-candidate race for two seats representing the City of Port Washington on the board.

Paulin, a 39-year-old social studies teacher at West Bend West High School, finished second with 1,815 votes (35%) to claim a seat currently held by Michelle Shinners. Shinners did not run for re-election.

First-time candidate Maureen McCourt Boylan, 50, received 1,363 votes (26.3%).

Nearly 41% of registered voters in the School District cast ballots in Tuesday’s election. 

Fritsch, Paulin and McCourt Boylan, all of whom have children enrolled in district schools, said prior to the election that mental health initiatives and school security are priorities for them.

“One of our big initiatives, which I’m very proud of, is in the area of mental health,” said Fritsch, a residential architect who serves as vice president of the School Board. “There is a lot of pressure on kids these days compounded by things like social media. We’ve done a lot in terms of programs and assemblies and services for students and their families.”

In addition to offering mental health programs for students and parents, the district has hired full-time school psychologists for each of its five schools, provides social work services for students and families through a partnership with the Ozaukee County Human Services Department and contracts with Comprehensive Counseling Services to provide counseling for students during the school day. In addition, there are three counselors at Port Washington High School and two at Thomas Jefferson Middle School.

Although the district has a psychologist at each of its schools and provides social work services, it should hire its own social worker, Paulin said.

“Social workers have a different viewpoint than psychologists,” Paulin said. “In a perfect world, you’d have a social worker at every school, but for starters you would have one for the district and prioritize services for the highest at-risk students.”

Noting that the mental health initiative is an important part of ensuring student safety, Fritsch said the district has also fortified its schools by investing in physical security measures at each of its buildings, working  with the Port Washington and Saukville police departments and having staff members trained to deal with security threats.

“Between our mental health initiative, secure entrances at our schools and an enhanced relationship with police, I think we have done our best to prepare for the worst,” Fritsch said. 

Paulin, however, said the district must do more to improve school security.

“I think we have a lot of vulnerabilities that need to be addressed,” he said. “I think there needs to be more training for staff, more drills for students, more awareness of the possible threats and advice from experts.”

Paulin said the district should hire a security consultant to identify vulnerabilities in schools and consider having a full-time police officer assigned to the high school.

“Give him a desk at the high school,” he said. “Have him there all the time.”

Currently, the Port Washington Police Department’s school resource officer makes daily visits to all Port schools. A Saukville officer does the same at Saukville Elementary School.

All teachers have received training from the Port Police Department, which works with the district on security measures and protocols, and the district continues to provide ALICE active-shooter response training for staff members, Supt. Michael Weber said. 

In addition, schools hold regular lock-down drills in which students and teachers practice strategies that range from seeking shelter in locked classrooms to confronting intruders, Weber said. 

And after the Feb. 24 high school shooting in Parkland, Fla., individual security committees were formed at each school to make sure no safety measures are overlooked.

None of the candidates said they support the idea of arming teachers.

Paulin also called for other changes, among them backing away from the district’s emphasis on technology and eliminating what he called unproductive half days of classes for students, which are scheduled periodically throughout the school year to provide staff development time.

Also in Tuesday’s election, Douglas Mueller was elected to a seat representing the Village of Saukville on the School Board. Mueller, the lone candidate for the position, will succeed Carey Gremminger, the board president, who did not run for re-election.


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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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Port Washington, WI 53074
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