New school board candidates share vision for future

Sadie Bettendorf, Business Editor and Online Editor


Two new school board members were elected on Nov. 8, while maintaining three incumbent members from the previous term. Returning board members, Pete Kelzenberg and Alison Sherman, will serve a four-year term alongside new members Eva Lee and Andrew Thelander. Beverly Petrie will be finishing her remaining 2 years from a resigned board member in 2021.

It has been said that the board is now more ideologically aligned than in the past, which changes the dynamics of meetings and the efficiency of policymaking.

“I have no problem sharing my feelings or my thoughts with any other board members and just having the back-and-forth conversations, and I believe in their integrity,” board member Pete Kelzenberg said.

This goes to show that the boards in the past did not have room for constructive criticism and overall accordance.

“When we have a disagreement, it is going to be a respectful disagreement. And what we will be trying to do is what every good board that is high functioning should do, and that is to work toward a consensus,” Beverly Petrie said.

Going forward, the school board feels there will be more amicability within the group compared to past years.

To add to the list of things changing recently, last year the school board unanimously voted on a new superintendent, Michael Funk. He was superintendent of the year in 2022 when he held the position at Albert Lee.

“You need someone that can come in and not only start something, but see it through and that is what we believe is going to happen, and he has got good plans,” Kelzenberg said when asked about Funk. Funk plans to make this his last year before retiring.

When we have a disagreement, it’s going to be a respectful disagreement. And what we will be trying to do is what every good board that is high functioning should do, and that is to work toward a consensus.

— Beverly Petrie

Elections run every two years, going back and forth between three and four seats. With two new members on the board, dynamics are bound to change.

“I think that people were bent on getting the last word in an argument rather than trying to figure out how to come to a compromised position that everybody could be satisfied with… And I am looking forward to serving beginning of January because I think we’re going to have a really healthy and high-functioning board,”  Petrie explained.

The board’s relationship with the teachers union can be difficult at times, but with a collective bargaining mindset, the relationship should improve within the next term.

“I think collective bargaining would be better if it was more timely. I feel like the last couple of contracts that the board has settled with the union has been at least a year if not two after their due date,” said math teacher and union member Peter Hamilton when asked about the association of the two. While both board members, Petrie and Kelzenberg talk about how the board hires a representative to talk with the union, so the board cannot do first-hand communication with the union, putting a barrier between them.

The district’s budget is quite large, allowing for wiggle room. But where and what the money is spent on is a question of importance and efficiency.

“One of the highest priorities that we’re going to have to face is trying to address those achievement issues,” Petrie said when broadly asked about the budget. Whereas Kelzenberg talks about not one thing, but all the logistics behind where the money goes and the best way to go about it.

Similar to the years before, there is adapting that is going to happen, but the board knows they are all working towards the same outcome, to leave the district better than how they found it. All board members have vocalized their hopes and ambitions for the term to come.