In Their Words: Candidates for Fall Creek School Board

Candidates running in contested elections for the Fall Creek School Board in the April 5 election were contacted by the Tri-County Area Times and asked some questions in regards to the topics of the campaign and their plans if elected. Some have replied back. Here are their answers:

Brock Wright – Incumbent School Board Member, President of the Board

Q: Why do you want to serve on the school board?
A: I have served on the Board of Education for the Fall Creek School District for 15 years. I am seeking re-election so I may continue to help the students at the Fall Creek School District to receive the tools
that they need to be successful. Successful as students within the walls of the Fall Creek School District, and successful well beyond their years as students.

Q: What should be the district’s policies on COVID-19 or any other kind of pandemic in the future?

A: Policies for any pandemic need to be in place for the safety, security, and well-being of our students, staff, and community. Any policy that is put into place for a pandemic must include consideration of the
physical safety, and emotional safety of students and staff. The policies that get set forth no matter what the situation is must have input from all stakeholders. That includes students, staff, and most importantly parents. However, it is also important to note that COVID-19 is a first-time pandemic, therefore setting policies for such an event is very difficult as it seems we are learning something new about it daily. Also, to predict a future pandemic would be virtually impossible. BUT, in preparation for such an event it is important for the Board of Education and the Administration of the district to be communicative and transparent with all those involved. It is possible that there may never be a fully unanimous answer or plan to any pandemic, but there will be sincerity and respect for the safety and well-being of our students, staff and community. We must work together for our children and do the best we can to help them succeed… matter what the situation is.

Q: What are some upcoming challenges the district faces and what’s your plan for meeting them?

A: A Challenge that arises each year for many districts, including Fall Creek, is to create a balanced budget. The Board of Education works very closely with the business manager and superintendent to be fiscally
responsible. The collaborative efforts help to ensure that a balanced budget is created each year, and most importantly that the balanced budget does not include cuts to programs that are essential to building success of our students. It is always a goal to include and create opportunities as a district to promote learning and growth for our students, staff, and community

Westley Bennett

1). Why do you want to serve on the school board?

I have two children in the Fall Creek School district, my twins Abby and Will, who are in the second grade. I'm running, simply, because I want the best for them. But not only for them. For all of the children of the Fall Creek School District. Our children deserve the best. Our children are our future. What we do now, today, will affect their lives and the future of our community for generations to come. Every little decision will have a big impact on hundreds of lives going forward. I originally put my hat into the ring because I wanted to have a bigger voice, and be a better advocate for my children's education. But then I found more reasons to get onto the board. You can find on my website, , the District's and the Schools' numbers for the last five school years that we have data for, along with links directly to the DPI website if someone doesn't trust the numbers I provide and wants to pull them themselves. After looking at the numbers from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, I was surprised to see that, on paper at least, the Fall Creek School District does not in fact have the results that show that they are a fantastic school district, as public reputation and opinion seem to suggest. These numbers, this objective data, shows that Fall Creek is not in fact a top tier school district like we've all been lead to believe. It's a "middling" school district in terms of actual results. This was again surprising and concerning to me. We can have all the "good feelings" that we want about how we FEEL about our school, but will those good feelings help our children to be educated? Will those good feelings help them to prosper in the future? They will not. We need to take a serious look at these performance metrics, and at the inner working of the school district itself, find the "pain points", and fix them.

2). What should be the district's policies on COVID-19 or any other kind of pandemic for the future?

I am, politically and personally, a conservative libertarian. I truly believe that the government's primary role should be to protect its citizenry from harm from others who attempt to violate their God-given rights. As Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence, we "derive rights inherent & inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, & liberty, & the pursuit of happiness". That should be the single role of our government, to preserve those rights. And the ORDER of those rights is no accident. For you cannot have The Pursuit of Happiness without Liberty, and you cannot have Liberty without Life. That, as framed by the founders of our Constitution, are the order and importance of each of these rights, and the order in which they should be considered. A global pandemic is an extraordinary and rare event. The last time that we had a global pandemic of this magnitude was the 1918 Spanish Flu, which killed anywhere from 17 to 100 million people, making it the second most deadly pandemic in human history next to the bubonic plague of the Middle Ages. COVID so far has killed anywhere from 6 to 24 million people worldwide. Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. Life should be preserved above Liberty, and Liberty above the Pursuit of Happiness. Death is the ultimate negator of every one of those rights. The District's policies should reflect this. While I do not believe in vaccine mandates, as those are a violation of a person's bodily autonomy, I do however believe in mask mandates, for one simple reason. "Your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins". Your right to expel potentially deadly microbes through the air ends where my breathing space begins, it's as simple as that. A person should not be permitted to cause harm to another person, that's the one basic role of government, to prevent that. I believe in Truth, and I believe in Science. The science has shown us that masks provably reduce (but do not completely prevent, mind you) contagion by the simple matter of blocking or reducing the number of water particulates from exiting them. Other barriers as well, such as distance and plexiglass, also help prevent the spread of those same particulates. So yes, I believe in mask mandates. However, I do NOT believe in living in a permanent state of fear. We must use statistical analysis and modern contagion modeling to determine the course and spread of disease, and adjust our measures accordingly. Mask mandates should only be in place when there is a very good risk of spreading something as extraordinary as a deadly pandemic further. When that pandemic has finally become manageably endemic, and natural immunity and vaccination rates are high enough, then those mandates can and should be dropped as soon as it's been determined safe to do so. And who should make that call? In my opinion, the CDC. These are intelligent people who have spent a lifetime learning about, and whose entire JOBS are to study disease and its spread. If you're not going to believe and trust in them to do their jobs properly, are you going to believe and trust in other media personalities that have far less expertise in such matters? I feel that it would be foolish to do so.

3). What are some upcoming challenges the district faces and what's your plan for meeting them?

The primary challenge facing not just our district, but many others in Wisconsin, is rural decline, which is a very real phenomenon. Children who grow up in rural areas are much more likely to leave their home town than those in urban areas. While Fall Creek may be partly sheltered from this effect with its proximity to Altoona and Eau Claire (as the statistical data from the Census Bureau shows), it is in fact a very real danger lurking around the corner. The only way that we can prevent this kind of decline, is by providing things that the big cities can't - a personal touch, a dedication to academic excellence, and the ability to adapt quickly to individual student needs. These are the kinds of things that you can't get in the larger cities and towns. But in the Village of Fall Creek, with the student population size that we have? This is absolutely possible. Our teachers are working hard to do their best in educating our children. We just need to ensure that they are getting the right resources that they need in the right places. And seeing many asks from our teachers for additional funds on the DonorsChoose website? I've donated to a few of them myself, but the NEED for them to me is indicative of the district failing to meet their teacher's needs. And if the teacher's needs aren't being met, then the student's needs certainly aren't. I hope to be able to change that, and to help funnel resources in the right way, in the right places. For example, on the site at the moment I type this teachers have stated that they need more library materials for their classes, curricular materials to help our children learn how to read, and one teacher needed new kitchen and market playsets to help teach young children about those functions in our community. These are important projects, which should be funded by the district. That they are not, means that there is an issue with how we are managing our budget. I'd like to get in there and try to fix that, putting academics and learning first before all other things.


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