Waupaca School Board race contested
Three candidates seek two seats
By Robert Cloud
Three candidates are running for two seats on the Waupaca School Board.
Steve Hackett is challenging incumbents Connie Baldwin and Kirsten Greenfield in the April 5 spring election.
Election to the school board is for a three-year term.
This is the first in a two-part series on the Waupaca School Board election.
Baldwin has been a member of the Waupaca School Board for 15 years, serving 12 years as the board’s treasurer.
“I started out as a Big Sister with the Big Brother Big Sister program several years ago, and since then I have volunteered in our schools and churches, mentored, served on several church boards, been a Girl Scout leader and currently I’m on the Foundations For Living Board,” Baldwin said, regarding her community involvement.
Baldwin graduated from Brookfield East High School and received a bachelor’s degree and certification in social work from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
“I also took sign language courses from MATC and continue to receive at least 30 credit hours every two years of continuing education to maintain my social work license and stay current with new policies and practices,” Baldwin said.
She began her career in insurance and then stayed home with her daughters for four years. Baldwin also worked at the Wisconsin Veterans Home and then for several years in the community-based residential facility industry.
Baldwin was the volunteer coordinator for the Waupaca School District for several years and then moved to her current position as a care manager serving elderly and disabled adults enrolled in the Family Care program.
“My experience working in the school district and with young adults gives me insight into the importance of a strong education by qualified staff and the need to provide individualized services and supports for lifelong success,” Baldwin said.
When asked what she considered her most important accomplishment in public service, Baldwin said, “Definitely the time I’ve spent as a Waupaca School Board member assisting with the smooth Act 10 transition from unions, contracts and negotiations to a fair and equitable wage scale and the development of handbooks that closely align with the previous contracts. I’ve had staff compliment the board on this transition and I relate it to the trust that has developed over the years between our staff and the school board.”
Baldwin said her two daughters received their entire K -12 education in the Waupaca School District, which she believes prepared them well as they went on to graduate from college.
“I thoroughly believe they received a great education and were able to experience many different classes and activities that helped to mold them into the intelligent, successful and compassionate citizens, spouses, parents and employees that they are today,” Baldwin said.
Greenfield is a nine-year veteran of the school board. She has also served on the finance and building project committees at St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Church in Waupaca.
“I started my education with kindergarten at Central School in Waupaca. My family moved when I was in fifth grade and I graduated from East High School in Rockford, Illinois. I attended Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa but did not graduate. However, I have taken classes related to my work,” Greenfield said.
Greenfield has worked in medical and ambulance billing for the past 17 years. Prior to that she was employed as a patient service representative at Theda Care Physicians and a hospital unit clerk.
“My insurance knowledge has been valuable when we have discussions regarding the district health insurance,” Greenfield said. “My customer service experience has taught me a great deal about interacting with people.”
Greenfield said both her sons attended Waupaca public schools. When her family moved her in 1994, her sons were in sixth and third grade.
“From the first day I was very impressed with the education they received,” Greenfield said. “Because we came from a very large school district it was wonderful for them to be part of a more personal environment. I appreciated the frequent interaction and feedback from the staff.”
Greenfield said her sons took advantage of the academic and extracurricular opportunities offered at Waupaca schools. They are now both college graduates.
“I consider being a voice for students and parents to be an important facet of my service on the board. I also try to be respectful of the financial implications of my votes,” Greenfield said.
Although he has never served on the school board, Hackett worked for 17 years as an aide with the Waupaca School District.
“Having worked in the high school, middle school and learning center, I do think I’ve seen almost everything,” Hackett said. “I have first-hand knowledge of how our school system works and how it can be improved,”
Hackett graduated from Iola-Scandinavia High School in 1961, then served in the U.S. Army from June 1961 to June 1964, spending most of his time in the service in Germany.
“My school post-secondary education was the U.S. Army and the school of hard knocks,” Hackett said.
He was a plant accountant and cost accountant for a paper company before joining the U.S. Postal Service as a mail carrier, starting in Menasha, then transferring to Waupaca.
Hackett retired from the post office in 1997 and began working as a school aide the following year.
Hackett has been a member of the Waupaca Common Council since 2003, an experience that Hackett says will help him serve on the school board.
“When the governor signed Act 10, the city had to rewrite the employee handbook. I was the chairperson of the city personnel committee, and we sat with our employees and addressed each and every item in the book,” Hackett said. “We eliminated some items and actually kept some we had planned to eliminate. In order to please both parties, we changed the wording of several items, too. After we finished, many of our employees thanked the committee for being so fair.”
Hackett’s community service includes about 20 years as a volunteer on the board for Waupaca County’s Early Intervention Program, which provides support for families with children with developmental delays of disabilities.
He was a member of Kiwanis and is currently active with Waupaca VFW 1037, as well as working at the Iola Old Car Show, the Iola Vintage Military Show and the concession stand at Lambeau Field.
Hackett said all five of his children attended school in Waupaca, starting in the 1970s with the last one graduating in the 2000s.
“My work time overlapped with theirs,” Hackett said. “Until my retirement at the end of the last school year, there had been a Hackett in the Waupaca school system, either as a student or an aide, for nearly 40 years.”