Candidates respond to an informative survey prior to primary race for West Bend School Board.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012



This website is provided as a community service to the West Bend School District voters by Eagle Forum of Wisconsin/Washington County Chapter.

Thank you for taking the time to explore your school board candidates and their viewpoints.  Please feel free to pass on the link to this website.

If you are unsure of your polling place, or would like to request an absentee ballot or view a sample ballot, click HERE.

The spring primary will take place on April 3 to fill two seats on the school board.  Every vote counts!



Affiliations/Community Service organizations/local church participation:

Optimist Club of West Bend
Jackson Little League volunteer
YMCA youth soccer coach
Member of St. Frances Cabrini

National Forensic League
Badger Boys State Alumni Association

VFW West Bend Post  1393
Deacon, First Baptist Church

Boys and Girls Club, former board member
West Bend Friends of Sculpture, board member
West Bend Swim Club, board member and volunteer
United Way of Washington County, Division Leader
Wills for Heroes, volunteer attorney
Saint Frances Cabrini Church parishioner and musician, former CCD teacher
Wisconsin Bar Association
Illinois Bar Association
Iowa Bar Association
Washington County Bar Association
CPCU, former President, board member and Committee Chair, Milwaukee Chapter

Why are you running for the school board and what goals do you hope to achieve if you are elected?

BEAVER:  My children have received an exceptional education in the West Bend Schools.  I want to make sure that future generations of children have those same opportunities.

KNEPEL:  I am running for school board to bring a young and conservative voice to the board.   If elected my primary goals will be to increase career-orientated education, better develop facility maintenance, and work towards lower levying rates. 

PHENG:  I am running for school board to give a voice to the “regular joe” tax-paying citizens of the district. My primary goal if elected to the school board is to continue the good conservative progress we have made. I will keep shifting Board Actions towards a conservative direction that is more in line with the majority of voters.

SIZER:  I enjoyed a good education, and my children benefitted from a good education in the West Bend Public School District.  The School District offered to my children the opportunities that my husband and I believe are critical to develop a the well rounded citizen in our Country.  The Community, school boards, teachers and administrators  made that possible.  Now, I believe it is my turn to do my part to make sure that our schools remain strong, our community remains strong and we all work together for that common goal.  My background in the law, business and education uniquely qualifies me to give back to the community in this way. 
As a school board member, I  hope to collaberate with all of our partners in education:  families, teachers, staff, administrators and the community at large.  I  will make it a priority to consider all points of view so that we maintain strong schools and a strong community in a fiscally responsible way.  I will encourage open communication between our partners in education and concerned community members that fosters trust and collaberation.

Are you willing to overrule decisions made by district management? 
(Choose:  Yes/No) 

SIZER:  I don't know how to answer this question.

RESPONSE (if desired):  

BEAVER:  That is what I have done when needed for the last seven years.  I will not change now.
PHENG:  It is the function of the Board to act as a “watchdog” for the tax-payers. The Board should be the oversight over the School Administration.
SIZER:  I cannot speculate on what management decisions this question may be referencing.  If the question is whether the board should be able to review decisions made by management, my answer is yes. 

What is your philosophy on balancing a district budget in difficult times?

BEAVER:  Do everything in my power to have no negative impact on the education of the children in the school district.  Be as efficient as possible, improve operations and increase student performance.  That is a successful budget.

KNEPEL:  Any budget scenario should be looked at through a calm and reasoned perspective.  The Board must identify what elements of the budget are critically essential to the district.  Dialogue with the community and district administration will help the board in this process.  Eventually a plan, backed by data, should be debated, voted upon, and ultimately put into action.

PHENG:  A balanced budget, i.e., spending matches or is less than revenue, is best achieved during “hard times” by spreading the responsibility. In other words, everyone needs to contribute – teachers/educators by pay freezes/cuts if needed, reduction/elimination of appropriate school programs, and as a VERY LAST resort increased taxes.

SIZER:  My experience has taught me that whether in business, or in the business of education, challenges will always be present.  Funding for schools has always been a challenge, and always will be so.  The key to the fiscal success of any organization is collaboration and planning.  My philosophy, therefore, is that the school board must be capable of strategic thinking, willing to consider the various points of view and be capable of applying sound fiduciary principles in order to be fiscally responsible.  It is not just the "difficult times" that require attention in balancing each years budget, but planning for future years, as well.  Without forward planning in the budget process, the community runs the certain risk of presenting an unacceptable bill to itself in the future.

What is your decision-making process?

BEAVER:  I gather all the necessary facts and then ask the question, “How will this affect the education of children?”  If it is a positive change and we have the money within the budget then I will likely vote for the issue at hand.

KNEPEL:   My decision-making process is dependent on communication and data.  I communicate with all parties involved in a given scenario or issue and take their responses into account.  I look at and measure all applicable data on the given topic.  From there I look at potential actions and decide upon what is the best course to take.  

Identify the issue/problem
Collect information
Analyze information
Identify at least 3 possible courses of action
Analyze each course of action
Pick best course of action
Implement best course of action

SIZER: I evaluate proposals for the their value or utility and balance that against their costs.  I examine challenges for possible solutions while performing the same kind of cost-utility analysis.  If a new idea solution has been implemented, it is also critical to monitor the relative success of that plan to determine whether the results achieved are satisfactory and still make sense from a cost-utility analysis.

Are you endorsed by any group(s)?  If so, which/who?
BEAVER:  Not that I know.
KNEPEL:  Not at the present time.
PHENG:  No endorsements sought or received. The only endorsement that is relevant would be the one given by the voters on April 3, 2012.

What is your position on a residency requirement for administration and teachers? (Choose: Favor/against)  

BEAVER:  (See below.)
KNEPEL:  In favor.
PHENG:  Against.
SIZER:  I am against it.

RESPONSE (if desired): 
BEAVER:   In favor of this for the Superintendent.
PHENG:  Against.
SIZER:  A residency requirement would imprudently limit the pool of talent from which we can hire.  While I have no objection to considering residency of a candidate for employment as a factor, a "requirement" is unrealistic and contrary to the best interests of the school district.

ACT 10
What is your position on Wisconsin's Act 10 (Budget Repair Bill)?

BEAVER:  Mixed.  It did a lot of things that were necessary to help schools balance budgets.  Here in West Bend it did not do all that it was advertised as doing.  We still needed to let 24 staff member go.  That means reduced offering and lower level of services.  It allowed us to make benefits changes that saved taxpayers quite a bit of money.

KNEPEL:  I am of the position that Wisconsin’s Act 10 (Budget Repair Bill) has been a tremendous aid to the people of Wisconsin.  In terms of reducing the state debt and simplifying the state budgetary process Act 10 has been very successful, and I am glad the state legislature along with Governor Walker has put it into law. 

PHENG:  I am in favor and strongly support Wisconsin’s Act 10 (Budget Repair Bill).

SIZER:  Act 10 is the law.  My only position is that it will be the school board's responsibility to work with the provisions of Act 10 for the best interest of the school district, including all of our partners in education.

What is your position on 4-year-old kindergarten?  (Choose:  Favor/Against)

BEAVER:  Neither
KNEPEL:  Against.
PHENG:  Against.
SIZER:  Unknown.

RESPONSE (if desired):  
BEAVER:  It is proven to work, but we do not have the space to make it work in our current facilities.  I believe that it will help our student achievement long term.
SIZER:  I haven't heard enough discussion on this issue yet, and would want to know more concerning the goals, implementation hurdles, and costs.

What was your position on the 2011 tax levy in the West Bend School District:  (Choose:  Favor/Against)

BEAVER:  (See below)
KNEPEL:  In favor.
PHENG:  Favor.
SIZER:  Unknown.

BEAVER:  There was not much that could be done at the local level.  Act 10 basically told us what we were doing budgetarily.

KNEPEL:  Although the last tax levy did borrow the maximum amount available by law, it is also important to note that in comparison to the 2010 levy it was more than 400K less costly.  As a Board member I would direct the administration to continue efforts to lessen the burden on taxpaying members of the community. 

PHENG:  Given the provisions of Act 10- the 2011 Tax levy was the probably the best course of action for addressing the needs of the School District.

SIZER:  I haven't heard enough discussion on this issue yet, and would want to know more concerning the goals, implementation hurdles, and costs.

Please state what you would specifically like voters to know about you:

BEAVER:  I am the luckiest person in the world because I have been married to my wife who is my best friend for the past 22 years.   I am the father of two children that are both students at West Bend High School.  My children have received a world class education from the West Bend schools.  They have also had outstanding extra-curricular experiences.  Those experiences have helped to make them well rounded young people that have very bright futures ahead of them.  
I want to see future generations of children have the same opportunities that my children have had in the West Bend Schools. 
The state of school funding in Wisconsin will make that difficult in the years to come.  That is why experience and leadership are needed on the school board at this time.  I have spent my entire professional career working collaboratively with people to find unique and creative ways to meet goals.

KNEPEL:  I would like voters to know I am aware of the hardships in the community right now.  Now is the time for a Board that will work with the state government and other actors to get our education and economy in track.  I will always take into account what the West Bend School District represents and guide my decision-making as such. 

PHENG:  I am a “regular guy”.  I go to work, pay my taxes, and strive to be a good husband and father. I became more involved in 2009 when, in spite of overwhelming tax-payer/voter disapproval of a tax levy increase, the Board still voted to increase the tax levy.  I bring a “regular guy” viewpoint to the Board and promise to represent just the taxpayer and no one else.

SIZER:  I am uniquely qualified to serve as a school board member.  Because of my education, business background, community service,  teaching background and passion for the importance of public schools , I am confident that I can contribute to maintain strong schools in a fiscally responsible way so that every student receives the quality of education they deserve. 
I have been a lawyer for 26 years, and a senior attorney at West Bend Mutual Ins. Co. for 19 years with responsibility in litigation, legislative affairs, personnel, and strategic planning.  My children just graduated from West High School, having been very active in Academics, co-curriculars and sports, giving me personal insight into the value and needs of these programs as well as others.  I have been active in community programs and non-profit organizations for 19 years, which I believe demonstrates my commitment to the needs of this community. 

Eagle Forum of Wisconsin/Washington County Chapter


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