GREEN BAY, Wis.(WFRV)- On April 6th Wisconsinites will select the next State Superintendent. Ahead of election day both candidates, Jill Underly and Deb Kerr talked to Local 5’s Eric Richards about what they would bring to the classroom if elected. Both have over two decades of experience, and both are District Superintendents currently. That is about where the similarities end, which is evident within the conversation. Underly and Kerr were asked the same questions for the interview.
Question 1: What are your thoughts on the voucher program?
Jill Underly, “The voucher system right now is very expensive and as it expands it’s just gonna take more money from our Public Schools. Right now, the voucher system takes $380 Million a year and when you look at that, I don’t think Tax Payers realize that it’s coming out of the money that is set aside for education.”
Deb Kerr, “I fully support voucher schools, private or charter because our parents have the liberty to choose how to best educate their kids based upon their circumstances. I want all parents to make those choices just like they’ve been doing throughout the pandemic. I am really worried that we are in a Public School crisis right now.”
Question 2: How would each candidate retain Teachers and Nurses?
Deb Kerr,” Teachers and Nurses are essentials workers. We need to recruit the best people into those positions and find out from some of our adults who maybe want to go into these fields what the barriers are that prevented them from getting the job.”
Jill Underly,” Individually when you think about it, these individuals are able to graduate from college. They could probably find a better paying career in another field besides education, which is true for Nurses too. So when you look at it from that perspective we need to respect our school staff more and our support staff that are rather underpaid.”
Both Underly and Kerr are accused of ethical violations while within their campaign and their job functions as district superintendents. Underly is accused of using her district email address to send personal correspondents connected to her campaign. She does not deny the allegation, saying that she made a mistake. “I was trying to follow the law basically and it was an honest mistake. I should have used my personal email to do that outreach, but you know that is pretty normal when you are trying to ask someone for their personal and contact them at work. It retrospect I should have done that from my personal email,” said Underly. In the state of Wisconsin Statute 230.40, “no person holding a position in the classified civil service may directly or indirectly solicit or receive subscriptions or contributions for any partisan political party or any political purpose while on state time or engaging in official duties as an employee.” As of this posting, there is no known official investigation launched into the incident.
Kerr is accused of using district internet access to conduct personal transactions. She says that it was a different situation that what Underly did because she did not break any laws. “My situation is totally different because I was under the internet acceptable use policy of my district. I did not break any laws it was an incidental contact. I work many hours as a Superintendent and most of my school community knows that I work hundreds of hours…I’m always at school. My situations was more incidental and a policy situation, I did not break any laws,” said Kerr. Also as of this posting, there is no known official investigation launched into the incident.