By Joe Bachman
With the April 4 school board elections right around the corner, the City Times spoke with incumbent John Krings regarding his views on Wisconsin Rapids Public Schools, and what he would bring to the table if elected.
John Krings is a Central Wisconsin native and a John Edwards High School graduate. He was hired 33 years ago in the Biron Mill. Krings is a labor representative with United Steelworkers of America, and has served on the Wisconsin Rapids Public School Board for 10 years now.
Biggest Issue Facing WRPS?
“Budget. It seems in the 10 years on the board we’ve been forced to cut between $1-3 million dollars from the budget. The administrative team does the best job they can to make reductions without impacting students in the classrooms, but it’s never easy. You’re never 100% of the money you have to work with. Unfortunately, the laws are made in Madison and Washington and we’re left to develop policy to match the laws. We just have to deal with what we get — we talk to our legislators and relay our concerns, but that’s about all we can really do.”
Thoughts on a School Voucher Program?
“I’m not in favor of a two-tiered educational system in Wisconsin — they have trouble funding one system, much less funding two. To me, the worst part of it is the inequities of the things that the public schools have to do in regards to mandate the testing and services — these are things that voucher schools don’t have to do, so it’s not an even playing field. Our students spend 2.63 days a year average taking state mandated tests — the voucher schools don’t have to do that test or provide services for severely handicapped individuals. It doesn’t seem like a very fair program as it exists today.”
How Would You Address the Teacher Shortage?
“For starters, they need to show teachers respect. They need to show young teachers that the position is valued — perception is reality. We’re doing our best to bring our rate of pay to a point where it’s somewhat attractive coming out of college, but if they think they’re going to be belittled and that there’s no value to what they do, why would they want to come and work in that field? A lot of it has to do with how we treat the people in that profession.”
Does the School Put an Emphasis on Student Health?
“All of our school lunches are mandated by the Federal government, and we’re required to use whole grains and stay under a certain calorie count. As far as exercise, we have gym and try to show them healthier choices and exercise. I think most of that falls a little on the home life — I think what we’re doing is adequate, and I don’t know how much more classroom time should be given to exercise. It’s probably more important after school than during school.”
What will the Voters Get if You’re Re-Elected?
“Consistency. I’m very proud of my 10 years of service and the board has worked very well. We hear the community, we listen to their concerns — we’re responsive. We all have different backgrounds and we all bring different things to the table. We all believe in public education and that’s what scares me when people run for office that don’t believe in the office they’re running for. Why would you be interested in representing a public school when you don’t believe in a public school?”