Three running for two spots on Colby board
Voters in the Colby School District will have three candidates to choose from in the April 7 school board election, but only two of them will win three-year terms on the board.
Why have you decided to run for a seat on the Colby School Board?
Ploeckelman: “I’m really passionate about education. I really care that every student, every year person should get the best education possible for them.
“It’s not a one-size-fits-all, it’s just not. That’s why we have special ed departments where those kids get special services. We have the Rural Virtual Academy, we have the alternative school in Abbotsford. Everybody doesn’t fit in one mold, and I think everybody deserves the best education that we can get them.”
“And, because I have 18 years of experiences, I figure experience counts.”
Oehmichen: “After having had my kids go through elementary, middle school, and now in high school, I have been able to see a lot of the strengths and weaknesses of the Colby school system. I want to take my experiences and background and put it to good use in helping move our school forward.”
Schmitt: “I just enjoy being part of the community and working together. We’re all a village, we have to help the children. That’s how I look at it.”
“I’m pretty busy with the community in general, with a lot of things.”
Schmitt is a member of the Colby Booster Club and years ago, she served on the Catholic High School Association at St. Mary’s Catholic School.
What would you say makes you one of the top two candidates for a two-year term on the board?
Ploeckelman: “I have served on the CESA 10 board for six years. I was a director of the WASB board for three years. The WASB does board training, and I’ve moved on up to the fifth and highest level. I know backgrounds, I know how things fit together.”
Oehmichen: “As a father, farmer, and business owner, I have served the Colby area for many years, and like many of you, I have immense pride when the school and the community have successes. I would like to bring my unique talents to the school board to offer fresh ideas, new opportunities for students, and continue the excellence we see in the Colby community.”
Schmitt: “My kids have gone to private school, they come to public school. I have a special education child. I’m very involved with the community, and just want to do my part for the community to the best of my ability.”
“I’ve seen all spectrums, from private school to public school, so I bring a little bit of everything to the board.”
What do you think the board could do better when it comes to managing the school district and ensuring a quality education for students?
Ploeckelman: “I know it’s a money thing, but I think we should have inschool mental health professionals. When our kids are talking about suicide, when our students are hurting themselves, when our students are homeless... we don’t have enough counselors. And our counselors don’t have the time to do the real counseling these kids need.
“They don’t have access to it outside of school, and parents can’t afford it. If I could change anything, I would bring mental health professionals into our school, not every day, but maybe twice a day, kids could skip study hall and go to see the counselor, and hopefully they would not be tagged as “crazy.”
“That is what I wish we could do and perhaps we will.”
Oehmichen: “Being a small school that is only getting smaller restricts our student opportunities. Exploring new grant sources, additional cooperative initiatives, and more community involvement with our school would be the places I would start.
“I am a firm believer in term limits for board members, with some currently serving over 15 years. Our community dynamic is changing; we need to bring in new ideas and new members that are hungry for improvement and are not easily satisfied with business as usual.”
Schmitt: “I think communication is really key, between staff, support staff and administration so we’re all on board. Our goal is to help the child. It takes a village to raise a child and we are the village.”
“We’ll all agree to disagree all the time, but you have to have a common ground.”
What do you think about the idea of sharing more programs with Abbotsford or possible consolidating with the neighboring district in the future?
Ploeckelman: “I think it’s a great idea. I even think consolidating should be considered. If you look at it, if we consolidated, even one less superintendent would save us $130,000 at a minimum.”
“I think we could offer more programs because you wouldn’t have the duplication of services that we would have now.”
“I like the cooperation we have now with sports and stuff. So many of our classes now are online learning. Our teachers now are teaching kids in Spencer and a couple others, and those work well.”
“I’d be all for it. Think of the bussing savings.”
Oehmichen: “Any opportunity that we can expand or initiate to offer a better education or experience to our students should be our number one priority. Colby is a great place to raise a family, and I will do my best to make sure all everyone’s sons and daughters have the best education we can provide to them by exploring all the available opportunities.”
Schmitt: “We already co-op sports to begin with, and they’re our neighbor. We have to work with each other, both communities for what’s best for everyone.”
“To me, it wouldn’t bother me either way. Not being born and raised here, I don’t have that ‘one-way-or-another’ (atttitude). We just all have to work together for what’s best for both communities.”
“Our kids are all mixed and mingled anyways, whether it’s in athletics or our youth football program or our summer programs, so the bottom line is, let’s do what’s best for the communities and the children.”
Age: 65 Education: Graduate of Colby High School and NTC with an associate’s degree in nursing; additional education at UW-Stevens Point with a semester abroad in Poland Career: Ploeckelman dairy-farmed for 40 years with her family. Last November, they sold their cows and their barn, but she still raises heifers, chickens, alpacas and other animals
Children: All five of her children graduated from Colby High School and went on to earn college degrees in various subjects Experience: Ploeckelman has been on the school board for 18 years (six terms) and currently serves as the vice president
Age: 42 Education: Graduate of Colby High School and Fox Valley Technical College with a degree in ag business
Career: Oehmichen is the co-owner of Oeh-My Farms and Short Lane Ag Supply
Children: Two kids, Chase and Willow, are currently students at Colby High School
Experience: First time running for school board
Education: Graduated from high school in her native Illinois
Career: Schmitt is a stay-at-home mom, and her family has a beef farm
Children: Four of her six children are currently enrolled in Colby schools, and two of them graduated from Colby High School.
Experience: Schmitt is running for her second threeyear term on the board.