The Portage School Board will have two seats on the ballot in the spring election.
As of Wednesday, incumbents Dan Garrigan and Connie Shlimovitz faced no challengers in the election to be held April 3, reported the Portage Community School District’s administrative assistant, Suzi Hemler.
The deadline to file candidacy papers is 5 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 2.
Garrigan filed his paperwork on Monday, while Shlimovitz told the Daily Register on Tuesday that she plans to file for candidacy later this week. Garrigan holds one of three rural seats on the board, and Shlimovitz holds one of four city seats.
Rural candidates must reside within the Portage Community School District but outside city limits, while city candidates must reside within city limits, Hemler said. Term-length is 3 years.
Garrigan, a detective with the Portage Police Department, seeks his fourth term on the school board. Shlimovitz works as a teacher supervisor for the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, seeking her second term on the board.
Both candidates talked about why they choose to run for the board and what they hope to see accomplished if re-elected.
“I’ll be honest that over the last year or so I haven’t been as excited (about serving on the board) as I was in the past,” Garrigan said. “I was starting to feel as if the board was dysfunctional, not accomplishing some of the goals we needed to accomplish.
“I’ve since changed my mind. I felt we were, as a board, not doing our schools a lot of justice, and it bothered me. I believe that’s changing,” he continued, saying he thinks the board is working better as a team.
“I believe we are making some changes that are more open to listening to staff, to the community, and that’s why I changed my mind. I’m not giving up.”
Garrigan said he’s optimistic state testing in Portage schools will improve as a result of steps the district has taken, in areas like testing preparation and student attendance. Other areas for improvement Garrigan noted included expanding the gymnasium at Portage High School and becoming more competitive in the Badger Conference.
“I compare us to all of (the schools in the conference) whether that’s in extracurricular activities, sports, academics, everything — I don’t want us to be the school that the rest of the conference looks at as being the slacker, so to speak.”
Garrigan remains focused on staff retention in the school district, saying he believes Portage is “thinking outside the box” to attract new employees and has “barely scratched the surface” in what it can do to make Portage an even better place to work.
“If I’m fortunate enough to get the vote, then I will continue to represent the voters the best I can, giving them all the time I have,” Shlimovitz said of her candidacy.
“What I would really like is for (the district) to be like a family again. I don’t want to see the high turnover of staff members; I would just like some stability.
“It’s always the kids and families that are no. 1,” Shlimovitz said of her priorities on the board. “We’re a community school district, and there’s no greater concern than educating our future.”
Dedication is the most important trait for a school board member, Shlimovitz said. “You need to be at everything you can be at, knowing you truly do represent the community. So you have to know what’s going on. It’s one thing to show up once a month for committee meetings, but you really need to know your community.”
As a board member, Shlimovitz has donated each of her quarterly stipend checks to various causes in the community, her most recent check going to The Portage Family Skate Park. She promised to do this when she ran three years ago, and she said Tuesday that she’ll keep doing it if she’s re-elected.
“I can’t believe it’s been 3 years already. It’s exciting,” she said.