PARDEEVILLE — Residents of the Pardeeville Area School District gained a few extra days to enter the school board race after incumbent Matt Smith dropped out.

Smith notified the district of his decision not to run Dec. 29, a week past the deadline for incumbents to file for non-candidacy, which means interested candidates now have until 5 p.m. Friday to file the necessary paperwork, Superintendent Gus Knitt said.

The original deadline was Tuesday.

The Pardeeville School Board has two at-large seats on the ballot in the April election. The district so far has two candidates for those seats: incumbent Dan Pulver and retired educator Phil Kamrath.

Candidates need only reside in the Pardeeville Area School District. Terms on the seven-member board are for three years.

Those interested in running for a board seat should visit or contact the district office at 608-429-2153. Candidates don’t need to collect signatures to run, Knitt said. They only need to file Declaration of Candidacy papers, which are available in the district office.

Smith, who is wrapping up his second term on the board, told Knitt that he chose not to run for re-election because he wants to spend more time with his family. Six years ago Smith was a write-in candidate at a time “when we had nobody running,” Knitt said. Fortunately, “he offered to serve, and then later he decided to run for re-election.”

“He brought a lot of knowledge to the board,” Knitt continued. The experience Smith gained at his day job in the Human Resources Department at Alsum Farms and Produce in Friesland provided the district with unique insight in areas like hiring and employee benefits, “making sure the district is competitive” compared to others in the state, Knitt said.

“He’s a strong advocate for student success and academic achievement, and he was instrumental in (developing the way) we analyze test scores,” Knitt said. “A lot of that came from his background.

“He will be tough to replace.”

The candidates

Pulver — employed as a senior estimator at Everbrite, a sign company in Pardeeville — is finishing his first term on the board.

“With all of the state cuts, and the balancing of budgets we do, giving kids the best education we can with the funds we have” is what’s most important to Pulver as a board member, he said Tuesday.

If re-elected, Pulver will emphasize Pardeeville’s technology, its technology education department, and look to provide more dual-credit and advanced placement opportunities for students.

Of the $11.9 million construction referendum that will result in a 500-seat performing arts auditorium completed in 2019, Pulver said: “Seeing this huge project come to fruition should be exciting for our entire school district, and I am proud to be a part of it.”

Kamrath spent 28 years in the district, mostly as a high school social studies teacher before he retired about a year ago. He also was athletic director in the district for about 20 years.

“To me it just seemed like the right time to try something different in my life,” Kamrath said of his election bid. Past and current teaching staff, he added, had expressed their desire to see him run for a seat on the board.

If elected, Kamrath will be focused on overcoming budget issues to provide “students with the best quality education.” He’s especially interested in boosting staffing and programming wherever possible.

If elected, Kamrath will seek input from parents. “This has always been about the community,” he said. Kamrath wants parents to get involved in the education process because “I really believe that when your parents are working with their children, it makes the job of educations much easier.”

Kamrath is married to Mary Kamrath, the principal of Pardeeville Elementary School. If elected, Kamrath said he will abstain from voting on any issues directly related to his wife.

Follow Noah Vernau on Twitter @NoahVernau

Portage Daily Register reporter