Manitowoc school board members voted to give themselves key fobs to all district buildings. Here's what happens next.

·3 min read
Scenes from the Manitowoc Lincoln High School graduation, Friday, June 10, 2022, in Manitowoc, Wis.
Scenes from the Manitowoc Lincoln High School graduation, Friday, June 10, 2022, in Manitowoc, Wis.

MANITOWOC - Increased transparency.

That's what Manitowoc Public School District Board President Stacey Soeldner said a recent decision to grant key fobs to all school board members would accomplish.

The fobs would unlock doors to district buildings that are usually locked to all, except faculty and staff.

However, just more than a month after the board voted 5-2 during its July 12 meeting in favor of granting board members the fobs, board members still have not received those key fobs. The reason is a change in district policy is needed first.

The process to change district policy to allow the granting of the fobs to the school board members begins with the Buildings and Grounds Committee at a 4:30 p.m. meeting Thursday in the board room at the district office, 2902 Lindbergh Drive. The key fob issue is on the agenda for that meeting.

Board Vice President Collin Braunel indicated a separate policy for the key fobs should be created.

Stacey Soeldner
Stacey Soeldner

Soeldner told the Herald Times Reporter the fobs would create “simply another way for board members to be visible and accountable to the community.”

The decision to grant school board members the fobs will allow any current and future board members to gain access to any of the district’s buildings, through any of the entrances, not just the entrances that are monitored.

Board members would be granted the fobs after passing a background check.

During the July 12 meeting, citizens were split in their opinions about the employee-level access to school buildings for the board members.

Dayna Goetz, a parent in the district, said the board members are strangers to most of the district’s students and giving board members key fobs could make the students feel unsafe.

“I love that you desire to become involved in our classrooms … but I do question your use of an employee entrance,” she told the board.

Sulynn Moore, a Manitowoc resident, had a different opinion.

“These board members are in charge of the district … having to schedule access to a school by setting up an appointment tells me that there could be other things going on, like flagrant discipline problems, out-of-control classrooms, and perhaps things that the individual school’s administration doesn’t want exposed,” she said.

Moore also said she would support having cameras in the classroom to monitor any possible discipline issues.

Soeldner said safety is a key concern for the board.

“The board needs to make sure there are safety measures for all those who have key fobs and enter the building,” she said. “We will be looking at those as well as other safety concerns first at the committee level.”

The move to grant school board members key fobs is one of the first major moves made by the school board after an April 5 election ushered in three new school board members — Matthew Phipps, Matthew Spaulding and Tony Vlastelica, who replaced Lisa Johnston, Meredith Sauer and Dave Nickels.

More: Manitowoc school district readies for new direction under 'fully conservative board' as superintendent plans to leave.

More: A man tried to approach the stage at a Manitowoc School Board meeting. It's one of several disruptions in the past year.

James Feil
James Feil

After the April 5 election, the Republican Party of Wisconsin celebrated Manitowoc schools as now having a "fully conservative board" in an emailed statement to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Rory Linnane.

The Manitowoc district is operating with Interim Superintendent James Feil at the helm after former Superintendent Mark Holzman announced just days after the April 5 election that he was leaving the district to serve as superintendent of the School District of Janesville.

Aug. 30 will be the first day of school for all students in the 2022-2023 school year.

Contact Alisa Schafer at aschafer@gannett.com. Follow her on Twitter at @AlisaMSchafer.

This article originally appeared on Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter: Manitowoc school board gives itself key fobs to all district buildings