BELOIT - Torie Champeny, 39, is running for the School District of Beloit Board of Education to raise academic scores by getting to the root of the district's biggest problem - lack of discipline.
"Kids who need help are not getting the attention they need because teachers are too busy babysitting the kids acting out," she said.
Teachers, she said, don't need more seminars or professional development days, but rather administration backing them up in disciplinary matters.
Champeny is one of eight candidates running for four positions on the board of education. She is married to Matt Champeny, a teacher at Fruzen Intermediate School, and has three daughters in the district. Champeny is also on the district's health insurance policy. When Champeny was asked how she would address potential conflicts of interest stemming from marriage to a district employee, she said would abstain from certain votes or recuse herself when necessary. She said the positives of being married to a teacher in the district outweighs the negative as she is familiar with the issues facing teachers. She also said she would be willing to consider getting her own health insurance if necessary.
Champeny's marriage to a district employee could present challenges to her as the Daily News learned when Board of Education Vice President David Wilson was running for school board. Wilson is married to an assistant principal at Beloit Memorial High School, Janay Banks-Wilson.
Legal opinions state school board members should not participate in discussions, negotiations, or vote on anything that relates to his or her spouse's salary or benefits. According to guidance by the Wisconsin Ethics Board, a board member with a district-employed spouse can only vote on the budget only if all contracts have been concluded. Board members covered by the district's health insurance plan should not participate in the consideration of the terms of that plan or the award of the district's health insurance contract. Conflict of interest issues can arise if a board member with a spouse employed in a district participates in compensation or benefit matters even if they are not directly related to the spouse, because settlements or decisions at one level of employment can be considered as setting a precedent for others.
Champeny grew up in Superior, Wisconsin, and earned a bachelor of science degree in human development from UW Madison. She worked at the UW Cancer Center for 12 years until 2014 when she began working as a project manager for oncology research for Covance, working remotely in her home. She is currently serving on the school district's fiscal committee.
Champeny said her two of her three children were open enrolled to the Turner School District for two years, but then were brought back to the Beloit School District which she said has a lot more opportunities to offer than area districts with many advanced placement classes and extra curricular activities as well as a strong curriculum. She said the district is much better than the state report cards reflect, noting some of Beloit's students are the brightest in the area.
However, Champeny's concerned about what she calls "chaos" in the classroom. In her husband's class, for example, she said it's not uncommon to have half of the class time taken up with him having to deal with disciplinary problems.
Champeny said she doesn't believe Beloit kids are any worse than other children, only that the district isn't enforcing consequences. She said she wishes administrators, wearing plain clothes so as not to be noticed, would go into the classrooms unannounced to get a better idea what teachers are facing. She also wants administration and the board to look to Beloit's talented teachers for solutions when it comes to discipline.