Family: Steve Royko, husband of 21-plus years; children: Anja, 15; Anton, 13; and Lara, 9
Occupation: Stay at home parent; previous work in health care community relations, advertising and public relations
Lived in the district since: I was born and raised in Stoughton. I left for college and moved back in 2014.
Political experience: Just voting!
Notable affiliations: St. Ann School home and school organization steering committee; St. Ann School drama club parent committee; Stoughton High School Choir Boosters; Stoughton High School Theatre, “Costume Mom,” Aligning Stars Theatre Company, costume volunteer/advisor
Why are you running to represent the Stoughton Area School District?
I have a vested interest in the district being the best it can be. I am a proud alumnus, a current parent (who will have kids in our schools for nine more years), and a native Stoughtonite with no plan to leave. I believe that good schools make good citizens and neighbors.
What’s the district’s next big challenge/opportunity?
Two weeks ago, I would have said our upcoming budget crisis. That issue will require deep financial analysis and hard work to find ways to streamline, fat trim, and locate more funds. As of now, dealing with the impact of the coronavirus is going to be another new huge challenge.
What will be your top priority once you’re on the school board?
I will work to keep our great teachers and support them however I can. I will also work to maintain a high-quality education and an array of extracurricular offerings for students.
What can the school board do to stop the district’s enrollment decline?
I see this as a problem the board is being asked to fix, that is not their making. We’ve heard anecdotal reasons why young families aren’t moving to Stoughton. The bottom line is we have few homes for sale under $250K. In the 90s-2000s we grew because young families snapped up modest, affordable new homes. Today, homes in the 200-250K range are gone in a snap. Why isn’t the city aggressively pursuing builders to develop new neighborhoods young families can afford?! The city needs to facilitate that growth, so the board can concentrate on providing a quality education.
If cuts have to be made in the budget in coming years, what are the top priorities to protect?
Teachers, staffing and arts programs/extra curriculars. Great teachers and activities are what make kids want to be at school. They’re how friendships and support networks are built, and I firmly believe they keep some kids alive, and help others thrive, by offering outlets of self-expression and emotional support.
Do you support the district holding another operations referendum when the budget becomes untenable?
Yes, I do.
Has the district done enough to ensure its schools are safe?
That is always a moving target. I see great improvements constantly being made to infrastructure, training, and protocols. I’ve listened to students who wonder if metal detectors are an option. Considering the related staffing/operational cost, would they be possible? Would it increase or decrease anxiety? It’s worth considering.