From the left, Campbell, Feistel, Hoffer, Karl

KAUKAUNA — Four familiar faces are running for two seats on the Kaukauna Area School District Board of Education in the spring election.

The general election is set for April 2, 2024 along with the presidential primary and other races. Early voting begins March 19.

Read about the city council candidates HERE.

Candidates for the three-year term include:

  • Mike Campbell
  • Sally Jo Feistel, incumbent
  • Samantha Hoffer
  • Josh Karl, incumbent

Hoffer came in fourth in 2022 in a crowded field for three seats. Campbell was a registered write-in in 2023. Karl and Feistel were elected to their current terms in 2021.

Mike Campbell

Campbell works in sales for a local business. He ran as a registered write-in in 2023.

What are the top three issues you see as being most important to district families?


From conversations I have had with families in our community the top three issues that have come up most frequently are the following:

1 – A referendum for a new middle school replacing River View, and how that will look.

2 – The current grade structure of where their kids attend school and the problems it creates when you have multiple children attending school. Many parents have 3 children in three different schools at the same start times.

3 – The third issue is the politicization of our curriculum. Families are concerned with library materials that are sexually abhorrent, and extremely vulgar in our middle and high school libraries. Community members are appalled that we have the same policy that Sun Prairie School district has where an 18-year-old male entered the girls locker room and exposed himself in the shower of the girls locker room. We need to protect all kids in our district, and I haven’t heard from anyone in our community who wants us to promote and protect a policy where boys can use the girls locker room if they say they are a girl. Our community needs to trust the board is acting to protect all children, not just their own political ideologies.

Do you support a referendum and what would be the best way to present it?

I cannot say I support a referendum that I have not seen as there is not one presented yet. As a board member we are supposed to be elected to be the voice of the community, and I would provide your input as a board member to any proposed referendum plan. I feel that Mike Slowinski has done a good job at reaching out the community and providing opportunities for input so far, and if you haven’t taken advantage of doing so please reach out to the district for information and opportunities to let your voice be heard. I did not support spending $25 million of our tax dollars into River View back in 2017. I think it was irresponsible with our tax dollars to kick the can down the road. The board proposed a referendum to spend more of our money in 2017 beyond the $25 million they spent and that failed. I believe many of our community members see the big picture that our buildings will not last forever and the cost of waiting could be crippling to tax payers. To build the same school today that we could have built in 2017 will cost the tax payers $35 million more. The question to the community is if presented with a long range plan to build a new building today would you prefer to do that now, or should our buildings be good for 150 years, or 200 years and we spend $150-$200 million more to do in the future what we could do today? If done in a way that our community supports with a strong long range plan I would support it if that is what the community wants. Board members should only be the voice of our community.

Chronic absenteeism is a concern, especially at high school. What are your concerns and ideas for improving attendance rates?

Many kids today struggle with having a purpose. I believe it is why you see such a dramatic uptick in needs for mental health professionals for our young teens. Our school board told these kids school was not that important during the pandemic when they sent them home against the majority of the parents surveyed, while other local school districts like Kimberly saw the value of school attendance and had their kids in school 5 days per week. When an education system lies to kids and tells them that if you are a girl you can be a boy you tear apart all values and meaning. When you promote anti Judea-Christian values that our society was built off of it is easy to lose purpose and meaning today. When you allow staff to hang political signs promoting abortion you devalue the meaning of life. We need to get back to respecting everyone, respecting life, and stop lying to these kids. As a school board we can protect our kids from the politicization of our curriculum and focus on respecting everyone. Every single person has value, not just certain groups with certain political beliefs. If we continue to devalue others to make certain groups look and feel better as we have been doing, our problems will only get worse. Kids should never come to school and have the values they learn at home and on Sundays be contradicted by the signs, flags, policies, or curriculum instruction in their classrooms.

Sally Jo Feistel

Sub District Director for the United Steelworkers.

Campaign website HERE.

Feistel has served two non-consecutive terms on the Kaukauna Area School Board.

What are the top three issues you see as being most important to district families?


The top three issues I believe are most important to families at this time are academic performance, funding and resource allocation, and maintaining our quality teachers and staff.

Do you support a referendum and what would be the best way to present it?

Referendums are valuable tools for communities to participate in decision-making processes. It is crucial to address its potential impact on taxes transparently. It is essential to thoroughly assess and understand the needs of the district and prioritize them based on urgency. When presenting, we need to clearly articulate how the proposed referendum will address these needs and improve the district long term. 

I cannot state at this time if I support a referendum because we are still evaluating our needs. However, ensuring that the property tax rate will not be negatively affected will be a crucial consideration when deciding whether to hold a referendum. 

Chronic absenteeism is a concern, especially at high school. What are your concerns and ideas for improving attendance rates?

To improve attendance we need to focus on early intervention by identifying students at risk. We can do so by fostering a safe and positive environment where all students feel valued. Through collaboration with families and community members, and by understanding and implementing an approach that addresses the underlying causes, we can work towards improving attendance. The ultimate goal is student success. Thus, providing resources and support to help families overcome the barriers to attendance is extremely important. 

Samantha Hoffer

Hoffer works as a parole agent and ran for school board in 2022

What are the top three issues you see as being most important to district families?


Families have expressed concerns about inappropriate books in the classrooms and school libraries. Parents have shared how they fear their child or children will be exposed to material that they are not prepared for. Families have discussed the importance of eliminating political biases in the classroom.

They want an educational environment that fosters critical thinking and open respectful communication without partisan influence.

Lastly, families have voiced concerns about inadequate support for struggling readers. Many express frustrations over the need for outside tutoring, which causes financial strain for parents and other challenges for their children.

Do you support a referendum and what would be the best way to present it?

As of now, I cannot express support for a referendum that hasn’t been formally presented. However, I believe the Kaukauna School District is actively engaging the community and offering avenues for input in effort to gain insight on how to make the best decisions possible.

Upholding transparency and making fiscally responsible choices with taxpayer funds should remain a top priority for the district. Any potential referendum should be endorsed by the community it serves. As discussions unfold, I remain committed to fostering open dialogue and representing the community’s values and priorities in educational matters.

Chronic absenteeism is a concern, especially at high school. What are your concerns and ideas for improving attendance rates?

Chronic absenteeism poses a district-wide challenge, and I understand that each school is developing its strategy to tackle this issue. The proactive approach of teachers reaching out to families is yielding promising outcomes. As a prospective school board member, I recognize the importance of supporting our teachers and at-risk families in addressing absenteeism effectively. I am committed to continually educating myself about strategies and resources to aid teachers in their efforts and to provide assistance to families facing barriers to attendance. By fostering collaboration and implementing targeted interventions, we can work towards reducing chronic absenteeism and ensuring that every student has the opportunity to thrive academically.

Josh Karl

Karl is a heavy equipment operator with the City of Kaukauna D.P.W. for 24 years.

Campaign website HERE.

Karl is serving his second term as Treasurer on Kaukauna School Board (6 years). He previously served 1 term as an Outagamie County Supervisor (2 years)

What are the top three issues you see as being most important to district families?


A:  Future planning – It’s important that the process of evaluating our current facilities utilization relative to the district’s needs be developed based on community participation that reflects collaboration and wise spending that respects our residents.

 B:  Student Enrollment – I believe we are turning a corner on both the issues of attracting families to move into the district as well as those choosing to open enroll into our schools. Based on new housing developments and our schools’ growing reputation, we are now becoming an excellent destination for more families who are considering moving in or open enrolling into our district. Some Realtors have commented on a changing attitude among families considering Kaukauna as their new home. This is an excellent sign but we need to stay focused and continue to move forward. A united community looking forward is much more attractive than divisive and misleading criticisms that do nothing to build us up.

C:  We must continue to attract and retain the best staff possible. I believe many families are very pleased with the educational opportunities and professional staff in our district. Yet, the number of people entering the field of education is dwindling. Therefore, we need to be a destination for prospective employees while retaining the excellent professionals we already have. We will be facing many retirements in the next few years. We want educators in other districts and those who are graduating to be talking about the excellent climate and career opportunities provided here. Again, we want to communicate collaboration and respect. But we can’t maintain and improve our position by sewing divisiveness through misleading and false claims.

Do you support a referendum and what would be the best way to present it?

I think the question of a referendum is premature. Instead, what I support is the truly collaborative process our superintendent Mike Slowinski has introduced so that as a district we can determine the best way forward based on the input of community stakeholders. Thus far, we have had excellent participation and very constructive and insightful conversations with a good cross-section of the community. I want this process to be completed before we make any final judgements about the best way forward for our district and its facilities.

Chronic absenteeism is a concern, especially at high school. What are your concerns and ideas for improving attendance rates?

Chronic absenteeism is a problem. But it is important to acknowledge that this is not a Kaukauna-only problem. Instead, it is a challenge throughout the Fox Valley and the state. Therefore, I believe we should be entering a conversation with neighboring districts, CESA 6, the DPI about the causes and potential solutions. This is not a single district problem, nor will it be solved by one district. I see the boards’ role to direct and encourage district leadership to perform the due diligence to search for solutions. Yet, one step we should consider is to talk to our students in an attempt to identify the causes for chronic absenteeism and the steps the district can take to try to address this problem.

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By staff