Wausau School Board candidates: Full responses


Here are the complete responses from the candidates for Wausau School Board, in the order they are listed on the district’s website. Vote for three April 5:

James P. Bouché Ed.S. 


Age: 67                                             

Occupation (or last major occupation if retired): 42 in Education (20 as a Teacher/Coach; 22 as an Administrator)

Kids in the district: 3 Adult children and 2 Daughters in Law who Graduated from the Wausau School District 

Why did you choose to run for school board (or run again, if you’re an incumbent)? 

As a concerned citizen with 42 years of experience in education (20 as a Teacher/Coach and 22 years as an administrator: AD/AP, Principal and Superintendent) I believe it is my civic duty to give back to the community that educated my adult children and daughters in law. My years of experience give me the ability to speak about Educational Budgets, District Policies and Curricula in all areas. I have been in positions to help create programs move forward in: Construction/Automotive/Welding, Aviation, Engineering, Career Technology Education (CTE), AP/ College in the Schools and dual credit. I believe in educating all young people and giving them the opportunity to be Triple “A” Students: Academics, Arts, Athletics. As an incumbent, I feel we have a lot of work to do that was not accomplished due to the pandemic. 

It has been my honor to have been voted as the Wisconsin Association of School Boards (WASB) Region 5 Director Position over the past two years, representing 34 school districts in Central Wisconsin.

What experience do you bring to the position? 

My years of experience in education gave me a perspective from all angles and positions in the educational world. I have a passion for students who are reluctant learners, students who have special needs (Autistic students, students with physical challenges), and students who aspire to go on to college (Technical Schools, Trades Schools, four-year schools) through our AP, IB and Engineering Programs. We need to educate the complete student. Students and families need choices so that an education can be created and developed for each student in our district. We need to make our district into the most attractive district in the area. 

Also, as an administrator, I have played an integral part in the remodeling of two high schools in the past 22 years, Dealing with: 

1. Buildings and Grounds, 

2. HVAC, 

3. Safety and Security, 

4. Technology infrastructure, 

5. and Synthetic Turf fields. 

All of these areas in our district have needed 21st Century updating. 

What would be your number one priority if elected to the board? What are 2-3 other issues you’d tackle (in brief)? 

I would like to see us more communicative with our constituents and taxpayers. That is very easy to say, I know; but we need to identify what and how our community wants to be informed as we move forward. We have and use: 

a.     An informative website

b.     Text messaging robocall 

c.      Voice messaging robocall

d.     Email robocall

e.     Facebook page 

f.      And other social media

g.     USPS 

h.     T.V. and Video Arts 

i.       Video podcasts

j.     Referenda…

It is our job to make sure that we communicate with our students, parents, teachers, employees and taxpayers with the media of their choice. I would continue to encourage all of the groups listed above to continue to write emails to our Board members as this gives us on the Board an understanding and feel for the wants and needs of everyone.  

I have great concern about the “Achievement Gap” that has been widened due to the pandemic. I would like to see a regular update by our administration pertaining to this; good or bad! I would like to hear from our administration how we communicate to our students pertaining to their futures. Including: 

1.     the 16 Career Clusters and 72 pathways,

2.     the Project Lead the Way – Pre-Engineering (PLTW),

3.     the Career and Technical Education (CTE),

4.     the International Baccalaureate (IB), Advance Placement (AP) College in the School/Dual Credit,

5.     the Trades – construction, welding, automotive programs… 

I would like to see us share all the great things we are doing for our students, so that our community knows this information.  

What message would you send to voters on why they should choose you for school board? 

Having the privilege of not only being a Board Member in the Wausau School District, I have also been the   Wisconsin Association of School Boards (WASB) Region 5 Director in Central Wisconsin. I am one of fifteen District Directors in the State of Wisconsin which gives Wausau a voice at the state level. WASB is an advocate of local control. I have been able to speak on behalf of Wausau, and for the values of Central Wisconsin as well. Every district has an obligation to its constituents and taxpayers. We need to listen to them. Safety and Security decisions; that includes: physical and mental Health as well as all other security needs in our districts. 

Having started district charter schools and worked with legislators who are advocates for education, I have been able to work on initiatives to help students going into the Trades, students who have special needs and students who are interested in post-secondary education. Along with helping our students, I have worked closely with our Cooperative Educational Service Agency (CESA’s) in order to help get professional training for teachers in Central and Northern Wisconsin.  We have worked together to get the correct teaching tools that are needed in the 21st Century so that our teachers can educate our young people with the most effective tools in education. 

Kayley McColley


Age: 22 years old

Occupation: Behavioral Health Technician in the psychiatric hospital at North Central Health Care

Highest Education Level: I am currently attending college for social work. I attended a year of nursing school and have a background in CNA work as I earned my license when I was 17 years old.

Why are you running for school board?

I think there is a misconception that we have to reach a certain age or milestone in our lives to be able to participate in our community and government in a meaningful way.  I do not subscribe to this belief. I have ideas, motivation, and a deep passion that I know can benefit my community. I want to do my part in creating a brighter future for us all and I think that starts with investing in and advocating for Wausau’s youth.

What experience do you bring to the position? 

I attended school in the Wausau School District from Pre-K through my 2018 graduation at Wausau West. I’m familiar with the experiences of students and highly connected to educators in the district as it wasn’t long ago I was a WSD student myself. Through my presence on the board, I would be representing various groups in the community such as young people and minority individuals, specifically the Black population. It’s important to increase diversity and representation in elected positions. I want to ensure that underrepresented people have a voice in the community’s educational decisions. I am highly passionate about community organizing. I helped to organize the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. events here in Wausau as well as the first-ever Juneteenth event. Additionally, I have collaborated to bring a Transgender Day of Remembrance event, a youth open mic night, a Black history children’s book fundraiser, and the George Floyd March in Wausau. Through my involvement in community organizing, I have become an action-focused collaborator that is open to compromise and discussion. 

What would be your number one priority if elected to the board? What are 2-3 other issues you’d tackle? 

Surveys amongst educators in the Wausau School District revealed they wanted additional intervention and support services for struggling students. I want to make sure funds are being allocated to support the mental wellness of students. I have worked as a behavioral health technician on the inpatient psychiatric unit at North Central Health Care for the past 2.5 years, including on the youth unit. I have seen up close the need for mental health services, particularly for youth. 

We need to listen to educators. They’re in the classrooms every day. They know what’s needed to enhance student learning and where the gaps are. I trust and value the judgment of educators and believe they should be used as a guide when considering fund allocation and how to best utilize resources. 

Finding solutions to updating facilities in the district despite budget constraints. 

What message would you send to voters on why they should choose you for school board? 

As a community, we have a responsibility to amplify and share the voices and stories of all people, particularly where decisions are being made. A vote for me is a vote with inclusivity in mind.

Jon Creisher


Age: 39

Education: Bachelors of Science – Mechanical Engineering – Michigan Technological University 

Occupation: Director of Strategic Partnerships

Kids in the district: 4

Why did you choose to run for school board (or run again, if you’re an incumbent)? 

I care about this community and want to see every student have access to amazing schools and pursue strong student outcomes.  Our district and community have many challenges ahead that will require board members that can analyze key variables and data and be able to make smart choices that benefit the district, our students and families, and the greater community.  My background, passion for education, ability to assess situations from many angles, and professional experience are just some of the qualities that qualify me for the school board. I’m a product of public-school education and currently have four children in the Wausau School District.  Strong and well-rounded public-school districts provide the academic opportunities for our youth to prepare themselves for their futures and to become productive members of society and the community.  

What experience do you bring to the position? 

With an education in mechanical engineering and a long professional career in strategic sales, I can analyze situations using critical thinking and decision-making skills to help guide and secure successful and mutually beneficial outcomes.  I am a highly motivated individual who perseveres in the face of difficulty and adversity.  I don’t make excuses.  I set goals and work to accomplish those goals both professionally and personally.  I believe in working together as a team and I want the teachers, students, and parents of this district to know that together we can tackle any challenge.  These character qualities are what set me apart from other candidates.  

What would be your number one priority if elected to the board? What are 2-3 other issues you’d tackle (in brief)? 

I believe addressing the overall achievement gap and student success is one of the highest priorities this district faces.  The teaching staff and administration need to work together on ideas, think outside the box and collaborate to bring forward common sense solutions to address the achievement gap needs.  Student success should be a top priority in the district to prepare students to become productive members of society and their communities.  We need to provide educational opportunities that help our students identify their passions and talents so they can determine what additional education and careers they will pursue after graduating.  Our district and community, like so many others around the state and country, will be facing ongoing staffing/labor shortages that must be addressed.  Bringing forward a strategic and well thought out plan on how to address these trends so that WSD can recruit and retain our excellent teachers and staff will be vital to the long term success for the district, our students and our community. Additionally, I would like to address areas of opportunity to support our teaching staff to ensure they have the appropriate tools and skills necessary to properly teach our students well into the future.  This will involve bringing many stakeholders together to collaborate and bring forward solutions that ultimately will allow our students to thrive and succeed with strong student outcomes.  

What message would you send to voters on why they should choose you for school board? 

I’m a passionate and hard working individual who greatly values education and this community.  My wife and I decided to start our family here in Wausau and have spent the last 13 years raising our four amazing children in this wonderful community.  Last year I saw a need in our community that needed to be addressed to ensure the students and families of our district could better succeed.  I knew I could rise up to the challenge and work collaboratively with administration and teaching staff to bring forward solutions that would allow our students to thrive and heal.  I would ask voters to look at the character and actions of each individual candidate.  I’ve demonstrated the ability to conduct myself with respect and professionalism while on the school board, even if I disagree with fellow board members.  With your support and vote I hope to continue to move the district forward with confidence.  

Joanna Reyes


(City Pages will replace the photo files we received from Joanna with text when we receive them.)

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Jane A Rusch


Age: really! 61

Occupation (or last major occupation if retired): state correctional officer

Kids in the district: 

We moved to Wausau so our kids could attend school here, but they graduated years ago. 

Why did you choose to run for school board (or run again, if you’re an incumbent)? 

I’ve been on the board for 15 years I have used my time learning about how school boards operate. I’ve attended many conferences to learn how to do my job better for all our constituents. I also have a small library of books related to education. I love my hometown and want to make it a welcoming place for our students to want to remain here and to attract businesses and the families that go with them. 

What experience do you bring to the position? 

I was a correctional officer and saw first hand what lack of quality education costs us, not only as taxpayers but terms of human value and productivity.  After I was injured at work and the state doctors deemed I could no longer work as a correctional officer I returned to school to work on an elementary education degree. After I finished all the classes needed for the degree I found could not endure the physical rigor of being a teacher,  so I invested my time in volunteering at my children’s schools. When they were in elementary school I volunteered twenty to thirty hours a week. I was even the popcorn mom for eleven years at Riverview. 

What would be your number one priority if elected to the board? What are 2-3 other issues you’d tackle (in brief)?  

A single issue is hard to point out as so much of a school boards work is to balance all the needs of the different constituents needs. The  board needs to work toward the best, well-rounded education for each of our students, while maintaining a positive, rewarding environment for our staff. We also have to keep in mind all the laws being passed, many of which are counterproductive to good education and keeping taxes to an acceptable amount. 

What message would you send to voters on why they should choose you for school board? 

    While new voices are always important on any board it is also important to keep some of the seasoned voices as well.  Knowing the history of the district is important to keep from making the same mistakes.  For example we are on our third superintendent since I was first elected, every administrative position has turned over at least once. So having a couple of long term members is advantageous to the district. 

Both of my children are on the autism spectrum which gave me first hand experience in the world of IEP’s (Individual Education Plans) that parents of special needs must navigate.