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LISTEN: School board candidates reveal views on vouchers, evolution and more at forum

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From left: Jeff Leigh, Jeff Kocha and Lee Webster debate the issues at a March 30 public forum at NTC. (Darren Siewert/Wausau Pilot & Review)

WAUSAU – Three of four candidates for the Wausau School Board fielded questions for 90 minutes on Thursday, just days ahead of the April 4 election.

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Jay Stahl, a senior at Wausau East, and Hannah Senanayake, a junior at Wausau West, asked questions from students and from members of the audience during the event. (Darren Siewert/Wausau Pilot & Review)

Incumbent Jeff Leigh, along with challengers Jeff Kocha and Lee Webster, took turns answering questions from four moderators, including two high school students. Jay Stahl, a senior at Wausau East, and Hannah Senanayake, a junior at Wausau West, asked questions from students and from members of the audience during the event.

To listen to the forum in its entirety, visit Cool Oldies 1230 WXCO.

The candidates expressed a wide range of views on a number of crucial subjects, from student vouchers to evolution and religious music in the schools. Some audience members applauded when student moderator Jay Stahl asked pointed questions about transgender bathroom guidelines, something both Kocha and Webster have been vocal in opposing. Leigh said he supported the guidelines adopted by the board.

Among the issues debated: Webster and Kocha both said they support teaching creationism in science class along with teaching evolutionary theory. Leigh, however, said he believes creationism is not a theory. “That’s taking a belief system and trying to make it into science.”

The candidates were equally divided on voucher schools. Leigh said he is opposed to voucher schools, because they take away from public education. Kocha said voucher schools are a “necessity,” while Webster said such schools allow parents to make the best possible educational choices for their children while not detracting from public schools.

Another incumbent candidate, Lance Trollop, was unable to attend but will answer the same set of questions starting at 8:40 a.m. on Monday during Hometown Morning with Oliver Burrows, which airs on AM 1230 WXCO. Shereen Siewert will co-host the segment.

The top three vote-getters on April 4 will be elected to three-year terms. A fifth candidate, Yvonne Henning, died in March, Her name will still be on the ballot. If Henning is among the top three candidates, the school board will appoint a replacement.

About 40 people attended the forum, which was livestreamed by Wausau Public Access and recorded for rebroadcast by Sunrise Broadcasting.

Audio from Sunrise Broadcasting:

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