A Voice for Students
After seeing literacy and other statistics for Black and brown students in Madison, and then data for Verona students, Korbey White knew he had to get involved. White is a Verona resident who works as the health program manager for the state of Wisconsin. He manages health plans for state and local government employees.
The numbers White saw for Verona students showed him two things—either data for Verona wasn’t being collected and extrapolated, or the voices of Black and brown students weren’t being heard and their needs not addressed. White applied to fill a vacancy on the Verona Area School District’s Board of Education in October 2022. “I said I’m going to put my name in the hat and see what happens,” White said. “I feel like Black and brown students need someone that they can relate to, that they can feel one with, feel a trust level, feel vulnerable with, who understands their struggle, to be able to speak to their struggle and needs, and be able to advocate for their needs and access.” White was appointed to the board in November. He was re-elected in April of this year.
“One of the things I wanted Verona to do based on the data that was presented in front of me as a board member, was to conduct an equity audit so that we could look at our policies, procedures and our resources through an equity lens,” said White. The district will conduct the audit this fall. “That was number one on my agenda,” White added. “The equity audit is my pride and joy right now. I think we’re going to find out a lot from that equity audit.”
Although it has been difficult at times, overall, it has been a positive experience for White. He said the board looks at initiatives and operational policies and follows through with them. White credits the board’s governance model for their efficiency. Other districts have reached out asking how Verona’s board gets things done so efficiently. “We work collaboratively with the superintendent,” White said. “We don’t see ourselves as Dr. Clardy’s boss and he does what we say. No. We work with him to get things done and that’s been working like a charm so far.”
White’s current term expires in April 2024. He is planning to run again, he said primarily because of the interactions he has had with students. “I gave a presentation to the Black Student Union at the high school. When I told them I was on the school board they stood up and clapped and it shocked me,” said White. “Afterwards when I talked to them, they were just so happy that they felt like someone on the school board could relate to our needs to make sure their voices were heard.”
White’s advice to those who may be thinking about serving in the community is to keep their purpose at the forefront. “Whatever that purpose is, whatever your reason for running, apply that purpose into policy, procedures and operational expectations,” he said. “Make sure that purpose is what drives you and that your service is connected to that purpose.”