Wisconsin state schools superintendent candidate Deborah Kerr speaks Monday afternoon at the Beloit Public Library.

BELOIT—Wisconsin state schools superintendent candidate Deborah Kerr visited Beloit for the second time in recent weeks, answering questions from community members at the Beloit Public Library.

Kerr touched on several topics on Monday, including a need to address the state’s academic achievement gap, expanding broadband access in rural areas, focusing on community partnerships and investing in public libraries.

“The success is vital. This partnership is vital and we all have to engage and we need to be supportive of our libraries and our school systems,” Kerr said.

Kerr’s in-person visit was also broadcast live on Facebook.

Her opponent, Jill Underly, will appear for a virtual-only public forum at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday. The event is organized by the Beloit Public Library.

Kerr and Underly will face off in the upcoming April 6 election for the top post at the Wisconsin Department of Instruction.

Beloit Public Library Director Nick Dimassis said having planned appearances with both candidates this week is important because it helps bring the efforts of public libraries to the forefront of the conversation.

Dimassis said public libraries offer a tremendous amount of community services using limited funds, and he hopes the next state schools superintendent will help secure more funding and visibility for libraries.

Kerr spoke about some of her goals if elected, including to decentralize the DPI offices, equal access to early childhood literacy programs, operating with customer service in mind and working cooperatively with legislators.

Kerr also said she will encourage local school districts statewide to reopen and offer in-person learning five days a week.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Kerr said she wants to reduce the economic impact in as much as possible.

Responding to a question from a community member about whether students who are visually impaired or hearing impaired would be moved out of their specialized schools, Kerr said her plan is to meet with staff members and stakeholders to better understand how those facilities operate.

Kerr said her reasoning behind decentralizing the state DPI offices would be to push the employees to be involved in local schools instead of operating solely out of Madison.