- Associated Press - Monday, February 27, 2017

MILWAUKEE (AP) - The Latest on the first head-to-head forum between Wisconsin’s candidates for state schools superintendent (all times local):

1:55 p.m.

State superintendent candidate Lowell Holtz says he’s not sure he violated Wisconsin law when he sent a campaign-related email from his school work account but is prepared to “own it and fix it” if he did.

Holtz made the comments Monday in Milwaukee after the first head-to-head forum with incumbent Superintendent Tony Evers since both advanced from primaries last week.

An email disclosed Friday by the liberal group One Wisconsin Now showed Holtz sent an email last year soliciting campaign advice using his Whitnall Public School account during a school day. Holtz has since retired as Whitnall superintendent.

It is against the law to use government resources for campaign work.

Evers says the matter should be investigated.

The race is officially nonpartisan but Democrats back Evers, while conservatives support Holtz.

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12:50 p.m.

The candidates to be Wisconsin’s top education official offered contrasting viewpoints on whether to increase money for private-school vouchers during their first head-to-head forum since advancing from primaries last week.

Two-term incumbent Superintendent Tony Evers said during Monday’s forum that he worries voucher money would hurt funding for public schools. Evers‘ challenger, Lowell Holtz, says he supports more money for vouchers because it would increase competition and choice in the state’s education system.

The candidates also disagreed on a budget proposal that $500 million in per-student aid next year be contingent on teachers paying 12 percent toward health insurance. Holtz agrees with the idea but Evers does not.

The election will be April 4.

The race is officially nonpartisan but Democrats back Evers, while conservatives support Holtz.

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10:50 a.m.

Candidates to be Wisconsin’s top education official will meet Monday for their first head-to-head forum since advancing from last week’s primary election.

The race to lead Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction is proving to be feisty, with bribery allegations and accusations of improperly using work email to campaign.

Two-term incumbent Superintendent Tony Evers and challenger Lowell Holtz will meet at a noon forum in Milwaukee. The election is April 4.

Holtz was accused of trying to bribe a primary opponent to drop out of the race - a charge he denies. And on Friday a liberal group disclosed an email showing Holtz solicited campaign advice when he was superintendent of the Whitnall School District last year.

In response to questions about whether such an email was proper, Holtz did not address the issue but said instead that he has “a proven track record of improving school and district performance, and look forward to taking that track record across the state.”

The race is officially nonpartisan but Democrats, teachers unions, and public schools advocates back Evers, while Holtz has the support of two dozen current and former Republican lawmakers and a host of conservative groups.

The winner of April’s contest will oversee the Department of Public Instruction, which runs K-12 education policy, curriculum and programs, and administers state and federal aid for all 424 public school districts. The department also works with private schools in the choice program and runs teacher licensing and regulation.

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