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0815, 01 May 18

West Bend School Board Follows Liberal Playbook

From the Washington County Insider:

May 1, 2018 – West Bend, WI – Six members of the West Bend School Board, (Tiffany Larson was not in attendance), spent nearly two hours discussing a proposed survey to test the waters on a possible $80 million referendum. The referendums would focus on Jackson Elementary and the West Bend High Schools.

The survey would be created by Slinger-based School Perceptions. Bill Foster, the president of the company, was in attendance.

You can follow the link to watch the videos. Here’s where we are:

Last year, the School Board started down the path to a building referendum. They engaged an architectural firm that specialized in running a sham process to build support for the referendum. As I wrote back in August, they are following this proven roadmap to referendum:

  1. Form a committee loaded with people predisposed to support more spending
  2. The committee will conduct a needs analysis that has a very wide definition of “need”
  3. Conduct a propaganda campaign through the committee (so that it appears to be coming from the community) that bemoans all of the facility “needs” (expect to hear about sewage backups in Jackson Elementary again)
  4. The committee will determine that existing district resources are inadequate to meet the facilities “needs”
  5. Conduct a community survey with slanted questions, e.g. “Would you support a referendum to prevent the children having to learn while standing in a foot of sewage?”
  6. The committee recommends that the board go to referendum based on the survey results
  7. The School Board puts the referendum(s) on the ballot

They have completed steps 1 through 4. During the CFAC process, they even admitted that it was a sham designed to build support for a predetermined conclusion. You can find that video here.

Now they are working on step number 5. They have engaged School Perceptions, which is the go-to group for creating biased propaganda to build support for school referendums. Mark Belling wrote a column cataloging School Perceptions’ fraudulent business practices last week. Belling concluded:

Foster’s a hustler. He’s come up with a way to get hired by dozens of school districts who want to get referendums passed. Even my attempts to expose him aid his business by publicizing to other districts how he aids them in their referendum con jobs. What is not defensible is that school boards and superintendents are using public money to mislead their residents and pretending to conduct honey surveys.

Yes. That’s the same Foster who attended the West Bend School Board meeting last night.

Where are the alleged conservatives on the West Bend School Board? As far as I can tell, they are just walking down the exact same path to more spending and debt as any liberal school board would. They are using the same techniques. They are using the same propaganda. They are using the same companies. They are spending our tax dollars to advance this propaganda. And they are about to ask the taxpayers for tens of millions of dollars to dump into buildings in a district with flat-to-declining enrollment.

As far as I can tell, the Milwaukee School Board might as well be running the schools in West Bend. We would be getting the same result. But at least the liberals on the Milwaukee School Board are honest about their liberal intentions.


0815, 01 May 2018


  1. jjf

    $9200 to conduct a survey? Bill’s not a hustler if that’s all he’s charging.

    Clearly one can make much more money by being Ray Cross’s chief of staff, getting drunk, then resigning.

    If districts are allowed to go to referendum, what do you think the rules should be?  Who gets to judge if the questions are too leading?

  2. dad29

    Since property tax is no longer Federal-deductible, you should consider moving…..

  3. Mark Hoefert

    $9200 to conduct a survey? Bill’s not a hustler if that’s all he’s charging.

    That was for Burlington School District, whose enrollment is 1/2 of what West Bend’s is.  Costs of surveys will be variable, one such variable being the number of households that will receive a survey by mail, and then the numbers that will be returned and processed.

    Don’t know the geographic make up of Burlington School District, but the City of Burlington has about 4250 households. City of West Bend has about 13,000 and another major population center in the district, Village of Jackson has about 2870.

    I don’t have the time to dig through old videos of Board committee meetings and the WBSD has backed off on how much detail is attached to online agendas, but in my mind the discussions on the survey were in the $12,000 – $15,000+ range.  Maybe someone else recalls the number better than I do. The discussion at that time also included costs to Bray Associates.  And Bray Associates had indicated that what they charge in the exploratory stage does not reflect their true costs – more of a loss leader to get future business.  I would expect that School Perceptions would do the same – charge less for smaller districts and make it up on the larger ones.  Barron Area School District spent almost $9000 on one in 2016.



  4. Jason

    You’re wasting your time, jjf, Average Joe, pat are far to closed minded to listen to facts and historical details when it comes to liberalism.

  5. Mark Hoefert

    @JJFaust: $9200 to conduct a survey? Bill’s not a hustler if that’s all he’s charging.

    I may be incorrect about the $12-15K figure. On the agenda for tonight’s board meeting it shows it as a $35K budget item.  H/T to Washington County Insider for noting that.



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