Category Archives: Education

Teachers’ Union Blames Declining Test Scores on Lack of Funding

I hurt my eyes rolling at this.

But Martin said they think a reason the data shows slipping scores comes down to funding. More funding for education can start addressing issues like overcrowded classrooms, he said. Larger class sizes mean less attention for students who need the help.

“When people say you’re just throwing money at the public schools it’s not just throwing money,” he said. “It counts to that one particular student who really needs the attention from the teacher.

But even with the lack of funding, Martin said that the fact the decrease is smaller shows that schools are doing “a tremendous job.” The Wisconsin Education Association Council also hopes to fill in some of those gaps.

Wisconsin spends more money on K-12 education than any time in the history of the state. It’s not about the money. But as long as people like this blame the money, we aren’t going to have the serious conversation about how to fix it. The result will be another lost generation of undereducated kids.

Test Results In

Is this good enough? Really? We have poured billions and billions of more money into our public schools and the result we get is a small, but steady, annual decline in performance. We need different answers. We need leadership.

Stout’s New Digs

When you hear the UW System crying poor again, think of stuff like this and ask yourself, “did this improve education?”

A new fireplace in University of Wisconsin-Stout’s Merle M. Price Commons ties in the history of Dunn County with a gathering place for students.

The  10-foot-6-inch wide by 9-foot-6-inch tall natural gas fireplace is built from Dunnville sandstone, a creamy stone from the Downsville area just south of Menomonie.

[…]

Thirty-five sandstone pieces make up the fireplace, weighing in at about four tons. The hearthstone weighs 1,300 pounds.

The fireplace was built by R. J. Jurowski of Whitehall. The blocks were cut by Coldspring out of Cold Spring, Minn. It took workers about a week in August to build the fireplace, moving most of the pieces by hand and mortaring them into place.

“It’s difficult because sandstone is very fragile,” said Tim Abley, site superintendent for R.J. Jurowski.

[…]

Menomin Lounge will be open in mid- to late September, with other meeting rooms opening in mid-October. The work is part of an $8.5 million renovation of 19,000 square feet in the building, mostly the first floor and exterior.

Price Commons will also have meeting rooms named for area waterways including Elk Creek, Cranberry Creek, Gilbert Creek and two smaller meeting rooms named for the Hay River and the Eau Galle River, Witucki said.

Price Commons, built in 1967, also has new windows and sills. The new first floor features refurbished offices for the LGBTQ center, the Qube, which opened in April. There is a new main entrance on the east side as well as expanded entryways on all sides.

Waukesha School District Proposes Massive Tax Increase

Yikes.

WAUKESHA, WI — Citing the need to cover the costs of a 2018 schools referendum, Waukesha School District officials rolled out a preliminary budget for the 2019-20 school year that carves out a roughly 11 percent property tax levy increase.

According to district officials, the proposed 2019-20 budget includes a tax levy increase of 11.35 percent. The tax rate per $1,000 of property value would be $8.51 compared to $7.80 in last year’s budget cycle. The increase amounts to about $142 for the owner of a $200,000 property.

I would note that the Waukesha School District, in a trend being repeated all over Wisconsin, has declining enrollment. According to DPI, they have 415 fewer kids than they did five years ago. That;s a decline of 3%. Yet they still want more and more money.

We have a major spending problem in our school districts. I think everyone understands that school districts can’t necessarily cut spending when enrollment declines slightly in a year. But when that decline is sustained over several years and the district is educating hundreds of fewer kids, shouldn’t spending go down at some point? And if spending declines in a district where the aggregate property values are steady or increasing, a decline in spending should result in a tax decrease.

And yet that never seems to happen. What is the breaking point? Will it take a 10% decline in enrollment before the school board starts to scale back spending to be in line with their responsibility? 15%? 25%? When can the taxpayers reasonably expect school boards to cut spending when enrollment is declining?

K-12 Spending Continues to Balloon Despite Declining Enrollment

From Senator Duey Stroebel.

The largest portion of our property tax dollars go to support for our K-12 educational systems.  According to the Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau, K-12 spending has seen an increase of $4 billion since 2013.  This $4 billion figure does not even count debt service payments for referendums passed in the same time.

How is this massive K-12 spending increase possible while local property taxes statewide remained flat?  It’s because of state appropriations that “back filled” (or reduced) local property taxes.

In total, the Legislature appropriated $4.25 billion in local property tax relief from the 2014 fiscal year through the budget ending in June of 2019.  That’s right — money all Wisconsinites paid, predominantly in income tax, has been used to back fill local property taxes statewide.  To put that sum into perspective, those funds could have been used to lower income taxes from our current four tax brackets topping at 7.65% to only two income tax brackets of 4% and 5.5%.  Viewed another way, if that money were pooled into our current budget, we could cover all funds for the entire two year commitment for these departments: Corrections, Natural Resources, Justice, and all of our appellate courts.

The billions of dollars in state level spending was necessary to keep local property taxes statewide flat despite the 13.1% increased spending by local K-12 school districts from 2013 to June of 2019.  Interestingly, during this same period, statewide student enrollment declined 0.8%.

Green Bay School District Leads the Way in Wasting Taxpayer Money

The Green Bay School District is hardly unique, but this story is a revealing insight into why the cost of public education in Wisconsin is out of control.

Concerns about student misbehavior, safety and poor academic performance at the school came to light in June 2017, when a former teacher resigned during a Green Bay School Board meeting.

She said students physically assaulted peers and staff, vandalized property, carried weapons and used vulgar language.

A Press-Gazette review of police calls and discipline records in the 2015-16 academic year found a disproportionate percentage of black students were being suspended at both Washington and Franklin middle schools. While black students constituted just 13% of Washington’s 904 students that school year, they accounted for nearly 40% of the suspensions.

After staff increases at Washington failed to trigger the desired improvement, the district hired Olson and brought in American Institutes for Research of Washington, D.C., to guide the turnaround effort.

[…]

The Green Bay School District paid AIR nearly $400,000 in the first year and would’ve paid an additional $216,000 this school year.

Based on internal student achievement tests from the last school year, the district anticipates Washington students will show improvement in language arts, while math scores will fall, when scores are reported later this year for the Wisconsin Forward Exam, the state’s standardized student achievement test.

A quick scan off the Green Bay School District’s staff directory shows no fewer than 4 Deans; 65 Principals and Associate Principals; 23 Directors, Executive Directors, & Associate Directors of something education related; an Associate Superintendent and the Superintendent. That’s a full 94 people (at a fully-burdened cost of probably between $14 and $18 million per year) whose job is to wake up every day and figure out how to provide a great education for all of the kids in their charge. These professionals are presumably all trained, certified by the State of Wisconsin, and have centuries of cumulative experience behind them.

Yet what does the district do when faced with a problem? Do they hold the people running the show responsible for the poor performance? Do they gather these immense internal resources together to divine a solution?

No. They hire a consultant for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Once again, the fetish to “do something,” like spend money on a consultant, is preferable to the hard work of getting results.

Mayor Sadownikow Talks about School Task Force

The Washington County Insider was at the meeting of the Common Sense Citizens of Washington County on Thursday at which West Bend Mayor Kraig Sadownikow gave an update on the city and on the West Bend School District Private Task Force, of which I am a member.

You can read the whole story here. Here’s the first of four video where he lays out how it started and what the scope is.

Madison School Board Member Compares Police to Nazis

Yes. It’s just like the Nazis and concentration camps. Sure it is. /sarcasm

On Saturday, [Madison School Board Member Ali] Muldrow said on Facebook that “I think that (it’s) important to talk about what it is like for the students who are arrested at school and end up in the Dane County Jail. We would not talk about the role of the Nazis and act as if the experiences people had in concentration camps is a separate issue.”

Oh, and she doubled down before finally apologizing.

Muldrow initially didn’t back down from her Saturday Facebook comments, saying Monday that “the rounding up (of) specific demographics of people, including LGBTQ folks and folks with disabilities, then institutionalizing them in locked facilities, is being done now in a variety of ways and was also done in Nazi Germany.”

Madison gonna Madison. This person is in charge of educating kids.

Back on Campus

Good.

UW-Madison announced Monday it has reinstated former Wisconsin Badgers wide receiver Quintez Cephus to the university — a year to the day after he told his team he had to step down and face criminal charges.

The university expelled Cephus last semester for violating the non-academic misconduct code following accusations of sexual assault from two women. A Dane County jury acquitted him of those charges earlier this month after deliberating for less than an hour.

[…]

Cephus, 21, was suspended from the team in August 2018 because of the women’s accusations. He maintains the sex was consensual.

He said at a Monday news conference that he learned of his reinstatement while flying back to Madison from his hometown of Macon, Georgia. He said he is ready to start winning football games and anticipates playing this season.

UW Athletics said in a statement Cephus has officially rejoined the team, but must work through some “eligibility issues” before he can participate in a game. UW Athletics spokesman Brian Lucas declined to clarify those issues. He also said Cephus’ athletic scholarship had been restored.

By law, he did not do anything wrong. A government institution should not ban people based on unproven accusations. The university did the right thing here.

I do think, however, that the university needs to rethink its policies for accusations. Cephus was expelled and kicked off campus based on an accusation that was later shown to be without merit. While the university has a duty to protect other students and faculty from people who they think might be dangerous, they should not be in the business of handing down such severe punishments, like expulsion, based on an unproven accusation.

Update on WBSDPTF

Worst. Acronym. Ever. But here’s the update:

August 3, 2019 – West Bend, WI  – The West Bend School District Private Task Force (WBSDPTF) continues its work and is on schedule to report findings to the school board in October of this year.

The Task Force was formed in the wake of a failed referendum in April of 2019.  The goal of the referendum was the construction of a new K-4 elementary school in Jackson and safety and infrastructure enhancements at the high schools.

“We have formed sub-committees who are focusing on the key areas we identified during our tours and discussions with staff.” stated task force organizer and City of West Bend Mayor Kraig Sadownikow.  “Elementary School Deployment, priorities at the High Schools and Operational Efficiencies are the sub-committee topics”, he said.

The Task Force added research of Decorah and Fair Park Elementary Schools to its original tours of Jackson Elementary and the High Schools.  The group has been reviewing forecasted maintenance and capital improvement needs at the facilities, studying projected enrollment data and comparing new information to the District’s 25-year plan which was compiled almost 10 years ago.

“We are looking to see if the input data used for the 25-year plan is still valid and accurate.  We want to make sure our findings use the most current information available,” said Task Force member Chris Schmidt.

The Task Force is comprised of district taxpayers, many of whom did not know one another prior to their service.  Local columnist and Task Force member Owen Robinson recognized, “It has been an uplifting experience to witness a group of people from different backgrounds and with diverse perspectives work so hard and well together.  Our shared goal is to ensure the WBSD provides an exceptional education for our kids and those kids who follow.  This drives our purpose.”

WBDSPTF members are Kevin Steiner, Tim Schmidt, Kraig Sadownikow, Randy Stark, Ed Duquaine, Dan Garvey, Mike Chevalier, Owen Robinson, Chris Kleman, Chris Schmidt and the education team from Zimmerman Design Studios.  Members were chosen based on their design, construction, facilities management and communication expertise.

For additional information on the West Bend School District Private Task Force contact Kraig Sadownikow at www.teamacs.net.

Ozaukee Christian School Hosts Open House

While the media likes to tease the location for the former occupants, it will be interesting to see if this works. It’s kind of in the middle of nowhere.

TOWN OF TRENTON — An area Christian school that’s moving into a new location just outside West Bend is planning an open house for prospective students and their parents next week.

The Ozaukee Christian School is planning the event for 6:30 p.m. Aug. 6 at Calvary Church, 1110 E. Decorah Road. Principal Kris Austin said the open house is aimed at familiarizing potential families with the nondenominational school’s programs and financial aid offerings.

The school is poised to launch its first academic year inside its new building: a converted strip mall — and onetime gentleman’s club — along Highway 33 between West Bend and Newburg.

Austin called the renovation a “transformation andredemption” of a property that was once home to the Rhino Gentlemen’s Club. She said Tuesday

the school had closed on a sale of the property just last week.

Portions of the 22,000square-foot building should be renovated in time for the start of classes Sept. 16, she said. The rest of the building should be prepped in time for a complete campus opening next year.

Choice Works

The studies keep stacking up.

This study is a follow-on to the School Choice Demonstration Project that was commissioned by the state of Wisconsin in the mid 2000s. Researchers from the University of Arkansas tracked the progress of students in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP) along with a matched sample of students in traditional public schools. The matching method used here allows for the best measure of the true effect of an intervention outside of lotteries, which didn’t occur in Milwaukee.

There are two sets of results in the study, one for students that were in 9thgrade at baseline and one for students who were in 3rd through 8thgrade. Among 9th graders, effects were found on enrollment but not on graduation. Among 3rd through 8th graders, the study also found an effect on enrollment. They find that 50 percent of MPCP students in this group enrolled in college compared to 45 percent of Milwaukee Public Schools students. This difference was statistically significant.

The most compelling finding, however, is when the researchers examined college graduation. By April of 2019 when the data was collected, 11 percent of MPCP students in their sample had graduated from a four-year college, compared with 8 percent of students in the public school control group. In other words, MPCP students were 38 percent more likely to graduate from four-year colleges than their public school peers.

Last year’s version of this study found that students in the MPCP were more likely to enroll in college, but not to graduate. It appears that an additional year of data has had a dramatic effect on the findings.

There are a lot of factors that go into something like this – not least of which is that, by and large, the parents who use choice care about their kids’ education and are likely more involved. Parental involvement and support for education in the home are critical factors for student success.

But the other huge factor is the quality and nature of the education being provided. Not all schools provide a good education and not all education styles work for every student. Giving parents the ability to choose a god school that delivers education in a way that works for their kids is another critical factor for student success.

Muslim Group Invited to Proselytize in Public School

Where are those folks from the Freedom From Religion Foundation?

“After a petition was sent around by activists, asking the school district to reduce ‘racism,’” William Krumholz reports in Alphanews, “the district brought in a group run by Dr. Muhammad Khalifa to conduct an ‘equity survey.’”  This took place in the Eastern Carver County School District in the city of Chaska, Minnesota, with a population of approximately 25,000.

Dr. Muhammad Khalifa is Associate Professor of Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development at the University of Minnesota. He earned his Ph.D. in “educational administration” at Michigan State University. Khalifa’s group, Adjusted Equity Solutions, and the affiliated Culturally Responsive School Leadership Institute, Krumholz wrote, “sells its services, which focus on bias recognition education and training, to schools.” The Eastern Carver district and superintendent Clint Christopher, “awarded Khalifa’s AES $52,250 over a two-year period to conduct the equity survey and provide certain follow-up services.”

Dr. Khalifa’s “Islamophobia and Christian Privilege,” materials urge the district to “recognize that Islamophobia is one of the most widespread, rapidly growing, and tolerated types of oppression in school and society today.” This requires the school to “identify discourses and practices of Christian privilege and White privilege” and Christian privilege “is not only having major Christian holidays and Sundays off, and Christian trappings in school.”

The materials urge the district to “discuss with your staff how you have been implicit – directly or indirectly – in Islamophobic practices,” and “complete annual equity audits.” Dr. Khalifa  wants “speak outs” for Muslim students, and the protection of “Muslim female dress.” The district is also to “celebrate contemporary Muslim accomplishments and personalities, Kunta Kinte, Muhammad Ali, Keith Ellison, Yusef Lateef, John Coltrane, Malcolm X, Mahershali Ali, etc.”

As Dr. Khalifa’s materials explain, “Islam is not a religion in the sense that Western Europeans separated faith from other aspects of life.” Dr. Muhamad wants the district to “support causes connected to the Muslim community,” and “use staff, school space, student activities, and even financial resources – to advocate for causes important to student inclusion and belongingness.”

Actually, this looks more like yet another shakedown group.

Schools Have Enough Money

State Senator Duey Stroebel penned a column in response to a recent article in the Washington County Daily News where the Kewaskum Schools were whining about not getting as much state aid as they wanted. While Stroebel uses Kewaskum as the example, he brings up some important points that are applicable across Wisconsin.

From a common-sense standpoint, state and local funding for schools is also on a per-student basis. Dollars are tied to how many students a district educates. Kewaskum enrollment has fallen 236 students from a high of 2,050 students in 2008-09 to 1,814 students in 2018-19. Clearly a 12.5 percent,

or oneeighth, reduction in enrollment should impact finances. According to documents on the Kewaskum School Board website, the 2016-17 school year had a general fund budget of $19.62 million, with an enrollment of 1,844.

The recently finished 2018-19 school year had a general fund budget of $20.78 million with 1,814 students. That is an increase in spending of 5.9 percent over two years while enrollment fell 1.6 percent.

Given current demographics, we can expect flat to declining enrollment to continue throughout Wisconsin. It is up to local school boards, and those they employ, to scale costs and ensure a quality product. Nothing we do at the state level can force a school district to prudently control costs or invest funding in the most critical areas. Every community must ask if each budget item improves educational performance and graduation rates.

Last, but not least, communities can go to referendum. The same cost and education-result questions should be asked on those occasions.

Principal’s Untimely Resignation Linked to “Little Penis”

Wha!?!?

TOWN OF LISBON – Former Silver Spring Intermediate School Principal Mark Peperkorn’s resignation was connected to an incident where he allegedly read a finger puppet parody book titled the “Little Penis” to staff members and the superintendent, according to documents obtained by The Freeman via an open records request.

The open records request revealed that Peperkorn, who was the principal of Pilgrim Park Middle School, was at a meeting when he read aloud a book he had previously confiscated from a student.

Peperkorn took a position as principal at Silver Spring Intermediate School in the Hamilton School District and would have started July 1, but he resigned June 14.

A letter addressed to PPMS families states that he had accelerated his resignation in Elmbrook to May 31 due to “unforeseen circumstances.”

[…]

One staff member said the following: “He probably felt comfortable with his staff but in this day and age it is not okay. He has been well-respected in his former district and interviewed very well with us, so I hate someone’s complete career (to) go down the drain for reading a book. If he were to stay on, I would welcome and support him professionally.”

One staff member said Peperkorn had a box full of confiscated items that he shared with staff members during the meeting. As he pulled items out of the box, Peperkorn named whom the items belonged to, according to a redacted interview with a staff member.

Another staff member said the reading of the book wasn’t as offensive as Peperkorn stating the names of students whom the items belonged to as he removed them from a box in front of staff.

“However, mentioning students real names and their middle school misgivings was much more offensive. One of those students was one of my former special education students, so hurtful. I am also very good friends with another one of the other student’s parents mentioned in your precised jokes, so unprofessional.”

Holocaust Denier Sacked

Wow. His ignorance is only eclipsed by his antisemitism.

In an email published by the paper, Mr Latson said the school had “a variety of activities” on Holocaust education but added that lessons were “not forced upon individuals as we all have the same rights but not all the same beliefs”.

The parent wrote back asking for clarification, saying: “The Holocaust is a factual, historical event. It is not a right or a belief.”

Mr Latson replied: “Not everyone believes the Holocaust happened. I can’t say the Holocaust is a factual, historical event because I am not in a position to do so as a school district employee.

“I do allow information about the Holocaust to be presented and allow students and parents to make decisions about it accordingly.”

Palmyra-Eagle School District Votes to Dissolve

Makes sense.

(WKOW) —  The Palmyra-Eagle Area School District plans to dissolve.

School board members approved the move Monday night.

Now, the district will wait to see what the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction says.

Schools will still operate for the 2019-2020 school year.

The decision in Palmyra-Eagle comes after a failed referendum in April that would have provided money to keep the district running.

Citizens look to future after failed school referendum

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. I till say… worst. acronym. ever. Here you go:

Earlier this year, the West Bend School Board asked the voters to approve a referendum to borrow $47 million to build a new Jackson Elementary and do some major renovations to the West Bend high schools. The referendum failed and now a group of community members are stepping forward to take a hard look at the facilities at Jackson Elementary and the high schools.

It should come as no surprise to readers of this column that I was quite happy that the school referendum in West Bend failed. I believed strongly that it would have been a gross misallocation of tax dollars that would have squeezed out higher priorities. Others in the community thought differently and thought that the facilities had become dilapidated enough to warrant the taxpayers absorbing more debt. The voters in the community had a robust public debate about the issue and decided against the referendum.

While the voters have decided that they do not want to spend $74 million (the loan plus interest) on new and refurbished buildings, there are legitimate facility needs. As long as the school district provides education to kids, those kids will need buildings with classrooms, gyms, lunchrooms, playgrounds, and more. The debate is not about the need for those facilities. The debate is about the size, features, and expense of those facilities. Resources are not infinite and there is an opportunity cost of every dollar spent on a building.

One of the aspects of the referendum debate in West Bend that sowed distrust was the people who the School Board engaged to develop the proposals. Always follow the money. Both the survey firm and the architectural firm that the School Board contracted with make their business getting school referendums approved. In the case of the architectural firm, they were paid to develop plans for new and refurbished building for which they would almost certainly receive the contracts to design and build. The financial motive for the firm to go big on the taxpayers’ dime is irresistible and many people in the community did not trust that the people putting together the plans had the community’s interests at heart.

In the wake of the election, several prominent members of the community put their heads together to help the community and school district make some tough decisions on how to move forward. Delta Defense CEO Tim Schmidt, West Bend Mutual Insurance CEO Kevin Steiner, and West Bend Mayor Kraig Sadownikow decided to assemble a private task force to take a hard look at Jackson Elementary and the high schools with an eye to assessing and prioritizing the needs. Schmidt and Steiner also committed financial resources to hire an independent architectural firm to help assess the existing facilities and provide expertise on the construction of modern educational facilities.

Members of the West Bend School District Private Task Force include people who supported the referendum, people who did not, engineers, construction experts, facilities management experts, current and former local elected leaders, and your favorite rabble-rousing local columnist, me.

The goal of the WBSDPTF is straightforward. It is to assess the facilities at Jackson Elementary and the high school and present the findings to the School Board. The WBSDPTF will not be making any recommendations about how to address those findings. That is up to the elected School Board. The WBSDPTF is not sanctioned or funded by the West Bend School Board. Perhaps most importantly, the WBSDPTF is not just another group looking for a way to build support for another referendum. It is purely an effort by a group of local private citizens who believe that education is important and are willing to donate their time, money, and expertise to help the community make some decisions.

The effort may be the start of a new chapter of uniting factional interests in the West Bend School District. The effort may be a useless waste of time and money that doesn’t go anywhere. Time will tell.

Special thanks should be extended to Kevin Steiner and Tim Schmidt. Both of these local business leaders have been generous in supporting countless local organizations, charities, public, and private initiatives. The WBSDPTF is merely the latest on a long list of things that these two CEOs have supported to help improve our community. West Bend is privileged to have such strong business leaders.

West Bend School District Private Task Force Tours Schools

Interesting. From the Washington County Insider:

June 27, 2019 – West Bend, WI – The West Bend School District Private Task Force (WBSDTF)completed tours of Jackson Elementary and the West Bend High Schools.

The WBSDTF is a group of citizens privately formed and funded whose mission is to generate and communicate independent findings related to maintenance and capital projects at the facilities mentioned.  The task force was formed in the wake of a failed referendum in April of 2019.  The goal of the referendum was the construction of a new K-4 elementary school in Jackson and safety and infrastructure enhancements at the high schools.

WBDSPTF members include Kevin Steiner, Tim Schmidt, Kraig Sadownikow, Randy Stark, Ed Duquaine, Dan Garvey, Mike Chevalier, Owen Robinson, Chris Kleman, and Chris Schmidt.  Members were chosen based on their design, construction, facilities management and communication expertise.

“We felt our first priority was to gauge for ourselves the condition of the high schools and Jackson Elementary to gain a full understanding of the intent of the failed referendum,” said task force organizer and City of West Bend Mayor Kraig Sadownikow.

“Maintenance and capital budgets for the District’s 1.2 million square feet of buildings has been a focus of discussions so far,” said task force member and former City of West Bend Alderman Ed Duquaine.  “We requested and were given past information related to pre-referendum work, the district’s 25-year plan and completed tours with the facilities director.”

To gain a full and complete understanding of the district’s physical condition, the task force is considering touring other facilities.  “We are looking forward to where the district can go in the future, rather than looking backward to debate where we’ve been,” said task force member Dan Garvey.

Zimmerman Architectural Studios has been retained by the task force.  Their firm, led by Dave Stroik, had mechanical and electrical engineers along for the tours.  “Our role is to help assess existing conditions and bring the expertise of how modern educational facilities should be designed,” said Stroik.

The task force expects to complete its work this summer and will present findings to the school board in October.

For additional information on the West Bend School District Private Task Force contact Kraig Sadownikow at www.teamacs.net.

Wait… what!?!? Oh yeah… yes, I am on the task force. The Mayor does a good job of explaining it, but allow me to elaborate a bit from my perspective.

I was pretty happy when the referendum failed. I truly thought that it was a waste of money that would not improve education and would hamstring the district with debt for decades to come. But I do acknowledge that the school district must maintain its facilities and that, from time to time, they will need to refurbished or rebuilt.

When I was invited to participate in this task force, I was skeptical. I was worried that it would be just a group of guys looking for another way to justify a referendum. But after more discussion and learning who else was on the task force, I thought it was worth the effort. The task force is comprised of a group of local leaders, several of whom have experience in facilities, who believe in having a great school system, but who have different perspectives on how to get there. Some of us opposed the referendum. Some of us supported it. We all want to have a great school district that provides a great education and is an asset to the community.

I’m thankful to Tim Schmidt (Delta Defense) and Kevin Steiner (West Bend Mutual) for putting up the money for the architectural firm. West Bend is blessed to have strong local business leaders who care about our community.

So we are giving it a try. I don’t know where it will lead. My experience so far has been very positive. Right now we are in data-gathering mode. We have met as a group and toured both Jackson Elementary and the High Schools – the subjects of the referendum. I toured both before the referendum too, but we were able to tour as a group, ask questions, and the district has been very helpful in providing documentation, plans, studies, etc. We are probably going to tour a few more buildings and meet several times over the summer to discuss the information we received, develop our findings, and prepare them for presentation to the School Board. At that point, who knows what the School Board will do with the findings. That’s up to them. I’m hopeful that we can help be part of a solution.

Principal Wants to Reward Staff with New Building

I can’t tell you how wrong-headed I think this comment is.

WEST BEND — West Bend East High School’s principal Darci VanAdestine is on a similar path as West Bend West’s assistant principal Jennifer Potter, both of whom will begin roles with elementary schools this fall.

VanAdestine, who is moving to Jackson Elementary School, said she is proud to be part of such a thriving, positive culture where she can succeed among students, staff and parents that genuinely care and want what is best for all.

“My main priority is to keep this positive energy and success rolling,” VanAdestine said. “I would love to be able to reward the dedicated staff, community and students that through their perseverance and dedication we will get a new building sooner than later.”

The reward of good elementary schooling is not a fancy new building. The reward is kids who are smarter and better prepared for going into middle school. The building is just a necessary part of delivering an education and should not be positioned as a reward for doing your job.

Not to mention that this is as close to express advocacy as you can get by a government official. If the school board decides to put another referendum on the ballot, such advocacy would be inappropriate.