Category Archives: Education

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.

Independent Task Force to examine facilities in West Bend School District

From the Washington County Insider:

June 17, 2019 – West Bend, WI – There was a presentation Monday, June 17 at the West Bend School Board meeting as a community group stepped up to complete a facilities study in the West Bend School District. The Task Force is led by West Bend Mayor Kraig Sadownikow, West Bend Mutual Insurance CEO Kevin Steiner and Tim Schmidt of Delta Defense.

Topic and Background from WBSD Superintendent Don Kirkegaard: In May I had a discussion with three individuals from the community: Mayor Kraig Sadownikow, Kevin Steiner/West Bend Mutual Insurance, and Tim Schmidt/Delta Defense that are forming a committee to look at our facilities. They have asked to have access to our facilities and have an opportunity to visit with Mr. Ross to discuss projects that have been completed, as well as projects that are being planned.

There is no district involvement with the committee.

They will submit a report to the Board in September and/or October. The Board can use all of or part of the information as the Board determines future facilities’ improvements.

The committee is not authorized by the Board or the Superintendent. The report will be informational only with the Board being responsible to make any and all decisions.

 

West Bend School Board Members Can’t Imagine Not Increasing Taxes

Wow. Some quality reporting from the Washington County Insider.

A discussion about the mill rate was initiated toward the end of Monday night’s budget discussion.

Board member Ongert: “So are you suggesting the mill rate could go down even more during the 2019-2020 budget?”

Andy Sarnow: “I don’t know yet, so I don’t want to say because I haven’t made that calculation.”

Board member Nancy Justman: “Well considering some of the criticism we endured during the referendum that we need to ‘live within our means’ I would say dropping the levy or not taxing to the max would be detrimental to us. I’m not sure why we would even think about doing that personally.”

Ongert: “Plus I heard loud and clear people think we have too much debt in the West Bend School District and if that’s what’s preventing people from voting ‘yes’ on the referendum then let’s maintain the mill rate and pay down even more debt, if that’s what our community wants. Dropping the mill rate just to see how low we can go, um… I think is detrimental to our facilities to our staff, to our students. I don’t want to tax the crap out of the community but we need to be able to pay down the debt.”

Justman: “Obviously we have a lot of capital things we have put off. The fact we have carpeting in that building we can assume is at least 40 years old* (statement not confirmed) is frightening. Correction, 48 years*(statement not confirmed).. even more frightening. The idea we have put off items but we also need to make sure we have this balance with our students, we still want to be a destination district. I’m just not in favor at all or decreasing the mill rate at all. I guess you’d have to really come up with some amazing plan to sell me on a plan to do that. I think we should look at increasing it and look at some of these projects that we haven’t been able to get done. I see Dave Ross is happy dancing in the background… as I go on with my rant here. But we really need to prioritize some of these things. We can’t have carpeting that’s 48 years old*(statement not confirmed) and we can’t have projects that Dave is holding together with binder twine to try and get things done. I mean we really need to look at some of these things and if that requires us to raise the mill rate than so be it.”

Ongert: “And our taxpayers are telling us we can’t have any debt.”

Justman: “Well the word was ‘live within your means’ but we don’t sell anything so we have no means but apparently some people don’t understand, so I just want to point out I’m not in favor of decreasing the mill rate.”

So the message that these board members took out of a failed referendum was “increase taxes as much as possible.” How about they keep taxes flat – even as enrollment declines – and prioritize better?

West Bend School Board Evaluates Facilities Priorities

Wait… what?

Decorah, roofing projects top maintenance list

WEST BEND — The West Bend School Board recently toured district facilities to determine maintenance priorities following the failed April referendum, and for some members, it was the first time in a particular building.

[…]

Since the money that would have been allocated by the referendum is not available, funding is the big question attached to each of these district projects.

One item at the top of the long list is Decorah Elementary School.

“A front office remodel project will start as soon as school gets out for a new secure office entrance at Decorah Elementary,” Ongert said.

Another focuses on structural integrity of multiple buildings.

“Although not glamorous work, several buildings around the district will have sections of roofs replaced this summer,” he said. “Of our $1.4M annual capital budget, nearly $800,000 of that is spent on replacing roofs each and every year.”

Some of you might remember that we just went through a referendum process in West Bend. The District was asking to borrow $48 million ($84 million payback with interest) to build a new Jackson Elementary and do some major remodeling of the High School. The argument was made that these projects were absolutely critical for the safety and education of the kids. Presumably, these were projects that were so imperative that they required getting more money from the taxpayers – way above the already existing tax burden – to pay for it now. These projects were imperative… so we were told.

Fast forward a few weeks. The referendum was rejected. Some members of the school board (not all of them) toured all of the buildings in the district for the first time. And now we hear that Decorah Elementary and roofing projects are the highest priority? Setting aside the obvious point that the board members should have actually toured the buildings and determined priorities before going to referendum, why wouldn’t repairs on Jackson Elementary be a higher priority? Or refurbishing some of the allegedly ancient classrooms in the High School? So now the priority is remodeling the front office of Decorah Elementary?

I guess the issues at Jackson Elementary and the High School weren’t as critical, after all.

Student Loan Crisis

Solved.

Legislature Gives UW Spending by $58 Million

But it’s never “enough,” of course. Here was one reaction from a spender:

“It’s beyond disappointing,” Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison, told Republicans. “It’s perplexing. It doesn’t make any sense. It’s negligent. And what you’re guaranteeing is that campuses will close.”

GOOD. We all see the demographic trends and the declines in enrollment coming. We SHOULD be consolidating campuses. Throwing more money into a system to keep underutilized buildings open is not responsible budgeting.

Lawsuit Filed Against NY Education Department Over Racist “Equity” Plan

It ain’t just New York. Social Justice superseded education a long time ago in far too many government school systems.

Three white female executives in the New York Education Department were demoted in favor of less-qualified people of color, a $90 million suit launched by the women claims.

The longtime officials say they were unfairly targeted as part of the department’s crusade against ‘toxic whiteness’ through its controversial racial equity plan.

Lois Herrera started at the DOE in 1986 as a guidance counselor and worked her way up to lead its Office of Safety and Youth Development.

In the suit filed Tuesday, she claims she saw the culture shift when Mayor Bill de Blasio appointed Richard Carranza as the chancellor of NYC‘s public schools in April 2018.

Lois Herrera is one of three women suing the New York Education Department for $90m over claims they were demoted in favor of less-qualified people of color

By June the Harvard graduate – who was recognized in 2017 for contributing to the ‘safest year on record’ in city schools – was abruptly removed from her position and demoted three levels.

[…]

Herrera was never given any reasoning for her demotion but claims she was told, ‘If you’ve been with the DOE for more than 20 years, you are responsible for the problem,’ by LaShawn Robinson, the then executive director of the DOE’s Office of Equity and Access.

[…]

Department insiders say that under Chancellor Richard Carranza, who was appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio, administrators are subjected to endless lectures and workshops critiquing ‘whiteness’ and attempting to root out ‘white supremacy’ in the workplace.

Assembly Republicans Agree to Waste Slightly Less Money than Evers

Ugh. Remember that throwing more tax dollars into the government school system isn’t about improving education. It’s about appeasing politicians’ egos.

Assembly Republicans say they support an education budget that would spend an additional $500 million on schools, an amount about $900 million less than Gov. Tony Evers proposed.

Evers called for a $1.4 billion increase in state spending on K-12 education, driven in large part by a $606 million increase in special education funding.

The budget unveiled Wednesday by Assembly Republicans would spend considerably less, setting aside an additional $50 million for special education over the next two years.

Republicans said that was still substantial, noting the state had not increased special education funding for more than a decade.

They also said under the Assembly GOP plan, the state would fund two-thirds of the cost of K-12 education statewide, a benchmark that was written into law in the 1990s but repealed in the 2000s.

Downsizing

Mark Belling has a good column today about the generational decline in the birth rate and its impact on schools.

Downsizing a school district shouldn’t be difficult. You just reduce administrators, teachers and buildings in the same proportion as your enrollment declines. The problems are: The administrators don’t want to downsize themselves, the teachers are overly specialized and parents go ballistic when somebody proposes to close their kids’ school. One local district even decided to keep an elementary school open for one more year even though its enrollment is down to 50 (for the entire school!).

Districts got overbuilt when my generation’s parents were spitting out kids like rabbits (thus, the baby “boom”). Then my huge generation and the Gen Xers decided to sprawl out to the suburbs, creating need for more buildings in the Brookfields, Mequons and Burlingtons of the world. Along came the millennials and all of their idiosyncrasies, including an evident dislike of large families (or any families). What we have are massively overbuilt school systems with ridiculously bloated staffs of specialists, counselors, directors of this, that and the other thing, and in-house custodians, groundskeepers and nurses.

The only way out of this mess is to: a.) force the millennials to have kids (you can’t do that); b.) hope the incoming Generation Z kids revert back to wanting kids (unlikely); or c.) downsizing. The worst option of all is to borrow globs of money, increase your spending and put up even more buildings. That disastrous option is exactly the one most Wisconsin districts are taking.

Evil Billionaire Pays off Debt

Very, very cool.

Billionaire investor Robert F. Smith earned some stunned looks on Sunday during his commencement address at Morehouse College.

He told the graduating students he’d pay off their student debt.

“On behalf of the eight generations of my family that have been in this country: We’re going to put a little fuel in your bus,” Smith sad.

He continued: “I’ve got the alumni over here. And this is a challenge to alumni. This is my class, 2019. And my family is making a grant to eliminate their student loans.”

College Enrollment is Declining

This is a trend larger than Wisconsin.

Wisconsin is one of 34 states where enrollment declined for nearly all types of higher education institutions last spring, in part due to the state’s declining birth rate and a better post-recession economy.

It’s interesting to see the different response from private vs. government universities. Knowing that they have to make themselves more attractive to continue to get a share of a shrinking pool, private universities are downsizing and/or transforming:

For instance, to help address Wisconsin’s shortage of pharmacists, Concordia University in Mequon started a program to train them. The Medical College of Wisconsin also started a program.

Another private institute, the Milwaukee School of Engineering, is expanding its computer science program with an emphasis on artificial intelligence.

Our government schools, knowing that they have a permanent source of revenue via taxpayers, continue to prop up old structures for the sake of keeping them alive:

Last month, the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point dropped plans to scrap six majors to solve a budget deficit after backlash from students and staff.

 

 

School spending doesn’t help grades

Here is my full column that ran in the Washington County Daily News yesterday.

Speaker Robin Vos agreed with Gov. Tony Evers that Wisconsin’s government schools need an increase in spending in the next state budget. Now they are just arguing over the amount. The push for more and more spending on government schools is being fueled by two myths. The first myth is that more spending will result in better education. The second myth is that we are not spending enough already. Let us debunk those myths.

Wisconsin taxpayers have been increasing spending on public education for decades with little to show for it. According to data from the Wisconsin Department of Public Education, Wisconsin’s government schools spent an average of $3,224 per student in the 1982-1983 school year. By last year, that number had grown to $13,505 per student, or, accounting for inflation, $5,190 in 1982 dollars. That is a 61 percent increase in per-pupil spending in normalized dollars.

With that generous increase in spending, the people should expect a solid increase in educational outcomes, right? Wrong. There isn’t any longitudinal performance data for Wisconsin that stretches back that far. More recent data shows that ACT and standardized test scores have remained stubbornly static in Wisconsin. But countless studies have shown that America’s educational performance has remained static or declined over that time period. Subjectively, few people would attempt to argue that a 2018 graduate received an education that is 61% better than a 1983 graduate. Spending more money has not resulted in a better education.

Yet despite all of the additional spending, our government schools have perpetuated a myth that they are underfunded. That is difficult to believe when they continue to waste so much money. For example, Wisconsin’s government schools allow exceedingly high teacher absenteeism.

The Wisconsin DPI tracks student absenteeism and classifies students who miss ten or more days of school as “high risk.” The federal Department of Education tracks how many teachers are absent for 10 or more days per school year. The most recent data show a lot of high-risk teachers in Washington County. The percentage of teachers who were absent for more than 10 days during the school year was 21.7% in West Bend, 18.5% in Slinger, 28.1% in Germantown, and a whopping 30.8% in Kewaskum. These percentages of chronic absenteeism are stunning given that there are only about 187 annual work days for teachers compared to 260 for most other professions.

According to a study by the Thomas Fordham Institute, teachers in traditional public schools in America are almost three times more likely to be chronically absent as teachers in charter schools, and teachers in unionized charter schools are twice as likely to be chronically absent as their non-unionized charters. Act 10 allowed for school boards to address chronic absenteeism by taking everything off of the union bargaining table except pay, but almost no school districts have taken any action to tackle teacher absenteeism.

Another area where school districts have failed to leverage Act 10 to economize is in the area of health insurance. According to DPI data, Wisconsin school districts spend an average of $20,110 for a family medical insurance plan. Of that, school districts ask employees to pay an average of 11.75% of the premium. That compares to national averages of $18,764 and 33%, respectively. By simply shopping for more economical health insurance plans and asking employees to pay a more reasonable portion of the premium, Wisconsin’s government schools could liberate millions of dollars in their budgets.

Many taxpayers might also be surprised to learn how few of the dollars spent on government schools are actually used for instruction. According to DPI data, Wisconsin’s government schools only spend 53.6% of every dollar on instruction. The rest of it is spent on facilities (6.9%), transportation (3.9%), support staff (9.5%), administration (7.7%), and “other” (13.4%). Any organization that only spends 53.6% of its revenue on its primary function is woefully inefficient.

The evidence shows that spending more on government schools will not result in better educational outcomes. It also shows that Wisconsin’s government schools continue to waste an inordinate amount of money that never even makes it to a classroom. Spending more money on these schools may make politicians feel better about themselves, but it does not benefit kids or families.

School spending doesn’t help grades

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. I’m not crazy about the title they gave it. My working title was, “Politicians Agree that Wasting Taxpayer Money Helps their Electoral Prospects.” I admit… that’s a bit verbose. Anyway, here’s a piece to encourage you to go pick up a copy:

Speaker Robin Vos agreed with Gov. Tony Evers that Wisconsin’s government schools need an increase in spending in the next state budget. Now they are just arguing over the amount. The push for more and more spending on government schools is being fueled by two myths. The first myth is that more spending will result in better education. The second myth is that we are not spending enough already. Let us debunk those myths.

Wisconsin taxpayers have been increasing spending on public education for decades with little to show for it. According to data from the Wisconsin Department of Public Education, Wisconsin’s government schools spent an average of $3,224 per student in the 1982-1983 school year. By last year, that number had grown to $13,505 per student, or, accounting for inflation, $5,190 in 1982 dollars. That is a 61 percent increase in per-pupil spending in normalized dollars.

With that generous increase in spending, the people should expect a solid increase in educational outcomes, right? Wrong. There isn’t any longitudinal performance data for Wisconsin that stretches back that far. More recent data shows that ACT and standardized test scores have remained stubbornly static in Wisconsin.But countless studies have shown that America’s educational performance has remained static or declined over that time period. Subjectively, few people would attempt to argue that a 2018 graduate received an education that is 61% better than a 1983 graduate. Spending more money has not resulted in a better education.

Yet despite all of the additional spending, our government schools have perpetuated a myth that they are underfunded. That is difficult to believe when they continue to waste so much money. For example, Wisconsin’s government schools allow exceedingly high teacher absenteeism.

The Wisconsin DPI tracks student absenteeism and classifies students who miss ten or more days of school as “high risk.” The federal Department of Education tracks how many teachers are absent for 10 or more days per school year. The most recent data show a lot of high-risk teachers in Washington County. The percentage of teachers who were absent for more than 10 days during the school year was 21.7% in West Bend, 18.5% in Slinger, 28.1% in Germantown, and a whopping 30.8% in Kewaskum. These percentages of chronic absenteeism are stunning given that there are only about 187 annual work days for teachers compared to 260 for most other professions.

According to a study by the Thomas Fordham Institute, teachers in traditional public schools in America are almost three times more likely to be chronically absent as teachers in charter schools, and teachers in unionized charter schools are twice as likely to be chronically absent as their non-unionized charters. Act 10 allowed for school boards to address chronic absenteeism by taking everything off of the union bargaining table except pay, but almost no school districts have taken any action to tackle teacher absenteeism.

Evers Plan Would Stifle Open Enrollment

Things like this would be solved if we had a 100% voucher system where all of the money follows the child every time. We are spending money to educate kids, right? It’s not just to feed the bureaucracy, is it?

Under current law, the transfer amount will increase if there are increases in K-12 aid. This is a win-win because the resident district can count the pupil under the revenue limit and the non-resident district receives additional revenue for a student who only marginally increases their costs.

But the governor’s proposal takes away these automatic increases (known as indexing) to the open enrollment program. By removing this indexing, open enrollment nonresident districts will not receive the same increase in funding as other K-12 schools will under Evers’ budget. According to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB), districts will forgo about $158 per student in new revenue for the 2019-20 school year, and a staggering $595 per student in the 2020-21 school year.

This is important because school districts in Wisconsin have a choice about whether or not to allow a student to participate in open enrollment. Both the resident district and the nonresident district must approve a student transfer.

Because additional students bring additional costs, it is vital that the financial incentive exists for the receiving districts to take on the burden of an additional student. The table below shows the top 10 largest net receiving open enrollment districts in the state, based on the most recent year of data from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, and the estimated revenue they would lose out on in each of the next two years under the governors’ plan.

Teaching Office Life

Not a bad thought.

If you’ve spent much time working with recent graduates – people who have just finished university without much work experience – you’ve probably witnessed your share of odd office behaviour.

For instance, the new grad who shows up dressed for a night of clubbing, or the entry level worker who doesn’t realise the CEO in a Fortune 500 company doesn’t want his opinion about their new brand strategy, or the new grad who takes all her calls on speakerphone without noticing the colleagues glaring in her direction.

We’ve all heard the stereotypes about entry-level workers who think they should get a corner office or have their own assistant right off the bat – but in my experience, those are outliers.

Of course, we’ve all been there at the start of our own careers … because we don’t do a very good job of teaching students and recent graduates how to navigate office life. We teach them other things – how to write a research paper or analyse a poem or conduct a lab experiment – but we don’t have many formalised mechanisms for teaching the sort of skills that will have a huge impact on how to succeed in your first few years of work: skills most of us think of as just how to be in an office.

Part of the problem is that the people who could do the teaching work in academia and don’t have much, if any, recent experience of industry

Instead, we just throw young people in and expect them to figure it out … which of course leads to plenty of professional faux pas along the way, some of them only mildly embarrassing but some quite embarrassing indeed.

We’ve all heard the stereotypes about entry-level workers who think they should get a corner office or have their own assistant right off the bat – but in my experience, those are outliers. What’s much more common are young workers who haven’t fully processed that they’re adults now and don’t need to ask for permission to go to lunch, or to leave a meeting to use the bathroom, or who feel awkward calling their older colleagues by their first names, or are afraid of asking questions because they think they’re already supposed to have all the answers.

Registrar Accused of Taking Bribes

It’s becoming clear that the college admissions process is riddled with corruption.

A former Delaware State University (DSU) official pleaded guilty to taking over $70,000 in bribes in a scheme to help give out-of-state students in-state tuition, federal prosecutors said in a court filing Wednesday.

Crystal Martin, a former registrar at the school, pleaded guilty to one felony count of bribery and could face as many as 10 years behind bars for her part in the scheme that cost the university an estimated $3 million.

“The defendant abused her position at a public university to personally profit and to defraud her employer,’’ U.S. Attorney David Weiss said in a statement. “Individuals who accept bribes while serving in a public capacity risk undermining trust in those institutions.’’

This is partially a consequence of the inflated cost of higher education coupled with the societal conception that a college degree is vital for a successful career. If you make a college degree the only ticket to financial security (or perceived that way) and then jack up the cost of getting it, people are going to do whatever they think is necessary to get it.

West Bend School Board Considers Extending School Year to Allow More Days Off

I heard some scuttlebutt on social media about the School Board meeting a couple of weeks ago where they discussed the proposed new school calendar, so I decided to watch the meeting. I do these things so that you can enjoy time with your families…

Here’s what went down… there is an ad hoc committee that forms every year to recommend the school calendar. They do it a bit in advance, so the one they are looking at now is for the 2020-2021 school year. The committee brought their recommendation to the school board and the school board was supposed to vote on the schedule.

What they recommended is that the school board extend the school year to June 9th so that the teachers can have a paid day off each month in addition to the already scheduled teacher work days and holidays. The committee said that there was a strong desire to have the extra day off each month so that they can be refreshed and at their best. Yes, that was actually the driving force behind the extra days off during the year.

Here’s the video of the exchange. They schedule stuff starts at minute 12:40.

Hats off to board member Nancy Justman for challenging the schedule and saying she would vote against it (as did Ken Schmidt). Justman correctly pointed out that the extra day off during the school year creates a hardship for families who have to arrange for child care. She also pointed out that in the private sector, bosses don’t just give the staff a paid day off every month for the heck of it. Finally, Justman wondered why there was only one parent representative on the committee – a great point. The superintendent and presenter confirmed that this was actually unusual… there wasn’t ANY parent representative the previous two years.

In the end, they tabled the vote for the schedule and gave the committee instructions to come back with two options – the current option and one that takes out the extra days off and ends the school year a week earlier. I believe they were presented those options tonight, but I didn’t make the meeting. We’ll see how it went shortly.

Again, kudos to Nancy Justman for ensuring that the voices of other stakeholders were heard before approving the schedule.