Tag Archives: Jody Geenen

Vote for Jody Geenen for transparent School Board

Here’s a Letter to the Editor I received.

I believe the West Bend School Board needs a shake-up.  I believe the right person to do so is Jody Geenen.

A recent article in the West Bend Current, the high schools’ online newspaper, made me sure of this (westbendcurrent.com/2020/03/31).  All candidates running for the School Board were interviewed, but the three incumbents (Justman, Ongert and Schmidt) reminded me once again how often they are misleading with facts, less than transparent, and far from conservative.

Mr. Ongert misleads when he states that the District has “far more AP classes and CTE classes than any other district around us.”  All one has to do is combine the number of students at our two high schools, and West Bend ends up as one of the largest high schools in the whole state.  No wonder our high schools offer more AP and CTE classes– or any other classes for that matter– than schools like Germantown, Slinger or Cedarburg!  How does the number of classes make our district any better?

Ms. Justman is less than transparent when she says the board is “working proactively” on building needs such as roofing repairs.  Roofing is always included in the District budget, and there is a schedule of repairs each summer.  She also says that “attractive and high-functioning schools” will make West Bend “the chosen destination for families to live,” and she is concerned about our community thriving and higher property values.  One would think she works for the Economic Development office of the city rather than serving on the School Board.  What about improving the education of our students?

Ms. Schmidt mentions learning but usually in the context of her own educational experiences.  Her plans for improving the District do not focus on curriculum or test scores.  She wants United Way to step in with their Inspire program (but doesn’t explain how that would improve student achievement), and she borrows a successful concept from Riveredge Nature Center.  Schmidt wants to establish a charter nature school like Riveredge in the District!  Perhaps more disturbing is her attack on former Superintendent Erik Olson.

Since being elected in 2017, the three incumbents have had plenty of time “to move our district forward,” as Ongert states in the Current piece.  Instead, test scores have fallen below neighboring districts, and the Wisconsin State Report Card scores show both East and West High Schools at the bottom of all conference schools.  The school board at great expense pursued a $74 million (including interest) referendum that was too much for this community on top of existing debt of $32 million from previous referendums.  They’ve allowed left-leaning curriculum and lesson plans to persist in the classrooms, even when a national spotlight was shined on the District.

Justman, Ongert, and Schmidt are out of touch with this community.  It’s time to vote for Jody Geenen to add a voice of reason to the School Board.  Jody will respectfully represent your tax dollars, and she’ll welcome input when working to improve student academics.  Because that’s what schools are all about:  learning, not shiny new buildings.  Cast only one vote for School Board; the right choice is Jody Geenen on April 7.

John & Carol Heger

Cast your vote based on the record

Speaking of voting, here is my full column that ran in the Washington County Daily News yesterday.

Three incumbent West Bend School Board members are up for re-election on the April 7 ballot. Joel Ongert, Nancy Justman, and Tonnie Schmidt ran as a bloc in 2017 and are running for re-election as a bloc again. In 2017, they ran on conservatism and transparency. Having failed on both counts, this year they are running on their record. It is certainly a record that deserves scrutiny.

Despite promising transparency, the West Bend School District became instantly more opaque when they took office. Individually, these three board members repeatedly refused to respond to questions from media and constituents who did not support them; documents disappeared from the district’s website; and there was a noticeable increase in the number of closed sessions.

This secrecy enveloped the decision in 2017 to split the high school administrations. West Bend has two high schools in one building, but previous boards had combined the administration to be more efficient and economical. Without any public input or discussion, and in the middle of a hiring process for a single principal, the School Board split the position into two expensive principals instead of one. Secrecy and patronage were the new guiding principles with these three.

Under the leadership of the Triad, the district abandoned using Act 10 and reversed course on the implementation of merit pay for school staff. After a year in limbo, the district is implementing a new compensation system that rewards teachers for experience and more education — irrespective of the teacher’s performance.

Who could forget the superintendent shuffle? The district will be hiring its fourth superintendent since the Triad took office three years ago. They forced one out (allegedly), had an interim for a while, and then hired Superintendent Kirkegaard. While Kirkegaard has been a capable superintendent, it did not take much foresight to understand that an administrator nearing the end of his career who spent his entire life in another state would not last long. Along with the superintendent shuffle came the huge turnover of the rest of the administrative staff. The district has cycled through six business managers, five HR directors, and countless other staff positions.

The Triad also ran last time as conservatives. They may be fiscally conservative in their private lives, but they are big-spending liberals with other people’s money. Despite steeply declining enrollment (not the district’s fault), the School Board increased spending by over $5 million, or over 6%, since 2016. That spending brought with it property tax increases. The School Board increased the property tax levy by over 9% over the same period. The spending and taxing decisions of the West Bend School Board are indistinguishable from those of legendarily liberal school boards like Madison or Milwaukee.

The increased spending and taxes were not enough for this crew. Throughout the Triad’s entire tenure, the district has been roiled with referendum debate. After a few months, the Triad pushed through a $74 million (with interest) referendum for a new Jackson Elementary School and work at the high schools. They followed the liberal school referendum playbook to the letter. They manipulated a fake community study committee, conducted a sham survey, rolled out the scare tactics, and were hazy about the details of how the money would be spent.

After the voters rejected the referendum, they are right back at planning the next referendum. Despite the fact that a private task force of local business and facilities leaders (of which I was a member) dug into the data for months and showed a way to restructure facilities with enormous improvements without increasing taxes, the Triad appears determined to ignore those findings and proceed with a rehashed version of the previous referendum – a new Jackson Elementary School and maybe some other fluff thrown in to lure voters from outside of Jackson.

Sadly for the kids of the West Bend School District, the spending, taxing, administrative turmoil, lack of performance incentives for teachers, secrecy, and poor management have only perpetuated a steadily declining performance. None of this has improved educational outcomes or better prepared our kids to enter the world.

If you want higher taxes, more spending, declining performance, and an endless succession of referendums, vote for the Triad. As for me, I will only be voting for one person for the West Bend School Board, Jody Geenen.

Geenen is a solidly conservative mother who had three children go through the West Bend School District. She is committed to doing the hard work of improving transparency, communicating with the public, evaluating the curriculum, being a frugal steward of taxpayer money, and providing a “high-quality, content-rich, truth-and-factbased education for all students.”

There are four candidates for three School Board seats, so two of the three members of the Triad will be re-elected. It does not matter which ones. But it does matter that the voters elect Jody Geenen to be the only conservative on a school board that lurched to the left with the election of the Triad.

Cast your vote based on the record

Isn’t it nice to read about something that isn’t related to Coronovirus? My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Here’s a little taste:

Sadly for the kids of the West Bend School District, the spending, taxing, administrative turmoil, lack of performance incentives for teachers, secrecy, and poor management have only perpetuated a steadily declining performance. None of this has improved educational outcomes or better prepared our kids to enter the world.

If you want higher taxes, more spending, declining performance, and an endless succession of referendums, vote for the Triad. As for me, I will only be voting for one person for the West Bend School Board, Jody Geenen.

Geenen is a solidly conservative mother who had three children go through the West Bend School District. She is committed to doing the hard work of improving transparency, communicating with the public, evaluating the curriculum, being a frugal steward of taxpayer money, and providing a “high-quality, content-rich, truth-and-fact based education for all students.”

There are four candidates for three School Board seats, so two of the three members of the Triad will be re-elected. It does not matter which ones. But it does matter that the voters elect Jody Geenen to be the only conservative on a school board that lurched to the left with the election of the Triad.

Letter to the Editor

Yet another transparency issue with the school district!  As the only new candidate running for School Board, I am frustrated with the district’s deceit in pretending to seek public input regarding new curriculum. For example, the district sent a memo to certain parents/guardians and taxpayers (not me) inviting them to review the new 9th grade biology curriculum.  A friend received the email and was frustrated with the inconvenient times offered ~ 6:45am-8:00am and 2:30pm-4:00pm, when most parents are traveling to work or working. There were no evening or weekend sessions.  I emailed the Curriculum and Instruction Department to request an evening viewing. While they were willing to hold a private viewing, they refused to open it up to the public except to let me invite guests. So I brought four.

Laura Jackson presented the curriculum and was aware the public was not invited to the evening session. Yet, she praised herself at the February 24th School Board Meeting for inviting public  input. She said she offered convenient times to parents who were dropping students off at school or picking them up and that there was an evening session. Really? There were zero (0) people, other than a teacher, who attended the two early sessions, and the five of us who attended the evening session from which she provided our written feedback to the board. Were inconvenient viewing sessions offered because there was something to hide from the public? Were they just pretending to be accommodating to avoid any negative reaction to the curriculum?

If you’re tired of the lack of transparency and you believe children’s education should be a partnership between parents and teachers, then vote for me on or before April 7 for school board.

Jody Geenen – Candidate for West Bend School Board

Letter To the Editor

Dear Editor,

I am writing to share my personal experience with the West Bend school district putting out a new book and curriculum for 9th grade Biology. First, there was an open viewing of the book and curriculum to anyone who pays taxes but the only means of notification to the public was an email to limited audience. I was told that this was open to the public but later found out that whoever was in charge of putting out the invitation refused to let people know there was an evening viewing. What are they trying to hide?  Second, the book filled with non-science and pseudo-science topics such as climate change, population control and evolution.  Instead of teaching the Science of Biology it is a total indoctrination of agenda-driven propaganda. I do not want my taxes paying for this type of brain-washing This situation reminds me of the way the Community Hospital relocation to where it is now was accomplished. Then only after the outcry by many people from this community did an open and faux meeting occur. The move proponents pretended to care what we thought, only to do what they wanted in the end anyway. We need change in our school district so kids learn what they should and not a political agenda.  If you want change in our district vote for Jody Geenen for the School Board on April 7.

Jean Weymier

West Bend

Letter to the Editor from Jody Geenen

From West Bend School Board candidate Jody Geenen.

More school board transparency issues regarding the referendum for November replacing the one that was voted down last April! The board is so determined to pass it that they are purposely muddying the very understandable Policy 615, Disclosure of Financial and Total Costs of All Referendums. They don’t want the public to understand the significant interest cost and total costs. For example, the last referendum was $47-million; but, with interest, it would have actually cost $74-million on top of the $32-million owed on the last two referendums that passed, for a grand total of $106-million. Just before the election, they sent the public a mailing that violated Policy 615 by only mentioning the $47-million.

This time around, the board decided to change Policy 615 by insisting on forcing the mill rate into it to confuse voters. At the Chamber Public Forum on March 4, the 3-incumbents running for school board hoodwinked the public by giving themselves credit for the decreased mill rate. The school district cannot take credit for the decreased mill rate anymore than they can take credit for a booming economy.  The mill rate is the amount of dollars charged per $1000 of assessed property value, so we realize a decrease in mill rate because property values went up. The only way the school board could take credit for reducing the mill rate is if they had a less than maximum revenue budget. However, they have had a tax-to-the- max revenue budget of 2.5% for the last 3-years. By the way, there are about 45 school districts with lower mill rates than West Bend.

If you want honest, independent, and true oversight of our school district — with ALL stakeholder interests properly considered and balanced, then vote for me for school board on or before April 7.

Letter to the Editor – Jody Geenen

Here is a letter from West Bend School Board candidate Jody Geenen

The referendum is back!  As a candidate for the West Bend School Board in April, I’ve paid particular attention to the January meetings. The groupthink of the current board appear to promise a more elaborate and expensive referendum for November than was voted down last April.  Instead of one new school plus repairs, there will likely be two new schools, an addition to Green Tree, plus repairs.

Part of the problem, I wondered was why, after hearing all of the pros on Jackson needing it’s very own elementary school situated next to the Boys & Girls Club, we didn’t have anyone lined up to give the cons so there could be a balanced discussion. After all, none of the schools in West Bend are located near the Boys & Girls Club, yet students manage to get there.  In addition, we had a task force months ago that developed an alternative plan that was viable, sensible, and more affordable. Shouldn’t someone from that committee have been given the floor to explain why that plan might be better than the one in the works?

As the only candidate running against the incumbents for school board on April 7, I would like to listen to all options side-by-side in order to formulate what works best for ALL stakeholders in our school district, including the taxpayer. Yes, it does appear that Jackson has the most potential for residential growth, but some of those properties are actually in the Germantown School District. Not only can we contribute declining enrollment to students attending secondary school in Germantown or Slinger, but we are also competing against private schools, home school and virtual school that are becoming more and more popular with each passing year. Please vote for Common Sense on April 7; please vote for me.

Jody Geenen – Candidate for West Bend School Board