Boots & Sabers

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Tag: West Bend School District

West Bend Girls Soccer Teams Merge Due to Low Participation

Declining enrolment continues apace in the West Bend School District. Do they still have all of those same buildings as when they had 1,000 more kids? (hint: yes)

Despite being rivals in the past, West Bend East and West girls soccer combined this spring to form one co-op team.


This year the participation from both schools was low enough that the soccer teams could combine without having high numbers. There is precedent for such a move, as the girls golf team, girls swim and dive, boys swim and dive and snowboarding teams already function as co-ops.


“In fact, we were at the point where we would only be able to field a varsity team for each school,” said Erin Felber, the West athletic director. “This is not conducive to helping build a program and it isn’t safe for student-athletes to potentially have to play at the varsity level when they are not ready.”

Violence in the West Bend School District

From the Washington County Insider.

Police Chief Tim Dehring confirmed via email an incident occurred Monday, February 21, 2022; a pair of 11-year-old students were involved. The incident reportedly happened on school bus No. 128 that carried students from Silverbrook Intermediate School.


One of the students reportedly suffered a concussion.


That same Monday, Feb. 21, 2022, parents from the district spoke before the West Bend School Board. Parents were upset about a different bullying incident involving a 14-year-old boy and a 10-year-old boy.


According to parent the 14-year-old was bit; administration later watched a video with the parent which showed the younger child attacking the older child with a sharp stick. The parent’s testimony is below.



The parent of the boy who was attacked was particularly upset she had not been contacted about the incident by the school district.

The issue here is not really that kids are occasionally violent and there are some kids who are chronically violent. This has always been true. It is also more prevalent now as kids return from the isolation of virtual learning to the stressful, complicated, agonizing social situations of school.

The issue here is that the administration and the school board have not responded well to the incidents. They have not notified parents of the kids impacted. They have not taken action against the offenders to protect other kids. They have been dismissive and haughty toward parents who ask questions. They appear more interested in depressing violence statistics than they are in protecting the victims or getting the offenders help – they are kids, after all. No wonder parents are getting frustrated.

Parents Demand Action On Increasing Violence in Schools. West Bend School District Responds

And a tepid response it is. The Washington County Insider has been all over the case of the increasing violence in the West Bend School District, the uninterested response of the school board and administration, and the parents’ increasing frustration.

February 24, 2022 – West Bend, WI – The West Bend School District sent a note to families this week addressing concerns discussed by parents regarding bullying and safety on the school bus.

During the Monday, February 21, 2022, West Bend School Board meeting five parents spoke out about a student being bullied and injured during several incidents while the child rode the school bus.

Another year. Another tax increase.

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

The West Bend School Board is about to jack up taxes again to fuel their ever-increasing spending. This is despite rapidly declining enrollment. The good news, for them, is that the electors of West Bend just doubled their pay. It is very easy and rewarding to spend other people’s money.


At the annual meting of the West Bend School District’s electors, the school board put forth a resolution for consideration to increase the property tax levy by 7.25% to $47.8 million. The electors, who are just citizens of the district who decided to show up to the meeting, voted to approve the increase. It is not binding, but since it was the school board who drafted the resolution, they will likely approve the tax increase later this month.


This has become routine for the West Bend School Board. Irrespective of the state of the economy, the amount of federal stimulus money they received, or the number of kids they are educating, the West Bend School Board increases taxes. They are the proverbial scorpion crossing the river. It is just what they do.


The 7.25% tax increase this year is on top of the 6.21% tax increase last year and the 7.15% tax increase the year before. Thanks to the power of compounding, that is a 22% tax increase in just three years.


They have to increase taxes to support the increase in spending. This year’s budget increases overall spending by 7.12%. The district will break the $100 million budget threshold with a whopping $103.4 million. The West Bend School Board is continuing to increase spending despite the fact that enrollment in the district is collapsing.


According to enrollment figures provided by the school district, there are 5,824 full time equivalent (FTE) students in the district this year. That is a decline of 560 students, or 8.8% in just three years and over a thousand in five years. In the same three years where the West Bend School Board increased taxes 22% (assuming they pass this year’s proposed tax increase), student enrollment has declined by 8.8%.


The decline in enrollment has long been forecasted. There is a general decline in the school age population due to demographic trends. The decline has accelerated in some government school districts during the pandemic. Parents who were frustrated with unnecessary school closures and the damaging impact of onerous pandemic response theater moved their kids to private or home schools. But even without the pandemic, the West Bend School Board has known that the district’s enrollment was in for a decade-long decline in enrollment.


What has the West Bend School Board done to prepare for the decline in enrollment? Have they lowered expenses in line with lower enrollment? Not at all. Did they scale back staffing? No. Staffing is down about 4% since 2017 despite enrollment being down 26% over the same period. The school board has also voted to give the entire bloated staff substantial pay increases.


Have they closed any school buildings that are well below capacity? No. The district has the same number of schools as they have for years. Have they closed the district office and moved into one of the schools to save money? Nope. Have they outsourced non-educational functions to save cost? No. The school board has just kept spending because nobody is standing up and telling them to do anything different.


In fact, the electors rewarded the school board members’ spendthrift ways by doubling their pay. A large contingent of district employees and other local liberals showed up in force at the annual meeting to ensure that the tax increase would pass and to double the pay of the school board members. The school board did not propose a pay increase for themselves, but the electors in the room made sure that they got some more tax money in their pockets too.


People get the government they deserve. Unless the citizens of the district show up at the annual meeting, at school board meetings, and, most importantly, at their polling sites to elect actual conservatives to the board, this will continue to happen every year. There are no surprises here. These are the consequences of lethargy, bad candidates, and stupid decisions by the district’s citizens.

Another year. Another tax increase.

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Here’s a taste:

The 7.25% tax increase this year is on top of the 6.21% tax increase last year and the 7.15% tax increase the year before. Thanks to the power of compounding, that is a 22% tax increase in just three years.


They have to increase taxes to support the increase in spending. This year’s budget increases overall spending by 7.12%. The district will break the $100 million budget threshold with a whopping $103.4 million. The West Bend School Board is continuing to increase spending despite the fact that enrollment in the district is collapsing.


According to enrollment figures provided by the school district, there are 5,824 full time equivalent (FTE) students in the district this year. That is a decline of 560 students, or 8.8% in just three years and over a thousand in five years. In the same three years where the West Bend School Board increased taxes 22% (assuming they pass this year’s proposed tax increase), student enrollment has declined by 8.8%.




Have they lowered expenses in line with lower enrollment? Not at all. Did they scale back staffing? No. Staffing is down about 4% since 2017 despite enrollment being down 26% over the same period. The school board has also voted to give the entire bloated staff substantial pay increases.


Have they closed any school buildings that are well below capacity? No. The district has the same number of schools as they have for years. Have they closed the district office and moved into one of the schools to save money? Nope. Have they outsourced non-educational functions to save cost? No. The school board has just kept spending because nobody is standing up and telling them to do anything different.

West Bend School District Keeps Raising Taxes and Spending with Declining Enrollment

This letter to the editor by Carol Heger takes us back a bit to illustrate the yawning gap between the rhetoric of the current board members and their actions. The spending doesn’t have anything to do with education. It has to do with supporting a political constituency with your money.

On Monday night, Sept. 27th, the West Bend School District (WBSD) held its annual meeting. Once again, the so-called, self-identified “conservative” school board members are proposing to raise the tax levy. This will be the third year in a row, if this resolution is approved, that the school board has increased the tax levy. In the 2019-20 school year, it was raised 7.15%, in 2020-21 it was raised 6.21%, and now the board is proposing a 7.25% increase.


In addition, the annual meeting revealed that the district’s gross total expenditures proposed for the 2021-22 school year are to increase 7.12% from $98,504,627 to $103,376,400.  This increase in spending is happening when enrollment has declined about 200 students from 6,034 last year to an estimated 5,824 this school year.  (In the last 10 years, the district has lost about 1,000 students.)  This increase in spending and the property tax increase are happening when the schools all over Wisconsin are flush with federal stimulus funding.

Read the whole thing.

West Bend School District Lifts Mask Mandate


WEST BEND — Beginning today, face coverings will be made optional, but highly recommended, for all West Bend School District staff members and students.

Now let’s hope that there isn’t any bullying against people for whatever choice they make about wearing a mask.

West Bend School District Advances Activist Environmentalism in Curriculum

I have been receiving a National Geographic every month for my entire life. It is a wonderful publication with magnificent pictures and some very educational content. They have also been hard core wacky environmentalists for more than a decade. I can tell you exactly what is in this curriculum and it is far from a balanced presentation of facts.

February 22, 2021 – West Bend, WI – Proposed curriculum for 6th graders in the West Bend School District will be available for review this week, starting February 22 – February 26.

The proposed curriculum is published by National Geographic. There are 12 books in the series including, (listed in alphabetical order):


“Climate Change”; “Energy Resources”; “Food Supply”; “Globalism”; “Habitat Preservation”; “Health”; “Human Rights”; “Migration”; “Pollution”; “Population Growth”; “Standard of Living”; and “Water Resources.”

Click HERE to review what is presented in a brief format on the social studies segment from National Geographic.

West Bend School District Sees Dramatic Decline in Enrollment


On Friday, the district also had released its third Friday count to determine the full time equivalent of district membership.

WBSD serves more than 5,900 students. There are 312 students in early learning, 1,760 students in 5K through fourth grade, 835 students in fifth and sixth grade, 899 students in seventh and eighth grade and more than 2,000 high school students.

The district’s 2019 3rd Friday count was 6,388.91 FTE. If it’s 5,900 now (that appears to be a rounded number), then that’s a decline of almost 500 kids, or 7.6%, in a single year.

This is sharply down from the enrollment projections that the district released in November of 2019. In those projections, it forecasted an enrollment of 5,727 students (not including 4K). The actual looks to be about 5,494.

The enrollment  confirms what we have known for some time. The West Bend School District is in for a long term enrollment decline before it levels off. This is being driven by demographic trends and the proximity of several outstanding private/parochial schools in the area. COVID19 may have played a part this year, but given the district’s hybrid approach, I don’t think it has as much of an impact enrollment as in some other districts.

West Bend School District Responds to Trump Mask Allegation

From the Washington County Insider.

There was recently a post on social media about face masks that claimed middle school students in the West Bend School District were being asked to remove some political masks and not others.

Superintendent Jen Wimmer was asked about the allegations regarding the masks and responded.

“We have been made aware of a person posting information on a local Facebook group page that alleges a staff member at Badger Middle School told a student to remove a face mask because it featured a political candidate. The Badger administrative team, supported by our Director of Human Resources, is conducting a thorough investigation.

As that investigation takes place, families and the community can be assured that the West Bend School District believes students have the right to exercise non offensive and non disruptive free speech. Supporting a political candidate or advocating for a group (i.e. BLM, Blue Lives, flag, military, etc. as Ms. Kellom notes) is allowed in our schools. There is no policy or practice that would discourage this (unless as part of that message it included offensive language or imagery).”

West Bend School District Releases Flexible Opening Plan


WEST BEND — The West Bend School District Board of Education shared their plan for the 2020-21 school year with district families and community members on Monday.


The plan details three educational options for students: fulltime in-person learning, full-time virtual learning through the West Bend Virtual Academy and a hybrid education model combining both in-person and virtual learning.


Of the survey participants who responded to the question, 3,125 families (69 percent) preferred in-person instruction, 482 families (11 percent) preferred enrolling in WBVA and 850 families (19 percent) preferred the hybrid model.

88% was some form of in-person instruction with 69% wanting normal education – with mitigation, of course.

West Bend School District’s New Superintendent

On Wednesday, the Common Sense Citizens of Washington County hosted West Bend Superintendent Jennifer Wimmer. She spent almost two hours answering questions about everything from the district’s potential opening plan to social justice to curriculum to facilities to budget. She was impressive in how she handled some really tough questions. From my notes:

  • The district is doing a survey about what people want for reopening. Since Kewaskum and Slinger have already done a survey, they don’t expect the results to be that different.
  • The intent and hope is to open for full-time, in-person, instruction, but do a lot to mitigate disease spread and provide alternative options for people who are uncomfortable with in-person instruction. Interestingly, they are also talking to a district in Australia, that has been open for months, to see how they are doing it.
  • When asked about the budget, she was pretty adamant that they had to work within the budget they had. She expressed some reluctance to ask the public for more money in he current economic climate. She also said that they are forecasting declining revenues for years to come and they would just have to work with it.
  • She was asked about closing an elementary school and she thought that it would be necessary. She also mentioned moving the district offices into a school somewhere.
  • Back to an opening plan, she was asked about whether teachers were afraid to go back to work and if that would prevent opening. She said, “fear is not a valid reason to not come to work.” Yes.
  • She was also asked about her thoughts about Act 10. She is working on her doctorate and her area of study is superintending post Act 10.

Overall, I was favorably impressed. The West Bend School District may be on the upswing.




West Bend Teacher Tries Distance Leftist Indoctrination

Wow. This is apparently what this teacher feels is appropriate. Imagine what it’s like in the classroom.

A teacher in the West Bend School District (WBSD) sent out the following email today, Wednesday, July 8, in her regular “Summer Check In” communication email with WBSD parents. Take a moment to click the links to the “free resource” being offered in the email below. Here are a few sample statements from the video:

“That’s what our emotions are…they’re the voice of our inner child that has been sitting there and asking for attention.”

“When we take the time to align our mind with our physical body we actually bring ourselves into presence.”

“Mindfulness is being in the present moment… bringing your awareness into the present moment with no judgement, with acceptance and with a willingness to be with what is.”

“There’s a lot of racial injustice going on right now and…it’s something where sometimes our own biases can be passed on to our children, and we definitely want to raise this next generation to be all inclusive, and all accepting, as best we possibly can.”

“This is 400 years of work built up in the black community, this is the work that’s built up in us watching this.” “Have I ever felt racist in any way? Have I ever thought things like “Oh, I don’t want to go near that person or have I seen a black person passing by and have I moved away…”

” We can apologize, we can be vulnerable…”

New West Bend School District Superintendent Comments on Referendum, Reopening, Etc.

West Bend’s new school Superintendent is taking the helm. She has an interview in the Washington Daily News this morning and some really positive comments. Like this:

“We understand every family’s situation is unique and different, which may create risks, so now we’re planning for reopening for full face-to-face but having a full virtual option for families who would want that, and we’re examining what hybrid services would look like,” Wimmer said.

As I said in my column, this is the approach I fully support. And this:

As part of her transition working with Kirkegaard, Wimmer has considered the facilities challenges at length. She said she’s seen every inch of the facilities and knows the work that lies ahead.

“We have infrastructure needs and I do not see immediate relief in a referendum because we need to understand what the economy looks like and what our needs are,” she said. “They didn’t go away, but given everything else going on, it’s not the right time either.”


The new Super is off to a good start.

West Bend School District Responds to Demands

This is what your tax dollars are being spent on when they cry “poor.” They are working hard to build more self-righteous, ignorant, social justice warriors like the ones making demands.

Laura Jackson, WBSD assistant superintendent of teaching and learning, confirmed that members of the executive leadership team have received a copy of these demands.

“There have been a number of activities taking place in the West Bend School District in the past year and more are scheduled or planned for the rest of 2020, and in 2021 and 2022, to inform and train staff on issues of racial injustice and social justice,” she said.

The district highlighted several activities from recent years to address racial injustice: In 2019 and 2020, the district had small groups of staff work together to examine equity and how it is achieved; staff members participated in Intercultural Development Inventory in 2019 with more inventories scheduled for 2020; WBSD literary specialists and instructional coaches attended training with a nationally-known educator on creating more equitable school spaces last year; instructional coaches also participated in training,

provided through the Department of Public Instruction, which focused on educational equity in mathematics and literacy; in August, the entire WBSD leadership team is scheduled to begin training on developing a greater understanding of racial issues.

More than 100 staff members will attend several days of training; WBSD has developed an internal list of more than 40 resources for staff to read and view. DPI also released a detailed list of resources available to staff; during regular review cycles, the district may address these topics; WBSD is a member of the Closing the Achievement Gap (CAGC) of South Eastern Wisconsin, which includes 36 school districts. One of its goals is to hire more minority teachers and administrators; and there are multicultural clubs in three schools. WBSD said they support any additional clubs being formed and assist in the process.

“As our students and staff return to our schools in September, we recognize that as a school district, we must intentionally prepare to support their social and emotional needs around the continued pandemic and the events around racial injustice,” said Jackson. “We are ready to work with staff on identifying and supporting social and emotional needs, and to also support students as they process events that are dominating the news this summer.”

Woke West Bend Graduates Push for Social Justice Agenda in District

This is apparently the educational outcome of the West Bend School District.

1. Make a statement regarding WBSD’s stance on current events regarding police brutality, systemic racism, and social justice.

2. Enhance and increase funding for counseling, youth programming, rehabilitative programs to replace outdated disciplinary action. Counselors or workers in these positions need to be required to complete anti-racism training.

3. Remove police liaisons from schools.

4. Establish new department or committee within Pupil Services devoted to Diversity, Inclusion, and Equitable Education.

5. Require anti-racism training and professional development for faculty: administrators, educators, aides, etc.
a. This should come from professional educators of color, with emphasis on Black educators.

6. Have a DAI representative at School Board Meetings as an accountability measure and to ensure decisions made are genuinely for the benefit and working towards “Excellence for All.”

7. Restructure social studies curriculums and mandate lessons on privilege, oppression, and systemic racism. Decolonize education by establishing ethnic studies requirements and incorporating Black
History into curriculums.

8. Establish a committee and funding for hiring and retaining Black educators.
a. Black counselors are also necessary in schools.

9. Inviting external Black educators to advise WBSD faculty in a professional development or mandatory training capacity.

10. Set community guidelines on what qualifies as hate speech and educate students on why it is considered hate speech.

West Bend School District Slams Through New Superintendent

They announced finalists on Tuesday and the selection was made on Thursday. So much for public input, getting to know the community, listening sessions, or any of the other things that usually happen. It looks like the disregard for the public isn’t just coming from Madison.

WEST BEND — The West Bend Joint School District #1 School Board has announced that a contract for superintendent of the district has been offered to Jennifer Wimmer.

According to a press release from the district, the board chose Wimmer due to her broad and established instructional leadership experience, in-depth expertise in instructional strategies, strength in collaboration and focus on increasing student learning. Once a contract has been approved, her start date will be July 1.


Wimmer has been the superintendent of the Maple Dale-Indian Hill School District in Fox Point for six years. She has also worked in the School District of Waukesha in various roles including assistant superintendent of student services, director of instruction, and executive director of elementary education. She has also been an elem entary school principal and a middle school associate principal. She began her career as a special education teacher. Wimmer earned a bachelor’s degree in special education from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She earned a master’s degree in educational leadership and a superintendent licensure from Cardinal Stritch University and will receive her doctorate in educational leadership from Cardinal Stritch University this year.

Never heard of the Maple Dale-Indian Hill School District before? That’s because it’s a tiny K-8 district with two buildings and about 400 total students. It’s about 6% the size of the West Bend School District.

Other than that, we don’t know much about Wimmer. We don’t have any impression of her personality, goals, communication skills, priorities, financial acumen, or anything else. The public has not been given any information other than a skeletal resume and a press release. She has been given no opportunity to connect with the community or vice versa. I hope she’s successful, but she is entering the district being set up to fail.

One thing we do know is that the Wimmer shepherded the passage of an operational and capital referendum in her district last year. She’s not sticking around to deal with the community when they get their tax increases this year. But perhaps the board liked the fact that she was able to convince the taxpayers to raise their own taxes.

West Bend School Board Selects Superintendent Finalists


Dominick Madison — Madison is currently the superintendent of Brillion Public Schools in Brillion, Wis. where he has served for 15 years.


Jennifer Wimmer – Wimmer has been the superintendent of the Maple Dale-Indian Hill School District in Fox Point for six years.

The West Bend School District has about 6,500 students trending down to 5,000 in a few years. Brillion has a school district of about 880 kids – less than the size of one of West Bend’s High Schools. Maple Dale-Indian Hill is a district without 420 kids – roughly the size of a single elementary school in West Bend.

It appears that the West Bend is no longer to attract super supers. This is a pretty mediocre candidate list for what has become a pretty mediocre school district. Leadership matters. Let’s hope I’m wrong and one of these folks is an unfinished diamond.

West Bend School Board Member Misrepresents Task Force Findings

In a letter to the editor today in the Washington County Daily News, West Bend School Board Member Paul Fischer said a couple of things that need some discussion. First, he said this:

Regarding our ongoing facilities discussions, various letters to the editor claim the School Board has turned a deaf ear toward the private task force’s recommendations. This statement couldn’t be further from the truth. The School Board agrees with many of their observations and continues to evaluate their suggestions.

Some of you might remember that I was a member of the Private Task Force that spent months evaluating the district’s elementary and high school facilities. I can’t get into the minds of the board members. What I can tell you is that they seemed receptive when we presented the findings to them at a board meeting. I presented the findings for a few groups after we presented to the board and several board members attended those presentations of their own accord. The Task Force offered to come back in committee format to do deeper dives on specific findings and provide all of the backend discovery and data. To my knowledge, the board has not taken up any task force members on that offer. So while the board members may be considering the Task Force’s findings in their deliberations, they have not dug any deeper into the details of those findings. Perhaps that is why Mr. Fischer made this incorrect statement:

Claims have also been made that the task force recommendations included guidance that our facilities issues can be addressed without raising taxes. To be clear, the report NEVER made that statement.

This is not true. The written task force presentation laid out a financial model for how to accomplish the facilities goals without increasing spending or taxes. Furthermore, it was verbally communicated during the school board presentation. It was also verbally presented several times at other presentations that board members attended. I happen to know that because I was the one presenting. Finally, I actually wrote it in the column I did at the time about the findings. I wrote:

Third, once the district has a valid long-range facilities plan and an adequate funding to execute that plan, the School Board must do the work to execute without increasing spending or raising taxes. The Task Force found that there is sufficient money in the current budget to pay for extensive upgrades to the district’s facilities without increasing spending or raising taxes.

I said virtually the same thing in a second column:

The best part is that by taking advantage of the operational efficiencies of a streamlined district infrastructure and making a few other easily identified operational efficiencies, the task force found that the district could do upgrade at the high school, modernize the entire elementary school footprint, and increase the ongoing maintenance budget to adequate levels without spending or taxing a dollar more than they already are.

As a member of the Task Force who participated in the discovery, discussion, and development of the presentations; and as someone who actually presented the findings multiple times; I can say with absolute certainty that the Task Force did find that the West Bend School District could address its facilities needs without raising taxes or spending. Perhaps Fischer wants to dance around how the written report is phrased, but this finding was presented to the Board and communicated multiple times in multiple formats. Again, perhaps if the School Board had taken up the opportunity to dig deeper into the discovery documentation, this fact would have been more clear. But then again, I thought it was already clear. Clearly it is just something that they don’t want to confront.

The complaints from some in the community that the West Bend School Board ignored the Task Force’s findings are well founded. While the board members might be taking the findings into consideration in their heads, they have given no outward indication that that’s the case.

Corono-Schools: Pandemic Response Varies by School District

It has been an interesting view into the preparedness, priorities, and competencies of various school districts in Wisconsin. Senator Duey Stroebel highlighted some:

As COVID-19 closes schools across Wisconsin, I wanted to highlight school districts in the 20th Senate District that are continuing to educate students using the valuable taxpayer resources that we have entrusted to them.  The 20th Senate District includes most of Ozaukee and Washington Counties as well as portions of Calumet, Fond du Lac, and Sheboygan Counties.

The Hartford J1, Holy Hill Area, Northern Ozaukee, Port Washington-Saukville, Plymouth, Random Lake, and Slinger School Districts have already started a virtual learning program for their students in reaction to the current environment.

I applaud their preparation to ensure our students have the resources they need to succeed.  I look forward to other districts joining their ranks to minimize the interruption to our children’s education.

I give a lot of credit, and cut a lot of slack, to school districts for how they are responding. There are a lot of hurdles. For example:

  • Districts can’t assume that all kids have access to a computer and decent internet access.
  • Delivering education via distance learning is vastly different than in person. The curriculum and planning were mostly built for in-person delivery and it is a monumental task to restructure them for distance learning. A few schools are doing this well. Some are just trying to do it the same way, which won’t be effective. Some are not doing anything at all.
  • For the lower grades, distance learning gets much more difficult. It relies heavily on individual support and instruction, which falls on parents – parents who have jobs.
  • If you don’t already have a technology infrastructure that is built for distance learning, you can’t build one overnight. This is easier than it once was with the availability of auto-scaling and elastic load balancing cloud platforms, but it still isn’t immediate.

There are a lot of hurdles. Some districts are jumping over them better than others.

Since they are my local school district, I have been following the West Bend School District and I have been… disappointed. Again, I cut them a lot of slack, but if we are to measure them against neighboring districts, they are coming up short. You will notice that they are noticeably absent from Stroebel’s press release.

While other districts are already up and running online, the West Bend School District is targeting sometime in the middle of next week to start – and it looks like that will involve mostly emailing worksheets:

We now anticipate distance learning beginning mid-next-week. Continue to check your email daily for updates on which day next week this programming will begin.

1. Our district provides a Chromebook to all students in grade 5-9 for use during the school year. Additionally, students in grades 10-12 have always had access to a Chromebook if they needed one. While our elementary age students have numerous electronic devices at their disposal in class, our practice has not been to send those devices home with students. We are currently evaluating the resources and feasibility of handing out devices to elementary students.

2. The distance learning for all grade levels will be provided electronically via email. If a printed copy of the materials are needed, please contact your building principal.

a. Students in grades K-4 will need to print out learning activities. Teachers will be able to support students remotely during this time.

Meanwhile, schools like Kettle Moraine Lutheran High School is already doing full distance learning with a full class schedule via Zoom. That’s probably the best I’ve seen. Slinger and Hartford are already doing distance learning, but it looks like they have not really shifted to a true distance learning methodology.

What the West Bend School Board is making sure is taken care of is paying staff. I expect that this is of particular importance with three board members up for reelection in a few weeks.

WEST BEND — With one board member quarantined after travel, the West Bend School District Board of Education met to discuss how teachers and other staff will be paid during the school closure, all while staying six feet apart from one another.

Board members met on Wednesday, March 18, to discuss employee compensation while schools are closed. They unanimously voted to pay employees their normal salary up to spring break on Monday, April 6.

If the school closure due to COVID-19 is to be extended, the board would reconvene and take

further action if the closure extends after Monday, April 13.

“We have had several employees wanting to know or are very concerned about whether they’re going to be paid during this shutdown or not,” said Superintendent Don Kirkegaard.


“Nobody spends money just to spend money. In this case, we’re spending money to take care of the people who dedicated in many times 10, 15, 20, 30 years of their life to us and we want to treat them the way we’d want to be treated as well,” said Kirkegaard.

Frankly, I’m a little torn on this. We want to ensure that the district is able to retain critical employees after this is over and that we are caring for our community. At the same time, taxpayers are also suffering and it is not unreasonable to expect our public employees to share the pain too. If they aren’t working, we shouldn’t be paying them. And we shouldn’t just make up work for them to have an excuse to pay them. I don’t see any reason to pay coaches, custodial, administrators, and good chunk of the classroom teachers and aides if they aren’t working full time. Yeah, it sucks, but it also sucks for the retail, restaurant, and other workers in town who are idle right now and have to pay that tax bill.

With the way budgeting works, the school district already has the money from the annual property tax, so there wouldn’t be an immediate tax savings. But they could save or reallocate the savings to reduce taxes in the next budget when the taxpayers will still be reeling from the economic impact of this. Or they could reallocate the money to purchase the technology and training needed to do distance learning correctly. It appears that the priority of the West Bend School Board, however, is to keep the district staff whole irrespective of what’s happening to the taxpayers.

We will have to watch the long term effects of this transition. Will distance learning stick for schools? It’s not right for everything, but if 20% of a district moves to distance learning, then we can redirect much of the spending on facilities to classroom instruction. And what does this do for appropriate teacher/student ratios? If kids are learning from home, will the taxpayers still need to provide free meals to them? If so, then can we admit that that is just normal welfare and not use our government school system as an alternate welfare delivery agency?

When all of this is over, we will all have to evaluate how our government institutions responded and render judgment. Some will deserve praise. Some will need a wholesale reform.



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