"High Achievement always takes place in the framework of high expectation." - Charles Kettering

Friday, April 20, 2012

Evansville School Board Committees of the Whole to Meet April 23 at 6:30 PM

Click on the link below to view the agenda for Monday's Committee meetings of the whole. In addition to the annual re-org. meeting, the board will approve a few more staff changes (retirements, voluntary reduction in contract, resignations and child-rearing leave). They will discuss policies and the May meeting schedule, changed to May 7 and 14 because the 28 is a holiday and changed again because May 7 conflicts with somebody's schedule.

I hope Kathi Swanson continues as President. The board has  been very productive under her leadership  during a really difficult economic time. Imagine if she could steer the helm during better years. Tina would be a good fit as treasurer but otherwise, I see the board leadership as well suited as is.



Saturday, April 14, 2012

Open Letter to Superintendent Schulte in Janesville

After I read the April 13 edition of the Janesville Gazette (I have to read the competition), I was greatly disturbed to see that the board directed the district to actively advertise open enrollment to their district in an attempt to poach area students and increase revenue. My relatives in Michigan are a year ahead of us in the negative economy and a governor that has declared war on teachers. They tried that tactic last year and have decided it's pretty uncivilized and didn't really solve the problem at all. Here's a copy of the letter I sent Ms. Schulte:

Dear Ms. Schulte:
I have provided a link at the end of this note to show you the end result of the plan for the Janesville School District to actively seek open enrollment students from neighboring districts. I don’t know how familiar you are with the economic plight in Michigan and the resultant war on public schools that has ensued. I am a free-lance journalist for the Evansville Review covering the school beat and a former school board clerk. I am very familiar with school finance. Several of my relatives are teachers in Michigan and they have had a much tougher time of it under their governor than we’ve had here in Wisconsin. Their battle is ahead of ours because there was no lag time between the governor’s pledge to wage his war and his implementation of the war. Last year my home county of Lenawee responded to the cut in state aid by a full-out ad campaign to poach neighboring students, just like your district is planning to do. Every dollar you spend in advertising is one your board swipes from a student in need of education. I simply ask that you provide this link to your board members to give them a crystal ball view of things to come if they go down this path.
Our former Board President Michael Pierick likened the idea of increased incoming open enrollment students to the factory where it costs a dollar to make a widget but sells it for only fifty cents. The product is selling like hotcakes but they can’t figure out why they keep losing money. The latest data provided in your website indicates that your cost of educating each student is $10,639. Your state aid is only $6,971 for the same year. If the state transfers to you $6,971 for every incoming student but it costs you $10,639 to educate said student, you’re losing $3,668 on every OEI student “transaction.” This problem is compounded if the student seeking open enrollment to Janesville has special needs, where the true cost of educating can be much higher than average and not fully covered by High Cost Aid transfers, which cost a great deal of administrative costs to recover from the district of origin. Open enrollment does provide an outlet for students whose needs aren’t being adequately met in their home district. It is not a revenue enhancer any more than 4K is. Once your initial bump to the budget has passed, you will find yourself in the same bleak situation as before. Rate of decline will continue at the same pace as before without actually solving the problem. 
I hope this helps in some way to navigate these difficult financial times all districts are facing. Robbing your neighbor for a temporary uptick in revenue is no solution at all.
Melissa Hammann

Monday, April 9, 2012

School Board Agenda and Packet for tonight's meeting is very full

NOTE: The meeting will begin with an executive session to finalize lay-off decisions. The public meeting is estimated to begin at 7:30 PM.

Click on the link below to view the ECSD Board Packet for tonight. The agenda is really full of important topics. They will approve lay-offs, discuss WKCE results, discuss the district office reorg, discuss the budget modifications from the health insurance plan design changes, discuss staffing recommendations from Mrs. Ashby, and much much more. Join us at 7:30 if you're interested in any of these topics.


Sunday, April 8, 2012

Attention Janesville Gazette: Read Why Public School Administrators Are Hard to Attract to Wisconsin

Oh, and Happy Easter too, everyone. Or whatever you're celebrating today. It's a gorgeous day, so celebrate Spring at the very least. Non-Christians can appreciate the story of self-sacrifice for the good of the whole and renewal embodied in the story of the Resurrection.

Today's issue of the Wisconsin State Journal reviews the challenges Madison Public School District will have attracting a new district administrator. One of the issues they highlighted was the lack of a law protecting applicant confidentiality throughout the process, like they have in Illinois and Maine. The Journal noted, "Wisconsin open records law allows the public to access the names of any candidates forwarded by a recruitment firm to a school board for consideration."  Please notice the use of the word ALLOWS. It doesn't state that said search firms MUST RELEASE THESE NAMES AS IT IS A MATTER OF NATIONAL SECURITY AND INQUIRING MINDS MUST KNOW. The subtitle on page ten is "For applicants, 'confidentiality is huge.' " Listen up, Janesville Gazette!

The Evansville School District recently experienced this in its full glory. It was NOT the general public that was interested in forcing the search firm and the district to prematurely announce the applicants for the job. It was a specific single-minded reporter determined to satisfy the prurient interests of just a few readers as to the laundry list of applicants for the job. No consideration was afforded for the five not chosen and their public embarrassment or their job security in a sketchy economy.

The fault for this breach of etiquette does not lie with the open records law which, when used as intended, is a force for balance in our society. The fault lies with unscrupulous newspapers searching for every way to increase circulation regardless of how many bodies they leave in their wake. These self-same rags reduce every election to a round-house, a mud-slinging spectacle that showcases only the worse of human nature. None of the beauty and intrinsic goodness in the human condition that produced our beloved democracy is evident because these foul wastes of trees mistake whisper and innuendo for news. This goes double for MSNBC (except Rachel Maddow) and FOX News (and occasional Bill O'Reilly fun). Except they're foul wastes of broadcasting signals.

My rant is done. Please return to your regularly scheduled Easter.


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

National Talking Heads Reading WAY Too Much Into Democrats Voting for Santorum

Was anybody else amused by the national talking heads on CNN discussing the "strange" results in Wisconsin exit polls where democrats were voting for Santorum? I was a little jealous because nobody ever gave me an exit poll. Anyway, the theories abounded, but the funniest one was that these were "Reagan democrats." Oh for pity sakes, you people are clueless. This is the state where Republicans force primary elections by running fake democrats, as if nobody is clued in on this strategy. HAH! So, it's not much of a stretch to think democrats would vote for a republican, in an open primary in which you don't have to declare your party and may vote for whomever you want and there is no opponent to your guy.  It's even less of a stretch to think those self-same democrats would vote for the candidate they think their preferred democrat could more easily beat in November. DUH! Reagan democrats indeed. Have you not been following the politics in this state recently? Nobody is reaching across any aisle in Wisconsin these days and my call on this "strange democratic phenomenon" is mischief making in full swing. I voted for Ron Paul. I know, a throw away vote, but I loathe him least of the four actually left in the race.

I would like to congratulate Sharon Skinner and Tina Rossmiller on retaining their seats on Evansville School Board. The results in the paper were a bit higher than those on TV when I posted last night, but Sharon maintained her lead over Marshall. The official canvassing will take place April 10 in order to allow time for absentee ballots to make their way to the various clerks.

Sharon and Tina have worked tirelessly, especially this year, and they deserve the nod.

They were on the board when it built the fund 10 balance to the point where it could be used to close the budget gap this year.

They were on the board that completed strategic planning with citizen input this year so the board has a road map for success when making excruciating decisions.

They were on the board this January when it successfully renegotiated a teacher contract that was not in the districts best interest due to hasty behavior by the district administration last March that lacked foresight.

They spent a lot of extra time and effort in the process to hire the new district administrator, Mr. Jerry Roth.

Some of Reese's supporters outright lied about Sharon Skinner missing a lot of meetings this year. Even with this ridiculous schedule, in which the board often met 2-3 times a week, Sharon only missed one meeting since last July. Her track record has been impeccable for a few years now.  Her health is nobody's business if it doesn't affect her board performance. It isn't evident in her attendance record for the last two years, which is the only bar by which she should be measured. I credit the smear campaign he allowed to happen on his FB page for the narrow margin by which he has lost. It was shameful.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Channel 3000 Declares Rossmiller and Skinner Winners

The Channel 3000 scroll across the bottom of my TV has declared the Evansville School Board voting results to be 813 Rossmiller, 754 Skinner and 699 Reese. It was a close race, which surprises me on two levels. The incumbents have done a great job and the random placement on the ballot (drawn out of a hat) favored Sharon and Tina with top billing. I say this "favors" them for folks who are uninformed often just select the top two.

This suggests a few scenarios. Assuming everyone who voted did in fact vote for two candidates (sometimes they don't), we can assume two thirds of the 2266 votes was the number of school board voters at about 1511. They are not all from Evansville because the district is comprised of voters from several outlying areas. 

Either voters really are uninformed about the school district and how dang hard their representatives have worked to keep this district afloat or they have bought into the smear campaign Marshall and his minions have waged against the incumbents. Witness the horrid lies posted on the GazettExtra website until a stand-up citizen demanded that they remove them from the post. And people have the temerity to call the Review a rag!

 I hope the election results tonight stand and there aren't any surprises tomorrow! (Preliminary) Congratulations Tina and Sharon!


Oh, and if I'm being too subtle, please vote today. No complaints allowed if you don't exercise your right to vote!