Sunday, May 24, 2015

9 1/2 Hours - When They Get Behind Closed Doors

9 1/2 Hours: The true story behind the Superintendent hire

It begins on March 24th.    This is immediately following current Columbus Superintendent Bryan Davis' candidate forum.  Internal candidate Erik Olson's forum was held the previous evening.

Two and one-half hours of discussion ensued, followed by a very specific motion by Steve Schoeder/John Whalen:  extend offers (note the plural)  to: 
--- Bryan Davis the Superintendent position and 
--- Erik Olson a Deputy Superintendent position (for strategic planning and organizational alignment) and 
to direct President Tom Weber to discuss with the candidates.

The vote was unanimous.

Then two weeks passed with no notification.  Of course, in there was spring break for Sun Prairie, as well as the Spring Elections when 3 shool board seats were up with 4 candidates including one incumbent.

On April 7th, the board met again for 2 hours and 22 minutes.  
Two critical motions were made:
The first was to offer the superintendent position to Bryan Davis.  That motion failed having only support from John Whalen.
The second motion was to offer the superintendent position to Erik Olson.   
That motion passed 6-1, with John Whalen in opposition (God love John Whalen for his fierce loyalty to the Culver regime!  It's cute; really it is).

The question is...what happened between the decision to make a tandem offer (David/ Superintendent, Olson/Deputy Superintendent and this decision?  And what about Bryan Davis declaring for all the many (???) STAR readers that no offer was ever made to him. If one digs a little, one will learn that in the world of Public Instruction, what the rest of us would call "negotiations towards making a formal contract offer" is viewed a "an offer".

We have no need to trash Dr. Davis' reputation or bona fides, but clearly the room turned dramatically against him (except for Johnny Whalen!).  Did he demand an outrageous salary?  Or were other demands simply not to the board's liking?  Or did something else come out during the background check (which--newsflash-- is a prerequisite before a contract is offered)? Perhaps we never need to know, but the vote on April 7 made it clear that Davis was no longer a viable option.

April offer is rejected.
We now now that on April 15th an offer was extended to internal candidate, who subsequently declined for personal reasons.  We don't blame him.  The behavior of district "professionals" in this who process would turn most away. If it were up to us, the district office would be raining pink slips in the not too distant future.
Two weeks later....the drama further unfolds
We now have a new school board...3 new members in fact.  At the school board meeting on Monday May 27, more district staff come out to speak the praises of Bryan Davis and for the board to hire him.  There are rumors (which, if true, can be confirmed via Open Records) that Dr. Davis was heavily lobbying for himself with key district staffers (more on that to come!).  Several community leaders also spoke, including Jerry Ruffin, whose wife Marilyn is a newly elected board member.

The April 27 closed session brought two more very key motions during a 95 minute session.
The critical motion, passing unanimously, was--interestingly enough-- what is termed a "motion n the negative.  Normally motions are made in the positive...i.e., worded in favor of something.  This motion made it clear for those that hadn't figured it out yet, that the board would NOT consider any of the candidates from the failed search.  Instead, they would go in a different direction.

The second motion direct board president Weber to bring in Dr. Bradford Saron in for an interview.  So clearly, that name materialized on the board's rada, and in a relatively short meeting, they abandoned all candidates from the initial search and went after Dr. Saron.

April 28th...success!
Just a hair over 3 hours spent interviewing Dr. Saron, the board unanimously directed president Weber to negotiate a contract with Dr Saron.

So there you have it, peeps.  These are the facts.   There was no formal contract ever offered to Dr. Bryan Davis.  In fact, the board was clearly opposed to offering one to him.  So disinclined were they that they actually made a motion in the negative to make crystal clear that the search had ended and none of the 18 applicants would be considered any further. 

We wish Dr. Davis luck in his quest to be somewhere other than Columbus.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Superintendent Saga: Whiners' ignorance makes them comfortably dumb

Boo frickin hoo!
The school board...your ELECTED leaders did what you elected them to do: they chose a superintendent.

You didn't like who they picked?
You didn't like how they did it?

Option 3: Review and Reconsider from the Previous Candidate Pool
The Board considered our options and ultimately voted unanimously not to reconsider candidates from the initial pool. Please understand, because this is a hiring process and confidentiality rules apply, we cannot necessarily share details of the conversations that took place.  However, all of the Board members agreed that this was not a viable option.
Now why would the board vote UNANIMOUSLY not to consider Dr. Davis?
He came off so well during the public forum.  Except that to some there was an uneasy feeling that one definitely should not assess this book by its cover.

It would seem that the board had some pretty compelling information that you, the whining minority did not have.  Information that indicated that Dr. Davis was definitely not what Sun Prairie is looking for.
NEWSFLASH!  You're not supposed to have closed door session information!  Hence the term "closed door".  

Now, some of you seem to believe that you are privy to conversations that went on in that room.  There's this thing called "context" though.  Maybe someone is talking outside of class. But...if you just take a single piece of information it can suggest a whole lot more than when viewed with the surrounding information.  That's called the Fox New game plan, and we're really surprised that the Sparclers adopted that as their plan.

The rumor is that Dr, Davis was offered a contract contingent upon him retaining Erik Olson.  And that the vote was unanimous.  Not sure how it works in SPARCle-Land, but in our world, a "contract" means a firm offer with a salary, and clear contract terms signed by at least the board president.   And if he were offered a contract, don't you think he'd be here?

Unless you are one of the 7 board members or Dr. Davis, YOU DO NOT KNOW THE FULL STORY.
Perhaps the rumored "vote" was simply to open up discussions with Dr. Davis.  Certainly, if his salary demands were $500K per year, the decision would be a no-brainer...right?
Claims that Board President Tom Weber is lying to the public just sound so uninformed and juvenile.  Time to call the frickin' WHHAAAAAmbulance.

We suspect the unanimous vote was designed to see whether even the framework of  contract could be agreed upon.  Maybe the board learned that Dr. Davis wanted to work only Monday Wednesdays and Friday with no evenings or weekends.
Again...we don't know...and neither do you.  So be like Elsa and Let it Go.

The Chippewa Falls School District has an enrollment of over 5100.  That's about 3.5 times the size of Columbus, much more in line with Sun Prairie.  If one takes the time to read his curriculum vitae, Dr. Saron also seems to mesh very well with the structure, framework, and vision that the school board has worked so hard to build over the last few years (yet another thing---AHEM!--- that Culver should have done without cattle prodding).

Wouldn't you WANT the board to hire a superintendent that fits the vision, mission, and structure that we've built?

In the end, the list of candidates was whittled to 2.  The school board voted UNANIMOUSLY to extend an offer to Erik Olson.  For whatever reasons--it's NOYFB--he opted to decline the offer.  You do not HAVE to go to your number two.  It's like Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf.  Don't you think San Diego would love to forget they ever took Leaf?  There's Peyton Manning or nobody else on that list.  Manning declined.  Give kudos to the school board who listened to you very carefully.  You wanted a quality superintendent to be hired quickly and you did not want an interim" superintendent.

They did just about getting past yourselves and give them a round of applause.

So...enough of this crap.  It is done.  We hired a damn fine superintendent.

Readers Write: THIS is Lack of Accountability 101

Sometimes we can just leave it in the hands of our readers who know way more than we do...
This is precisely why Tim Culver had to go.  In fact, if we had our way, we'd send him packing early.  Good luck Oak Creek-Franklin!

You just can't make this shit up, people, truth IS stranger than fiction.  Enjoy this...we certainly did.

Dear SP-EYE,
Perhaps you noticed the district's $40K renovated varsity soccer field is not looking so good?  

Outside grass included to emphasize the piss poor field quality
Why yes...yes we did notice (after you pointed it out)!

Credible sources close to this issue have revealed that:
  • The lead grounds worker has not turned on the water so that the field can be irrigated.  I'm sure that is a difficult task, you know, opening the valve and all!  Not sure this would really matter because the irrigation heads put more water on the track than the grass...but I'm sure that has been resolved with the installation of the proper heads (sarcasm intended).  BTW has the district installed the irrigation booster pump that they budgeted for a few years back to ensure proper water pressure to irrigate efficiently?  We think NOT!
Q: How many SPASD  groundsworkers does it take to open a single valve?
A:  Apparently more than we have on staff.
  • The PE programs at the high school use that field exclusively over the other outdoor fields in the athletic complex.  And why not, with a newly renovated field why would anyone want to use the lesser quality JV soccer field that has not been renovated (that's another story) or the practice fields behind the varsity soccer field?  They are not as nice and they are another 50 feet farther from the PE door to the school! 
Good lord, you really want to make our kids exercise? [SP-EYE snarkiness intended]
  •  After $20K in drill&fill treatment to the JV baseball field why cant PE classes use that outfield?  After all, former AD Jimmy Mac, in his attempt to get that field renovated, argued that the field was really a PE field and should be renovated so that it could drain better, hence the drill&fill.  On a related matter, if all our fields are PE fields, why isn't Ashley Field used for PE programs at PPA or CHUMS? We wouldn't want to get Coach BK Football mad because someone was using "his" field for something other than the 5 football games he has in the fall now would we?  
Ouch!  Was that a direct blow to the knees of everything that is football in Sun Prairie?  Wasn't us!!!!

  • The track team practices on the field and was doing so even before the athletic fields were "released" for spring sports.
  • Whatever happened to rotating the use of fields?  Why would we want to do that because it would make too much sense.  
  • A recent request to increase Buildings & Grounds staff to better deal with this and many other related issues got absolutely no support from outbound District Administrator Timmy Culver and his management team.  
Caren Diedrich is infamous for declaring, "I don't want to see one damn hole in one damn roof!".   We wonder how she feel about blowing $40K on a field and then outright murdering it?

SP-EYE, it looks like you need to get back to exposing the districts ineptness.  Sadly, we seem to be slipping back into our old ways. 

You've been slippin' into darknessPretty soon you gonna pay---War
This one falls squarely on the shoulders of Doctor Timmy and his travelling management team.  We get it.  Education is a priority.  But at the end of the day, taking care of the buildings and grounds is a priority too.  We're quite certain that Erik Olson and Jeff Butler made things abundantly clear and prepared quality and verifiable documentation.  But yet, their proposal got no love at the budget planning table.  You can only hang Tim Culver for this.  Add it to his Pandora's legacy box.  A 1-to-1 computer plan is an awesome goal/vision, but couldn't we go 1.5 or 1.75-to-1 and be good stewards of taxpayer dollars spent on fields?

There's a committee in place now working on a plan for school space that could involve 1,2, or even 3 new schools and a likely $80-$100 MILLION dollar referendum.  THIS is how we want to show the community we take care of our stuff?

The Reader writes right.
Fix it people!!!!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Desperation Sun Prairie: What Part of 'Failed Search' Don't You Get?

The superintendent/ school district administrator position was offered to one of the finalists, who was not Dr. David from Columbus.
The offer was declined.  And we totally get that.
So why are we hearing MORE rumors (confidence is high; we repeat, confidence is high) that Dr. Davis has been reaching out via e-mail to both school board members, district staff, and even community residents?

Newsflash:  All this is easily discoverable via an open records request.  The difference between rumpr and fact is what you can prove.  We may just do that to offer proof, to show you rumor-mongers what an actual fact looks like.

So, it appears that SOMEONE is at DesperationCon 1.

We have so very many questions about what transpired during lat March/early April...and so should you.

Question #1: if an offer was made to Dr. Davis, as has been rumored, why was he not hired and instead an offer made to "the other guy"?

Question #2: Once the other guy turned it down, why didn't the board go back to Dr. Davis?

Deductive reasoning would tell us that there was something....or some things...that soured the board on the Columbus Superintendent.  

  • Did he demand some unfathomable know like the $175-200K club?
  • Was he requesting "absolute power" like Elliot in E.T. the Extraterrestrial?
  • Or was there some other as yet unrevealed  BSC requirement/condition that piqued the board?
  • Or after not 1, not 2, but at least 3 failed attempts at getting another job, is Columbus eager to help him on his way?  (How happy would your boss be if you were in the public eye applying for many positions?)

Question #3:  Why is this guy peppering the board, district staff, and ostensibly key community members with his resume and continued interest?  Doesn't that sound a bit like, "nobody wants me; think I'll go eat worms?"

Is Dr. Davis doing the Desperation Samba?
Don't know where i'm goin'I don't like where i've beenThere may be no exitBut hell i'm going in
---Jimmy Buffett, "Desperation Samba"
The bottom line here is this thing smells funny and noone should be eating it.  Someone needs to get through to Dr. Davis and respectfully suggest that he be more like Elsa and just "Let it Go".

Saturday, April 18, 2015

SPASD: Of Bullyism, Rumormongering, and Juvenile Threats

The SP-EYE signal was spotted and acknowledged.
We warned you.
SP-EYE went into semi-retirement because things were in good hands.
The district was moving forward after years of being stuck in neutral under the inattentive "command" of SuperNintendo Culver.
And then, after Culver did the TubeSteak Boogie, a process was enacted to replace him.

And now a bunch of rumor-mongering bullies of the adult kind has to go and stomp their feet and whine.

Just our cup o' tea!  W love to deal with backstabbing MFs who respond only to rumors!

Yep...we heard the bitching.  We heard the brazen group that chose to speak at the school board meeting of April 13, 2015.
You know what we heard?  A bunch of passive aggressive bullies.
Employees of the district and those more cowardly ones, that could somehow coerce someone else to speak up, talked about the "internal candidate" finalist for school district administrator position.
Really?...did you people listen to yourselves?
Yours was a brazen act of bullyism that, had it been directed to your children, you would be hellbent for leather.
Were you so clever to plan that if you were vocal enough you might get the "internal candidate" to withdraw from contention?
In any case, somehow (no facts are available people) the process ended in a failed search, So now the NEW school board, with 3 new members will be starting at square one.   July 1 comes fast folks, too fast to complete a new search.  So how is THAT good for "the children"?

Oh, but we could go on for hours; instead lets focus on some of the more interesting ruors that have been propped up to be fact:

RUMOR:  The process was complete before it started.  The board had their person all along.
Really?  You think those people went through the exhausting process they did if that were the case?
You haven't been taking your meds, have you?
Let's remember that the board consists of 7 members.  If there were 4 votes to do such a thing, don't you thing they just would have gone ahead and skipped the search and done that?  Not even a board from, say, 9 years ago would have done that.
So, your theory is they went through all the time, wasted all the search and review committees' time, only to keep pushing their candidate to the top.   Seriously, you should write for Hollywood, that story is better than the plot of most films in the last 6 months.

RUMOR:  The internal candidate is not licensed.
Maybe it's true, maybe it isn't.  But what IS true is that a school board can request an emergency license for someone close to finishing their requirements for up to a year...and it can be extended!
And what do you suppose would have happened over the past school year if Dr. Culver had been hit by a bus?  The "Assistant" superintendent would have stepped in...right?  And that would have been fine.
You may want to check some facts---there's a novel thought!---and see if (A) this is even true, and (B) if it is, is it just a single class that's needed?
We find it very hard to believe that the application would have even been considered if having the necessary licensure was an issue.

Statement:  How can you hire someone that has no superintendent experience?.
Newsflash people, the good Dr. Culver had never been a "superintendent" before we hired him here.
His prior position was ASSISTANT Superintendent/Direct of Instruction.... the position held by Alice Murphy for years, and now by Stephanie Leonard-Witte
 Geee... who was on that school board that hired Dr. Culver???  Shame on them!

How exactly does one get to be a superintendent without ever having been one?  It's a finite pool, people!  If it's never refreshed, then eventually it dries up.  Have none of you hired someone fresh out of school or who has the qualifications but not the absolute experience? Someone that fit like a glove otherwise?  Really?  If that's the case, this community is, indeed, doomed.

Oh...and her's another newsflash.  The "other" external candidate comes from a district about 20% of the size of Sun Prairie.  Yep... that whole district of students could fit comfortably in the high school here.   How qualified does that make HIM to run Sun Prairie? And given his field of study and aspirations (just look where he applied), do you really think he'd stay in Sun Prairie long enough to even be able to define "making a difference" let alone actually make one?  There were quite a few support staff, teachers, and a majority of community members that saw SPASD as nothing but a very temporary lily pad for that frog.  Oh that's right...they don't count.

False statements/conclusions about the candidate pool.
It seems some people are spouting non-truths that the pool consisted only on in-state candidates, and it was unacceptably small.
First, the statement that there were no out-of-state candidates is flat out wrong.
Second, if you find 18 applicant "embarrassing" then perhaps you should catch up on news instead of gossiping with disgruntled school district staff.  Perhaps you would have heard about our Governor, Act 10, and his proposed school cuts in the 2015-2017 budget!
Think that MIGHT have something to do with it.
Also, you whiny-ass types tend to speak without any real information,  We actually received MORE applicants than other districts.

Flat out myth regarding the screening process
Some are accusing the board (and then passing it on as factual) that the board ignored the input of the selection committee?!!!
Really?  We're not hearing anybody who actually served on that committee saying such things.
And where we these concerns when May Ellen Havel-Lang and Caren Diedrich just tossed aside the work of the last Boundary Change committee?  Huh?
You want to know what's egregious?  It's that you frickin' people pushing this flat out fiction are completely disrespecting the many people who took part in this process.

"Word on the street" is so very sadly out of touch with reality.

RUMOR: support staff, professional teaching staff, most district staff, and a majority of the community believe that Mr.Davis was the ONLY qualified candidate.
Wow!  Sounds like you held your own mini-referendum.  Got any data to support that?  
We thought as much.
Sure, we've heard some grumbling.  But the grumbling we've been hearing is coming from a very small subset of DO workers that are scared to death that "Culver time" is over and they will be held accountable to earn those fat salaries that have been bestowed upon them.  Oh...and these folks know who they are.  
During "Culver time", if people didn't like the job they were responsible for, they were allowed to do whatever they preferred to do.   Things didn't get done.  We had the Athletics Direct/athletic fees fiasco.  SOSP has ruled the roost.  Our buildings & grounds group was a shambles.  Gee...who hired the guy that has re-built that group for success.  Oh yeah...that's right...our "internal candidate".We've had piss poor data presented to the public.  There are o MANY other examples, wbut we drink to forget those.

So we're in he minority for wanting to see that chapter closed?  
Yep, we can live with that.  There's a lot of dead wood that needs to green up or face the chopping block in our eyes.

RUMOR: Mr.Davis was told by the board president that " he was our man" but he needed to find a spot on his staff for Mr.Olson.
Oh puh...LEEZ!  That sounds like one of two things: a disgruntled finalist who's pitching a hissy fit because he didn't get the job, or something one would seed to shake the confidence of Mr. Olsen.
We call that bullyism, people.  Its wrong, and it's way more shameful than anything this school board has done.
And if Mr. Davis shared those concerns with someone from the public, then we can tell you that he is DEFINITELY not a guy we want to hire.  We might want someone that can keep things in confidence...just sayin'.
And if someone on the board shared this from what would have had to have been a closed session, that board member (are you listening Caren Diedrich?) should face censure.

It even goes so far that some people are saying that the board was going to create a new position for Erik Olson.  Newsflash, people, he already IS the number two person in the district (and we don't recall any alarm about that).  Does anyone really think there's a position between #1 and #2?  #1A?   #1.5?

FACT:  People are expressing concerns to the school board based on second (and third or fourth hand) information.
Good grief, people!!!!   You need more schooling than our kids.  Its called the telephone game. You know...if you want to get a message out, there are 3 ways to do it:  TELephone, TELL the Communications Manager, and TELL Caren Diedrich.

No matter who you tell, the message blurs along the way.

THREAT of a recall election (if Mr. Olson is hired)
The general public is already clueless about what it takes to be a school board member, but you really failed civics if you think this is more than an empty, childish threat.

Newsflash, geniuses.  State statute requires a petition containing signatures equal to 25% of the votes cast in the most recent gubernatorial election for EACH recalled candidate.  And you need to do it in 60 days.  That number would be roughly 6650 signatures.  And THAT is just to hold an election!  
Oh, you people make us laugh!

Brash Statement: The only qualification the internal candidate is that he's a drinking buddy of the board president.
Now you are making serious accusations of both an elected official and a top school official.   You better have some facts to back that up or a damn good lawyer.
This is so juvenile, uncalled for, inappropriate, we're not even going to waste words on it.

We can say one thing though.  If a school board leader has a strong enough working relationship with a district administrator that they might have a drink together to unwind after a meeting, can you find any room for the possibility of seeing that as a good thing?  There are lot of contentious issues we are facing, and it just might be a good thing for the board to have a solid relationship with the superintendent.

But to dare suggest that going out for a drink or two is the only qualification of the "internal candidate" is unintelligent, ill-informed, and just plain asinine.
OK...we spared a few syllables..

Shame on all you fucking people who are engaging in a massive --- in what doesn't even qualify as thinly veiled---- attack on Mr. Olson and his family.  He's done nothing but work his butt off and effected positive change for the past 2 years.  

You know what?  Good luck to you all.   You sow shit and you will reap nothing but shit.  oh yeah....and notice to school board members.....

Someone is talking outside the close sessions (Caren Diedrich)!

You might wanna get the pruning shears and nip that bud.   

Monday, December 22, 2014

Dr. Tim is Doin' the TubeSteak Boogie

This was worth re-opening the SP-EYE blog.
7 or more years ago, we felt that Dr. Culver had exceeded his usefulness to the district....that he just couldn't take us to the next level. And so Sun Prairie sputtered.  Of course it didn't help having a School Board that fawned over the good doctor and kowtowed to his every whim.

But that all changed.
One by one, board members were replaced at election time until we had 5 members that actually put away the rubber stamps,  opened their eyes, did their homework, and held Dr Culver--and his staff-- accountable.

As the saying goes, if you cannot stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.  And do Dr. C is boogieing out of Sun Prairie after this school year.  Seems like maybe the kitchen got a little overheated???

What we find interesting, though, is that his note indicates that he is "retiring" from Sun Prairie.  Really?  We don't recall seeing any such notification.   And why does one retire only to (obviously) seek another position in a smaller district?  Isn't that what you'd call "double dipping"??? But you know what....that's Oak Creek's issue to deal with now.  And perhaps the good doctor will be more successful in a smaller district.
"Dr. Culver writes, "It is with mixed emotions I share with you that I will retire from the Sun Prairie Area School District at the end of this school year.  I have tremendously enjoyed the challenge of being a leader...."
If he indeed is retiring, then he must have saved his annual 16,000,000 pennies well, because the Wisconsin retirement system doesn't pay very well with only 17 years in.  20 years is another milestone and a much better pension.   Perhaps he's simply going to milk the Creek for 3 years???

Did you know, by the way, that the average tenure of a "superintendent" in Wisconsin is 4 to 7 years?  They simply outlive their ability to continue effecting change in a district.

In any event, here's to the School Board for running the kitchen like Gordon Ramsey.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Here's a Radical Idea....Let's Do Away With School Supply Lists

It's a simple concept, really.
These "supplies" are for the kids...and are necessary to learn...right?
And the school district tax levy should cover all things necessary to provide a  year's worth of education...right?
And CERTAINLY dry erase markers are for the the classroom...right? us understand...
Is the whole school supply thing nothing more than an additional property tax burden wrapped up in a sugar coated image of whole families happily shopping for school supplies together?

We hear from families that school supplies cost an average of roughly $75 per kid.
In a district of 7500 kids, that's somewhere between $500,000 and $600,000.
Hell, if Phil Frei would post the annual surplus BEFORE he spends it down on un-budgeted "stuff" so he can make it LOOK like our surplus is much less than other districts, the annual SPASD surplus would MORE than cover the cost of supplies.

The tax levy last year was about $47.5 MILLION dollars.  What's an extra $500,000 on top of that?  Another 1% increase in the tax levy?  And all the while putting the $75 back in the pocket of many parents that need it most. argument we could potentially hear is that it's a way of passing on some school costs JUST to those taxpayers who have kids actively attending school.  Well, folks, when it comes to education, we're either all for one or not.  We don't parcel SOME of the costs to a few folks and have the entire city bear the burden of the rest.

Now...don't get us wrong....this is not a Sun Prairie problem.  It's not a state problem; it's a NATIONAL problem.  But, you know what...change has to start start somewhere.  Madison is starting something by providing free meals to all elementary kids district wide.  How about next year we be the first district to provide school supplies for every kid?

And hey, you SPARClers...instead of wanting the district to spend $80,000 to $100,000 annually on "snacks", why don't we buy their school supplies for them??!  Isn't THAT part of the "greater good"?

What's the down side?

Oh, wait....the local/national stores all advertise what we (and they) call "loss leaders".  Sure...they'll give you a notebook for 10 cents....because their plan is that once they get you inside, you'll spend a whole lot more cash on impulse purchases.
So...what's more important...putting money in the pocket of businesses?  Or doing what is logically right and just to cease a biased taxing practice?

The school district CAN buy these things cheaper!
It's a simple concept...buying in bulk gets you the best price.  And buying pencils by the gross instead of the dozen is what gets the best price.  AND....the district can purchase these things tax free!
Oh...wait....the governor probably wouldn't like that very much.  Less sales tax revenue and more property tax revenue.
But it's time to do what's right.

We say:  Speak up and tell the district that in budgeting for 2015-16, which begins in just a  few short months, you want them to budget to cover all school supplies for kids.

2014 School Supply Lists... a Closer Look

Do we have ONE curriculum?  Or specific school curricula

  •  In kindergarten, there's no running or even HAVING any scissors.  But they are the only school to require jumbo crayons in addition to the regular size. 
  • In grade 1, Westside is the only school to just say NO to plastic 2-pocket folders, while Royal Oaks is the only school to say yes to Twistable colored pencils.
  • At grade 2, four schools think 24 pencils per kid is enough...but the other three feel 36 is required.
  • No more crayons after grade 2...well...except for 3rd grade at Eastside that is.
  • Also in grade 2, Royal Oaks shows its royalty by being the only school to specifically require "thin" dry erase markers.  Is that an anti-obesity statement?
  • In grade 3, apparently all schools except Eastside have outgrown crayons.
  • Across the district, we are split however on whether or not washable school glue is require in 3rd grade.
  • At Westside, 3rd graders are so good they dont need rulers to keep things straight.

So...all the teachers for a specific grade at a specific school can agree on needed supplies but we cant at a single grade level?
Or did the teacher with greatest seniority at each school grade level make the call?
And with this variability, why don't we just throw caution to the wind, embrace anarchy and let individual teachers decide what is required?
How does this happen?  Do principals talk?   Does anyone talk?
How can we teach communication to our kids when the adults don't communicate?

Can't we be GREEN?
Seems like a lot of waste.  Cant we re-use rulers? scissors?
Don't start with us...sure scissors will blunt with tie, but criminy!

Whose line is it anyway?
Why do kids still have to provide dry erase markers?  Shouldn't that be a District supply?
At least we got past having to provide disinfecting wipes.  But if we were able to cross that bridge, can't we cross this one too?

SPASD - The Memory Foam District!!!!

On the eve of a new school year, it's time to open up a can of worms.

How is Sun Prairie Area School District like memory foam, you ask?
Why we're so glad you did.
SPASD is like memory foam because if you put a little pressure on the district, they give.  But, if you take the pressure off....they go right back to the way they were before. example you want!  Why certainly.  An example always help to make the point.

Let's take School Supply lists.  An old fave.
We went into great detail in the past about these lists...and they suddenly got better.   But this year we took another look, and... lo and behold....we suddenly can't agree on necessary "school supplies" across an elementary grade level.

We'll have more to say...but look; see if you see what we see.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Apathy's Apogee - Does District Administrator Culver Just Not Care Anymore?

Late this week the school District issued a broadcast e-mail to its "Key Communicators" list.  

What was different this time is that all of the e-mail addresses were openly visible to all recipients.

And that means, for the multitude of computer users who are oblivious to malware operating on their computers, that these e-mail lists were readily available to scammers, phishers, telemarketers, and run of the mill hackers.

We alerted Dr. Culver.  I'm sure we weren't alone.

And this was the response we got:

Really, Tim?
e realize you haven't had your "A" game working in quite some time, but that's the best response you have to potentially opening all the Key Communicators to malice? would YOU like your private e-mail information tossed about in the public sphere?

This is yet another in a lengthy series of gaffs by our crackerjack communications folks. 
Surely for the salaries we pay these people, SOMEONE knows how to lock out the use of anything but the "BCC" address line for these missives.

We're not impressed.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Time to discuss "BandGate"?

Are they paying a facility use fee?
A little birdie tells us that the Flags of Freedom show charged $8.00 in advance and $10.00 at the door.
100% of the gate receipts are to be deposited into the band boosters account.

Does that seem right?'s just a rumor that for which we are seeking confirmation at this time.  But it has that ring of truth to it.

Does that mean the Quarterback club should get 100% of the receipts from football games?  Oh wait...those go into a sinking fund for shley Field improvements.

Backcourt club gets 100% of receipts from bball games?
And the wrestling team gets their proceeds? they even charge?
Quick...someone get Title IX on the phone!

It's sacred cow tipping time again!

We Felt a Great Disturbance in the Force

Did you feel it?
As the e-mails and announcements popped up, we did.
Of course, we have felt something coming for some time ;-)

We speak, of course, of the revelation that school board member John  Welke is stepping down to spend more time with his family and pursue some other interests.  There is no shame here.  This is not a Jim Carrel, Seabass McCourt , or that other guy....what the hell was his name again?

Welke is going out on top of his game.  His initial election to the board changed the complexion (we hope) forever.  Gone are the administrative worshipers like Mary Ellen Had a Little Lang and those that tarnished the bar with their own sordid personal issues.

While we are left with John Whalen, who, it has said, has some pinky sworn obligation to vote whatever way Dr. Culver desires, he won't run again.  Jeeez...and the good doctor doesn't even buy him lunch each week.

We also still have Caren Diedrich, who is certifiably something. She of course will run every 3 years until she leaves this earth.  But she's really powerless anymore.  She's like that little trinket that has been in the same place on your grandparents wall, complete with a much brighter shade of paint or wallpaper beneath it, for 20 years.  Shes the funny aunt that busts out with some bizarrely off the wall comment that is the sole reason that you still join the rental units in visits to your aunt and uncle.

Certainly there are  few, less enamored by change, that will celebrate, but we would prefer folks to remember where we began and where John Welke, the guy responsible for the term, "sham residence", has led us.  He was born of the blockbuster cluster f#@% affectionately termed "Boundary Change" and has been on a roll ever since.  He proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is not a "one issue" candidate..

Don't get us wrong, we deeply value the contributions of board President Tom Weber, Board VP Steve "Shredder" Schroeder, Mike Krachey, and Jill Camber-Davidson.  Tom is a great leader, but it took a Welke to give a voice to the things that needed to be heard.  He fostered the growth of a new breed of school that is engaged, well versed on the subjects, and not afraid to do what has to be done.  Welke also wrote more Situation Reports than Ms. Diedrich has done in all of her tenure on the board.

To the remaining board members....please remember the dark from which we have been delivered.  Let's keep moving forward into the light of day.

Here's to John Welke, and the legacy he built (and forgive us for missing some, for there are so many things):
  • Made sure that never again will siblings be separated as a result of boundary changes or some other district office policy.
  • Fixed the budget shenanigans.
  • Effected change in the school supply lists.
  • Initiated the capacity workgroup....avoided an imminent (and as yet unnecessary) 8th elementary school.
  • Helped get the annual meeting back under control.
  • Instrumental in achieving accountability from the district.
  • Instrumental in resolving issues related to Policy KG (field /facility use).
  • Advocated for bringing up the salary floor for young teachers, helped establish a ceiling.
  • Worked with Tom Weber and other key SB members to re-align DO.
  • Worked to ensure equity including Title 9.
  • Talked the talk and walked the walk on transparency.
  • Made the tough decisions and asked even tougher questions (SOSP).
  • Demanded quality information.
  • The path to an improved B& G has been forged.
  • Actual Ashley field plans that are REAL.
  • Never before had such frank (and necessary) questions been directed back to the DO from the school board.

 Please remember that we are not crediting Mr. Welke solely for these things, as it still takes 4 votes to move the school board to action.  But his fingerprints are indelibly etched on these things.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Contact Days? Or Football Camp?

Ahhhh...summer.  That time of year.  The birds are singing, the bees are stinging, and it's time to start thinking about SPHS's traditional football "Gridiron Camp".
Wait...there is no Gridiron least if you check Sun Prairie sites.
But a funny thing happens when you expand your web search to, say, Waunakee.  Suddenly you find that there IS a Gridiron camp this year!
And it's held on Sun Prairie fields (as usual)....but no mention of Sun Prairie.
Are they just renting our fields to ear them up instead of their own?
We don't think so!

You see...if you apply a little elbow grease to the old mouse, you see that Sun Prairie varsity football coach Brian Kaminski has reserved two fields for the same dates (July 21-24, 2014) as Waunakee's Gridiron Camp (t SPHS) for "Contact Days".

Now we know that under the revised policy KG (Field and Facility Use), one is exempt from paying for field use if one is using facilities for "Contact Days".  But of course, to do so, there can be no charges to student athletes...right?

Sneaky Petes!
Is it football contact days for Sun Prairie:
Or it is a football camp with cloaking device activated?
It takes some doing, but if one checks out the "" website (Waunakee's football boosters), one finds:

What we find interesting is that if you compare the flyers from previous years to this year, one critical things has been removed:  the location!

The cost for the camp is $65 per student ($70 after June 1, so any "push" for this occurred during the school year)...and that gets you a t-shirt.
All money is sent to a Waunakee address which happens to be that of the Waunakee coach.
The fee angle raises a bunch of questions:

  • Why wouldn't the money be sent to the booster club (
  • Why isn't there a reservation under Waunakee's name?
  • Are Sun Prairie kids part of this?
  • Do they have to pay too?  Because that would make this a fundraiser and not "contact days...right?
  • If they  don't have to pay, since these are *free* contact days, do they still get a t-shirt?
  • What will we think if/when every kid on the field is wearing a Gridiron Camp t-shirt?
  • Did/Do SPHS kids have to pay on the down low?
  • Is Waunakee being billed for field use? It doesn't look that way, since Coach Kaminski--and not Waunakee Football--is the "client"?  
  • Is anyone being billed?  How much?  The camp says 9-12 for 4 days (12 hrs) but the two fields are  reserved 8:30-12.  Will the cost be for 12 hrs?  or 1?
  • Is anyone paying to have the fields striped?

Why the subterfuge?
let's be clear about what we are doing...and hold others accountable to the same.

Right now we don't know what they are doing.

Oh, so VERY many questions!!!
We expect we hope someone in the district is monitoring all this.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Couldn't We Use $35,000?

Couldn't anybody?
The money is out there, but SPASD business geniuses simply appear to be letting it go.

There is an "Aged Receivables" report for fees owed in accordance with Policy KG.  This is just the new stuff...and we--the taxpayers-- are owed just under $35,000, but the $100K club folks at the district do not appear interested in collecting it.

WTF!  Why is that?

How about we take it out of Dr. Culver's salary and he can get reimbursed when we collect.  Bet we'd collect it then!

There is a church...a CHURCH!....that owes us nearly $5,000.  And these debts go back several years.  Yet we fail to collect.

Did none of the business gurus in the district office go to business school? Hello!  The district garnishes wages of staff all the time for various nonpayments.  Wouldn't you think they might have come to the realization that, "Hey...we can do that too!".

Many of the others are the "Usual Suspects"...coaches that use the fields or facilities for camps from which they benefit financially....but who refuse to pay according to policy.  And they are allowed to keep on keeping on.

Policy "KG" just went through a lengthy process involving community input to "fix" this.  The policy was adopted in April.  So why haven't we collected the money?  Coaches are district employees.  Here's an idea...why don't you take it out of their pay?

Over $8,000....fully 1/3 of the amount "90 days past due" (and it's way more than that) comes from varsity basketball coaches.  Hello!  Anyone see a problem here?

What the hell  is it going to take to make this happen?  It's embarrassing.  And it's not like we couldn't use the money!

Since the district won't do anything about, we will.  Here is the "Wall of Shame":

Sunday, May 25, 2014

And from the "We No Longer Care Because None of You Do" Department...

This could also be filed under news that never happened.
This is the time of year that National Merit Scholarship winners are announced.

Sorry folks, but you didn't hear anything about it because none of our kids won.  [Ho hum...nothing new here]    Are our kids a cut below other districts?  Our curriculum?  Or does nobody care?  We give up.  If you don't give a rat's hairy tookus...then neither do we.

Using a slight tweak of the old SPASD tagline, "Great things are happening in our schools, but National Merit Scholars doesn't happen to be one of them."

More Basketball Shenanigans?

Is this directed at SPASD administration?
The WIAA?  
We're hearing reports of yet further shenanigans regarding the Boys Basketball team.  Does WIAA care?  Does administration care?  What will it take to stop this backdoor BS?  Add another domino to the sequence?

We hear that, in yet another creative approach to circumventing WIAA rules for organized team activites out of season, our Bball coach has solicited some "volunteer" coaches from Madison College to run the Boys Basketball tam through maneuvers.  Sounds like, after getting busted for "open gym" sessions last year, this is a new twist where "volunteer" external coaches work with the kids instead of their actual coaching cadre.  Really?  WTF?  Does anyone really believe that?

Have we all succumbed to the "if you're not cheating, you're not trying hard enough" philosophy?

Time to Initiate the "Clean Slate Protocol"

The time was right for Tony it perhaps our turn to implement our very own "Clean Slate" protocol?

We have a major Human Resources problem (tho the District does everything (un)imaginable to keep that a secret).

We went through the whole Jimmy Mac fiasco.  'Nuff said.

There continues to be the unabashed clusterf#@! known as "Policy KG".  We have organizations that owe the district large sums of money for using facilities yet they were allowed to continue to use the facilities without paying. And personnel from the organization are district employees!

Joe Palooka is a nice guy.  But he's now Facilities' Manager.  If it's possible, Buildings and Grounds has become even more of a bitter pill than it has been in the past.

We hear increasing rumblings that High School Principal Lisa Heipp's approval rating has sunk below that of ex-Principal Keats.  We hear that she has alienated virtually her entire staff let alone parents and students.  She was also the supervisor (and we use that term loosely) for Jimmy Mac.

Phil Frei understands DPI budgeting better than just about anyone else, but his supervisory skills have come into question.  Will his performance improve now that he has been relegated into a much smaller box on the org chart?

The school board has been working to re-structure the district office, and most of those dominoes are now in place.  Is it time to set off the chain and ultimately tip the primary domino?  The "Timino"?

All of these embarrassments are part of Dr. Culver's management sandbox.   Yet it appears he has no clue that problems even exist.   Has he had rose-colored contacts surgically implanted?  Or has he just finally ascended to be a prime example of the Peter Principle.  Was SPASD small enough back in the early 90's that he once could handle it, but now it has grown to a size he can no longer control?  We think so, and we've said as much....many times.  Nice guy.  Could probably handle a Deerfield or Cambridge district, but he's now out of his league.  He needs to retire...or be retired.

As part of the domino chain, we could take out some of the less stellar members of this cast.

INHuman Resources?

There's enough evidence to suggest we have a Human Resources management issue within the district.
Has anyone noticed the the turnover in that area of he district office?

If one looks at the bills...we have not one but TWO incidents where investigations had to be initiated AFTER some HR action was taken.  That doesn't bode well.  And never mind how much these "investigations" have cost the taxpayers.

There was recently an incident where an employee who participated in a district strategic planning session (theoretically a "be candid" forum) was "let go" following comments they made at the meeting.  There are also allegations that the district side of the story involves some serious embellishing.  (Thanks to the SPARCler who was in attendance and alerted us to this).

We have the Pool Manager incident last year, who was forced to write a resignation letter on the spot on a sheet of notebook paper.  The district will wave its hands and say that the Manager had to go due to some poor decisions...and that is certainly true....but is THAT how we handle things?

Jimmy Mac.  Need we say any more?

And then we have first hand knowledge of an incident in which a community resident offered some information at the request of the district to assist in their fact finding, and the HR Manager quickly hung the citizen out to dry when questioned about said fact finding.  In fact, district staff were told that the community resident had lodged an informal complaint.  That was an absolute fabrication of facts.  And let's not even talk about the importance of confidentiality in HR.  Confidentiality was tossed in the gutter here.

And people...these are but a scratching of the surface.  These are merely the wisps of smoke that betray the presence of smoldering embers.

The school district is the largest employer in the city...and we cannot accept this kind of behavior and lack of professionalism.
But nothing will be done until people speak up