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?

So.....help 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.

Now...one 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.

Ahhhh....an 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 first....you 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?

Gee....how 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?  Now...it'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? Wait...do 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 board...one 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 Camp....at 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 "Waunakeefootball.org" 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!


Fundraiser?
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 (Waunakeefootball.org)?
  • 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 answers...so 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 Stark...is 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

Prom Incident and Bullying Allegations Arise

One reader provided the following... is there corroboration?

How about the prom. Did you hear a girl fell off of the balcony and was left there while the terrace closed. All principals are supposed to secure the grounds if they had done So she would have been found. Luckily she is ok but you won't hear that at any school board meeting. Or the senior speaker this year has been harassing and bullying same girl all year will speak at graduation. Makes you wonder did she try to take her life due to the harassment.


Those are some power packed allegations...and serious cause for concern if they fail to peg the bovine excrement meter.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Desperately Seeking: One Grass Whisperer

Nope....we're not out of commission...just monitoring to see if the SPARClers are planning a takeover.

About a year ago, the district hired what we affectionately labelled the "Tree Whisperer".  Apparently some genius in Building and Grounds flt like we now had more trees than students and so the next B&G hire should be an expert in getting in touch with the needs of trees.  That experiments didn't last long.

Too much nitrogen!!!
Now it seems---if rumors are true--that we might be in need of a Grass Whisperer.

Once again, it would seem that some genius in B&G made a teensy tiny mistake in calculating how much nitrogen should be included in a fer
tilizer mix.
[Sotto voce:  Geee...maybe we DO need those Common Core standards after all, if our B&G wizard cant do simple math.  Oh...and where exactly is/was our $100K Club member B&G Manager???]

We/re hearing that several of the athletic fields have been burnt out due to a mis-calculation .   Ever hear of "Measure twice, cut once"??

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Know Your Candidates Part 2

We have 3 people vying for two seats on the school board.  Incumbent School Board President is running for re-election.  The open seat was vacated by two-term school board member Jill Camber-Davidson, who has certainly "done her time".

So...how does one decide?
There are some questions that should be asked:

What do we know about these folks?

How engaged in the school district and school board affairs are our 2014 candidates?

Are they well versed on all the issues?  Or just one or two in particular?

Basically....we should be asking the question: what have you done for us lately to show that you are actively engaged in the many aspects of school district affairs.

Let's take 'em alphabetically, shall we?

Carol Albright [Gobeli?]
We know that Ms. Albright is a former teacher who retired several years back.  We know her forte was Spanish at the middle and high school level.  We know she is a member of SPARC...the local liberal grassroots political movement.
 But that's about all we know.  Until recently we had not even seen her at a school board meeting.  So why the interest now?  We get that it's hard to be involved while one is a teacher and thus employee of the district.  But, since she retired in June 2010 wouldn't one think that she's had nearly 4 years to "come out" and be involved in school board affairs?  Maybe serve as a citizen representative on a board committee?  How about even a a teacher representative on one of the older committees?  Going back to 2005, we can't find any indication of involvement.
Hmmmmmmm.
And as a teacher of Spanish, does she understand the non-curriculum issues the board/district face daily?  Human Resources issues (after all, SPASD is in the top two employers in Sun Prairie)?  Where does she stand on Ashley Field?  Has she ever been to Ashley Field?  What about Buildings and Grounds issues?
In short, we have a lot of questions and not very many answers.


Jessica Moehr
Ms. Moehr currently serves on the school board's Performance and Operations Committee and previously served on the other Board Committee: Planning.  Prior to that she served on the Board's Human Resources Committee.  Especially with the new committee format, Ms. Moehr has been involved in and gained familiarity with all facets of district operations.  She also is a mother of two children currently in the district, which is another thing departing board member Jill Camber-Davidson brought to the table.  In her "day job", Ms. Moehr is a Human Resources (HR) professional; and those paying attention know that HR is an element of district operation that has come under great scrutiny in the past year.  In a nutshell, we view Ms. Moehr as being perfectly positioned to step into board seat.

Tom Weber
Board President Weber has done more for this district than any other president at least since we've been paying attention.  He is engaged in the district, has kids in the district, and spends countless hours working towards resolution of critical issues.  He also serves as a liaison to the City Council and has helped repair what had been a very fractured relationship.
We credit Mr. Weber's leadership for helping the school board (well, at least 71.4% of it) turn the corner from being a bunch of rubber stampers to being one of the most respected school boards in the state.  This board does its homework.
We've gone from being a "Whatever You Want, Dr, Culver" mentality to one that is truly data driven: Tell us what it is you desire and then SHOW us the data that supports the need.  Then bring to us a plan o how you plan to pay for it.

Know Your Candidates Part 1

We think you should know a bit about your school board candidates.
Don't you think that's a good idea?
Of course some are already "out there"...but others are hard to find.
There's no substitute for simply talking with a candidate to see where they stand on particular issues.

But in order for you to strike up a conversation in the grocery store or while in line for your favorite latte.... you need to know what they look like...right?

So here are your candidates...



Sunday, February 9, 2014

...and Speaking of Things That Make One Go, "Hmmmmm"...

Why does one suppose our crack local newsrag, The Star, would print a "press release" announcing the candidacy of Carol Albright?

http://www.hngnews.com/sun_prairie_star/news/school/article_b7856782-71a0-11e3-aca7-0019bb30f31a.html

Is it because she's a retired educator (Teacher, for the uninformed) and Editor Mertes just so happens to be the spouse of a former Sun Prairie Educator (who now works for the Dept of Public Instruction)?

Editor Mertes is known from his columns to be a very conservative, right wing supporter.  Well, except for school board.  How does SPARC mesh with that philosophy?  Apparently pretty well, or it was an exceedingly slow news day on New Years eve, as this press release was printed in the STAR.  Funny...we can't recall the STAR EVER printing candidacy related press releases.  At least for school Board.

An while we're at it....what's in a name?  She's running as Carol Albright, yet her property records are listed as Carol A. Gobeli.   We couldn't find a listing for Carol Albright in WhitePages.com, but we did find a match under Carol A. Gobeli.

Who is Carol [Gobeli] Albright?

Why is she running now?  Our sources indicate that she has not appeared at school board meetings {except perhaps to draw for ballot position].  She has not been a member of any school board committees.  How does she know about critical school board issues?  I she just the best that SPARC has to offer?  The only SPARCler who held up her hand when they asked for nominations to run?


Spring Elections a SPARCle Fest

American Idol alumna Jordin SPARCs would be excited.
Joni Mitchell would rename her album (that's what it was back then) Court and SPARC.
If Traffic got the band back together, they might sing about the Low SPARC of High-Heeled Boys.
Thousand Foot Krutch might even re-release their recent hit as "Let the SPARCs fly!"

That's right, folks, as if you didn't have enough clues, we got us a bunch a bona fide SPARClers running for city elections.

For school Board, we have former Spanish Teacher Carol [your kids probably know her better as Gobeli ] Albright.  She's vying against incumbent and current school board president Tom Weber, andJessica Moehr, who has served on the School Board's Planning Committee for 2 seats..

And for City Council, we have none other than the ALSPARC himself, Al Guyant, vying against incumbent Kent Orfan to complete the final year of Dave Carlson's District 4 seat.

We find it interesting that SPARC is running a School District Candidate's Forum on March 16th.  You don't suppose they'll feed their candidate, Carol Gobeli Albright, do you?

Isn't that just a tad too cozy?  A grassroots political action group holding a candidates forum which includes one of its own members that is being propped up?

Things that make you go, "hmmmm"


With the spring election just around the corner, the Sun Prairie Action Resource Coalition (SPARC) is hosting a public forum to help you get to know the candidates and where they stand on the issues that matter most to our students and our schools.
All three candidates are confirmed to attend the event, which will be held in the Community Room of the Sun Prairie Public Library (1350 Linnerud Drive) from 2:00 to 4:00 pm on Sunday, March 16, 2014.
We are fortunate to have three individuals stepping up to serve our community this year:
  • Carol Albright (retired SPASD educator)
  • Jessica Moehr (currently a Citizen Representative to the school board’s Performance and Operations Committee)
  • Tom Weber (incumbent; current board president)

We think Thousand Foot Krutch has it best...
indeed, let's let the SPARCs fly, baby!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Revelations

This past week discussions were held with various stakeholders regarding fields and facilities use fees (aka "Policy KG").   Ohhhh the revelations!  It was like Christmas come a week early.

What we learned throughout the evening:


  • Add the Sun Prairie Civic Theatre (SPCT) as yet another group that got SCROOgED by the district.
  • We learned that the CHUMS auditorium is an OSHA nightmare.
  • And while it's possible that he was just thinking funny thoughts at an inopportune moment, Buildings and Grounds Manager Joe Powelka was observed by several folks (including yours truly) to chuckle when it was mentioned that the auditorium is an OSHA nightmare.  That's beyond bad form.  That deserves a trip to the 'Splainin' Room.
  • We learned that, while Buildings and Grounds is aware of serious safety issues in the CHUMS auditorium, there are no standing work orders.  
  • We learned that the electrical is so bad that whole boxes have literally melted.
  • Almost 2 years ago, the SPCT had a good year and donated $7,000 to the district to help fund needed repairs at CHUMS auditorium,  Granted it happened before Joe Powelka came aboard, but no one knew about the stipulation.  And where did the $7,000 go?  We owe them $7,000 in repairs!
  • We learned that the many chairs are broken.

  • We learned that someone had to sue because of a bad fall.
  • We learned that the orchestra pit isn't used because no one knows how to fix it.
  • We learned that folks get charged for a custodian when they don't ever see one.
  • We learned about yet another fee issue.  Apparently there are numerous private music lessons before school (and while some are from people outside the district,some may be with our own staff).   And parents pay the instructor directly even though the lessons are held in the school and potentially with school instruments.  And its not on anyone's radar! Where's that money going?  Can you say profiting from public buildings boys and girls?
  • We learned that there may even be a security issue as people are in the building and no one knows about it.   Newsflash, people, you can spend boatloads on security upgrades to prevent bad people from getting in and doing harm.  But what if they're already in the building?
  • We learned that even the Sound of Sun prairie does not know what they are.  Are they summer school, extra-curricular?  Both? a hybrid?  When questioned, they did not have an answer.
  • We learned that it's no longer America, apple pie and baseball.  It's now Sun Prairie Football, America , and apple pie. In that order.  And how could we possibly charge coaches for making "a few dollars" off of camps.  They're keeping kids off the streets.


  • While we'll acknowledge that some movement has been occurring at CHUMS, it simply isn't enough or a high enough priority.

This all lands Joe Powelka, Phil Frei (Joe's supervisor), and Tim Culver (reigning Big Dog) squarely on Santa's naughty list.

Good grief, Charlie Brown...don't you guys already have enough egg on your face?  Are you competing for the eggiest face award?


Such a shame that I wouldn't know by now
Your revelations
Cut me in, I don't want to live without
Your revelations


Read more: Audioslave - Revelations Lyrics | MetroLyrics 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Batting 1000

OK...it took a while longer than originally projected, but SP-EYE recently logged its 1000th post.  That's about 60 times a many posts on Dr. Culver's IspirED blog (we still think capitalizing the "ED" is a little creepy).  It's alo more than the average (and even above average) blog.  We're proud of that.

We've been on a mission  since 2005.  What triggered us was the whole, "let's build 2 high schools" fiasco.  We never said, "Never".  We just said, "NOT IN 2006!".  There may come a time when we need two high schools, but it's not now and it certainly wasn't then.

Yes, we've taken our foot off the gas pedal in 2013.  Largely, life decisions dealt that hand.  But there are those in the inner circle that know that silence does not equate to absence.  We've been there...often behind the scenes.

In a perfect world, there is no need for an SP-EYE.  But this district is far from perfect.   Districts also go as the school board goes, and for many years, we've had pitiful excuses for school boards.  We've had felons, district administration retirees, spouses of teachers, and excessively liberal leaners on our boards.  Hell we still have someone who was on the board 20 years ago.  We're hoping Santa brings that one a life for Christmas this year.

But that all changed for us about 5 years back.  Slowly but surely the electorate decided to make changes and one by on we've replaced the board members who ran more for the resume or perks than to actually make a difference.

We now have a board that is 71.4% efficient.  An that's great because all it takes is 57.1% efficiency to get things done.  This board (or at least 71.4% o it) has delved into areas past boards would never have ventured.  They are fixing things.  They are involved, engaged, and motivated.  Think of all the things they've done.  Then think back to all the fiascoes over the years and imagine what would have been if THIS board had been in charge.  It's been a long time coming, but it's here.  We CAN take our foot off the gas.  We CAN take a nap for a bit while they're driving.

And for that, we are thankful.  And you should be too.

e're not going way, John...and Caren. We're just letting a qualified board do what they do because they're doing the right things.  W always said that with the right board, SP-EYE would be more of a resource than a sharp stick in the eye.  We had to put a few eyes out along the way, but ...hey...that happens.   It is all fun and game until someone loses an eye...right?  Maybe...just maybe, you've learned a little but about how to do things right.

And hey...how about it...1005 posts!

What? Hiring MORE Administration?

This was an item of business on the December 9th school board meeting:

Reorganization of the district administrative structure including revision of Policy CCA, and addition of Assistant Superintendent for Operations and Continuous Improvement

http://schoolboard.spasd.k12.wi.us/Board.nsf/goto?open&id=9DTL97556C8B

What's weird is that the Situation Report is offered by Dr. Culver, yet this doesn't look like something he'd request.  A request for a full Chinese immersion program complete with new China Program Administrator.....yeah, we'd buy that as Culver's but this just doesn't have Culver's fingerprints on it.

But let's not toss the baby out with the bathwater.
The idea has merit.
After all, Culver currently has about 19 administrators reporting to him...and that's not working.
In fact, Culver appeared to have no clue what shenanigans Buildings and Grounds were up to.  The iPad budget last winter initiative was appalling in its lack of forethought.  Policy KG has festered into a giant boil.  Ashley Field shriveled and died on the vine.

Let's face it.  Culver may have some strengths in academia, but the rest of the district aspects are not his cup of tea.  This would create a new position to which all these folks would report,

Sun Prairie has grown substantially and when any business grows, the hierarchy must be re-evaluated.  This position is needed.

Kudos to whoeber ghostwrote the report.

One final note of caution:
The position description should include a requirement that the successful candidate be equipped with a solid brass pair. Additionally, a solid track record of dealing well with personnel issues is paramount.  Giving "attaboys" is easy; calling subordinates--even if they are administrators themselves--on the carpet is a skill that is sorely lacking in this district.  S/he needs to feel unfettered in making things happen and not be concerned about wounding egos along the way. S/he needs to avoid drinking the good old boy Kool-Aid, and have at least a dotted line connection direct to the School Board.  Rporting to Culver, who as "the Bog Dog" has essentially authrized the bad behaviors and poor performances here is not going to solve the problem.

Last, but definitely not least, the successful candidate must come from outside of the district.  Sorry, but we don't have anyone here that has not been sucessfully waterboarded with the KoolAid already.


Can U Do the Math?

Fret not John and Caren...we're still here!
It's nice to know that we're missed!
It seems that Mr. Whalen and Ms. Diedrich both have expressed concerns of late that SP-EYE no longer is interested in matters du School Board.
Au contraire!   But thanks for thinking about us.

We are very interested.  In fact, we love what this school board (at least the efforts of 71.4% of it) is doing.
That's right...we give this school board a 71.4% approval rating.
Now...can you do the math?

Sometimes we think at least one of you can do the meth.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Counterpoint ---Point

It's our blog so we get to switch things up :)


Counterpoint: 

Stan, you ignorant slut...

Or should we say, piloteric2004@yahoo.com

First...you don't even live in this district, so STFU.  Your IP address traces to somewhere in Iowa.  Yup.  I thin k that's enuff said, right there.

Second...where the hell did you come up with the Tea Party?   This is not about politics.  This was about getting adequate representation of the COMMUNITY on a major issue.  (an you say community, Stan...or i it too many syllables or you?)

Teach us a lesson?  Puleeze!  That sounds like bullyism to us.  And we've dispatched of quite a few bullies with way better creds than you.  You teach us nothing.  

Will we accept the results of this 2nd meeting.  Absolutely.  That's what we said and we walk the walk in addition to talking the talk.  All we wanted was a fair opportunity a little beyond the scope of the 500 left lurchers who happen to subscribe to that biased drivel, the STAR.  We got that and now people need to move on.

And "we" lost nothing, Eric.  The community might have lost.  But it deserves what it gets.

Be careful what you wish for though, Stan.  You may see the rebound effect on a much larger issue....like people coming to the polls and voting down a referendum for an 8th elementary school when one is needed (shortly).

Or when the District ants to spend  half million dollars on i-Pads.  The school board might just say..."Nope...not with an eighth elementary school coming and all this new transportation cost."

Or when it comes time to thinking about raise for staff.  180 people may have just pissed on any hopes of any raises.

We shall see.
We just hope your piloting skills are far beyond your logic and reasoning skills.



Point: Stan (Guest):

The Board really went to seemingly unprecedented trouble to advertise this
special meeting. This included prominent notice in The Star, a postcard mailed to everyone in the district, phone calls, e-mails, etc. There is absolutely no credible argument that the School Board failed to give the taxpayers of Sun Prairie sufficient notice of this special meeting. And surprise, surprise - the Tea Party loses again. Perhaps that should finally teach you a lesson! Will you accept the results of this second meeting or will you continue to stamp your feet and demand yet another do-over? Please. The matter is settled. You lost. Move on.
4:28 p.m., Wednesday Nov. 13

Email address: piloteric2004@yahoo.com | IP address: 67.41.247.22

Kwitcherbitchin!

So the do-over of the annual meeting occurred this past Tuesday.  So,OK, we doubled the crowd to about 275 (going by the highest vote tally, which was about 89 for, 180 against).

The results are the same.  The minimum busing distance for the middle schools and high schools will be reduced to 1.5 miles.

Is it the wisest use of $430,000? (every year forward the price goes up 3%)?  No.

If Dr. Culver had $430,000 of taxpayer dollars to spend, wuld bsing even make his top 10? No.

I it absolutely one of the top 5 most ridiculous things that has  happened in this district (money wise).  Absolutely.

So be it.

You were informed.
The issues were clear.

The school district did an outstanding job of attempting to engage the community and get folks to attend the meeting, speak their mind, and cat their votes.  Our hats are off to school district administration.

The school board did an outstanding job of saying, "Hey...we don't have enough representation here, we need to do this in a more openly communicated, transparent manner. " They did that by forcing a special Electors Meeting.  Our hats are off to President Weber et al as well.

So...one of two things happened.
Either the people in this district don't really care about their property taxes and don't care about reducing the minimum busing distances.
Or they couldn't find enough time in their busy lives to come out for 2 hours.  In other words...apathy.

So....we will fully support this decision because you all had a chance.  In fact, you had TWO chances.  And it apparently wasn't important enough for you to actually get off your ever burgeoning keesters and come out to the meeting.

Don't call us.  We're not listening anymore on this one.
And kwitcherbitchin.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

A Taxpayer's View of the Busing Decision

Sun Prairie Taxpayer (Guest):

Sadly, I am one of those taxpayers that did not know about the meeting and would have voted against increasing the tax levy. This situation makes me livid! I plan on showing up to the November 12thmeeting, though and am grateful that I got a postcard in the mail from the school district, though it sounds like it is too late.
The cost of bussing these kids an additional half mile averages out to $760 per child. And this is actually an understatement since Kobussun is at full capacity of their current facility. In addition to the staff and busses, they will need to add more buildings and parking lots....costs which have not been factored in.
At what point does the taxpayer take on total responsibility for the safety of all Sun Prairie kids? Honest ly, if t he city is so unsafe that teenagers cannot walk 2 miles without being abducted, what are the parents doing choosing to live in such a dangerous area? Are parents teaching their teenagers what to do to protect themselves? Or is that the taxpayers responsibility too? If there is really so much danger, why are the children allowed to walk at all? Are those students living 1.25 miles from the school considered to be less valuable than those living 2 miles away? Why do we think the predators are not going to just move closer? Parents that choose to live on the outskirts of the bussing route can pay the extra amount per month for the extra safety. My guess is that it is more of a convenience than anything. Seems pretty unfair that those wanting more free services can just reach into others wallets and take what they feel they are entitled to with only a mere fraction of the community represented.

And what about plain old physical activity? Seems like we hear ab out the need for kids to exercise. Good thing we put them all on busses so they can get home and get to the gym to make up for the walk they are not getting!
The situation reminds me of those that buy a house on the railroad tracks and then complain that there is too much noise from the trains! Parents.......you choose where to live and you choose how many children to have. Take responsibility for your own family and stop passing on parental responsibility to the taxpayers.