Sunday, December 14, 2008

Taking Stock: State of the District

As another calendar year passes, it's time to reflect on the school district and how our school board is doing. Are we better one year down the road? Those suffering from pollyannaism may indeed believe so.

What have we really accomplished? Let's take a look back. Is this really what we expect from our elected officials???

Long tenured school board member and past president Mary Ellen Havel-Lang was ousted during the April 2008 elections. Has the school board changed as a result? Sadly, no. The status is most definitely quo.

We have opened the 7th elementary school, Creekside. Alas, the school is only half full, yet 3 other schools are nearly filled to the brim.

The high school is on its way to completion, but it may take some additional money to build an access road on Marshview road to the back side of the existing high school. It seems the DNR has some issues with paving over a wetland. How dare they? Funny hat no one investigated this earlier.

The fighting is still happening at the high school, so nothing new there. Does anyone really think that will change with a new high school?

For two consecutive years we've replaced a school board member mid-term. Hmmmm.

The school board unveiled a brand new $50,000 system to hold school board meetings on-line. Board Docs is up, but the jury remains out as to whether this represents an improvement, or a costlier widget. One good thing is that --so far--the PDF files appear to be text rather than image-based. Hoorah!!! That is a huge step forward. Just remember that we had that capability long before BoardDocs....we just didn't utilize it.

The district WKCE scores weren't anything to write home about. Good, but not stellar.

A month-by-month review of key issues is as follows:

  • Teachers picket School Board meeting.

  • Jim Carrel shakes up board meeting, claims to be ashamed of other board members
  • 1st Community Engagement Task Force mtg
  • Boundary wars begin as final recommendations presented to public

MARCH 2008
  • Taxpayers get the bill for a $339 steak dinner ($42/person) as 6 school board members attend annual school board conference and treat themslves to a nice dinner
  • Board discards Boundary Tasl Force recommendations and makes major changes causing a huge community ruckus.
APRIL 2008
  • Election surprise: Boylen and Havel Lang ousted, Camber-Davidson & Shimek in , Stasckhouse re-elected
  • Expulsions up 400% over previous year
  • School Board decides to pay for District Admin Tim Culver's Rotary Club membership in addition to two memberships allowed by his contract.

MAY 2008

  • The importance of checking one's work- the SPHS honor roll fiasco
  • School Board meets to re-consider March Boundary decision, then reaffirms ealier boundary decision by split vote.

JUNE 2008

  • High school graduation ceremony; students completely out-of-control. Neitrher school board or adminstration takes any action.
  • SPHS makes the list, but it's not a good thing. SPHS failed to make adequate yearly progress

JULY 2008

  • Communiuty learns that board president Stackhouse is 3-years delinquent on property taxes. (Hey...doesn't money for schools come from property taxes???). Later pays full $15K in arrears.
  • Board votes (amazing!) NOT to spend $45-50 K to move school board mtgs from municipal bldg to district office.


  • Administration proposes $5.00/hr raise (from $32/hr) for Bus. Services Manager. Board sees the error in its ways and only gives a raise of $2.50 per hr (geee...that's awful!) but commits to doing a market comparison study (thereby telegraphing hope to 'justify' the rest later on).
  • 9 adminstrators now in the $100K salary club
  • SPASD debt now at $170M, 2nd in state only to MKE. (+ 4M more due to the pool vote in Nov)


  • District Administrator Culver gets a B- on his performance evaluation (8.0 out of 10) despite meeting only 19 out of 56 metrics. (Math challenge question: How on earth does 19/56 = 0.8?) Translates to a 4.5% salaryt increase. How much of a raise did YOU get this year?


  • The annual electors meeting was held. Once again, the 40 or so folks that came out to the meeting to vote was heavily weighted by District employees and spouses and/or school board members. . "We" voted to approve a tx levy of over $40M.
  • Questions over "finder's fees" associated with naming rights for various "pieces" of the new high school gets approved.
    electors mtg


  • Fueled by a huge presidential election turnout, the Community approves (53.4%, 9715-8464)construction of a pool for the new high school AND allows the school board to permananently exceed the state-imposed revenue cap (51.1% (9189-8782)by $288K each year to cover pool maintenance costs beginning in 2010.
  • SAGE program compliance is questioned. Will the school board back Culver's interpretation of what constitutes compliance?