Thursday, January 1, 2009

What's in store for 2009??

The high school is under construction
The pool was approved, bringing total construction costs to $100M. ($32M in bonds have been secured to-date
The 7th elementary school (Creekside) is complete (tho it's only half-full, while other schools are at a hair beneath capacity)

So...what's on the school board's docket for 2009?
The annual school board conference will be held in January 2009. Will 2009 be a repeat of the decadence of 2008, when 6 of 7 school board members plus administration spent $42 apiece on a luscious steak dinner? And that doesn't include travel or conference expenses. Or will the board wisely consider the state of the economy and scale back the number of members that attend and perhaps opt for lesser dining fare? Whatever happened to the concept of sending 1-2 members and then those members bringing back and sharing what they learned? Or maybe implement a "you speak/present at the conference and you get to attend" policy?

We shall see what transpires. Our crystal ball shows a few issues that are likely to be the hot button issues to be pushed by the school board this year.

4-yr kindergarten
It's coming folks. Whether you see it as a valuable educational program or glorified tax-funded daycare, the board and administration ARE moving to create a 4-yr kindergarten program. Applications for new fall 2009 programs are due July 1. Stay tuned.

Re-structuring school board committees
This too is more than just conjecture based on school board member comments during open meetings. In a nutshell, all current committees (FTT, Finance, Human Resources, Education & Policy) will be disbanded. In their place, 3 committees will likely be formed. No formal names have been discussed, so let's just call the 3 committees: Planning, Implementation, and Assessment. This wacky scheme was conjured from an article shared by Dr. Culver with the school board. Observations indicate that board member Jim McCourt, in particular, has glommed onto this notion. Essentially each of the three new committees will contain elements of each of the old disbanded committees. Sounds like a nice way of unseating current citizen representatives that the board doesn't care for (yet voted in). You will be hearing more soon.

More land needed?
In case you haven't caught wind yet, there seems to be a wee problem with the plan to connect the new high school with the existing one. The DNR is quietly being made the "bad guy" because they don't like the idea of destroying wetlands for the project. There was at least one closed-door school board session this fall to discuss purchasing some additional land, but no decision was made. Some ancillary discussions during recent board committee meetings suggest that the original plan to purchase some adjacent land "fell through", but another land owner may be being courted. We'll have to be formally informed if anything develops, because any land purchase MUST be approved by electors (that's you if you're over 18 and have lived within the school district for at least 10 days) at a public meeting.

More Administrative Staff?
Just what we need...more members of the $100K club. Yes, we need to improve the diversity of our collective teaching and administrative staff, but do we really need another $100K club addition to the Human Resources "department" to accomplish this???? As is usuallyt the case, the board initially expressed reluctance to approve such a position, but inevitably they vote 7-0 to approve. Stay tuned!