Monday, March 14, 2011

Teacher Contracts Extended thru 6/12

On Friday afternoon (3/11) 6 of 7 school board members were able to meet during a special meeting to discuss extending the contract with the MGEA until June 30, 2012. The meeting was not just to extend the current expiring deal, but rather to agree to changes for the 1 year extension only. Below are the some of the provisions that changed (as copied from Peter's blog, because I am too lazy to retype them):

1) Teachers will contribute 1/2 the WRS pension contributions from their salary. This is the same requirement as the "Budget repair bill".

2) Teachers will pay 12.6% of their health insurance costs. This is the same requirement as the "Budget repair bill".

3) Only teachers currently eligible for retirement within the next 5 years will retain the current retirement benefits. No provisions for retirement benefits for teachers retiring beyond the next 5 years are provided in the contract, these will be up to the board to provide in policy.

4) There will be a 0% increase to the salary schedule, although step and lane increases will occur.

5) The district calendar will be determined by the board and is no longer a subject of bargaining, teacher transfers also become a management prerogative.

The contract was extended on a 5 - 1 vote. I was the lone dissenting vote. The main reason that I voted against the measure was that I felt it was moved on too fast.

From the teacher perspective I am guessing that having the peace of mind on a contract for an additional year was worth the changes to their existing contract. From the district perspective, the gains made in providing relief to the budget are great.

As I stated when we voted on the extension, this is a good deal for the district, but I think it is a deal that we could have given to the MGEA after the budget repair bill becomes law. Is it better to reach a deal together vs. mandating one, which is what we could have done when the law changes? Without question it is!

I don't like making decisions and limiting flexibility for next year when we don't yet know what the rules of the game are. However, for better or worse the regulations as it relates to employee relations for the district will change in the very near future. It is this uncertaintity that gave me pause and concern that we were rushing into a deal.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Maywood/Winnequah Consolidation

Last night (12/21) the board met for the sole purpose of discussing & voting on the Maywood/Winnequah Consolidation. The vote to consolidate passed on a 5-2 vote with Manning and Ace voting against.

As I stated during the meeting there has been a committee that included district residents that put this recommendation forward. This issue has been researched and discussed for over 2 years. Last year the Administration and teachers supported this move. The opposition to it came from the parents.

When we discussed this possibility a year ago my 1st concern was that there would be minimal impact to the students. The teachers and administration assured us that there would be no significant drop off in the education the students received. Based on this the move to consolidation became a very valid option.

Then consider the financial savings and efficiencies that come with consolidation the move became very viable. It may be simplistic, but common sense and practicality influence my decisions more than feelings and emotions. I am very good at seperating those 2 influences during the decision making process.

I understand the emotions that many Monona residents have about this move, but I think if most of those individuals would remove emotion from the decision they would agree this is a must for the district given our financial outlook. I think many have realized this based on the fact that we had only a handful of residents at the listening sessions or at last nights meeting.

Closing a school is not an easy decision, but in this case it is the most logical conclusion given our finances. I value saving jobs and programs much more than I value saving a building.

Now that Maywood will be closed, I see no logical reason to move administration or any other program there at this time. In my opinion the next step is to ask the tax payers for the authority to sell Nichols if a buyer approaches the district. Without that authority no buyer will seriously consider the Nichols property for development. Hopefully the voters will give the board this authority, but I also hope that the board will not move to accept just any offer.

I hope that this helps explain how I came to my decision.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Upcoming Monona Library Events

On November 17th, libraries across the state took photos of a day in the life of their libraries. We invite you to watch the slide show. We think you will be delighted and impressed with what you see. Say Cheese Wisconsin!
Winter Craft Project Extravaganza!
Sat, December 11, 2:30pm – 4:00pm.
Jennifer invites you to drop in between 2:30 and 3:30p.m. to make a colorful, creative, crafty creation using a heaping table load of supplies! Come create, glitter, glue, and craft something fun, wintry and wonderful to keep, display, or gift! For Children ages 3 to 10 years old.
READ to a Dog!
December 13. Call 222-6127 to reserve a 20 minute slot. For beginning and independent readers (ages 5 to 10) who want to read a book or a chapter to one of our trained, licensed listening dogs.
Chilly Days and Snowflakes Storytime!
Tue, December 14, 2:00pm – 2:30pm Winter is here! We will be reading wonderful winter picture books - including The Snowy Day - and doing a special Snowy Day craft. Be sure to join us for the fun!
Storytime Sign up for the January / February 2011 session of storytimes begins December 13. In the meantime, check out "Storytime Live" on our Kids & Families webpage.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Post season football

As I am watching the Badgers beat NC State in hoops it got me to thinking about the Badgers and Packers football teams post season.

The Badgers should wind up in the Rose Bowl at the very least, although I am holding out a very faint hope for the National Title game. I think that it is unlikely for Oregon to lose to Oregon State, I do think that Auburn will finally lose a close one. Unfortunately if that happens then TCU will slide into the title game.

With this said, I would love to see the Badgers face a team like Auburn or Oregon. While I do fear their offensive speed against our defense I would love to see our running game against their defenses. I think our big athletic offensive line would open up some huge holes.

My prediction for the Badgers is a Rose Bowl game against the Stanford Cardinals.

As for the Packers I still think they win the division and make the playoffs. I see them being tied with the Bears going into the final game against the Bears with the winner taking the division crown. If this scenario plays out then I think the loser will be out of the playoffs. If the Packers get to the playoffs I think they will 1 game and then exit. Making the playoffs would be a major accomplishment given their injuries. If they do make the playoffs then McCarthy should be coach of the year without question.

On another Packer note....Many have been critical of Ted Thompson for some of his moves or non-moves (especially in free agency). I think he and McCarthy are in such agreement on how to build a team that they both deserve huge pats on the back from Packer Nation. Losing Grant, Barnett, Burnett, Tauscher, Finley, etc. should have doomed their season. The fact that they had the depth on hand and the ability to get the team to rally says a lot about each man's ability to recognize and maximize talent.

Go Oregon State and South Carolina and everyone the Bears play!!!


I have received a couple e-mails/comments from individual(s) complaining about my lengthy absence. Well to those individual(s) I say GET OVER IT.

I started this blog about 2 years ago to update people on my status as I ran for the board. This was never supposed to be a full time job. I have way to many things going on in my life to worry about posting on a blog daily. Do I wish that I had the time to post more? Most definitely. However, behind work, school board meetings and family I don't have the time very often.

My family already takes a back seat most of the time to work and my school board duties. I say this as I am sitting at a hotel in Springfield, IL. I refuse to give away any more of my time when I can be spending it with my family. I will post when I have the time and I feel I have something to say.

I do appreciate those that have followed/read my blog over the past 2 years. It is good to know that at least a few people are interested in my opinions.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Monona Library Event

Karen Wendt asked me to post the details for this event, so here it is. I will post future events that the library is putting on as she sends them to me, so please check back for details and please try to attend an event when you have time in your hectic schedules.

Tellabration: Enjoy an afternoon of Storytelling,
Music, Refreshments, & Fun!
Saturday, November 20, 2010, 3:30 to 5p.m.
Family Fun event. Free. All ages welcome.

Razzle-Dazzle Tales and Fun!
Marge Loch-Wouters tickles the ears of her listeners with razzle-dazzle tales and fun. Her fall-down funny stories and expressive faces have produced laughs aplenty from kids in schools and libraries throughout thestate. Her comically funny stories, many based on children's books and folklore, invite kids in as participants and tellers.

¡Ay chihuahua!
Storyteller Kay Elmsley-Weeden engages and mesmerizes audiences with stories and activities
that could make tortillas dance! Blending English and Spanish, Kay draws kids and adults into her comical and interactive tales from the Spanish speaking world. ¡Ay chihuahua!

Ten Pounds of Wiggles!
Karen Wendt mixes words with a sprinkling of puppets, a dash of sign language, a pinch of music, and a pound of wiggles to bake up a story of delight for children and grownups. Karen says, "I love seeing the kids telling stories so I often invite them up to help. They become characters in the stories." Enjoy a story-dessert of Apple Pie at the end of the evening with one of Karen's favorite personal tales.

International… Interactive… & Entertaining!
Sadarri and Rick Saskill will amaze you with a unique blend of music, movement and language. This is story-play at its very best! Pack your bags for an exciting global adventure. Want to learn rock, paper, scissors the Indonesian way? What about a story in sign language?...A mini international parade?...Or maybe an action song from Mexico? Whether it’s in Spanish, French, Haitian Creole, Swedish or English, this talented couple provides hand-clappin', finger-snappin', foot-stompin' FUN for the entire family.

Monona Public Library
1000 Nichols Road, Monona, WI 53716
Karen Wendt:
Register: 608-222-6127,
Walk-ins welcome.
Sponsored by The Friends of the Monona Public Library
If you need special accommodations to attend, please call 222-6127 one week in advance.

Karen just sent me these also:

Baby & Me Storytimes;
Thursdays, Nov 11 to Dec 16; 10:45a.m. (closed Nov 25)

Picture Book Storytimes;
Tuesdays, Nov 16 to Dec 14: 10:15a.m.
Wednesdays, Nov 10 to Dec 15; 9:15a.m.
Wednesdays, Nov 10 to Dec 15; 10:50a.m.

Toddler Storytimes;
Wednesdays, Nov 10 to Dec 15; 10:00a.m.
Thursdays, Nov 11 to Dec 16; 9:15a.m. (closed Nov 25)
Thursdays, Nov 11 to Dec 16; 10:00a.m. (closed Nov 25)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Letters from the Public

This post is a compilation of letters received by the school board. This is by no means all of the letters and instead only those who have responded to my request to post them here. I believe I have sent all members of the public a follow up asking if I could post their letter, but if I have missed anyone I apologize and will post your letter if you resend it to me. If anyone else would like me to post a letter on their behalf please send it to me.

I am not giving an opinion on these letters. I urge you to review both sides of this issue by looking at the MGEA and MG District websites.

Lastly, I gave the authors the option to include their names. Some agreed and some declined, but I decided to be consistent and not publish any names. So without further ado.....


There are Districts across the State that are settling for 0% increases in contracts. I'd like to see MG join them. You represent 65% of my taxes. 5.??% is one "raise" I don't want.



MG School Board:

I am writing regarding the teachers' contract. I generally support whatever teachers want; I think that in general they are underpaid and undervalued for the important work they do. That said, my purpose in writing is to ask that you not allow their current "job action" of "working the contract" to affect your negotiations. I think the worst thing we can do -- worse than letting the kids and the district continue to suffer because of the teachers' "action" -- would be to reward the union for this unethical tactic; if we do that, I'm sure we can expect more of the same in the future.

Thanks for considering my point of view.

in the next contract I would say be sure one of their required duties
is to write letters of recommendation for students. Not sure why this
would be an optional duty, seems like they could fit it into their

So there's no 'other duties as assigned" on a teacher's job contract,
like there is in every job I've ever had? (asked in a follow up e-mail)

Please don't give in! I just read where teachers in the MGSD are basically using extortion to get what they want, by not writing letters of recommendation for students. There aren't words to express my disgust. All around us people are losing jobs, being paid less, and having to pay more for everything. Dane County and State workers took a pay CUT!

Isn't writing a letter a part of their JOB? I know you won't believe this, but I do NOT have any ax to grind with teachers. It's the union and the greed they exhibit that makes me sick. I worked for the WI Retirement Fund and I know teachers get paid well and have a very good retirement package. I implore members of the MG School Board to demand those teachers do the job they are paid to do, and do it well. If they don't, let them go out on strike. You could rehire replacements in a few days. There are thousands of people in the Madison area with the proper credentials.

Many other school boards (like Madison) don't have a backbone. They laid off some poor (almost minimum wage) kitchen workers so they could afford to give a RAISE to the teachers. There should be a special place in hell for people who do that. And if you go to binding arbitration, all some person does is compare your offer with the others that have already ALL gone up. Until some school board shows some real courage, it will never end. Please think about the people who are struggling and have to pay the bills. But more importantly, please think of what the teachers union is doing to the students. Students are nothing but pawns in their sick game, and I implore you again to do the right thing. Just say NO to removing the retirement adjustment off the table.


P.S. A reply would be welcomed!

The recent article published in the Herald-Independent is informative and revealing.
There is no rational reason for continuing the practice of having teachers’ compensation and benefits be much better than that enjoyed by virtually all of the district taxpayers who pay the bills.
The strategy of phasing out of today’s structure into a more reasonable and sustainable structure in the future is a good one.
The Board and Superintendent need to be strong in their resolve to bring needed change to our district.
People, like me, who are retired and on a fixed income, can no longer tolerate the unfairness of the current compensation and benefit programs.
Thank you,

Again, I just copied and pasted these. I offer no opinion on them one way or the other. I only post them here, so that everyone can see what some of the e-mails say that the board is getting.


Thursday, September 30, 2010

Upcoming Events

The Curriculum committee is meeting next Tuesday night at 7:30 at the District Office. We will be discussing the 9th grade Biology/Honors Biology and the proposed 10th grade Chemistry/Honors Chemistry. The Chemistry classes are being proposed to begin with the 2011/12 school year.

The Monona Grove School District Annual Meeting is being held next Wednesday night at 7:00 in the High School Auditorium. Jerrod Rossing,Director of Business Services, will present the budget.

The following week on Wednesday the 13th we have the regular board meeting.

Finally, I will be attending the open house at Cottage Grove Elementary, so that my daughter can give me the guided tour of her school. She loves to be the tour guide.

My family and I will also be attending the Cottage Grove PTO Fall Festival this Saturday. If you are looking for something to do on Saturday, stop by and support the PTO. I know they would appreciate it. Hopefully they are serving hot chocolate as it is not supposed to be very warm.

Monday, September 27, 2010

MGEA Negotiations

As I have stated I am not about to post my feelings/thoughts on the ongoing negotiations between the district and the MGEA. Peter and Jessica have discussions on their blogs.

I will provide links that the public can review and formulate their own opinions:


President's update

Teacher Update Flyer from School Board

Herald Independent

There are probably others I could find, but these will provide lots of information for everyone to read up on. Please provide your feedback to both the MGEA and the Board to give them your thoughts and opinions. We have received some feedback.

If you have any direct questions please give me a call and we can discuss.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Badgers Offensive Preview

It is time for my review of the upcoming Badger football season. I see this team in much the same light as the Packers. Great offense, questionable special teams and defense.

The O-line returns 5 starters and a couple others who have some substantial playing time. Many of the pundits are calling this group the best in the Big Ten. I think that they are capable of being one of the top 5 lines in the country. With tackles like (MG grad) Carimi and Oglesby anchoring the line the offense is well stoked to run block or pass protect.

The receivers look like they can go 5 deep. Toon is the unquestioned #1 receiver. He has all of the makings of a guy who will play on Sunday's. It looks like Kyle Jefferson has been found. He took the last couple of years off after a great freshman debut. Hopefully he can fulfill some of the promise he flashed previously. Lance Kendricks will extend the run of mismatches from the H-back/Tight End position.

At running back the Badger return Heisman Candidate John Clay. Clay is reported to be healthy and in better shape. I am projecting him to get about 1400 yards. Not sure that will keep him in the Heisman talk, but it will lead to many wins. Monte Ball is a more than capable back and will get some key carries. Zach Brown is still around for depth, but probably won't get many touches as Clay and Ball will carry the load. The remaining few carries may come from James White. White is a great speed back with the size to help him handle the pounding of running between the tackles. Expect White to surprise some defense with at least one game where he breaks off 2 or 3 long runs after Clay and Ball have worn out the defense.

Scott Tolzein is back at QB for a 2nd year. While Tolzein is not the flashiest QB out there he is very sound foundamentally. He takes care of the ball and delivers it to the open receiver. Behind him you have Curt Phillips and Jon Budmayr. Phillips is coming of ACL surgery and may not be able to play right away. Budmayr has lots of potential, but has not yet had the opportunity to show it in a game. I am hoping that the Badgers can get a big lead in 1 or 2 of the non-conference games and Budmayr gets some reps. If Tolzein goes down the Badgers will take a step back just from the lack of experience behind him.

I will preview the defense soon.