This blog represents my opinions and my opinions alone, and certainly doesn't represent the collective thoughts of any of the Boards or organizations that I serve on. Unfortunately I make all sorts of miistakes, I'm a picky eater, I can't sing and I just recently found out I have been spelling certain words in my vocabulary wrong my entire life. That being said, I still continue to muddle ever onward. Welcome.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

School Board Race Welcomes Dean Bowles.

Dean Bowles, longtime Monona resident, has taken out nomination papers for the Monona Grove Board of Education.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Special Board of Education Meeting Tonight 7pm

The Monona Grove Board of Education will meet tonight at 7pm in the Winnequah School cafeteria to vote on the consolidation of Maywood Elementary and Winnequah School. The Board will first convene at 6pm in closed session to revisit the matter of the payroll over-payment of about 45 teachers.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Couple Of Evelyns and Their Grandpas

My grandmother Evelyn and her grandfather Adolph.

And my little Evelyn and her grandfather Darrell.

A Whole Bunch Of Information.

In Monona Park and Recreation News:

This Tuesday evening the Monona Park and Rec. Board conditionally approved a two year probationary agreement with the Monona Warriors semi-pro adult tackle football team to use Ahuska Park as their home field. You can learn more about the league at The Warriors' information should be available on-line soon. Park and Rec. Director Jake Anderson hopes to develop a joint partnership with the team and MG Youth Football to act as stewards of the field and to work on and fund site projects, such as bleachers, sound and storage systems and a press box. Speaking of the MG Youth Football program, the Board also heard their first formal request to name the Ahuska Park football/soccer field Haukried Field after longtime founder and director Morrie Haukried. There will be thirty days of public input before any recommendation will be made to the Council by the Park and Rec. Board.

From the Snowshoe Department:

From the Monona PTO:

 Kelly Bethke, Maywood PE teacher, needs some help this week! She sent out this request: "I am looking for parent volunteers to help the Maywood students put on and take off snowshoes during our snowshoe unit in PE. We have adult sizes, so the volunteers could join us. We will be going out Thursday and Friday morning between 8:30-11 am. Classes start at the beginning of each half hour." Please reply to Ms. Bethke if you are able to help for any portion of those times. Her email address is

In the "Local Boy Does Good" category:

From an email from Jeff Otto, tech and engineering at MGHS, regarding Board member Jill List's son, Connor Stevens:

Connor Stevens recently produced a video that he has entered into Fox 47's MSG 2 Teens contest. He is currently one of the five finalists. The video is well done, and he has a chance of winning a laptop computer along with a $2500 grant for the school. The school with the most votes will be the winner, and their video will be aired on Fox47. If Connor wins, he will choose where the grant money will be directed. Voting is very quick and easy. You can vote by CLICKING HERE!

There will be an email link on the district's website shortly.
Here is the direct URL for voting:

Good luck Connor!

In the "Charlie Brown Christmas Tree" category:

This morning I attended what is likely to be the last Maywood Elementary Holiday Concert. Always one of my favorites, the concert was lovely and bittersweet. Music teacher Paul Backstrom does an amazing job with our little ones and it is so wonderful to watch them perform. I sat in front of second grade teacher Barb Trapp's parents, who have been attending the Maywood Holiday program for the past twenty-four years. Barb's class always does a presentation of A Flea on Santa's Tree and her father gave us a run-down of her room's successes over the years.

In the "Gee, Things Could Be A Lot Worse" category:


Investigators search for motive in Florida school board shooting

A lot of people still talking about a frightening shooting caught on camera in Panama City, Florida.
No one was hurt in the shooting, but the gunman later shot and killed himself.
All of the moments were caught on tape (warning- it's pretty disturbing), as school board members in Florida were staring down the barrel of a gun as the shooter, 56-year-old Clay Duke, opened fire on them before killing himself.
Investigators believe Duke may have been planning the incident for quite some time. They say they found a calendar in his home with the date of the shooting circled.
The suspect first spray-painted a "V" in a circle on the wall, and then told the women in the room to leave, including a board member who returned and tried to knock the gun out of the suspect's hand with her pocketbook.
School board members said they were fortunate to be alive after seeing the bullet holes in the room where the shooting took place.

And finally, in the "Who's Crazy Enough To Run Now" category:

After that video, who knows? Susan Fox is the only (that I know of) candidate running for the Board of Education this year. Jill List didn't have plans to run for re-election this last time I spoke with her. With two open seats this period, this election season could turn out to be rather boring, maybe not such a bad thing...

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Shooting Reported At Monona Branch Of The UW Credit Union

From the Wisconsin State Journal's online site:
A robbery and kidnapping suspect was shot at the UW Credit Union in Monona after the person rammed an approaching police car head on, police said.

The suspect had earlier in the day taken another person hostage and was believed to be withdrawing money from that person’s account while in the drive-through lane, Monona Police Lt. Sara Deuman said.
Deuman would not say if the suspect was shot by a police officer.
The suspect was transported by helicopter to a local hospital, she said. Deuman said the suspect was the only person injured during the incident at the credit union, 200 E. Broadway, Monona.
The alleged kidnapping occurred somewhere in the Madison area, and a gun was found in the suspect’s car, Deuman said.

 Police are on the scene of a reported shooting at the drive-up of the UW Credit Union at 200 E. Broadway, Monona.
Monona Police Lt. Sara Deuman said she could not yet confirm whether anyone was injured, but a Med Flight helicopter landed on the scene at about 2:30 p.m.
Police shut down streets in the area around Broadway and the Pier 37 shopping complex, Deuman said.
Don Kelleher said he and his wife were leaving a nearby store about 10 minutes after 2 p.m. when more than a dozen police vehicles swarmed the scene and stopped several vehicles from leaving the parking lot.
“We saw the cops run up to the drive-up windows with their rifles, and they were pointing at something with their rifles,” he said.

Kelleher said he and his wife did not hear any shots fired. They saw police officers escorting another officer who looked like he had been injured away from the credit union, he said.
At about 2:30 p.m. police had yellow warning tape around the scene, and cars were allowed to leave, he said.
The credit union issued a statement about the incident just before 3 p.m. It reads:
“The Monona Police Department is at our Monona UW Credit Union branch responding to an incident that occurred at our drive-up. The Monona branch location has been closed for the day and is expected to reopen tomorrow at regular business hours. We have no additional comments to share at this time.”

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Board of Education Meeting This Wednesday, December 8th.

The Monona Grove Board of Education will meet this Wednesday evening at 7pm in the District Office Board room. The complete agenda for the evening can be found here.

Some highlights:
The Board will hear our district's PMA five-year budget forecast from Bob Borch, as well as an update on our continuous school improvement data and goals.
We anticipate lengthy discussion of the Maywood and Winnequah consolidation and the possible future sale of Nichols School property.
We will also hear more details of and possibly take action on the 2008 district payroll errors resulting in overpayment to staff.
Again, I would like to say thanks for the many generous donations to our schools and students. These gift donations are up for approval in the meeting's consent agenda:

E. Approval of Gift Donations

Fourteen winter coats donated by Cottage Grove Optimist Club to Cottage Grove School

$229.84 donated by Monona Elementary PTO to Winnequah School

$500.00 donated by Sara Steele, to Cottage Grove School for curriculum materials and
student assistance

$1,700.00 donated by Cottage Grove PTO to Glacial Drumlin for 5th Grade

$3,000.00 donated by Cottage Grover PTO to Glacial Drumlin for special requests

$500.00 donated by Bradley & Susan Manning to MGHS Athletic Department to offset attendance costs at the National Athletic Director Conference for John Klements induction into the National Federation of High School’s Hall of Fame.

Monday, December 6, 2010

An Update From Those Fun-Loving Charter School Folks.

Dear Board Members:

I am a member of the citizen group that is drafting an MG charter middle school planning grant application for submission to DPI. It has been suggested that we provide the Board with brief updates on our activities. Hence, this email. If any of you do not wish to receive this email, let me know, and I will not bother you further.

The Monona Grove School for Health and Environmental Sciences (MG Science for short) will be a public charter school located in vacant space within an MG building. Although the location is ultimately the Board’s decision, our group does have a preference for the Winnequah building. That preference is based on (1) availability of space, (2) no need for renovation, and (3) proximity to outdoor environmental studies locations. However, if the Board decides that some other building makes more sense in the grand scheme of things, we will work with what is available.

MG Science can be attended by any middle school student in our district. It is our belief that the school will neither increase nor decrease total state student aid paid within the district; the school receives the state aid amount per capital for each child who enrolls in the school. The school will provide hands-on science instruction in a small school setting. Science programming can be performed with more flexibility (e.g., a 4-hour lab on a specific day) than is available in the necessarily more regimented big school program at Glacial Drumlin.

The group is currently drafting a planning grant application that must be submitted to DPI. If the grant application is approved, grant funds can be used to, among other things, reimburse a teacher(s) for drafting a detailed curriculum for the school. Drafting leader assignments for portions for the lengthy application are as follows:

BUDGETING/FUNDRAISING: Harvey Potter/Stephanie Ramer, CURRICULUM: Larry Miller/Patti McGinnis, GOVERNANCE/LEGAL: Nancy Gagnon, OUTREACH; Kathy Thomas/Heidi Sigmund, PLANNING: Stephanie Ramer/Mike Meulemans. The draft sections will be done by January, and a submission of the entire draft will be made to the MG School Board in February, 2010.

Of particular interest this week: Nancy Gagnon and Patti McGinnis are meeting with a UW Medical School grant coordinator to discuss possible grant money to supplement the school’s operating budget. UW Medical School has an interest in promoting more in-depth health education. This meeting was arranged by Dr. Jim Shropshire, for which we are grateful.
Nancy Gagnon


who's running for school board?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Journal Sentinel Piece On The Milton School District


How Milton schools saved a bundle - of your money

Patrick McIlheran
Dec. 1, 2010

Bernie Nikolay should be happy. His school district - he's the superintendent in Milton - had a good November. The girls swim team won the state title, a first for Milton girls athletics. And an arbitrator said the district could switch health coverage away from the insurer owned by the teachers union. That'll save the district as much as a million bucks a year.

For a district with a $33 million budget, that's cheery. For the rest of the state, it means a tide may have turned.

It could mean the end to the costly market dominance of WEA Trust, the health insurer owned by the Wisconsin Education Association Council. Just under two-thirds of Wisconsin districts use WEA Trust, a puzzling preference since its coverage is so costly.

Districts that buy WEA Trust plans average $1,665 a month for family premiums, according to their state association, while those choosing other carriers average $1,466. The difference is greatest where taxpayers cover the whole premium.

Milton was paying $48,301 more in premiums for every month that it couldn't switch from WEA Trust to a pair of plans from Madison-based Dean Health and Janesville-based MercyCare that it said were comparable. The district already had switched its administrative staff, said Nikolay, and while the union objected that the new plans would restrict choices, most teachers already used doctors at Dean or MercyCare clinics, Nikolay noted. "That made it less problematic for a lot of our families."

And it saved a bundle for a district saddled with "bleak local economic conditions," as its arbitration case put it. It is losing students and, thus, state aid. The area is losing population. The district needed to control premiums, and the arbitrator agreed.

Read the rest of the article here.

Stuff Yourself Silly On Pancakes With Santa

Pancake Breakfast with Santa

Date: Sat - 12/11/2010

Time: 8:00 AM

Location: Monona Community Center - Senior Center

Join the Monona Grove Optimist Club for the 3rd Annual Pancake Breakfast with Santa on Saturday December 11, 2010 from 8 am - 10 am at the Monona Community Center. All you can eat pancakes! There will also be sausages, apple sauce, milk, orange juice, and coffee.

There will be a coloring contest for the kids and an opportunity to get your picture taken with Santa!

Cost is $5 per person, $2.50 for children ages 3-10, 2 & under are free

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Where Anonymity Breeds Contempt

From the New York Times:

Times Topic: Social Networking

THERE you are, peacefully reading an article or watching a video on the Internet. You finish, find it thought-provoking, and scroll down to the comments section to see what other people thought. And there, lurking among dozens of well-intentioned opinions, is a troll.

“How much longer is the media going to milk this beyond tired story?” “These guys are frauds.” “Your idiocy is disturbing.” “We’re just trying to make the world a better place one brainwashed, ignorant idiot at a time.” These are the trollish comments, all from anonymous sources, that you could have found after reading a CNN article on the rescue of the Chilean miners.

Trolling, defined as the act of posting inflammatory, derogatory or provocative messages in public forums, is a problem as old as the Internet itself, although its roots go much farther back. Even in the fourth century B.C., Plato touched upon the subject of anonymity and morality in his parable of the ring of Gyges.

That mythical ring gave its owner the power of invisibility, and Plato observed that even a habitually just man who possessed such a ring would become a thief, knowing that he couldn’t be caught. Morality, Plato argues, comes from full disclosure; without accountability for our actions we would all behave unjustly.

The rest of the article can be found here.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Cottage Grove PTO Holiday Festival This Saturday!

Mark your calendars December 4th, 2010 for the Holiday Festival! This year, the festival will be located at Glacial Drumlin School. The 2009 Holiday Festival raised $2,400 for our schools. It is a wonderful way to start the Holiday Season!

This event is a joint effort between many organizations within our community. It includes:

•Craft Fair
•Visit from Santa
•Fire Truck Rides
•Horse & Carriage Rides
•Craft Projects in the Art Room
•Book Sale for the Library
•Santa's Secret Shop
•Holiday Cookies
•Food & Drinks

If you have questions about the Holiday Festival, or if you would like to volunteer to help out at the event, please contact:

Welcome to the MG21 Open House!

Don't forget to attend the MG21 Open House this Thursday evening, December 2, from 6:30 to 8pm in the Nichols School Building.

All interested are welcome to attend!


Updated: Two Public Hearings On Proposed Maywood and Winnequah Consolidation

9am Dec. 11 at Winnequah School, 800 Greenway Road, Monona,
6:30pm Dec. 14 at Glacial Drumlin School, 801 Damascus Trail, Cottage Grove.
The School Board is expected to vote on the issue at its meeting at 7pm Dec. 21 at Winnequah School.
I keep waiting to hear from our district's parents on this issue and thus far haven't received a single phone call or email. What's the word on the street?

WSJ: Maywood Consolidation Coverage

It's always something when the MG school district makes front page news in the State Journal.

School merger back on table in Monona Grove
Gena Kittner
After rejecting a plan this spring to consolidate two Monona elementary schools, the Monona Grove School Board is again considering a merger as a way to address a $1 million budget deficit.
"There are people who really believe in the value of a small school," School Board president Susan Fox said about why some residents have objected to consolidating the schools. "I think we're just to the point where we can't afford to offer that option."
The proposal is to move all students at Maywood School, which houses 4-year-old kindergarten through second grade, to Winnequah School, which houses third through fifth grades, starting next fall. Informational meetings are planned for Dec. 11 and 14 and the School Board is expected to vote on the issue Dec. 21. Officials say they want the issue decided next month to help them make other budget decisions for 2011-12

The whole story can be found here.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Maywood/Winnequah Consolidation: Public Forum December 11th

The Monona Grove School District has scheduled a public input session on Saturday December 11th, from 9 to 11am in the cafeteria of Winnequah School.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Wisconsin Teachers Facing Furloughs?


Wisconsin Teachers May Face Furloughs Soon
New Senate Leader Proposes Cuts For Next Budget Cycle

MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin teachers may be facing furloughs in the coming budget cycle.
Incoming state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said a teacher from his district gave him the idea, pointing out that students are in school for 180 days by law, but teachers work for 185 days by many district contracts. That means there could be five days possible for furlough that wouldn't affect teaching time, WISC-TV reported.
"It is something that I think may have to be done in an effort to balance this budget," Fitzgerald said.
There could be many legal issues with requiring furlough days for teachers, according to John Ashley, Wisconsin Association of School Boards' executive director.
"I think we want to be cautious, there is a fair labor standards act, we have 424 school districts and 424 different contracts out there," Ashley said. "But I do think it is something we want to look at for flexibility as school boards, ways in which we can improve student achievements."
Wisconsin Education Association Council President Mary Bell said in a statement Friday that they would work with the new Legislature and administration on ways to "get at the root of what needs fixing."
"Local decisions about how much time educators need to prepare classrooms and lessons ... are best made directly by the educators and elected representatives on local school boards," Bell said.
A spokesperson for Gov.-elect Scott Walker declined to comment on the issue.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Milton School District Wins In Arbitration.

From Walworth County Today:

MILTON — The Milton School District received a long-awaited arbitrator's decision this week, ending a months-long impasse over the district's 2009-11 teachers contract.
The decision paves the way for an insurance switch that could save the district nearly $500,000 during the 2010-11 school year, district officials said.
In a 44-page decision filed Saturday, state-appointed arbitrator David Shaw decided in favor of a proposal from the Milton School District that forces the teachers union to switch health insurance carriers.
The ruling's simple: The Milton teacher's union will drop its union-fostered healthcare coverage through the Wisconsin Education Association Trust in favor of the district's pick—a Dean-Mercy healthcare plan that's used by school administration and the bulk of other district employees.
The insurance change likely will come in January 2011 and applies to the remainder of the union's 2009-11 labor contract, Superintendent Bernie Nikolay said.
Shana Lewis, who represented the Milton School District in the arbitration, said she believes the outcome of Milton's arbitration case will resonate with school districts statewide

Read the rest of the story here

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Things That Make You Go HHhhmm...

I see this tree every day on my drive to the YMCA. My favorite thing about this tree is not the huge metal flowers but the fact that you can tell someone was about to cut it down at the base and then must have said "oh, what the hell, let's just put a whole bunch of huge metal flowers on it instead".

Monona Grove Liberal Arts Charter for the 21st Century Is Holding an Open House December 2nd

MG21’s Open House
Thursday, December 2 from 6:30-8:00pm.
Where: The Nichols School Building 5301 Monona Drive

For interested Community Members, Students, Parents, Staff, Administration and Board Members
Please come for Cookies, Punch, and Information.
We look forward to seeing you!
Tel: 221-7660 ext. 334

Tellabration!: The Worldwide Event of Storytelling at the Monona Public Library!

A little history of the Tellabration!:

Tellabration!—the International Night of Storytelling for Adults—is held every November on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. Begun in 1987 by Connecticut storyteller J. G. Pinkerton, the goal of this event is to raise the level of awareness of this ancient art form in the adult community. Often adults assume that storytelling is meant only for children, but there are many stories—both personal and folk tales—that are appropriate for adults. Tellabration! also strives to build grassroots support for storytelling.

Saturday, Nov. 20, 3:30p.m.

When? 11/20 at 3:30p.m.

What? Stories! Puppets! Music!Who? All Ages (stories for the very youngest will be first in the lineup before the pie break and then we will invite anyone back who wants to hear 3 more stories for older youth and adults.)

Where? Monona Public Library, 1000 Nichols Road, Monona, WI 53716

How? 608-222-6127

Note: Free. Award-winning Apple Pie by Kristin Sobol. Door Prizes. So much fun! Sign up or Drop in! Sponsored by The Friends of the Monona Public Library. If you need special accommodations to attend, please call 222-6127 one week in advance.

The Storytellers! 2010 WLA Librarian of the Year, Marge Loch-Wouters, bilingual storyteller Kay Elmsley-Weeden, the musical duo of Rick and Sadarri Saskill, and Monona Library Children’s Services Coordinator Karen Wendt!

Monday, November 15, 2010

FAQ: Maywood and Winnequah School Consolidation

Frequently Asked Questions about Consolidation of Maywood and Winnequah
Updated: 10.22.2010

Q1: How will staff members give input?
A: This year, Maywood and Winnequah teachers are joining together for half of the monthly staff meetings. At these meetings, collaborative time to discuss and plan the consolidation issue and other topics of mutual interest, such as curriculum alignment, for example, will occur. All staff members are able to provide information about suggestions, needs/concerns, items to plan for, and ideas for merging the two groups of staff and students. Additionally, staff members have the opportunity to be on a Consolidation Planning Team.

Q2: How will parents be informed and involved?
A: In September, the PTO Board met with Superintendent Craig Gerlach and Principal Ann Schroeder about the consolidation issue. At this meeting, the PTO Board, led by co-presidents Cathy Bernards and Jennifer Garrett, gave suggestions, which we are incorporating. For example, the October PTO meeting will be held at Maywood after the Maywood Open House so that Superintendent Craig Gerlach, the guest speaker, can reach a broad audience of interested parents. There will also be a Community Listening Session scheduled for November.
The Monona Grove School Board will discuss this item at the November school board meeting and reach a decision at the December board meeting. Additionally, with the closing of Nichols two years ago, we have past experience dealing with moving logistics. Parents volunteered to help teachers in their classrooms pack and unpack, which was very helpful.

Q3: What will happen to the Maywood logo and mascot?
A: Staff members will discuss this as a combined 4K-5 staff. Choices include continuing with one existing mascot (Winnequah Turtles or the Winnequah Wonders) or coming up with a new mascot. There has been discussion that since Winnequah will become a new school with 4K-5 students, we should come up with new mascot to reflect this new beginning.

Q4: How will a combined school affect the walk zone? Which students will be bussed and which ones won’t?
A: Currently, Winnequah has a ¾ mile walk area. This was determined by the Dane County Sheriff’s Department when Winnequah became a grades 3-6 school in 2008. John Vandermerwe, MG Transportation Director, will work with the Dane County Sheriff’s Department to determine if there would be a change with 4K-2 students at Winnequah.
Q5: How will the bus ride work with kids in the 4K-5 grades riding the same bus?
A: Students will ride the same bus. Other districts with many grades riding the same bus handle this in different ways. Some make no accommodations, and others assign seats with the youngest children sitting in the front of the bus. 4K students in the district are given door-to-door bus service.

Q6: Are the bathroom facilities appropriate for small children? Will the Winnequah bathroom facilities meet code for the younger student population?
A: All bathrooms are up to code for all elementary age and handicapped student use. Student bathrooms were remodeled in 2008 when Winnequah underwent extensive remodeling.

Q7: Will 4K and kindergarten rooms have bathrooms in the classrooms?
A: There is no room to add bathrooms in the kindergarten rooms at Winnequah; however, one could be added to the 4K room. The bathrooms, however, are located conveniently and nearby in the hall. To note, Maywood has three classrooms with bathrooms. When the grade level has been larger than three classrooms, as in the case of last year with five kindergarten rooms, not all students had bathrooms in classrooms. Also, the 4K classes at Maywood have not had a bathroom in the classroom since T4K began. At Taylor Prairie School, one of two 4K
classrooms has a bathroom and two of six kindergarten rooms have bathrooms in the classroom. The school toilet height is similar or lower than the standard home toilet height.

Q8: Will staffing be adjusted again once the composition of the school has been changed? How will the district practice discouraging teacher travel be affected?
A: We adjust staffing annually based on need, FTE’s of staff, number of students in building, teacher certification, and having the least amount of travel.

Q9: How will students be accommodated at recess?
A: We anticipate buying primary age playground equipment, especially for 4K, K, and 1 students and would study where that equipment would best be placed. Due to warranty issues, we can’t move any of the Maywood equipment to Winnequah. After determining the needs, we’ll look at placement of equipment.

Q10: Where will the primary age students and the intermediate age students overlap during the day?
A: Typically, on the bus, before school, and after school. A typical lunch schedule for a school this size would include three lunch periods with the following groupings: K/1, 2/3, and 4/5.

Q11: What is the student capacity of Winnequah?
A: 550+

Q12: Is the water problem from two or three years ago fixed at Winnequah (the Band Room was affected)?
A: The Band room was extensively remodeled—old cabinets and tiers for seating ripped out, new floor, new ceiling tiles and lights, painting, and sound boards added as well as exterior work to prevent seepage. Since the “100 year old flood,” there has not been water seeping in through the ground. This summer, several school districts struggled with increased heat and humidity. The band room had moisture from condensation on pipes, which was remedied. This room is not used currently, but is scheduled to be the strings room next year.

Q13: Will any renovations be necessary? When would they take place? Would they be finished before the start of school in the fall?
A: Recommended renovations will include: removal of lockers and replacement with cubbies/hooks, adding primary age playground equipment, renovating three classrooms on the lower level that weren’t renovated, installing a bathroom in the 4K classroom, adding two additional key readers at outside entrances, among a few other needs that we are currently discussing.

Q14: Will renovations affect Summer School in Monona? If so, how?
A: No. We plan to have renovations completed after Summer School so that the building is ready for the start of the 2011-12 school year.

Q15: Will teachers have enough classroom storage?
A: All new cabinetry with counters and sinks were installed in most classrooms when Winnequah was remodeled. Just like at home, there’s never enough storage, but we will look at what additional storage needs there may be and plan how we might address that need.

Q16: What is the long-term plan for building utilization? What will happen to Maywood and Nichols? Are there plans to move any more grades out to Cottage Grove now or in the future? What is the plan for an operational referendum?
A: Consolidating from three buildings (Nichols, Winnequah, Maywood) to two buildings (Nichols, Winnequah) is part of a long-range plan that will serve us well into the future. Maywood would be mothballed; there is no considering given to selling Maywood. Depending on the possibilities of selling Nichols, possibly the District Office and alternative programs could move to Maywood. It’s the district’s goal to keep elementary students in their own communities. Given the budget deficit, it is anticipated that the School Board will examine the need for a referendum and look to Spring of 2012, possibly.

Q17: What will the Winnequah map look like if we combine the schools?
A: Refer to the map. This fall, teachers from both schools agreed about homeroom placement locations: 4K-K in the library hall, 1, 2 & 3 in the Cafeteria hall, and 4 and 5 downstairs on the lower level. Teachers identified rooms for those classes as well as Art, Music, Library, Strings, Phy. Ed., and Cafeteria. At our next meeting, we’ll look at where resource teacher rooms will be located. Typically, resource teachers often share rooms depending on space. Currently, we do not have an Early Childhood half-day program; if the need arises in the future and it was
determined to have a half-day program at school rather than in a community setting, we’d identify a classroom for this purpose.

Q18: What will happen if the student population exceeds capacity at Winnequah?
A: When overcrowding occurs, building additions, modular units, reopening of closed buildings, building new buildings are typical ways districts deal with space needs.

Q19: What is the actual cost savings of closing Maywood?
A: See handout.

Pickle Bill, Pickle Bill, Pickle Me This.

From an email from Heather Gates:

Hearings Set On "Pickle Bill" Regulations; Comments Due By Nov. 30
Contact: Donna Gilson: 608-224-5130

MADISON -- After a season of operating under temporary regulations, home canners who want to sell their wares at farmers' markets and church bazaars can comment at public hearings on a proposed permanent rule that will govern them in the future. The rule would also expand the ability of small-scale maple syrup producers to sell their product without a license.Generally speaking, canned food for sale must be prepared in a licensed, commercial-grade kitchen. But last winter the Wisconsin Legislature passed a law exempting some small-scale businesses from licensing. The regulations written by the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection provide details for how people could qualify for the exemption. The permanent regulations would apply to home canners with annual sales of $5,000 or less in foods that are naturally acidic or made acidic by processing, such as pickles, salsa, and jams and jellies, and who sold only at farmers' markets or community events such as church bazaars. The regulations would also allow maple syrup producers to sell up to $5,000 worth of syrup to processors without a license. Maple syrup producers can sell directly to consumers without a license, and neither the temporary nor the permanent regulations change that long-standing provision in the law.Food safety officials are also asking for comments on whether other foods produced on a small scale should be exempt from licensing, and whether those claiming the licensing exemption should be required to register with DATCP.

A copy of the proposed regulation is available online.

You can also receive a copy by calling 608-224-4707; emailing Kathy Roach; or writing to DATCP-DFS, ATTN Kathy Roach, P.O. Box 8911, Madison, WI 53708-8911.

The same email and postal addresses can be used to mail written comments. You can also comment online.

More Great Events at the Monona Public Library!

Tuesday, Dec. 7, 4:00p.m. to 5:00p.m.

Recycle Bug presents "Make Sock Puppets!" Tuesday, December 7, 4p.m. Monona Library Story Room. RSVP. Join the Recycle Bug for a night of recycling fun. Make a puppet out of an old sock and other interesting items reclaimed from the trash heap. Bring an old sock or one will be provided for you. NOTE: Yarn needles will be used; parental participation and supervision encouraged. (Glue dots may be used by younger children, but will not stand up in the wash.)

Saturday, Dec. 11, 2:30 to 4p.m.Saturday, December 11

Monona Library Story Room. Drop in 2:30 to 4:00p.m.Winter is upon us! Stop in and make a colorful, creative, crafty creation using a heaping table load of supplies! Come create, glitter, glue, and craft something fun and wonderful to keep, display, or give away! For Children ages 3 to 10 years old.

Monday, Dec. 13, 5:50 to 7:10p.m.

Read to Sophie, a Standard Poodle or Buddy, a Golden Retriever. RSVP 222-6127 to reserve a 20 minute spot.The Reading Education Assistance Dogs (R.E.A.D.) program improves children's reading and communication skills by employing a powerful method: reading to a dog. The mission of the R.E.A.D. program is to improve the literacy skills of children through the assistance of registered therapy teams, a dog and their owner. Reading out loud improves reading skills. Dogs are ideal reading companions because they create a relaxed, comfortable, and safe environment.

Tuesday, Dec. 14, 1:45p.m.

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!--

Karen Wendt

Youth Services Coordinator

Monona Public Library 1000 Nichols Road Monona, WI 53716

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Another Reason Why I Love Living Here, Part Two:

I want to thank all of the fantastic and dedicated coaches and volunteers of the Monona PeeWee Football organization. My son Augustus just finished his very first experience playing football in pads on the Falcons team and he loved every minute of it. His coaches were just the right mix of positive, firm, encouraging and knowledgeable. In this day and age when discipline can occasionally precede a frivilous lawsuit and little roughnecks can spiel off all their constitutional rights when they get into trouble, it is refreshing to see our kids respond positively and respectfully to adult direction and instruction. The coaches were wonderful in modelling good sportsmanship and teamwork.

I was so proud to have my parents come to Aug's first game at the high school. They were amazed to see the size of the crowd cheering on their teams, the fully stocked concession stand, the excitement on the players' faces and the obvious commitment of all of the adult volunteers. When I explained to them that the only cost to participate was $5 and that few coaches actually had children even playing this year, they were even more impressed! Monona PeeWee Football is an exemplary organization and I hope that all my kids will participate in the future, even my little Evelyn! Thank you for a great experience for my son!
Monona PeeWee Football can be found here on Facebook.


Sunday, October 31, 2010

Another Reason Why I Love Living Here:

Monona's Planning and Community Development Director Paul Kachelmeier screening It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! in his driveway for our trick-or-treaters on Halloween night. You're awesome, Paul!

Monday Night City Council Meeting: Full-Time Recreation/Aquatic Supervisor Position on the Chopping Block

The Monona City Council will meet Monday evening at 7:30 in the Monona Public Library Conference Room. One of the items up for discussion and possible approval is the elimination of a full-time Recreation/Aquatic Supervisor. This position was budgeted into both the committee and mayoral budget and it's elimination will likely result in the reduction of recreation programs.

From an email from Park and Recreation Director, Jake Anderson:

Hello Parks & Recreation Board Members,
I wanted to let you know about a budget development that could have a significant negative impact on our department. Alderman Veserat has included a budget amendment to take out the Full-Time Recreation/Aquatic Supervisor position that I proposed and was included in the committee and mayoral budgets. This action would more than likely mean that my current part-time Rec Coordinator Jordan Burress would leave as she has a full-time job offer on the table, but would prefer to work here. I would then have to eliminate numerous recreation programs to be able to handle all of my duties with capital projects and day to day operations. If you would like to support our department, the city council will meet on Monday night at 7:30 pm at the Library. Please let me know if you have any other questions. Thanks.

From an email from Pat Howell, long-time Park and Recreation Board member:

Dear Fellow Park Board Members,

I am writing out of concern for Ald. Veserat's budget amendment to eliminate the recreation/aquatic position that was included in the budget. I strongly believe that proposal is wrong.The strength and growth of the Monona Recreation Program has been a benefit to everyone who lives in this community. The money generated from the various programs pays significantly for the valued people who develop and oversee the success of our parks and recreation programs. In addition to the dollars, the value of their work contributes to the quality of life we enjoy in this community. The positive direction Monona is currently taking to bring new life to our changing community and enhance the opportunities for people at all stages of life who live here is worth far more than we can measure in dollars. Providing recreational opportunities along with the space and facilities for those things to happen is critical to this community culture we value. By reducing staff, we reduce the quality of community life. As a department, I hope we can show support and voice our thoughts on this in as many ways as possible. My plan is to attend the city council meeting on Monday. I will also e-mail Robb and Pat.
Pat Howell

From an email from another long-time Park and Recreation Board member, Pam Kitslaar:

I am writing to ask your support to include the full time Recreation/Aquatic position in the 2011 budget.
Please recognize the exemplary job that Jake Anderson has done to bring our Parks and Recreation Dept to a level other communities envy. As you are aware, and note in the City newsletter, we now have a wide variety of quality programs, activities, and special events for all age groups. These have been met with enthusiasm and successful attendance. These serve to strengthen and bring our community together, promote health and wellness, and attract other people into Monona. There has been an increase in revenues.
The department has grown. Jake has had an excellent 19 hr per week Rec Coordinator, but that is no longer enough support to maintain our lively recreation department. It is also difficult to retain a good worker at these hours.
As Park and Recreation Director, Jake has many administrative responsibilities. He has been a true asset for Monona with his up to date knowledge of programming, marketing and community relations, safety, equipment, grants available for application, and etc. He has been very dedicated, spends long hours and needs additional help. The full time Rec/Aquatic Supervisor position to manage the outdoor pool and thus eliminating the need for Head guards, to charge up pool operations and assist with other activities is a position with growth whose time has come.
Let’s show our gratitude, let’s show the community, the Pride we have in our Parks and Recreation to support this full time position. Thank you for your thoughtful consideration to put it in the budget.

Pamela Kitslaar

City Council meets at 7:30. Please be there to voice your opinion on this issue. Unfortunately, I will be watching the Monona PeeWee Football championship game at Ahuska Park at 7pm.


Friday, October 15, 2010

A Sneak Peek at the New and Improved Blue Park

Here are two views of the proposed replacement play structure for the Blue Park. The Park and Recreation Board will look at different color options next month. I'm wondering what your thoughts are on whether the Blue Park should stay blue?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Second Week of the Month Time Again!

The Monona Park and Recreation Board will meet tonight, October 12th, at 6pm in the Community Center lounge.

We will be discussing the replacement playground structure for Monona's beloved Blue Park, which has been deemed ready for a face-lift. We have many new structures to consider and I hope that any interested parents and park-goers join us to peruse the options. And for those of us who would still like to have at least one sand park in Monona, tonight would be the perfect opportunity to voice that sentiment.

Under new business: Capital Transfer Request for 2010 Pool Shower/Locker Room Floor Project, Capital Transfer Request for 2011 Maywood Park Trail, MG Business Men’s Association Community Message Board Relocation, the 2011 Tennis Court Resurfacing Information and the 2011 Community Center Remodel/Feasibility Study. Join us. It's always a party.

The Monona Grove Board of Education is meeting this Wednesday evening at 7pm in the District Office.

The agenda for this month's meeting can be found here. Among old business, the Board will revisit the ongoing discussion of the possible closure of Maywood Elementary and consolidation of Monona's elementary grades at Winnequah School and related issues. Not sure what the related issues will be, but rest assured, they will be aplenty. New business includes the possible approval of the proposed 10th grade chemistry program and an update on continuous school improvement by Christa Macomber and Deb Lyons. The Board will also approve these generous donations in the consent agenda:

$330.57 donated from the Knights of Columbus to Monona Grove School District, Student Services for students with special education needs
$500.00 donated from the GDS PTO to Glacial Drumlin School for student scholarships
$118.53 donated from Target to Winnequah School
$250.00 donated by Monona State Bank to Winnequah School
$2,600.00 donated by the Cottage Grove PTO to Cottage Grove School for SMARTBoards
$125.00 and two bins of school supplies donated by the Monona State Bank – Cottage Grove to the Cottage Grove School for student assistance.
15.5” viola, bow and case donated by Lisa & Scott Stearns to the GDS Orchestra Department.
13” viola, bow and case donated by Lisa & Jeff Baudhuin to the GDS Orchestra Department.
$100.00 to the Taylor Prairie School donated by Paul Jana & Dana King
$50.00 to the Taylor Prairie School donated by Daniel & Kristia Loeder
$25.00 to the Taylor Prairie School donated by Michael Sturm
$10.00 to the Taylor Prairie School donated by Paul & Lisa Sutter
$10.00 to the Taylor Prairie School donated by Matthew & Jessie Nelson
$25.00 to the Taylor Prairie School donated by Thomas & Holly Schmidt
$20.00 to the Taylor Prairie School donated by Frank & Kristin Russell
$2,600.00 donated by the Cottage Grove PTO to Taylor Prairie School for SMARTBoards
School supplies donated by School Supplies for Kids to Cottage Grove School
School supplies donated by New Concepts Salon to Cottage Grove School

This note from the Monona Recreation Department:

Parents! The Youth Basketball deadline is THIS Friday, October 15th! Please sign your child up today! We have to stick to this deadline, due to a scheduling meeting with other communities, so please don't wait!

And finally, a couple of shots from the Winnequah Fifth Grade Upham Woods trip:

and then for no particular reason, click here.

MaGicEnergy: Juggling, Humor and Storytelling with Bob Kann October 26!

Monona Public Library is hosting the program MaGicEnergy Juggling Program with Bob Kann, 6:15p.m.10/26. Tuesday, Oct. 26, 6:15p.m. or call 222-6127

MaGicEnergy™ is a live 30-minute energy/environmental education program for students. The fast-paced program combines a strong environmental and energy message with juggling, humor, magic, special effects, storytelling, and audience interaction. MaGicEnergy was created in 2002 by Madison Gas and Electric Company in collaboration with performing artist, Bob Kann, a Madison-based educator and entertainer. We Need Energy is the major theme of the program with environmental sub-themes woven throughout the program to demonstrate the relationship of responsible energy use and environmental quality.

Watch a four minute video and see why he's been touring this program for eight years.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Tellabration: The Worldwide Event of Storytelling at the Monona Public Library!

Enjoy an afternoon of Storytelling,
Music, Puppets, 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.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Monona Grove School District Annual Meeting and Budget Hearing

The district's annual meeting will take place Wednesday October 6th at 7pm in the Monona Grove High School auditorium. There will be no Packer game.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Milwaukee Public Schools And Teachers Union Reach Deal On Contract, Health Benefits

MPS, teachers union reach deal on contract
Health care switch to save district $50 million over 2 years
By Becky Vevea and Erin Richards of the Journal Sentinel

In a contract breakthrough that eluded the previous Milwaukee Public Schools administration, the teachers union leadership on Friday agreed to concessions on health benefits that will save up to $50 million over the next two years.
If the deal is ratified, members of the Milwaukee Teachers' Education Association will shift to a lower cost health plan and contribute to premiums under the terms of a tentative agreement running through June 30, 2013.

Read the rest of this story at JSOnline.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Fall Festivus For The Rest Of Us

For those ten or fifteen people who didn't make it down to Winnequah Park for the Monona Family Fall Festival, this is what you missed:

Pony rides! Sponsored by Kellie Unke and Steve Seeliger of Stark Realty!

Local vendors offered some great items: bubble wands from Kristin Yates's jewelry company, Blue Hill By Hand, fresh cheeses from Farmer John, designer cookies and fresh honey products, as well as 10 minute chair massages from Monona massage practioner, Ellen Moen. Ellen, who can be reached at 442-0289, also brought along two of her four chickens. Yes, that's right, chickens. In Monona. And the Sun didn't self-implode or the seas rise up and swallow us all. In Monona.

One of the Family Attraction Committee's goals with the Fall Festival was to keep costs low for all families. A hot dog and an apple for a buck? Can't get better than that. Thanks to Alderman Dennis Kugle, original member of the FARC who helped organize the Fall Festival! Dennis took over the whole vending operation this year, and with the help of Paul Kachelmeier, Susan Fox, Susan Manning, Kathy Thomas, Scott Munson, Paul Gavins and Doud Wood, manned the food stand all afternoon.

A great variety of fall crafts and games master-minded by Heidi Sigimund, as well as some great story-telling by master story teller, Monona Library Children's Librarian, Karen Wendt and her youth volunteers.

It was so cool to see a huge crowd of our city's police officers, firemen and EMTs lined up on Healy Lane with their vehicles! They all looked so welcoming and friendly! What a great representation of our city! As my mom always says, "only in Monona!".

Kids kayaking on the lagoon, courtesy of Rutabaga- so cool! I would love to see the city set up some sort of kayak or paddle boat rental in the lagoon. How awesome would that be in the summer? We could even run a Canadian Goose-watching tour in the spring and fall (joke).

A petting zoo sponsored by Prairie Grove Orthodontics. Thanks to Dr. Dan and Valerie Drye!

Balloon creations by Tami of Funny Faces 4 Kids, sponsored by Klinke Cleaners!

Monona Public Library's Andy Nath and his spectacular band, the Banned Wagon. Dancing ensued.

ALPACAS from Forest Academy Alpacas!

My awesome parents, who helped out herding kids at the pumpkin scavenger hunt again this year, holding a tiny pumpkin dressed as my daughter.

Deb Hansen of Simply Wisconsin graciously donated two huge CSA shares as the festival door prizes. The winner of the vegetable share is Nicole Rosenthal and the winner of the meat share is Michael Quieto. Thanks so much, Deb! Too bad it would have seemed slightly suspicious if I had won either one of the shares, maybe next time I can finagle it.

The Herald-Independent's Update on Negotiations

9/27/2010 4:02:00 PM

Deadlocked teacher contract negotiations likely headed for arbitration

Adam Mella, Managing Editor

Read all of our district's news at the Herald Independent website. Now.

Teachers in the Monona Grove School District have been working without a contract since June of 2009, and it seems very likely that a resolution will only be reached through an independent arbitrator, both sides concede. Negotiations on a new contract have been deadlocked for much of that time, as the Monona Grove Education Association (MGEA) (representing the teachers) and the School Board have struggled to find common ground on the future of retirement benefits.
Teachers say the school board’s “attacks” on those benefits are unacceptable, and that the board didn’t even offer some other form of compensation in exchange for those proposed reductions.
The school board, on the other hand, says that current retirement benefits for Monona Grove teachers are vastly more generous than neighboring districts, and that sky-rocketing healthcare costs make those benefits unsustainable.
Both sides have agreed to meet with a mediator on October 26, but neither the teachers or the school board appear ready (or able) to budge from their positions, and so, an arbitration hearing remains the most likely outcome.

Read this rest of this article at

For more information on the current negotiations, you can visit the MGEA website at, or the school district website at

And don't forget to click here about a million times.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Monona Family Fall Festival This Sunday!

The Monona Family Fall Festival will take place this Sunday, September 26th at the M.Y.Dream Park/ Winnequah Park from 2 to 5pm. Bring a sack to cart off your treats in!

The Pumpkin Hunt begins at 2pm SHARP! at the Dream Park. Stay for music from the Banned Wagon, balloon creations, storytelling, crafts, local vendors, kayak rides, petting zoo, pony rides and games!

Win a pool pass! Win a CSA share! Have a caramel apple blossom! Eat a hot dog! Run a three legged race with your bestfriend! Pet an alpaca!

Study: Teachers Bonuses Fail To Boost Test Scores

From the Wisconsin State Journal- Dorie Turner:

Offering big bonuses to teachers failed to raise students' test scores in a three-year study released Tuesday that calls into question the Obama administration's push for merit pay to improve education.
The study, conducted in the metropolitan Nashville school system by Vanderbilt University's National Center on Performance Incentives, was described by the researchers as the nation's first scientifically rigorous look at merit pay for teachers.
It found that students whose teachers were offered bonuses of up to $15,000 a year for improved test scores registered the same gains on standardized exams as those whose teachers were given no such incentives.
"I think most people agree today that the current way in which we compensate teachers is broken," said Matthew Springer, executive director of the Vanderbilt center and lead researcher on the study. "But we don't know what the better way is yet."
The study comes as the Obama administration encourages school systems to link teacher pay and tenure to how students perform on tests and other measures of achievement.
The researchers looked at fifth- through eighth-grade math teachers from 2007 to 2009. A group of about 300 teachers started out in the study; half were eligible for the bonuses, the other half were not.
The bonuses were given out based on improvements in scores on Tennessee's standardized exam, which is used by the state as part of the federal No Child Left Behind requirements.
Springer was quick to point out that his study looked only at individual bonuses, not extra pay doled out to teams of teachers or an entire school. He said more research is needed.
"Some people were initially disappointed when they saw the results, but quickly turned around and said, 'Well, at least we finally have an answer,'" he said. "It means pay can't do it alone."
The U.S. Education Department called the study too narrowly focused.
"It only looked at the narrow question of whether more pay motivates teachers to try harder," said spokeswoman Sandra Abrevaya. "What we are trying to do is change the culture of teaching by giving all educators the feedback they need to get better while rewarding and incentivizing the best to teach in high-need schools, hard-to-staff subjects."
The American Federation of Teachers praised the study and argued that teachers need other resources, including better training and more supportive administrators.
"Merit pay is not the panacea that some would like it to be. There are no quick fixes in education," said union president Randi Weingarten. "Providing individual bonuses for teachers standing alone does not work."
Teachers unions have historically opposed merit pay, arguing that test scores are not an accurate measure of student achievement, that financial rewards could pit teachers against each other, and that administrators could use bonuses to reward favorites and punish others.
Jennifer Conboy, a high school social studies teacher in Miami, called merit pay a "baseless fad."
"Merit pay is an excuse to resist the attempt of teachers to get fair pay in the first place," the 37-year-old Conboy said. "On a personal level, merit pay would do nothing to me. I took this job because I think education is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and if I cared about democracy _ which I do _ then I had a responsibility to do whatever I could to strengthen education."
Only a few schools and districts across the country have merit pay, and in some states the idea is effectively illegal. The Obama White House hoped to encourage more states to pass merit pay laws with its $4.35 billion "Race to the Top" grant competition.
Some states tried to enact merit bonuses for teachers, but most, like Georgia, were unable to get the necessary laws passed. Colorado passed a controversial law that ties teacher pay to student performance and allows the state to strip tenure from low-performing instructors, but the state did not win the Race to the Top grant money it was counting on to help carry out the law.
Only about half of the 300 teachers originally in the Nashville study were left at the end of the three years because some retired, moved to other schools or stopped teaching math. About 40 teachers got bonuses each year. Overall, the researchers said, test scores rose modestly for both groups of students during the three-year study, suggesting that the financial incentives made no difference.
"It's not enough to say, 'I'll pay you more if you do better.' You've got to help people know how to do better," said Amy Wilkins, vice president of the Education Trust, a Washington think tank. "Absolutely we should reward them once they do better, but to think merit pay alone will get them there is insane."

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Looking To Buy 4/4 Violin

I have heard it said that I often have disturbing images on my blog. This image is personally pretty disturbing to me, but it also reminds me that I need to buy a nice 4/4 violin for my son. Does anyone have one in the back of their coat closet that they're looking to unload?

Monday, September 20, 2010

So Who's Eating School Lunch These Days?

As you may remember, the Board unanimously approved contracting with the Chartwells School Dining Services for district food service operation and management in June of this year. The contract will be a year long, giving the district ample opportunity to evaluate it's merits.

Thoughts on the topic from Board President Susan Fox's Board update on Board business at the time:

Committee members believe that this arrangement will provide financial stability and even profitability, capture the benefits of pricing through a large company, build upon and provide education for students with regard to nutrition and healthy eating habits, address changes in eating preferences for students while providing more fresh fruits and vegetables, increase participation, and provide on-going staff professional development training for all food service employees, among other benefits.
While we'll have to wait to see the financial impact of contracting with Chartwells over time, it's not too soon to find out how the kids like their meals. I have heard several comments that the meals are too small and cost too much. MGHS students miss the taco and pasta bars. My second-grader, a normally die-hard hot lunch eater, has taken a sack lunch to school since the second week. I would love to hear more comments about the state of the lunch tray. Parents?

You can find more information on Chartwells at

Friday, September 17, 2010

The State Superintendent's State of Education Address.

From Jim Lynch, Association of Wisconsin School Administrators.

State Superintendent Tony Evers presented his State of Education address at the State Capitol in Madison. In his address he outlined policy recommendations in four areas:

1. The DPI budget recommendations will include financial support for districts to provide the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) assessment for students in grades three through eight, and the EXPLORE/PLAN/ and ACT assessment series at the secondary level.
State support for assessments yielding data to improve teaching and learning is a wise investment in these difficult economic times. We commend the State Superintendent on his recommendation and will strongly advocate for this to remain in the next State Budget as it moves through the Legislative process.

2. The State Superintendent challenged the leadership of the associations for school boards, administrators and teacher unions to develop a vision for an educator performance system that improves student learning and informs professional development.
AWSA accepts this challenge. Today, the issue of how to attract, retain and develop school leaders is the focus of federal and state policy makers and a host of foundations. It is critical that the perspective of practicing school leaders is considered in this discussion. AWSA, is developing recommendations on policies that we believe will strengthen the profession. Our Representative Council will discuss draft recommendations and provide suggestions on there development at its meeting on October 27th. If you are interested in serving on the Representative Council please email Robin Herring. In addition, we will be asking for your help in better determining the current state of principal evaluation in Wisconsin by completing an online survey this fall.

3. The State Superintendent reiterated his commitment to leading school finance reform during the next Legislative session.
We thank the State Superintendent for making school finance reform a priority. We are proud members of the School Finance Network and will be active in advocating for long-term, sustainable improvements to Wisconsin’s school finance system.

4. The State Superintendent outlined a series of proposals related to college and career readiness, including:• Requiring at least 21.5 credits for graduation;• Making dual enrollment options available throughout the state;• Making it easier for high school students to take college level courses;• Developing a “test out” option for 11th and 12th graders who demonstrate readiness for success in post secondary education.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Monona Public Library Hosts Breast Cancer Programs Supporting Survivors and How to Talk to Children about Cancer

The Monona Public Library, 2010 Wisconsin Library of the Year, invites the public for a free two-part program from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Oct. 6 at the library, 1000 Nichols Road, Monona.

Talking to Children: What if Mom, Dad, or Grandma Has Cancer? runs from 6 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. and focuses on resources and tips for discussing cancer with children from preschool age through young teens. This program is open to all and targeted to day care providers and parents or caregivers who have cancer or who have another family member with cancer. Continuing education credits are available.

Someone You Know Has Cancer: What Can You Do? follows from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. This discussion and question and answer session brings together cancer survivors and representatives from local breast cancer programs. There will be refreshments and door prize drawings featuring a Grand Prize donated by The Boston Store and additional certificates by many local retailers.

This program is scheduled during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and highlights the library’s Susan G. Komen for the Cure Special Collection of breast health and cancer treatment materials. The collection is funded by a Susan G. Komen for the Cure-Madison grant. The books, DVDs and other materials in the collection are housed at the Monona Public Library and available for checkout through all 52 libraries in the South Central Library System. Call the library at 608-222-6127 for additional details.
The Monona Public Library, Wisconsin 2010 Library of the Year, is a member of the South Central Library System and a LINK member library providing access to nearly 3 million items representing 790,000 different titles. The library is operated by the City of Monona to serve its community and the residents of the South Central Library System, which includes Dane, Columbia, Green, Portage, Adams, Sauk and Wood counties. For information, visit

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Couple of Fall Festivals in the District:

I love just about everything autumnal. The colors, the crisp air, the school supply shopping, the massive collective death of mosquitoes, not feeling like the entire interior of my house has been coated in the rubber cement-like sheen of humidity. I especially love the many fall events that take place when people get off their Jet-skis, put away the lawnmower, rinse off the chlorine and get down to business.

The deadline for registration for the 28th Annual Monona Grove Businessmen's Association Chili Cook-off is this Friday, September 17th. The event itself will be held at 10am on October 2nd at the AmericInn, 101 West Broadway. For more information click here.

And there's more than just chili... Lioness Raffle and Bake Sale, Classic Car Show, Pony and Horse Rides, Face Painting, Live Music by Chameleon (Classic Rock), Food (Chili, Chili Dogs, Hotdogs, Brats and Snacks), Beer, Soft Drinks, Bottled Water, Babcock Hall Ice Cream

After the chili cook-off, stop by on October 2nd for the annual Cottage Grove PTO Fall Festival. The Festival, a long-time community favorite and phenomenal fundraiser for our kids and community schools, will be held at Taylor Prairie from 10 am - 4 pm.

Taken from Cottage Grove Elementary PTO President Jennifer Pickel's blog:
"There will be games, food, a silent auction and, back by popular demand - a raffle. There will also be a Silly String Corral where kids and teachers will be able to have a good-natured silly string fight! The Monona Grove football players will be running a football toss game and the Monona Grove Pom Squad will be painting faces from 12-3. The EMS team will also be on sight to do some community education! New this year will be themed baskets created by each classroom. These baskets will be available at the Fall Festival, so be sure to come on over and check them out!!This year, the Cottage Grove PTO will continue it's campaign to raise money for Smart Boards. Please mark your calendars and join us for this fantastic event!! See you then!!"
The Cottage Grove PTO has already provided numerous Smart Boards to our schools through their wonderful fundraising. Thank you for all that you do!

Please plan on attending the Monona Family Fall Festival on September 26th at Winnequah Park from 2 to 5pm. This will be the third year that the Monona Family Attraction and Retention Committee has organized this event and it has steadily grown in both size and popularity. I am particularly excited that this year we will be having free hand-led pony rides throughout the park! Who doesn't love a pony ride?

The Festival will begin at 2pm sharp at the M.Y. Dream Park for a pumpkin scavenger hunt. Don't be late or you will miss out on all the fun! Afterward plan to stay to enjoy many local vendors, music from Monona Public Library's Andy Nath and his band the Banned Wagon, storytelling by Monona Children's Librarian Karen Wendt, balloon animals, a petting zoo and fall crafts and games. We are also pleased to have Rutabaga giving kayak rides on the lagoon this year. And back by popular demand: the alpacas from Forest Academy Alpacas! Check out the festival on our city website .

The rain location is the Monona Community Center, but we're not even going to think about the possibility of rain. Not gonna happen.