This is the correspondence that Monona Mayor Robb Kahl presented last night at our March 24 Board of Education meeting:
Dear Monona Grove School Board Members and Superintendent Gerlach:
In cooperation with the City of Monona's Sustainability Committee, I am currently investigating the process of creating a charter school for middle school children (grades 6-8) at Winnequah School. While other charter school program options will also be evaluated for Winnequah, the current intent of this potential charter school is to create a program which focuses on Environmental Studies, with an emphasis on Science and Math (Renewable Energy, Energy Efficiency/Conservation, and Sustainability) while also incorporating concepts of leadership and social responsibility.
This would mean not just classroom work but working "in the field," a hands-on experience to learning. Specifically, besides utilizing the natural surroundings found in Winnequah Park, we are in the process of reaching out to several city partners: Aldo Leopold Nature Center to utilize their existing and proposed new facilities; the Natural Step to incorporate their process into our classrooms; Veridian Homes to learn about sustainable/energy-efficient building; and Rutabaga to help our students broaden their education by working not only in the field but also on the water. Through this program, the students could also focus on an environmental area or project in need of assistance each term, semester or year to study and help improve through organizing community efforts. Dean Bowles has offered to serve on the board of directors, and we are in the process of requesting letters of support from the aforementioned organizations along with others in order to make this a successful program.
As you know, President Obama has made charter schools a centerpiece of his massive educational reform plan because of the educational value they can bring to a community. State Superintendent Tony Evers calls publicly funded charter schools a "shining example" of Wisconsin's tradition of educational innovation. I support our educational programs in our district. I would hope to build on what we have in order to provide an even better experience for our students. Please feel free to contact me with any questions.
Sincerely, Robb Kahl, Mayor
Pretty exciting stuff. This is what I was talking about when I was advocating for the development of a district charter school. We need to showcase the inventiveness of this district and our commitment to innovative academic achievement. Say what you will about Mayor Kahl's approach, and I know much has been said, I appreciate the work he has done to create one solution to our budget crisis. Sure is a lot more helpful than sitting around bemoaning the numbers and shooting off anonymous barbs. I would love to see more creative ideas like this one.