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.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Mayor Kahl Presents His Ideas For Creating A Charter School In Our District.

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.


  1. Dear Ever Onward.

    A great grant opportunity for this program was just opened, if you would like help writing it let me know.

  2. Jesscia,
    "In Wisconsin the school board can authorize a charter school in their school district. Each charter school looking to open in a school district, needs to contact that school district to determine the process and timeline in obtaining authorization of a charter school."

    What is the process and timeline for getting authorization of a charter school? Is it a one year or 2 to 3 year process?

    Where does the funding come from?

  3. If we are keeping Maywood open so we can have a charter school, then the charter school is going to cost the district $259,000 a year before it provides an education to a single student. How is the mayor going to pay for that?

  4. I like the idea too, but will freely admit I have no interest in doing the work. I don't think the Mayor will do much more then he's done all ready. He'll probably show support and campaign for it, but not the fundraising or charter writing. I think it will need to be a few young families who take control.

  5. Read Mayor Kahl's letter and you'll see that there are already plans in the works, partners and resources identified, etc etc. Please infer that there are a lot of young families already on board and working.

    "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change Monona. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
    - Margaret Meade

  6. This is a great idea, but I don't see how it addresses the tough budget decisions that need to be made. I've seen many posts that the parents of the elementary children at Winnequah don't want sixth through eighth graders attending school with their elementary students. This would create even more problems than housing the fifth graders from Cottage Grove at Glacial Drumlin. The other option would be to house a new "charter school" in the Maywood building which would entail moving the elementary students currently utilizing the building out of the Maywood building and consolidate them into the Winnequah building. Consolidating the schools seems to be an "eventuality" so why wait a year to do so when we could be saving money for the district now? We simply shouldn't keep two half-utilized buildings opened just because we "might" fill up the space in one to three years. Buildings can be reopened when enrollment, whether it comes from a charter school or from new students entering the district, increases! The programming and teaching cuts that are being discussed will have a very direct impact on student learning now. The Board CAN and SHOULD change this decision. They have been able to reverse decisions in the past (ie. Assistant Principal position for Maywood last year.)

  7. Monona, Yes Monona Mom of 3March 27, 2010 at 6:27 PM

    They absolutely should reverse this decision. Charter School is great- when it approved, paid for, and has enough kids enrolled, then open Maywood back up. Until then, make some tough economic decisions, and choose kids and their teachers over buildings and hysteria.

  8. How do Charter Schools increase revenue for districts? Is it through open enrollment, or state/federal grants or is the opperational cost cheeper? Is all of these and/or something else?

    I think this could be a great idea too, but I haven't heard how much more a Charter School could help with our budget. If anyone knows where I can find out, or can tell me, it's appreciated. Thank you.