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.

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.