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.

Monday, November 29, 2010

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?


  1. The word is that Monona and certain members of the board have beat the Maywood issue to death. I am tired of it and tired of child-having 32 in their class.

  2. Anonymous' child has 32 kids in his/her class? Um, really??

  3. Curious- which class has 32 students in it?

  4. I think parents are pretty much exhausted on this issue because it is such a singular focus by some board members and the media, and aside from Kahl's idea for Maywood and the new Charter middle school activity, we have not seen any new ideas from board members or the community with dollar amounts. It is not acceptable to have 2 half-empty schools in Monona. Which is why the focus should be on Nichols, the longest running half-empty school we have. Maywood is completely full, and is successful, so I don't understand the focus on Maywood. What can be saved annually by shutting down Nichols permanently, and then getting permission from the electorate to sell the property? We will NEVER need Nichols again. The school funding formula is likely to change, possibly benefiting MG according to an article I read about the State super's plan. The teacher contract STILL is not done, and this will have impact on whatever decisions are made for cuts. Get rid of the dinosaur property first. Take the gun sights off the FULL, SUCCESSFUL school. Don't take a vote to consolidate until the full picture is available of ALL possible options.

    Caps for emphasis, not shouting. ;)

  5. If I recall, one of the last board meetings stated in one of the advanced science classes at MGHS there are 32 students enrolled. From my understanding, there are other classes at the high school level that are close to that size in the academic areas. To me, that is too high. What this has to do with the original post...not sure. :)

  6. I will take a shot at what the post means. We have class sizes that are really big. Yes, the HS has them, but so does GDS. If we can save money by closing Maywood-then so be it.

  7. Such a tiny constituency here...not wise to focus on just the parents, especially Maywood parents. In fact, it is better to seek input from people who are not so heavily invested and may look at this with a broader perspective.

    Most of the people who vote in our district are not parents of a school-age child, but our schools need their support come referendum time. These people who do not have a child in our schools will see a hefty tax increase this year because of reduced state aid. That does not bode well for the referendum we may need just to stop the bleeding. The school board will need to demonstrate you have already made some nearly unbearable, tough choices. One these is hanging tough on the teacher's contract despite the fact that kids, especially at MGHS, are being harmed by the work actions. Kudos to you as this must be very difficult. Another is to choose which building the district is going to hang onto - Maywood or Nichols, and then decide the most cost effective arrangement of the Pk-5 kids in Monona. The majority of voters will not buy into any argument for anything but the least expensive grade configuration because the reality is there no good argument to be made.

    Perhaps wider public opinion matters as much as the narrow parental input you seek? Maybe more?

  8. Close the building. The point of the first poster about 32 kids is that we have issues that truly affect academic acheivement to deal with. If every school board member would stay focused on that, we would be much better off. It is ridiculous.

  9. good point- i should have said our district's taxpayers

  10. Jessica,

    Is the school board not made aware of overloaded classes at the high school?

  11. "Jessica,

    Is the school board not made aware of overloaded classes at the high school? "

    or GDS.

    Yes, Kudos to you and the board for hanging tough on the contract issues.

  12. The Board receives notice once the class size is over our class size range.

    From Board Rule 343.2:

    D. Contingencies
    Kindergarten through Grade Six
    1. If the number of students enrolled in a class at any time is one to three above or
    below the suggested range, the Building Principal shall discuss the situation with
    the staff involved and notify the Superintendent of the numbers. The Superintendent shall resolve the issue and the Board shall be notified.
    2. If the number of students enrolled in a class at any time is four or more above or
    below the suggested range, the Superintendent shall resolve the issue and the Board shall be notified.
    Grades Seven through Twelve
    1. If the average number of students enrolled in a course is one to three above or below the suggested range, the Building Principal shall discuss the situation with the Department Coordinator involved and notify the Superintendent of the numbers. The Superintendent shall resolve the issue and the Board shall be notified.
    2. If the average number of students enrolled in a course is four or more above or below the suggested range, the Superintendent shall resolve the issue and the Board shall be notified.

    The class size guidelines can be found here:

    The class size range approved this March 2010 for most classes at the MGHS is 22 to 30 students, with a goal of 26. Accordingly, the Board would not be notified of a high school class size of 32. Paul Brost reported at a recent Board meeting that he was running a couple of classes at 32.

  13. It is unfortunate that we have such high class numbers. That is too high at any grade level. If these continue to rise, I think things like student achievement and keeping families in the district will suffer.

  14. Regardless of how we fund schools, there is no magic pot of money to increase spending on schools, especially school districts with relatively low populations of students in poverty. The people with the power want to cut taxes and cut spending. We're on our own, folks.

    Time to stop quibbling about trivial matters, such as which really nice school within a two block radius we're going to put our Monona Pk-2 kids. The focus should be on what is happening in our classrooms. (Ever wonder how a district with truly abysmal facilities would view this debate, and how they would view our priorities?)

    Talk about fiddling while Rome burns...if you think closing Maywood stinks, wait until we have elementary classes of 30 and we've cut everything not mandated by law. If you think that can't happen, think about all the stuff that has happened in our nation over the past few years that most people did not see coming and then think again. This district could very well be in a financial crisis within two years. It is time to suck it up and focus!

  15. "This district could very well be in a financial crisis within two years. It is time to suck it up and focus! "

    I agree with you. That is why this debate about Maywood is maddening. I refuse to go to the listening sessions. If I went I would say something like:

    It is sad that we must close a school. It is sadder that we did not see the forest from the trees and do it last year. There is no more time to exam options, stall, delay and play political games.

    Truly, my children have had a great experience in this district, great teachers, administrators and staff. YET, I am deeply troubled that we have science and math classes at GDS and MGHS with over 30 students. These areas are of the utmost importance to their futures and the future of our state. I worry if my child can get the needed attention to be GREAT rather then a silent student who does alright, causes no problems and gets by.

    IF closing Maywood can save money and still supply a great education for our elementary students-I can no longer argue and nor should you.

    Now-when are done shuttering Maywood-start cutting and reexamining every program in this district-do it now-so that we can safe guard the future of this district.

    Do not stop to breath, do not stop pushing-you have moral obligation to protect every student, family and household in this district with the same passion and zeal you pursued the Maywood issue. This will mean cutting certain programs to safe guard and protect the important ones-do it and do it now. Lead and move us along out of the past and into the future.

  16. I heard a comment on the radio today regarding Congress, specifically to do with the deficit issue. It was something along the lines of it is better to do something about the looming deficit issue before it becomes a crisis, because a crisis it will be for certain. Making decisions in crisis is less effective than making them in front of the crisis. This school board knows a crisis is looming. Why not make the plan now? Why not force us, the public, to see what our district looks like with massive cuts? If we wait until the decisions about cuts are made within weeks or months of them happening, that's not a good thing, right?

    Perhaps I am oversimplifying, but how difficult is it to state the cost of extra-curriculars, class sizes, strings programs, and the like? List them, and see what it looks like to cut $1,000,000 from the budget. I understand certain assumptions will need to be made, like cost of energy, health insurance, teacher contracts. Fine. State those assumptions, but please oh please begin to plan.

  17. The district did have an in-depth analysis of costs for the items that you listed, and then some, last year when we began our budget reduction process. That information can be found on our district's website: problem is that we no longer have any easy budget cuts to make; every cut from here on out is going to hurt someone somewhere. It's a difficult process and one that is sure to not get any easier.

  18. But I think a process needs to begin now, not later, where the board attempts to get such a list in front of most voters and taxpayers. I think it would not be absurd to think about a mailing to every household as you embark on the budget process. It can include the list of cuts and the process you'll be using to make them. A lot of people don't read blogs or the HI and you can't reach them through the kids because most voters do not have a child in our schools. I don't see another way to get people's attention. Closing Maywood is a roundabout way of showing people how desperate things are, but that's so clouded by all the referendum-Monona vs. CG gack that it distracts everyone. We've allowed that issue center stage too long.

    One problem is that schools have been complaining for over a decade about their budgets. People have whining-schools fatigue. I don't think a lot of people understand it's really much worse now. School board members and people who pay attention sometimes forget that most voters spend almost no time thinking about any of this, and they surely don't seek out information on their own.

    Maybe Mayor Kahl would have city hall staff distribute literature....oops, sorry, that was kinda troll-ish, couldn't help myself. :)

  19. Maywood and Winnquah will be consolidated, for sure. The School Board and Administrators are "going through the motions" politically to keep the Community in the loop. (i.e. upcoming meetings q&a forums, flyers sent home in our kids' backpacks,etc.) Mark my words, we will be consolidated next year. Again, I've accepted this as the fate of the District and have moved on......

    My real concern is the overall "health" of our District, or lack thereof. As a parent and taxpayer, we see costs of school lunches, and fees go up EVERY year. Teachers who are working without contracts, still their salaries go UP. Rising costs of goods and services, going UP. My salary is not going up, and has not for years. Something has to give here. You can not continually turn to us with budget issues, put the blame onto the State of Wisconsin (saying it's their fault we're in this financial pickle) and ask us to close down yet another school, or be forced to ante up.

    I would love to "peek into" the "books" at Monona Grove, and really find out what they money is being spent on.......

  20. "The school district has employment contracts with six different bargaining units. Currently we rely on contracted legal services to assist us in negotiating these agreements, work that accounts for the major portion of our $140K legal services budget." -taken from Peter Sobol's blog

    $140,000 for legal services? WOW.

    What else do us taxpayers pay for when it comes to "services"?

    Would love a laundry list of "consulting fees"....

    Also, how much $$$ has been spent on the consulting fees for the Maywood-Winnequah Consolidation? Isn't that why we have a Superintendent?
    Anyone, anyone,..... Bueller, Bueller.........

    Maybe we should hire a full time consultant, and cut out the middle man (Gerlach) and save us some cash...Dang, did I just say that out loud?

  21. This is why it's hard to have a reasonable discussion via blog. The paranoia in the two above posts is not helpful. Why not just ask "How much do we spend on consultants?" The above posts assume something nefarious is going on, but we don't know that. Can't we ask questions in a more neutral manner and save the reaction until we have an answer?

    You can also "peek" at the "books" anytime you like. All of it is a public record. Make an appointment with the business director and quit acting like there's some big secret.

  22. 1. How much do we spend on consultants?
    2. What are they consulting on?
    3. Is this helping our kids "achieve" more in our District?

  23. WOW - $140,000 for labor attorney fees? I saw during city council budget hearings that the City now has their administrator Pat Marsh handling their labor negotiations with an outside attorney just consulting and they significantly reduced their legal fees. Marsh is not an attorney as far as I know and makes about half of what Gerlach does in salary (by the way Gerlach makes about $20,000 more than the State Superintendant of Schools and $10,000 more than the Governor) so how come the city can find efficiencies and the school district can’t? I am asking a question Jessica.

  24. Yes Jessica, how much Does Mr. Gerlach make?

    And, has he taken a pay raise amidst all of these budgeting woes?

    I recently read that the Food Service Department did NOT take a pay increase.

    Before the State elections in November, the WSJ had a list of both Repubs. and Dems. who were up for re-election, and listed the ones who refused a pay increase due to the State's Budgeting woes. That was very telling to me, of their character, that they did not take a pay raise to help ease our state's budget crisis.

  25. A Gerlach pay freeze would be symbolic and while that may or may not be important it has absolutely no bearing on the issue at hand and it is a distraction. Eyes on the ball, folks. This district is in deep doo doo financially.

  26. to the above comment-

    if we are in "deep doo doo" financially maybe we should enforce some pay freezes, and really cut the spending? i dunno, just a thought. i just want to see some of these administrators put their $ where their mouth is.

  27. Gerlach makes about 150K/year. He suggested a voluntary pay freeze for himself this year. All of our admisitrators also took pay freezes this year.
    As for a comparison between city and district labor negotiations, I don't really know how to answer that. The district deals with six bargaining units, varied salary schedules and considerably more employees. I don't think that you can make a fair comparison between the two. Finding more "financial effciencies" is a top priority for the district and I'm sure every administrator is well aware of that.