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.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Occupy Nichols November 18th?

Blast it, the Rag beat me to a post on this already. Must not have much going on on a Saturday night...

So someone left me a comment on the Occupy Nichols movement, which is apparently calling for a full-on occupation of the Nichols building on November 18th. From their website:

Occupy Nichols is a leaderless resistance movement with people of many colors, genders and political persuasions. The one thing we all have in common is that We Are The 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%. We are using the revolutionary Arab Spring tactic to achieve our ends and encourage the use of nonviolence to maximize the safety of all participants.

Fact. Nichols School has stood at the current location since 1869. The facility and grounds have been used by the community for education for 142 years. The current building was constructed in 1935.

Fact. In October at the annual meeting of the Monona Grove School district approximately 40 citizens voted to allow the school board sell Nichols Schools.

Fact. This means that .01% gave your rights away to the school board with little or no knowledge or information about the type of deal the district will get from the 1% for the property. These 40 citizens were in large part politicians and administrators from Monona and the Monona Grove School Board.

Once again, wealth will be transferred from the 99% to the 1% - all in the name of progress and additional property taxes. This leaderless movement is asking why not a senior center, a recreation center and youth center? We want the building and grounds to be utilized for something that furthers US and not THEM.

Does this community NEED another drugstore, department store or condominium complex that is all financed with bonds from another TID? Who pays for failed TID? The 99% who assume the risk - while the 1% assume the profits. What will the 99% receive from the selling of Nichols? A large candy bar at Halloween for our children? We want more and ask our leaders to STOP the transfer of wealth.

Hmmmm, not really sure what this has to do with Arab Spring, huge transfers of wealth to the school board or large candy bars, but I, for one, can't wait to see who will show up on the 18th. And I sure hope I will still get my king-size 100 Grand bar and and my 100k in cash.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Energ!ze Monona Presents The First Of Six Forums On Peak Oil And Monona

Peak Oil and Monona.
Wednesday, September 21, 6:30 - 8:00
Monona Community Center, Main Hall
Refreshments will be served.

From The Natural Step Monona:
Peak Oil and Monona with Justin Bloesch, UW Madison Student (and TNSM Member!); and Bob Stoffs, Madison Gas & Electric. An overview of the Peak Oil concept and the global response to tightening oil supplies, volatile prices, climate change, and growing international tensions over oil. What would Peak Oil mean for Monona? Although competing ideas exist about the future of oil, how should we move away from fossil fuels for a more secure future? An overview of electric vehicles, and MG&E's charging stations and the initiative to study them over the next few years will be included.

For more on peak oil and to check out one of my fave books to read when I want to plunge myself into the depths of despair, check out this 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Monona's Fall Festival This Sunday At 11am, And No, There Isn't A Packer Game.

Please plan on attending this year's Monona Fall Festival (or Family Fall Festival or Fall Family Fest or whatever it is being called now) in Winnequah Park this Sunday, September 25th. The Festival will begin at 11am sharp with our annual pumpkin scavenger hunt at the Dream Park. Free pony rides, balloon creations, caricature artist, games, crafts, storytelling by Karen Wendt, Rock Williams drum show and the Banned Wagon. Local vendors will be on hand and hot dogs, caramel apples and hot apple cider will be available. Rain location? Don't even think about it, because it's not gonna rain!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Waterlife: Green Tuesdays Movie At The Monona Public Library Tomorrow/ Park And Rec Board Meeting At The Same Time- Choices, Choices...

The Natural Step Monona will be showing the movie Waterlife tomorrow night at 6:30 in the Monona Public Library as part of their Green Tuesdays film series.

From their website: Waterlife follows the epic cascade of the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean. From the icy cliffs of Lake Superior to the ornate fountains of Chicago to the sewers of Windsor, this feature-length documentary tells the story of the last huge supply (20 per cent) of fresh water on Earth.

Check out the Waterlife website here for more information about this great film!

Unfortunately I won't be able to make it on Tuesday as the Park and Recreation Board plans to meet at 6:30 in the Monona Community Center. Our agenda includes:

3. Director’s Report

A. Mark Modaff – Public Works Assistant Director
B. Jake Anderson – Parks & Recreation Director

4. Appearances
A. Jane Kuzma – Bur Oak Landscapes

5. Unfinished Business
A. Review/Discussion/Recommendation of 2012 Operating Budget for Community Center, Recreation, & Outdoor Pool Department
B. Review/Discussion/Update 2012-2013 Capital Budget for Outdoor Pool, Parks, & Community Center

6. New Business
A. Frost Woods Park Brush Clearing Information/Discussion
B. Stone Bridge Park Discussion/Master Plan Review

Under appearances, Jane Kuzma will be presenting her draft master site plan for improvements at Stone Bridge Park.

And unrelated, but while I've got your attention,  the Monona Family Fall Festival is coming up soon! Sunday, September 25 from 11am to 2pm in Winnequah Park- the festival will begin at 11am sharp with our third annual Pumpkin Hunt at the Dream Park. As always, if you are dying to volunteer a couple hours of your time, call me call me call me at 206-0062.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Don't Make Like A Tree And Leaf.

I know that it can't be possible that I am the only person in Monona who has noticed the sudden decline in Monona's tree canopy. It seems that every time I turn around another Monona park has been clear-cut. What is going on? First Oneida Park, then Birch Haven and now Frost Woods? Who is signing off on these decisions? I did a little researching and found that one of the duties of the Monona Park and Rec Board is to "serve as Monona's "tree keepers" by reviewing and making recommendations regarding tree planting, maintenance, removal, and landscaping." Hmmm, interesting. I've been on the Park and Rec Board for several years and we haven't seen any of these projects pass through for our approval. Well, this "tree keeper" is recommending that the city of Monona starts preserving our existing tree canopy in our city parks and that any more drastic tree removal plans are presented to the Board before they are carried out. One of the most wonderful things about Monona is our tree-lined streets and parks. We can't just grow these trees back in a couple of years. Let us be good stewards of our city lands and leave more than rubber mulch in our wake.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Sign Of The Times.


The Janesville School Board is considering options such as cutting high school athletics, closing schools and selling off land and facilities to deal with an urgent budget shortfall.

The board has to make some major cuts after already eliminating $9 million from this year's budget.

The final decision will likely come sometime next month. The most recent proposal -- cutting athletics -- came late last week from Janesville School District Superintendent Karen Schulte.

Eliminating high school athletics beginning with the winter and spring season could save the district $500,000 in the current budget year and $1 million next year with no fall sports.

Read the rest of the story here

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Hope To See You At This Summer's Concerts At The Park!

The Friends of the Monona Senior Center is putting on three free family concerts at Winnequah Park this summer.

LeeDing Zeros

Monday June 27th, 7:00 p.m.
Sponsored by the Monona State Bank and the Ultimate Spa and Salon
New Horizons Swing Band

Monday July 18th, 7:00 p.m.
Sponsored by: Dennis and Nancy Kugle

The Banned Wagon

Monday August 8th, 7:00 p.m.
Sponsored by Vendura Solid Surfaces
Free concerts open to the public!

Families are encouraged to attend. Bring lawn chairs, blankets,and snacks to enjoy an evening of music.
Popcorn and drinks will be available for purchase.
Proceeds benefit the Friends of the Monona Senior Center.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Tonight 4:30 to 6:30: The Grand Opening Of The Winnequah Children's Garden!

From the Monona Elementary PTO:

Stop by the Winnequah Children's Garden today between 4:30-6:30 for the grand opening party. Watch Mayor Miller cut the red ribbon, see Whole Foods present a check for the $500 grant, enjoy snacks from Whole Foods & Taco Palace, listen to live music, sign up to volunteer, and craft with the kids. Bring lawn chairs or blankets and get comfortable in your school garden!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Pinto Stampede!

The Elusive Monona Pinto is elusive no more! The owner of this beautiful piece of wonderfulness and Monona resident, David Kawa, graciously tracked me down and took me for a spin a couple of weeks ago. He even let me drive, which further illustrates his good nature as I have been in two fender benders in the past two weeks. David bought his '78 Pinto Cruising Wagon new and has since restored it to it's original glory. Probably almost as fun as driving this car is appreciating the double-takes, thumbs-ups and out-of-the-window-cell-phone-photography that it inspires on the roadway.

David and several of his fellow Pinto enthusiasts joined the Monona Memorial Day Parade, an event that apparently made me the world's most uncool mother as I was shouting out "the Pintos are coming, the Pintos are coming!" Imagine my surprise when Dave brought over half of his fleet after the parade! One was a friend who had driven down from Canada in quite possibly the world's most perfect all-original baby blue Pinto. Not even a Matchbox car has a cleaner engine. Also over for a visit was the Cookie Man in his '78 Pinto, complete with Cookie Monster strapped into the passenger side. I felt like I was sitting in the middle of a Sesame Street episode when I was behind the wheel. And just in case you are wondering why I am hanging out in all these Pintos topless, I was wearing a strapless sundress. I love Pintos, but not quite that much!

David and his Pinto buddies left yesterday morning for the Pinto Stampede in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, where they will join up with thousands of brother and sister Pinto lovers.

The Pinto Stampede and the Pinto Car Club of America have joined forces to coral Ford Pinto owners across America and celebrate the 40th anniversary of our beloved little pony, the Ford Pinto. The stampede starts in Denver, Colorado on Sunday May 29th, 2011 and will wrap-up in Carlisle, Pennsylvania on Thursday June 2nd, 2011. At our final stop Carlisle Events will be hosting the Carlisle Ford Nationals June 3rd, 4th & 5th, 2011 and helping to Celebrate the birth of the Pinto with a special 40th anniversary display.

Check out this awesome live stream of one owner's journey to the Stampede.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Please Join Me In Supporting Vicky Selkowe For State Assembly!

It was announced today that Governor Walker has called for a special election in the 48th Assembly District and the Primary Election will take place on July 12th. I am excited to endorse Vicky Selkowe for State Assembly and hope that you will join me in supporting her!
From the candidate:

Dear Neighbor,

I’m running to be your representative for the 48th District in the Wisconsin State Assembly because we need an effective, experienced champion in the legislature.

I have more than a dozen years experience standing up for Wisconsin’s families and bringing people together to get results.

I am a public interest attorney, a workers’ rights advocate, and an anti-poverty public policy expert. I am currently the Chief of Staff to an Assembly Democrat (Cory Mason from Racine) and I have a proven track record of highly effective leadership.

In these challenging times, when there is a new attack on our progressive values every day, there is far too much at stake to have a representative with a learning curve. My background and experiences mean that I will be able to hit the ground running in the Capitol.

There is too much at stake in Wisconsin to have a representative who merely cares about supporting working families, ensuring affordable health care, enhancing our public schools, fighting for workers' rights, creating good jobs, and safeguarding our natural resources: we need a state representative who has also worked on and been a leader on all of these issues. I am excited, and more than ready, to put my skills and experiences on these important issues to work for my neighbors in the 48th Assembly District.

Please contact me explore my website to learn more about my background and my positions on the issues you care about. I would be honored to earn your support.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Monona Grove Board Of Education Meets Wednesday May 11th At 7pm.

The Monona Grove Board of Education will meet this Wednesday evening at 7pm in the GDS IMC. Our meeting will follow the MG Shareholders Forum scheduled at 5pm in the same location.

A couple of agenda items of note:
Unfinished Business

B. Discussion of Scope and Responsibilities of Standing Committees. (20 Min)

D. Discussion and Possible Approval of Dismissal of Winnequah Students June 8 Due to Building Consolidation (10 Min)

G. Update on Continuous School Improvement Process - Deb Lyons & Christa Macomber (10 Min)

XI. New Business
A. Presentation on T4K – Connie Haessly and Christa Macomber (45 Min)

G. Discussion and Possible Approval of a General Contractor for the Winnequah and Taylor Prairie Schools Remodeling Project for the Summer of 2011 (15 Min)

I. Board Member Update on White Privilege Conference - Susan Fox (5 Min)

E. Approval of Gift Donations

  • Photo Lighting Equipment donated by Dr. Gary Williams for the Art Department at MGHS
  •  $3,000.00 donated by the Madison English as a Second Language – Thai Project to Glacial Drumlin School
  •  $3,200.00 donated by the Cottage Grove PTO to Cottage Grove School for purchase/installation of SmartBoards
  • $475.10 from the Monona Elementary PTO to Winnequah School
  • $3,898.00 from the Monona Elementary PTO for the purchase of SmartBoards for Winnequah School
  •  $2,100.00 from the Monona Grove Education Foundation for the purchase of SmartBoards for Winnequah School
  • 10 Spruce trees for Glacial Drumlin School donated by Kathy Loniello
  • $3,200 donated by the Cottage Grove PTO for the purchase of SmartBoards at Taylor Prairie School
Thank you for all of these generous donations to the district and our children!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Winnequah Children's Garden Work Day This Saturday 10am to 4pm!

Know how to build a raised bed, a pumpkin trellis or a compost bin?

Garden organizers Maggie Baum and Erin Staver stake a claim.
 Organizers of the Winnequah Children's Garden will break ground this Saturday morning at 10am and can use your help! Food, drinks and good vibes will be provided for workers.

Email questions to Chris Marsh at

And also visit for more information.

Also on tap is a fundraiser at Chipotle on East Washington Ave. on May 22 from 4 to 8pm.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Easter Egg Hunt Tomorrow At 10am - MY Dream Park!

Ok, I know it's a little (a lot) late, but I just couldn't pass up mentioning the annual Monona Easter Egg Hunt at the Dream Park tomorrow morning. It has been one of my most favorite things about Monona and is also a convenient excuse to post one of my favorite photos.

From the city website

The Monona Parks & Recreation Department and Monona Grove Optimist Club are proud to announce the 13th Annual Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday, April 23rd in Winnequah Park near the M.Y. Dream Park playground. (If the weather makes it impossible to be outside, the event will be held inside at the Monona Community Center) The hunt begins at 10:00 a.m. SHARP! Don’t be late or you’ll miss all the fun. There will be candy, prizes, lots of fun, and possibly a surprise visit from the Easter Bunny. The hunting grounds will be divided into separate areas for ages 1-3 years, 4-6 years, and 7-9 years. Please come and join us for this free community event. If you have questions please call the Monona Parks and Recreation Department at 222-4167.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Monona Grove Board Of Education Meets Tonight.

The Board of Education will meet tonight at 7 pm in the District Office. The full agenda can be found here.
Some items of note:
The discussion and possible approval of renewal or nonrenewal of contract with Chartwells School Dining Services for provision of food service for 2011-2012. We have received numerous emails from our food service workers supporting the nonrenewal of Chartwells contract with the district. Business Services Director Jerrod Rossing did a suberb job of soliciting student feedback on the changes to our district's lunch program (specifically at the highschool and GDS) and Chartwell's offerings were universally panned. I haven't been a fan of the program from the start; their colloboration with local farmers seems to be limited to Sysco Foods, lunches looked unappetizing and tiny, and the "all-the-fruit-and-vegetables-you-care-to-eat" wasn't all that they had touted. Once I found out that Chartwells considered canned fruit to be a fresh fruit option, my camel's back broke. I have to say that Chartwells did a nice job of trying to address the district's concerns,  but their program is not saving the district money and not making our kids or our food service staff happy. Time to go.

Also under new business is the discussion and possible approval of a children's garden at Winnequah Elementary. Several parents, Erin Staver, Chris Marsh, Carrie Howes and Maggie Baum,  have done an absolutely stellar job of putting together a comprehensive proposal for this. Anyone who knows me or reads my blog knows that I LOVE gardening, community gardens, edible landscapes etc. etc. I'm all in and I love this proposal. I hope that we can develop a user agreement and nail down other details soon.

Old business consists of ongoing discussion and possible approval of proposed budget reductions.

In the consent agenda, I would like to thank the Monona Elementary PTO for their donation of $920.37 to Winnequah School and the GDS PTO for their donation of $1,970.00 for the development of the GDS Prairie for a sign and guest speaker.

I would also like to thank Board member Jill List for her service on the MG School Board. Tonight will be her last meeting and I wish her well! Thanks Jill!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Monona Park And Recreation Board Meets Tonight.

The Park and Rec Board will meet this evening at 6 pm in the Monona Community Center.

New business consists of:

A. 2013 Parks, Community Center, Pool Capital Plan Ranking
B. Recommendation/Award of contract for Maywood Park Pedestrian Path project
C. Review/Discussion of Public Input meeting for Parks & Open Space Plan
D. Capital Transfer Request/Recommendation of $136,000 for Firemen’s Park Shelter bathroom construction project

Monday evening was the last of two scheduled open houses for community members to check out Director Jake Anderson's proposed Parks and Open Space Plan. He did a nice job of setting up various displays of proposed changes, particularly in Winnequah Park, and solicited community input through the tried-and-true Post-It note approach. I stopped in last night at the Community Center to check things out and found a lot of good comments had been left. Stop in tonight at our meeting to offer any additional comments you may have!

The Park and Open Space Plan can be found here.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Severe Weather Spotter Classes Tuesday March 29 At GDS.

Dane County Emergency Management is offering a free class for aspiring weather watchers on Tuesday, March 29 at 6:30pm at Glacial Drumlin School. Classes usually fill up fast, so if you're interested, plan on being there 10 minutes early. For more information call 267-2542.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Green Tuesdays At The Monona Public Library: Organic Gardening With Erin Schneider

From Natural Step Monona's Green Tuesdays Film and Lecture Series:

Next Tuesday, March 29 6:30 to 8pm: Introduction to Organic Gardening with Erin Schneider

Learn how to turn your yard into an "edible ecotopia" with a presentation from Erin Schneider, co-owner of Hilltop Community Farm, LLC, and a Fellow and Facilitator with the UW Office of Human Resource Development.
On tap: how to look at garden design from a systems perspective--from the ground up--and then design our backyards and gardens in the image of an ecosystem. Schneider will emphasize site preparation and sustainable garden design for urban areas. She'll also share ways to integrate perennials into a vegetable garden, information about plant guilds and plant community functions, and more tools for creating abundance.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Possible Child Enticement Incident In Monona.


The Monona Police Department is asking for assistance in the investigation of a possible child enticement incident that occurred at approximately 5:30 p.m. on Monday, March 14, in the area of Gateway Green and Woody Lane in the City of Monona.
Read the rest of the story here.

Dane County Wide: A Community Meeting On The Future Of Public Education.

A Community Meeting--
The Future of Public Education
& Call to Action

March 27, 3-4:30
Monona Grove High School Commons
4400 Monona Drive, Monona

How did we get here?
What do we anticipate with the Governor’s proposed budget?
Are there alternatives?
What can we do?

All are welcome to come.

Our hoped for outcomes include: increased understanding of school funding and the present challenges; alternatives to cuts in funding to public education; & formation of community advocacy groups.

Sponsored by members of the Dane County School Board Consortium and WAES (Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools)

For more information please call 217 5938

Friday, March 11, 2011

School Board Candidates Schedule A Joint Listening Session Tomorrow.

Uncontested MG School Board candidates Susan Fox and Dean Bowles are co-hosting an informal listening session Saturday, March 12 from 9-11am at the Olde Town Coffee House, 218 S. Main St., Cottage Grove. They also plan on hosting a second session on Tuesday, March 15 from 5-7pm at the Monona Gardens Restaurant, 6501 Bridge Road, Monona.

Monona Grove Board Of Education Approves MGEA Contract Extension.

The Board approved a contract extension with significant modifications today at an emergency meeting. This extension was recommended for approval by Superintendent Gerlach as a bridge from where we've been as a district for decades to where we are going in these uncertain times. The extension includes these modifications to the recently ratified contract:
  • Effective July 1, 2011,  teachers will make a 50% contribution to their WRS.
  • Effective September 1, 2011, teachers will pay 12.6% of their insurance costs.
  • Salary schedule freeze, but with step and lane movement.
  • The Board will have authority to control the district calendar.
  • Teachers within five years of retirement will be grandfathered in to previous retirement benefit package; teachers not within this time frame will not have this benefit.
  • Transfer language related to seniority is eliminated.
  • Memo of understanding regarding class size guidelines is deleted.
The Board passed this extension 5 to 1, with McCutchin casting the lone nay vote. Lionel Norton was unable to attend today's meeting.

Call Attorney General JB Van Hollen 266-1221

JB Van Hollen's office is currently keeping a tally of how many citizens call requesting an investigation into the legality of the vote taking away collective bargaining rights this past Wednesday.

Put your request in writing:

J.B. Van Hollen
PO Box 7857
Madison, WI 53707-7857
FAX: 608-267-2779

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Special MG School Board Meeting Friday, March 11 at 3pm.

There will be an emergency Board of Education meeting tomorrow in the District Offive Board Room to discuss and possibly approve an extension of the 2009-2011 MGEA Collective Bargaining Agreement.

View From The Capitol

Thanks for the photo, Rebecca Holmquist!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Park And Rec. Update.

Pleased to share that the Park and Recreation Board approved the use of sand for the new Blue Park's surface covering. I'm glad that we will have another sand park in Monona!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Some Updates From The Monona Elementary PTO.

Hi, PTO parents. A few items:

1. Conferences are this week and next. Monona PTO serves dinner to teachers, who don't have time to go home/out before conferences start. We have a few open salad spots at Maywood and quite a few at Winnequah. Please contact Jennifer Kahl ( for Maywood info. The following are the open slots at Winnequah:

For Thursday March 10:
Two salads
Two desserts
One fruit tray
One veggie/dip tray

For Wednesday March 16:
One main dish
Two salads
Two desserts
One fruit tray
One veggie/dip tray

Main dishes can be things like chili or sloppy joes or even a lunchmeat tray from the grocery store. If you can donate anything, please contact Kim Haefner at

2. Pizza Oven gift card order forms went home last week. We are not doing an Uno's pizza sale this year. Please consider buying a gift card. The $25 cards only cost $20! It's practically Groupon.
3. Any gardeners out there? We have a few parents who are looking into starting a school garden. If you want to get involved, contact Chris Marsh at

4. New event: Door Creek Golf Course is hosting a Family Fun Day for Monona and Cottage Grove PTOs on Saturday April 30 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mark your calendars! More details will follow. If you want to help with the event, please contact Brian Holmquist at

5. Market Day orders are due Saturday, March 12 at 11 p.m. For offerings and order forms, visit

6. Thank you to everyone who participated in Monona PTO's Culver's Night. We made $401. Thanks, Cathy Bernards, for coordinating.

7. SOS continues. We've raised nearly $2000. It would be great to double that by year's end. If you have not made a donation, please consider one. Make checks payable to Monona Grove Education Foundation. Put Monona PTO in the subject line and drop the checks off at school.

More Meetings.

The Monona Park and Recreation Board will meet this Tuesday evening, March 8, at 6pm in the Monona Community Center.

The agenda includes discussion of the Firemen's Park Shelter bathroom design, as well as surfacing options for the new Blue Park playground. We will continue discussion on the 2012 park, community center and pool capital plans.

The Monona Grove Board of Education will meet this Wednesday, March 9, at 7pm in the GDS IMC.

The full agenda can be found here.
Some new business of note: discussion and possible approval of a proposal to make-up loss of instruction time on February 17 and 18. And while I don't have the exact breakdown of numbers, I wanted to let others know that the vast majority of our teachers who chose to join the protests at the Capitol for those two days did not call in sick as some are claiming, but rather called in as "other deduct".
There will also be discussion and possible approval of a resolution authorizing the issuance and sale of approximately $3,895,000.00, which may sound to some that the district has recently sold off some property or other assets. Not the case, it is a refunding of bonds. Also up for continued discussion? The state proposed biennial budget and district budget reductions, of course.

And because I'm feeling a little cranky, one of my favorite photos:

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Board President Susan Fox Addresses Budget Repair Bill.

Governor Walker,

Speaking as a local school board president, I appreciate some of the required contributions to health care benefits and even the retirement system, although I would not have enacted the level you chose all at once. That level of salary cut is very difficult for teachers and other public employees and it will have a significant negative impact on the local economy in the form of reduced discretionary spending. I do not support some other provisions of your "repair bill."

With regard to your budget proposal, the only interpretation possible is that this is an all-out attack on public education. The so-called "tools" you give us, in the form of employee contributions to benefits (salary cuts), will not come close to filling this hole. Additionally, if you really believe that we can lay off our most senior (expensive) teachers and replace them with people right out of college, or even those with a master's degree, you need to collect information from people working with schools. The negative impact on schools caused by the loss of this knowledge/experience base (these are the people who mentor our beginning teachers) is huge, to say nothing of age discrimination lawsuits. Schools improve in a collaborative culture with accountability built in.

We have worked hard at Monona Grove to build a collaborative process of using student performance data to inform teaching, and to build a process by which teachers share best practices. We are seeing positive effects, in early reading, for example, as well as in other skills. Your funding reductions threaten the gains we are making. When we increase class sizes to more than 30 (our current middle and high school max), we reduce the time teachers have to grade papers and provide meaningful feedback and re-teaching experiences for students. When we increase the number of classes teachers have to teach, we increase the exhaustion level, in addition to the number of students with whom to form relationships. Studies show that relationships between staff and students have a significant impact on student achievement. I seriously would like to see the critics of teachers spend just one day teaching a full class load, and of course a week would be even better.

I recognize that we need to make changes. We need to come up with a more equitable funding plan and re-invest in public schools. This is crucial to the economic success of our state as well as our country. How many businesses will want to locate in Wisconsin when the public school system has declined? Schools are a part of the high quality of life here. Private charter schools do not have any better track record over all than public schools. The method of school governance is not what determines school effectiveness; rather, the crucial elements are the teaching and the learning. At Monona Grove, we have worked with other districts on a curriculum delivery model that uses data heavily and which works to improve student performance. We use the research-based benchmarks set by the ACT, and are incorporating these with the national core standards. With the loss of the public school system comes a situation of increasingly random acts of improvement.

Please invite us to the table to talk about these issues. These sweeping changes will be devastating and cause damage that will be hard to fix when the pendulum swings the other way in a few years. When making significant changes, thought must be given to all the ramifications. Compromise is usually the best course.


Susan Fox

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Elusive Monona Pinto.

I have been obsessed with this Pinto ever since the first time I saw it gracing the streets of Monona. Thanks to Rebecca Holmquist for capturing an image of it at the Post Office. Who owns this beauty? How can I score a ride in it?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Special Board Of Education Meeting This Sunday Morning.

A special board meeting has been called for this Sunday morning at the District Office. Closed session is scheduled to begin at 11am with open beginning approximately at 11:30. The agenda follows:

I. Opening of Meeting – Susan Fox

II. Declaration of Public Notice

III. Motion to Move into Closed Session Pursuant to Wisconsin Statutes19.85 (1)(c)(e)(f) for Consideration and Deliberation Regarding Negotiations with the Monona Grove Education Association (MGEA).

IV. Motion to Move Back into Open Session

V. New Business

A. Discussion and Possible Approval of an MGEA Collective Bargaining Agreement for 2009-2011

VI. Adjournment

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Labor Relations Reform Package From The School Administrators Alliance.

School Administrators Alliance
Labor Relations Reform Package

January, 2011

The School Administrators Alliance urges state lawmakers to enact the following package of changes to the state’s laws on labor/management relations:

• Align school employee total compensation increases with the annual statewide per pupil adjustments under revenue caps, equal to a five-year rolling average of personal income growth multiplied by the amount of the low revenue ceiling. Districts avoid arbitration if alignment is achieved.

Prescribe cast-forward costing for all employers and include lane movements for teachers. There is no requirement to maintain fringe benefits to have a “QEO”.

• Make health insurance a permissive subject of bargaining.

• Restore the “greatest weight” factor of revenue controls and “greater weight” factor of local economic conditions in the statutory criteria used by arbitrators.

• Limit the subjects that can be arbitrated (even among the mandatory subjects of bargaining).

• Prohibit an arbitrator from considering an employer’s fund balance as a reflection of the employer’s ability to pay or to fund the union’s offer.

• Prohibit the payment of lane, step and benefit cost increases during contract hiatus to create an incentive to settle.

• Repeal statutes that allow combining of bargaining units, multi-employer bargaining units and professional/non-professional bargaining unit mergers.

• Change the following mandatory subjects of bargaining to permissive subjects: preparation time, subcontracting, assignment of duties during the work day, class size, employee evaluations, reductions in force or work hours, the impact of the use of instructional technology, and the calendar of student contact days and employee work days.

• Establish in statute specified misconduct that, if engaged in, would be grounds for discharge without the application of just cause.

• Define “probationary status” for teachers in statute. Probationary teachers must have a minimum of three consecutive years of demonstrated effectiveness to gain non-probationary status.

• Non-probationary teachers who are found to be ineffective in two consecutive annual evaluations (or two within any four year period) shall have their contract non-renewed or be returned to probationary status.

• Educator effectiveness shall take precedence over seniority when making layoffs.

• Allow school districts the option of freezing the pay of teachers found to be ineffective in annual evaluations.

• Repeal the state Family and Medical Leave Act and simply align with the federal law.

• Change the threshold below which the state prevailing wage would not apply for school public works projects from the current $25,000 to $250,000.

Monona Grove Board Of Education's Statement On The Budget Repair Bill

Feb. 22 2011

We believe that we need to keep the educational needs of the children in the forefront of all that we do.

Given the significant challenges facing our state, we believe that it is in the interests of the Monona Grove School District to maintain respectful partnerships and cooperative relationships that preserve rights and dignity for all. We agree that there is room for improvement in the laws governing the relationship between local governmental units and public employees, In our judgment, the proposals in the "Budget Repair Bill" give too little consideration for the possbile disruptions that invaribly result from such sweeping changes.

As such, we believe the collective bargaining provisions in the "Budget Repair Bill" should be reconsidered in a more collaborative process.

Our commitment must continue to be that of providing the best educational environment for our youth.

Monona Grove Board Of Education

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Monona Gardeners Are Meeting This Thursday at 6:30pm- You're Invited To Attend.

Hello Gardeners,
Spring is on its way (hopefully!) and our next meeting is scheduled for Thursday February 24th at 6:30 pm in the Senior Center level of the Monona Community Center. Bring your perennial plant seeds and we can trade. The more the merrier! We will also have roundtable discussions regarding Plant Division, Composting, and bugs in our gardens. If you have books or magazines that have photos of plants you are interested in, please bring those as well.

Those Pesky Koch Brothers.

From SourceWatch
This article is part of the Coal Issues portal on SourceWatch, a project of CoalSwarm and the Center for Media and Democracy. This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on global corporations.

Koch Industries, (pronounced "coke"), is the largest privately owned company in the United States with 70,000 employees and annual sales of $100 billion in the fiscal year ending December of 2008. [1] Cargill comes in second for privately owned companies. Operations include refining, chemicals, process and pollution control equipment, technologies, fibers and polymers, commodity and financial trading and consumer products. The company operates crude gathering systems and pipelines across North America. One subsidiary processes 800,000 barrels of crude oil daily in its three refineries.

Koch also owns ranches with a total of 15,000 head of cattle in Kansas, Montana and Texas. Though diversified, the company amassed most of its fortune in oil trading and refining.[2] The company was started in 1927 by Fred Koch, a charter member of the John Birch Society, with an oil delivery business in Texas.

Koch Family Foundations

Sons Charles G. Koch and David H. Koch run the company as well as Koch Family Foundations, one of the largest single sources of funding for conservative organizations in the United States. Organizations and think tanks supported by the foundation include Citizens for a Sound Economy, the libertarian Cato Institute, Reason Magazine, the Manhattan Institute, the Heartland Institute, and the Democratic Leadership Council. David H. Koch ran for president on the Libertarian Party ticket in 1980. Author Thomas Frank wrote in "What's the Matter with Kansas?" that "Koch money flowed through Triad Management Services"[3], an advisory service to conservative donors groups and candidates, for the 1996 Senate campaign of Sam Brownback.[4] Other sources only hint at a connection of Koch family members and Triad.[5]

Cato Institute

Charles G. Koch co-founded the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank based in Washington DC, with Edward H. Crane in 1977. [6] Recently, Koch Industries has become an aggressive opponent of climate legislation and a major funder of climate skeptics, including the Cato Institute. [7]

Americans for Prosperity

Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is an astroturf front group started by David Koch and Richard Fink (a member of the board of directors of Koch Industries). AFP works together with the Koch family’s other conservative foundations and think tanks to disrupt Barack Obama's presidency. Accordingly, AFP has opposed health care reform, stimulus spending, and cap-and-trade legislation, which is aimed at making industries pay for the air pollution that they create. AFP was also involved in the attacks on Obama’s "green jobs" czar, Van Jones, and has crusaded against international climate talks. According to an article in the August 30, 2010 issue of The New Yorker, the Kochs are known for "creating slippery organizations with generic-sounding names," that "make it difficult to ascertain the extent of their influence in Washington." [8]

AFP was established in late 2003 as a successor to the Citizens for a Sound Economy Foundation, an industry-funded think tank,[9] following an internal rift between Citizens for a Sound Economy and its affiliated foundation.[10] The October 2003 Washington Times report on the formation of AFP stated, "Nancy Pfotenhauer, an executive of Citizens for a Sound Economy [CSE] in the 1990s who helped defeat Hillary Rodham Clinton's health care reform proposal, has been tapped to head a new national advocacy organization to protect 'every American's fundamental right to pursue prosperity.'"[11] Before joining the Independent Women's Forum in 2001 and AFP in 2003, Pfotenhauer headed the Washington office of Koch Industries.[12]

Justices Scalia & Thomas

On October 19, 2010, the N.Y. Times reported on a personalized invitation signed by Charles Koch to prospective members to “develop strategies to counter the most severe threats facing our free society and outline a vision of how we can foster a renewal of American free enterprise and prosperity.” The invitation discussed meetings called “Understanding and Addressing Threats to American Free Enterprise and Prosperity” that Koch Industries hosts twice a year to plan and expand its efforts “to review strategies for combating the multitude of public policies that threaten to destroy America as we know it.” Those efforts, the letter makes clear, include countering “climate change alarmism and the move to socialized health care,” as well as “the regulatory assault on energy,” and making donations to higher education and philanthropic organizations to advance the Koch agenda. The goals for the twice-yearly meetings include attracting more investors to the cause, and building institutions “to identify, educate and mobilize citizens” and “re-establish widespread belief in the benefits of a free and prosperous society.”[13]

Mr. Koch’s letter included a list of roughly 200 participants from past meetings, including hedge fund executives, Republican donors, and free-market evangelists. Koch also notes that previous guests have included Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas; Governors Haley Barbour and Bobby Jindal; Senators Jim DeMint and Tom Coburn and Representatives Mike Pence, Tom Price and Paul Ryan. [13] The attendance of Thomas and Scalia has sparked debate over judicial ethics and the 2010 Citizens United decision, as Koch Industries has since become a large donor to conservative causes through Americans for Prosperity and other groups.[14]


Koch Industries is also a major polluter. During the 1990s, its faulty pipelines were responsible for more than 300 oil spills in five states, prompting a landmark penalty of $35 million from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In Minnesota, it was fined an additional $8 million for discharging oil into streams. During the months leading up to the 2000 presidential elections, the company faced even more liability, in the form of a 97-count federal indictment charging it with concealing illegal releases of 91 metric tons of benzene, a known carcinogen, from its refinery in Corpus Christi, Texas. Koch Industries was ranked number 10 on the list of Toxic 100 Air Polluters by the Political Economy Research Institute in March, 2010. [1][2]

In a study released in the spring of 2010, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst’s Political Economy Research Institute named Koch Industries one of the United States' top ten air polluters. [15]

Republican Ties

If convicted, the company faced fines of up to $352 million, plus possible jail time for company executives. After George W. Bush became president, however, the U.S. Justice Department dropped 88 of the charges. Two days before the trial, John Ashcroft settled for a plea bargain, in which Koch pled guilty to falsifying documents. All major charges were dropped, and Koch and Ashcroft settled the lawsuit for a fraction of that amount.

Koch had contributed $800,000 to the Bush election campaign and other Republican candidates.

Alex Beehler, assistant deputy under secretary of defense for Environment, Safety and Occupational Health, previously served at Koch as director of environmental and regulatory affairs and concurrently served at the Charles G. Koch Foundation as vice president for environmental projects. [16] Beehler was later nominated and re-nominated by the Bush White House, to become the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Inspector General. [17]

Other environmental crimes & convictions

According to an August 30, 2010 article in The New Yorker magazine, "In 1999, a jury found Koch Industries guilty of negligence and malice in the deaths of two Texas teen-agers in an explosion that resulted from a leaky underground butane pipeline. (In 2001, the company paid an undisclosed settlement.) And in the final months of the Clinton Presidency the Justice Department levelled a ninety-seven-count indictment against the company, for covering up the discharge of ninety-one tons of benzene, a carcinogen, from its refinery in Corpus Christi, Texas. The company was liable for three hundred and fifty million dollars in fines, and four Koch employees faced up to thirty-five years in prison. The Koch Petroleum Group eventually pleaded guilty to one criminal charge of covering up environmental violations, including the falsification of documents, and paid a twenty-million-dollar fine. David Uhlmann, a career prosecutor who, at the time, headed the environmental-crimes section at the Justice Department, described the suit as “one of the most significant cases ever brought under the Clean Air Act.”[18]

Climate Change

Koch subsidiary donates $1 million to stop CA global warming law

In September 2010, a company controlled by the Koch brothers donated $1 million to the campaign to pass Proposition 23, the Suspend AB 32 California ballot initiative that would halt the state's global warming law. The contribution came from Flint Hills Resources, a Kansas petrochemical company that is a subsidiary of Koch Industries. The Koch donation came a day after Tesoro, a Texas oil company that has been bankrolling the pro-Prop 23 campaign, put $1 million into the campaign coffers. According to the No Prop 23 campaign, 97 percent of the $8.2 million raised by the Yes forces has been given by oil-related interests and 89 percent of that money has come from out of state. Three companies, Koch Industries, Tesoro, and Valero -- another Texas-based oil company -- have provided 80 percent of those funds.[19]

EPA and greenhouse gas regulations

The Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011 is proposed by Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY), and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), who describe the bill as "a sensible, narrowly crafted 'fix' to clarify that the Clean Air Act was never intended to be used to impose cap-and-trade by regulation." The bill seeks to prevent the EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.[20]

The House Energy and Commerce Committee, under Republican control, is holding a hearing on Feb. 9, 2011 to discuss the bill, chaired by Whitfield, who has received $9,000 from Koch Industries since 2008. Koch operatives reportedly met with Rep. Upton on the first day of the 112th Congress to discuss such a bill. Upton received $20,000 from Koch employees in 2010, making them among his top 10 donors. Nine of the 12 new Republicans on the panel signed the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity “No Climate Tax” pledge that opposed any government action to reduce carbon dioxide pollution.[20]

Climate Change Denial

According to the 2010 report by Greenpeace, Koch Industries: Secretly Funding the Climate Denial Machine, Koch has out-spent ExxonMobil in funding climate change denial. From 2005 to 2008, ExxonMobil spent $8.9 million, while the Koch Industries-controlled foundations contributed $24.9 million in funding to organizations of climate change skeptics. Efforts include:

ClimateGate Echo Chamber—At least twenty Koch-funded organizations have repeatedly rebroadcast, referenced and appeared as media spokespeople in the story, dubbed “ClimateGate,” of supposed malfeasance by climate scientists from stolen emails from the University of East Anglia in November 2009. These organizations claim the emails prove a “conspiracy” of scientists and "proves" climate change is a hoax.

More than $5 million to Americans for Prosperity Foundation (AFP) for its nationwide “Hot Air Tour” campaign to spreading misinformation about climate science and opposing clean energy and climate legislation.

More than $1 million to the Heritage Foundation, a mainstay of misinformation on climate and environmental policy issues.

Over $1 million to the Cato Institute, which disputes the scientific evidence behind global warming, questions the rationale for taking climate action, and has been heavily involved in spinning the recent ClimateGate story.

$800,000 to the Manhattan Institute, which has hosted Bjorn Lomborg twice in the last two years, a prominent media spokesperson who challenges and attacks policy measures to address climate change.

$365,000 to Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment (FREE), which advocates against taking action on climate change because warming is “inevitable” and expensive to address.

$360,000 to Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy (PRIPP) which supported and funded An Inconvenient Truth...or Convenient Fiction, a film attacking the science of global warming and intended as a rebuttal to former Vice-President Al Gore’s documentary An Inconvenient Truth. PRIPP also threatened to sue the U.S. Government for listing the polar bear as an endangered species.

$325,000 to the Tax Foundation, which issued a misleading study on the costs of proposed climate legislation.

The reports says such contributions are only part of the picture, because the full scope of direct contributions to organizations is not disclosed by individual Koch family members, executives, or from the company itself. But contributions through Koch’s political action committee (PAC) are a matter of public record. Since the beginning of the 2006 election cycle, Koch’s PAC spent more on contributions to federal candidates than any other oil-and-gas sector PAC. For that period, Koch Industries and its executives spent $2.51 million compared to next three biggest contributors: Exxon ($1.71 million), Valero ($1.68 million), and Chevron ($1.22 million).

Koch executives and their families wield political influence on climate change in other ways too, including direct federal lobbying and campaign contributions. Over the last few years, Koch Industries, Koch employees, and Koch family members:

Spent $37.9 million from 2006 to 2009 for direct lobbying on oil and energy issues, outspent only by ExxonMobil ($87.8 million) and Chevron Corporation ($50 million).

Spent $5.74 million in PAC money for candidates, committees, and campaign expenditures since the 2006 election cycle.

Contributed at least $270,800 to federal political party committees since the 2006 election cycle.

Gave $10,000 to Senator Lisa Murkowski in 2010,[21] who, in January, proposed stripping the EPA of its ability to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, and lamented that BP's Deepwater Horizon oil disaster has temporarily halted exploratory offshore drilling in the arctic planned by Shell Oil for summer 2010, a topic that even many conservative opponents of climate action have remained silent on in the face of the unfolding historic despoiling of the gulf.[22][23]

Mergers & acquisitions

In 2003, Koch announced a $4.4 billion cash purchase of Invista, the world's largest fibers company and owner of brand names such as Lycra and Teflon; from DuPont. [24] In 2005, Koch purchased paper products giant Georgia-Pacific for $21 billion, acquiring brands such as Quilted Northern, Angel Soft, Brawny, Sparkle, Vanity Fair, and Dixie cups. Internationally, brands include Lotus, Colhogar, Delica, Tenderly, and the Vania brand of personal care products. See also Invista.

Fossil Fuel use
Koch Industries and Coal

In 2005 Koch Industries acquired the American pulp and paper company Georgia-Pacific, which now operates as a subsidiary.[25] Georgia-Pacific owns and operates the following mills:

Naheola mill in Pennington, Alabama, which began operations in 1958. Currently, the principle products from the Naheola mill include both plate stock and cup stock for use in the food service market.

The Crossett mill, located in Crossett, Arkansas, produces bleached paperboard grades, including folding carton, plate stock, bleached linerboard, and various cup stock grades.

The recently acquired Brewton mill, located in Brewton, Alabama, produces folding carton, blister packaging, and skin packaging grades.

Fort James Muskogee Mill Power Plant is a coal-fired power station in Muskogee, Oklahoma that provides power to Georgia-Pacific's Muskogee paper mill. [26]

Tar Sands

A February 2010 SolveClimate News analysis, based on publicly available records, found that Koch Industries is responsible for close to 25 percent of the oil tar sands crude that is imported into the United States, and is positioned to benefit from increasing Canadian oil imports. A Koch Industries operation in Calgary, Alberta, called Flint Hills Resources Canada LP, supplies about 250,000 barrels of tar sands oil a day to an oil refinery in Minnesota, also owned by the Koch brothers. Flint Hills Resources Canada also operates a crude oil terminal in Hardisty, Alberta, the starting point of the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline. The company's website says it is "among Canada's largest crude oil purchasers, shippers and exporters." Koch Industries also owns Koch Exploration Canada, L.P., an oil sands-focused exploration company also based in Calgary that acquires, develops and trades petroleum properties.[27]


The company spent $3,528,750 for lobbying in 2006. $820,000 was to outside lobbying firms with the remainder being spent using in-house lobbyists. [28]

In February 2005, the Hill reported, "Top White House official Matt Schlapp is joining the Washington office of oil-and-gas conglomerate Koch Industries, the latest example of high-level administration and congressional staffers making post-election leaps to the lobbying world." Schlapp had headed the White House’s Office of Political Affairs. At Koch, Schlapp will be the executive director of federal affairs, directing Washington lobbying. [3]

Elizabeth Stolpe, previously in-house lobbyist for Koch Industries, is now Associate Director For Toxics & Environmental Protection at the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

Political Contributions

Koch Industries is the single largest oil company contributor to both Republican and Democratic candidates for Congress. These contributions total $1,065,750 to the 110th US Congress (as of the third quarter), the largest of which has been to Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-KS) for $42,950. Rep. Tiahrt, for his part, has consistently voted with the oil industry on energy, war and climate bills. [4]

Contributions like this from fossil fuel companies to members of Congress are often seen as a political barrier to pursuing clean energy. More information on oil industry contributions to Congress can be found at, a project created by the nonpartisan, nonprofit organization Oil Change International.

Koch Industries gave $948,000 to federal candidates in the 05/06 election cycle through its political action committee (PAC) - 17% to Democrats, 82% to Republicans. [29]

Monday, February 21, 2011

Wisconsin Power Play

from Paul Krugman,

Last week, in the face of protest demonstrations against Wisconsin’s new union-busting governor, Scott Walker — demonstrations that continued through the weekend, with huge crowds on Saturday — Representative Paul Ryan made an unintentionally apt comparison: “It’s like Cairo has moved to Madison.”

It wasn’t the smartest thing for Mr. Ryan to say, since he probably didn’t mean to compare Mr. Walker, a fellow Republican, to Hosni Mubarak. Or maybe he did — after all, quite a few prominent conservatives, including Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Rick Santorum, denounced the uprising in Egypt and insist that President Obama should have helped the Mubarak regime suppress it.

In any case, however, Mr. Ryan was more right than he knew. For what’s happening in Wisconsin isn’t about the state budget, despite Mr. Walker’s pretense that he’s just trying to be fiscally responsible. It is, instead, about power. What Mr. Walker and his backers are trying to do is to make Wisconsin — and eventually, America — less of a functioning democracy and more of a third-world-style oligarchy. And that’s why anyone who believes that we need some counterweight to the political power of big money should be on the demonstrators’ side.

The rest can be found here.

Friday, February 18, 2011

School Is Back On For Monday?

A message from Superintendent Craig Gerlach:

Dear Monona Grove School District Parents,

The Monona Grove School District will be open for school on Monday, February 21. Kristine Wollerman, Monona Grove Education Association (MGEA) President, representing the leadership of their association, will direct all MGEA members to attend school beginning Monday, February 21, 2011.

In addition, all teachers are expected to separate political and union issues from instruction in all cases, unless this is part of a planned current event in a social studies classroom. In social studies classes too, teachers are expected to present balanced perspectives, and not advocate for their own view.

Many parents have asked what discipline will result from teachers not reporting to work on Thursday and/or Friday. Teachers not coming to work will be docked pay for one or two days depending on the number of days they were out. Continued participation in statewide job action may result in discipline in accordance with state law, district policy, and the collective bargaining agreement.

Options are also being considered regarding make up days or time to deal with instructional time that has been lost due to this job action. The Board of Education will be discussing this on Tuesday, February 22nd at the regular meeting.

As the superintendent of schools, I will work with other district leaders and all staff to unify our efforts to provide the best possible education for your children. We need to pull together for our students, especially after a period of turmoil and divisiveness.

I have received many emails, phone calls, and personal comments that represent a wide range of political perspectives. I take your comments and concerns seriously.

Finally, I realize that the events of this past week have been very difficult and stressful for all of us. We must strive to keep our collaborative efforts focused on the education of our children. The school district will do everything possible to set a positive tone and provide the best possible educational experiences for our children.


Craig Gerlach

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Community Listening Session For MG Budget Reduction Proposals.

There will be a community listening session concerning current district budget reduction proposals this Saturday, February 19 from 9 to 11am in the Monona Grove Highschool IMC. You can find a list of the proposals here.

Monona Grove Schools Closed Friday.

From the district website:

Unfortunately, the majority of our teaching staff has called in absent. We are unable to secure enough substitute teachers to provide a safe learning environment for our children. Therefore, school will be closed tomorrow, Friday, February 18.

We understand the concern over loss of instruction and the inconvenience this is placing on our families.

After school activities will take place unless otherwise notified.
All staff members are required to report to their respective buildings.


A Civics Lesson At The Capitol

Favorite Sign Of The Day

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Monona Grove School District Is Closed Thursday Due To Teacher Job Action.

Monona Grove joins Madison, DeForest and Oregon School Districts in closing schools down tomorrow. I'm sure this list will get longer.

A Personal Message From School Board President Susan Fox:

There have been a few comments/requests related to the Board's decision to withdraw our current draft of a final offer until we have clarification of the new legislation. You should draw no conclusions about what the Board might or might not do regardless of what form pending legislation may take. Quite simply, we need to know what rules/parameters we are dealing with.

In the meantime, I sent personal comments yesterday to a couple dozen or so legislators. I am not authorized to speak for the full Board in this realm, and the full Board cannot issue a statement without a posted public meeting. Therefore, I am speaking, from my physical location in Arizona, only for myself. But for what that's worth, here are my comments to legislators:

Speaking personally as a school board president in a district which does not have a settled contract with our teachers, I urge you to defeat the bill proposed by Governor Walker. The extreme nature of these proposals will damage the working relationships among teachers, administrators, and board members, and thus harm students. Speaking specifically of my own school district, they will undermine current efforts to pursue innovation in which many of our teachers have been engaged. These proposals show no respect for teachers or any other public servants in stripping away long-held rights to bargain. Other than the hearings held on Tuesday, there has been no public, thoughtful communication with stakeholders--no meaningful attempt to gather input-- on these proposals. There has apparently been no thought given to unintended consequences for schools or the economy, many of which will be negative and far reaching.

The fast track movement of this bill shows disdain for the democratic process. Please vote to defeat this bill.

Susan Fox

Possible Statewide Teachers Strike Tomorrow?

WEAC is calling for a statewide job action tomorrow. At last count, our district has had notification from about 30% of our teaching staff that they will not be at school tomorrow. More here.

No School Next Friday, February 25th. Ski Cascade Instead.

From Monona Park and Rec:

Looking for something awesome to do on your day off of school next Friday? Join the Monona Parks & Rec Dept along with Cottage Grove and Maple Bluff for our last ski trip to Cascade Mountain. Cost is $45 and includes a meal voucher. Sign up online or call the Recreation Department at 222-4167. Bus leaves the Monona Community Center at 8:15 am and we'll arrive back around 5:30 pm.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Governor Walker To Propose Axing Almost All Collective Bargaining Rights


Gov. Scott Walker said in an exclusive interview that he will propose removing nearly all public employee collective bargaining rights to help plug a $3.6 billion budget hole.
Walker told The Associated Press on Thursday that no one should be surprised by the move that he is asking the Republican-controlled Legislature to approve next week given that he'd talked about doing it for two months.

He said the cuts are necessary to avoid up to 6,000 state employee layoffs.
Walker will propose changing state law to remove the ability for public employees to negotiate on any issue except salary.
Read the rest here.

Proposed 2011-12 Budget Reductions

2011-12 Proposed Reductions

Consolidation of Maywood and Winnequah Schools
 SUBTOTAL $243,531

Snow Removal Schedule $25,000
Eliminate Asst. Principal at Cottage Grove School .2 FTE $21,000
Diversity Coordinator Position by .5 FTE $23,000
Special Education Teacher - Winnequah 1.0 FTE $60,000
Early Childhood Teacher - .6 FTE $45,000
Early Childhood Educational Assistant - Maywood - .5 FTE $10,000
Early Childhood Educational Assistant $5,000
Technology Educational Assistant - Glacial Drumlin .4 FTE $15,000
Route Coordinator/Assistant Transportation Position $25,000
Building Checks (Sundays Only) $11,000
School-to-Work Coordinator $60,000
High School Writing Lab Educational Assistant $35,000
District Human Resources Position $20,000
High School Copy Position $11,000
Increase Walk Zone $50,000
Building and Department Budgets $100,000


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Monona Grove Board Of Education Meeting This Wednesday, February 9th

The Board of Education will meet tomorrow evening, February 9th, in the District Office at 7pm. The full agenda can be found here.
Some highlights of tomorrow's meeting:
 Nancy Gagnon and Stephanie Ramer will present the Board with the details of the proposed charter School of Health and Environmental Sciences. This project-based learning charter school aims to serve students in grades 6 through 8.

There will also be discussion of the location of second grade students at Cottage Grove Elementary School for the coming school year.
The district's budget reduction process and proposals will also be discussed at length.

Also, many thanks for all of these generous donations!

 Donation from Diane Loui to Cottage Grove School to purchase a document camera
 Donation of $2,000.00 from Walmart to Maywood & Winnequah Schools.
 $1,525.00 from the Cottage Grove PTO to purchase SMARTBoards at Taylor Prairie School.
 Three winter jackets, 2 pairs of snow pants, 10 winter hats and 10 pairs of knit gloves for students from Joann Kerr to the Cottage Grove School
 $359.33 From the Monona Elementary PTO for the Winnequah School for 5th grade art
 $565.30 from the Cottage Grove Book Fair (Cottage Grove PTO) to Taylor Prairie School

Unfortunately, I will not be attending our meeting as my family is on vacation on the Gulf Coast, where the state of public education is truly dire, where school reserve accounts are running dry and 60 of 131 Alabama school districts have less than one month of operating expenses in their accounts. Read more here.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Friday, January 28, 2011

Poet Ken Nesbitt Will Be Visiting Maywood And Winnequah Schools February 10.

The Monona Elementary PTO has graciously arranged for superstar kid's poet Ken Nesbitt to visit both Monona elementary schools Thursday, February 10th. Ken is the poetic genius behind such books as More Bears!The Tighty Whitey Spider, The Aliens Have Landed at Our School, and my personal favorite, Revenge of the Lunch Ladies. (and no, that doesn't have anything to do with Chartwells food service) Elementary school librarian Stacey Pipson sent home a flyer last week for children to order books for Ken to autograph. Thanks Monona PTO!!

Gabby's Baby Beagle
Gabby bought a baby beagle

at the beagle baby store.
Gabby gave her beagle kibble,
but he begged for bagels more.

Gabby loved her baby beagle;
gladly Gabby gave him one,
but her beagle grabbed the bag and
gulped them down till there were none.

So she took her baby beagle
to the bagel baker's store,
where the beagle gobbled bagels,
bags of bagels by the score.

Gabby's beagle gorged on bagels,
bigger bagels than before,
till he'd gobbled every bagel
in the baker's bagel store.

Gulping bagels bulges baby
beagles' bellies really big.
Say goodbye to baby beagle;
Gabby's beagle's now a pig.

--Kenn Nesbitt

Check out Ken Nesbitt's website