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, 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