This blog represents my opinions and my opinions alone, and certainly doesn't represent the collective thoughts of any of the Boards or organizations that I serve on. Unfortunately I make all sorts of miistakes, I'm a picky eater, I can't sing and I just recently found out I have been spelling certain words in my vocabulary wrong my entire life. That being said, I still continue to muddle ever onward. Welcome.

Thursday, March 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