Wednesday, October 13, 2010

School Board Meeting

WOW, my frustration level with so many of the comments at the board meeting tonight is extreme. Ill informed speakers, board members who do not listen, understand or even know their role!

I agree with the comments made by Dr. Lowenstein, once again the board refuses to listen to the voters who APPROVED a referendum to exceed the caps to do an additional $1.3M in building repairs. No courage by this board, very disappointing. Well if the boiler goes out at E Cook you can thank the majority of the board who voted against replacing the 55 YEAR old boilers, knowing that if they do go out the "emergency repair" will be significantly more expensive. Not to mention disruptive to the students' education since they would be displaced from their building for a minimum of 6 weeks.

A full 3 people spoke at the budget forum...lots of words, not a lot of sense. Where exactly were the people who spoke at those budget hearings in January asking the board to raise taxes to keep schools open, fix our buildings and not cut programs?

Very frustrating and disappointing evening. Not that too many seem to care.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Never Say Never

Well I said I was done blogging about the school district and now as is a woman's prerogative, I've changed my mind.

I must admit, I've become increasing cynical about this district and where it is headed. The last few weeks however I have seen some rays of hope.

The board members for the most part are interested in moving forward rather than rehashing the past. Generally board members treat each other with respect and seem willing to listen to each other. Time will tell...

I have attended the two board retreats that have been held thus far, one on finance and one on board governance. A lot of information was provided and while I'm impatient for discussion and decisions I am hopeful that will happen sooner rather than later.

I was also reserving judgement on whether the hiring of Dr. Viegut as superintendent was the right decision for the district. One thing I am sure of is Dr. Viegut is exceptional at hiring administrators. I have had the opportunity to observe, on several occasions, the newly hired administrators and I couldn't be more impressed with all three of them.

Ms. Rottier, Director of Assessment and School Improvement is intelligent, eloquent, and knowledgeable. She is also personable and upbeat.

Dr. Gundlach, Deputy Superintendent has been extremely impressive, his ability to clearly explain our glaring technology needs after being in the district for such a short time is truly amazing. He has already proved he is an asset to our district.

The final new central office administrator hired is the one I was most skeptical about - Mr. Tess, former math teacher hired as Executive Director of Business Services. I wondered just how a former Math teacher would be able to handle the complexity of a $100,000,000 budget. After watching the Sept. 8th board meeting I have my answer. Mr. Tess is not only clearly knowledgeable about school finance he is very adept at explaining the budget in an easy to understand format. I just hope the naysayers don't drive him out of the district like they did most of his predecessors.

I was going to continue with the possible levy increase but since the board members have yet to make their thoughts known on this issue I will wait until after their retreat on the budget.

Curious if others have thoughts on any of the new hires?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

LAST POST

Last night's board meeting was the last straw for me. After listening to incredibly eloquent students explain to the board what this will mean to them, with very little discussion the board unanimously dismissed the students' concerns and voted to cut 35 teachers. If each teacher teaches 5 classes that is potentially 175 fewer classes between the 2 high schools.

After following the school board for 12 1/2 years I shouldn't be surprised by this vote but I still can't believe the vote was unanimous, Schneider and Becker's votes didn't surprise me but Karen Bowen, and John Lemberger's vote did shock me, they work at a University, from their brief comments I guess they believe that it won't really end up being that may classes. I am deeply disappointed and just don't have it in me anymore to care what the board does next --- whatever it is, it won't be good. I am just biding my time till my youngest graduates (2 years) and then I can move out of this district.

I'll leave this post up for about a week then this blog will be gone. Thanks to those of you who have contributed civil comments.

Bye

Thursday, December 10, 2009

WHO SHOULD FILL THE BOARD VACANCY?

I wish I had the answer to that question. I don't feel like there is enough information about the applicants and what their views on the major issues are. Only Mr. Lowenstein gave any indication of where he stood on the issues. I hope the board plans to interview these candidates to obtain more information. I am torn on applicants who are not interested in running for a seat on the board. I just can't decide if that is a plus or a minus. I am pleased that most of the applicants seem to genuinely care about the students and aren't trotting out the "no taxes" mantra. From what has been presented so far, I think any one of the candidates would be a more positive force on the board than some previous or current members.

So what do you think?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

WHAT SHOULD THE BOARD DO NOW?

Well I find myself without an opinion, which is very rare for me. Turns out due to the date of the resignation, the open seat will be on the April 2010 ballot... so should the board appoint someone to serve until April, or should the seat remain vacant and be filled with the #3 vote getter in the April election?

I can see pluses and minuses to both options. Any thoughts out there?

Monte has Resigned from Board of Education

I just received an update Board of Education package for the Dec. 2nd meeting and Resolution #4 reads:

*4 Acknowledgment of Board of Education Member Michelle Monte’s Resignation  Board President

# 11 reads: *11 Calendar to Fill the Vacant Board of Education Member Position

I guess even Ms. Monte understands that missing that many meetings in a row makes one ineffective, I am glad she is doing the right thing in resigning. The effective date of her resignation is Nov. 24, 2009

Wonder how long it will take to get 4 votes for a replacement?

Monday, November 30, 2009

SO MUCH FOR 100%

I know I haven't posted in almost a year...lots of reasons, my frustration at the makeup of the board, lots of time spent at my daughters' sporting events, very busy at work and just not very motivated to write.

That has now changed, two topics have me interested and motivated, this post will address the first.

When I was a candidate for the board in 2007 Ms. Monte was a candidate as well and she made a big deal in her opening and closing statements at the League of Women Voter's Forum about how she could vote on 100% of the resolutions...a dig at me.

As a guest on Eye on Oshkosh the issue came up again, here is one of Ms. Monte's quotes from the show on March 15, 2007:

“Mrs. Thiel, while very diligent – she’s been to the board meetings, she has a lot of knowledge, and she has experience – while she has all of those positive qualities, her husband’s a teacher, which means that when contracts are under negotiations, she can’t vote on the budget. She can vote on the budget reconciliation plan, but if we did the budget right we wouldn’t need the reconciliation plan, and because she works for CESA, there’s even more limitations. And as a taxpayer, that bothers me. If my tax dollars are going to pay someone to do a job, I would hope I’m getting my money’s worth. And if they have to continuously abstain from votes, I don’t feel that I am.”

I responded that my voting record was at 96 percent, to which she responded, “But you cashed 100 percent of the checks. That’s my point." She also stated on that show: "I will vote for the person that can do the entire job because that is a paid position."

Fast forward to 2009... Since Ms. Monte was elected there have been 14 regularly scheduled board meetings and Ms. Monte has missed the last 4 board meetings (29%) and yet she has cashed all her board checks up through November 11, 2009. In 3 years I never missed a regularly scheduled board meeting (and only missed one special meeting) yet she criticized me for cashing my checks. How hypocritical!

Of course I didn't vote for Ms. Monte, but if I had, I certainly wouldn't feel that I was getting proper representation. Whatever the reasons for her absence, the fact is she has not come close to voting on 100% of board resolutions. Can you imagine Ms. Monte's blog post had Mrs. Weinsheim missed as many meetings in a row?

Why is it no one seems to care that Ms. Monte appears to have better things to do than attend or at least participate in board meetings? She could at least participate by phone if it was illness that prevented her from actually attending meetings. I have heard no explanation from Ms. Monte as to why she is not attending meeting after meeting, after meeting, after meeting, after meeting. The rumor mill says it is a job out of town that is keeping her from attending meetings. I think she owes it to the voters to explain her repeated absences. Whatever the reason, don't Oshkosh voters deserve a board member who attends most if not all meetings each year rather than one who has already missed 4 meetings in a row? One of those missed meetings contained a workshop on the Superintendent Search, arguably the most important duty for board members this year.

There is a board meeting this Wed. Dec. 2nd I'll update on whether this is another missed meeting for Ms. Monte.

Any thoughts?