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Inside the Beaver's Dam

The Dam Insider is keeping an eye out for you, tracking the elected leaders of Beaver Dam, Dodge County, Wisconsin and beyond. Email your thoughts or tips. Emails may be published unless otherwise requested. Requests will be honored.

Location: Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, United States

Sunday, July 23, 2006

The gauntlet

My last post about Beaver Dam's public school administration stirred up quite a few reactions, many apparently from teachers or school employees, including this one:

"None of these public employees, based on what we are seeing in the political agendas of our current leaders, can expext any more compensation. So what is there to look forward to and live on, at the end of a career which through their work and self sacrifice has provided so much for so many. [sic]

What is the motivation to perform, excell or just plain come to work everyday for these highly skilled educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, DPW or Highway department employees, or any other staff member in public service who have had or feels they are about to have the rug, for which they have put in many years to attain, jerked out from under them. [sic]

I would like to hear some comments back from members of the school board, the Mayor and Alderpersons from the City of Beaver Dam, members of the Dodge County Board or any other persons holding public office in this area having control over another persons job, benefits and retirement.

I throw the gauntlet down to you to participate in this discussion. As political leaders, elected by your constituents, you have an obligation to come forth with answers."

Any political leaders willing to answer the call?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, but I'm not the politician you are seeking. But I would love to know the clairvoyant process Insider used to conclude that many of the responses to the last post were "apparently from teachers or school employees...." I responded but am not an employee, but a parent concerned about the quality of education here in B.D. Do you truly believe that only public employees care about public employees? Get real!

Mon Jul 24, 07:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Judge Judy said...

I am an elected official for the City, and my biggest challenge in my job is dealing with the youth and their parents. During this past school year, there were the least amount of tickets coming out of the Middle School than I have seen in a very long time, if ever. The main problems lies within the high school and Charter school. I find that lack of cooperation on the part of the school and lack of cooperation with parents are the main problems. Some parents have the feeling that they are "raising their children 16 hours a day" and the other eight hours are up to the school. If there is no control in the home, what makes them think that the school can control them.

What doesn't help is when the school does not follow through and citations are received at the end of the school year when they clearly should have been issued earlier in the semester! Now what are the options!

I am not about bashing the teachers but I do feel that some of the school administrators need to keep up with their jobs and refer the youth to court to give them the "encouragement" to go to school in order to get these young people of the community an opportunity to obtain an education they so rightly deserve. Then they will be able to go out and get employment or continue their education upon graduation.

The biggest thrill for me was to see four particular individuals graduate from the Charter School, youth whom I got to know very well over the last few years. The odds were really against them, but they stuck it out and graduated.

As an elected official, my job is to maintain judicial fairness in the community.

Parents need to take stock as to whether they are as concerned about the education of their child(ren) as Anonymous is. If they don't care, what makes them think that the school or the courts are going to make a difference.

The main citations coming out of the schools are truancy, disorderly conduct, smoking, battery, and criminal damage to property. Contrary to what some in the School District say, we do have a truancy problem here, and they are the same families and/or individuals over and over again.

If I were an administrator for the school, the first thing I would do is close the campus at the high school. That would eliminate the problem of students not finding their way back to school after lunch hours. Let the students earn the privilege of an open campus. The cell phones and CD players would be left in their lockers, and the students would have to do what they are suppose to in school, study, learn and graduate.

With regards to receiving more pay, the court has been in existence for 13 years. The salary for the Judge has increased $3,000 in 13 years, which, if you do the math, comes in at less than $20 a month. Somehow that doesn't equal out to all of the hours put in that are not covered in a job description. But then, maybe I am biased!

Mon Jul 24, 08:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I responded as well and am not a district employee, but again am very concerned about the quality of education in Beaver Dam. I am a business owner and I am concerned about our ability to draw people to our community as well.

I would like to hear from Mr. Kirst. Mr. Kirst, you essentially single handedly made sure troika got elected. Now, what do you have to say about the administrative exodus from Beaver Dam? What are you going to have to say when/if Brouillard and Vessey leave, and the only bright spot in the district reverts back to what it was under Link and McDonald? I hear Brouillard is not far from returning to Columbus and Vessey is being courted by his old bosses to go to Oregon. What then Mr. Kirst...you'll be lucky to get a chance to draw cards next election.

Finally, kudos to the six remaining Board members. Hang tough and don't be bullied by the three that stand for nothing but, "I don't want to spend any money." Our community deserves better.

Troika, what do you have to say?? Step up to the plate and defend what is going on. Or are you in "Oh Shit!" land since you got elected.

Mon Jul 24, 08:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Another Observer said...

Thank you to those who have commented. You are onboard with the intent of the curious observers' earlier comments.

But it pains me, as another observer of this situation, to see that in this community, no one other than the municipal court Judge, who has taken the time to put serious personal stock in the performance of her duties, had the brass to respond to the challenge of defending her actions. (She wasn't even the target of the post, if I read it correctly.)

My hat is off to you Judge Judy!! Keep the faith, you've done a fine job. I have seen your results first hand.

To the rest of you, step up to the plate and take a swing. Your motives and your agendas may be justified if any of us in the general public knew where you were trying to go. Please step forward and present you case!!

Mon Jul 24, 09:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Azor where are you on this one??

Mon Jul 24, 10:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Azore Adnauseum said...

WHAT is wrong with you anonymous? Azor finally silences himself and you invite him back. I know this blog is to explore the views of many, but his riteous goulash of mightier than though spewings are almost more than I can take. Stay away Azor.

Mon Jul 24, 10:05:00 PM  
Blogger Azor said...

Azore (sic) Adnauseum: What is wrong with anonymous 3 is that she/he/it didn't take a handle.

Mon Jul 24, 10:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Judge Judy said...

I do take my job very seriously, and making sure that the number of truancies are reduced is one of my main goals! If you don't have some sort of education, how will you get a job. McDonald's, for example, is not my idea of a career for the youth today.

If I could have this school year without one truant, I would be the happiest person in the world and could go out of office feeling that I had made a difference. But who am I kidding! It isn't going to happen. So I will continue to deal with these young people the way I have in the past six years, but maybe with some sharper teeth and some of the parents standing at the plate with their kids!

We want good education for our children. We have dedicated teachers in our school district. Recognize this fact, let them do their jobs.

Tue Jul 25, 01:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Judge Judy said...

Just to clarify something, when I read the blog, it asked for any elected official to come forward. I am an elected official for the City of Beaver Dam, and I felt that the citizens of Beaver Dam deserved an answer from me as well as any others who have been elected.

Wed Jul 26, 11:23:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was a member of the school board for five years.

I resigned shortly before I moved to Bozeman, Montana.

I have refrained from commenting on school district-related issues for several reasons. The first is confidentiality. Those who participate in the bargaining process with the unions are supposed to treat the process as confidential. Unfortunately, this isn't always the case, and often results in only one side of the story being presented.

Another reason is tact. Personally, I cannot see the benefit in venting my spleen regarding the thorny and frustrating issues I faced while on the board. Especially on the internet. It certainly isn't going to change anything.

I can say, however, that most of the criticism is misguided. It is easy to point a finger and assess blame for the district's financial woes. The truth of the matter is that the financial condition of the district is not Brian Busler's fault. Nor is it Scot Ecker's, Chris Ligocki's, Jim Orlenko's or even the unions' fault.

It's a numbers issue. Beaver Dam has had a stagnant or declining student population for years. School district revenue (income) is directly tied to student enrollment. X number of students = $ Y . If X grows, $ Y also increases. If X declines, $ Y decreases.

82% of the district's budget consists of salaries and benefits for district employees. The overwhelming majority of those employees are members of the union. The QEO law has effectively mandated a 4.2% annual package increase for the union.

So, at the risk of oversimplifying the issue, 82% of the budget increases by 4.2% each year, if we keep the same number of staff.

The only way to balance the budget in an environment of stable or declining enrollment is to cut staff. And nobody wins when this happens, especially the students.

As for the remaining 18%, energy costs also increase, as does the cost of maintenacne and repairs.

I can state unequivocally that the administration during my tenure was extremely dedicated and hard-working. They do a ton of work behind the scenes of which the public is never even aware. In fact, I learned a lot from working with them, and I aspire to bring the same level of professionalism and passion to my own career.

The board will be hard pressed to replace those who left.

We are also blessed with some incredibly talented, creative and innovative teachers and support staff at all levels who put students first.

The district is between a rock and a hard place, financially.

I wish my former colleagues on the board the best of luck, for I know that it will probably get worse before it gets better.

I wish Brian, Scot, Todd and Chris the best in their new positions.

I applaud the staff, and I know they will do their best to keep a positive attitude and not let the budgetary woes seep into the classroom and affect student learning.


Joe Militello

Wed Jul 26, 12:02:00 PM  
Blogger Azor said...

Mr. Militello,

Thanks for your insight. If you don't mind, I have a question.

You state: "School district revenue (income) is directly tied to student enrollment. X number of students = $ Y"

Is the equation really that simple? My understanding (and it could be an entirely incorrect understanding) is that a greater factor in school funding than student enrollment is property tax base. Is MPS, which presumably has the largest enrollment in the state, also the richest? Are the smallest districts the poorest?

Wed Jul 26, 11:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The biggest problem is the QEO law........a mandated 4.2% raise every year?? That's incredible! Anyone else here who would like a job with that kind of a guarantee? Guess it helps to have the Governor and legislature in your pocket, eh Teacher's Union?

Thu Jul 27, 10:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


No, it is not that simple... The formula for funding employs a ratehr large spreadsheet.

But the bottom line is that revenue is tied to enrollment. We would do a headcount at the beginning of each semester on a designated day, and our "2/3" funding from the state was directly tied to that.

It is indisputable that the current financial problems in the BDUSD are the result of this funding mechanism and the QEO.

Yes, we always levied the maximum. Of course, that is tied to the tax base.

As for any decisions regarding negotions, arbitration or "playing hardball," or any comments beyond what I have shared, I have to rely on a quote from my mentor:

"I am not at liberty to discuss it."

Joe Militello

Fri Jul 28, 10:31:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps if we didn't have a truancy problem and we had the kids on the designated day that the head counts are taken, we would be in better shape as far as number of students attending.

As for the high increases for the school administration, I feel it is way out of line. I seems that if the school district gets a little extra money in their pockets, they spend it right away instead of investing it back for th students and their education. I don't believe secretaries are doing any teaching these days from the Educational Services Center!

Fri Jul 28, 10:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One misconception that is constantly repeated on this blog is that the state gives our school district 2/3 funding. It does not! Two-thirds funding was promised as an inducement to place revenue caps in effect in 1993. Since that time the legislature has renigged on the reform of school funding, and they now fall far short of 2/3 funding. On top of that, add in the in huge number of unfunded mandates put in place in the last 13 years and it's easy to see why we are in the situation we are in.

The fact that our problems are not uncommon, that school districts across the state are having the same type of difficulties, reaveals that this is not a Beaver Dam problem. It is a Wisconsin problem. It is not a QEO problem, it is a revenue cap problem. The $X and $Y formula is being forced upon us and it's impossible to balance. The change must come from Madison, not McKinley Street.

Sat Jul 29, 12:19:00 PM  
Anonymous A Curious Observer said...

Thank you to those that have came forward with comments. I realixe that tis blog is not the widespread media front that the majority of our local elected officials like to speak out on.
However, there are many individuals who read this blog just to read it. In the sam e manner that they do, "The Daily Citizen". Other than Judge Judy, thank you for your honest comments, and Mayor Jack, who responded, but tried to shift the focus to another subject, (Basic Standard Operating Preocedure for Jack), not one other politician has had the nerve to respond.

Is this a snapshot of the type of representaion without responsibilty which seems to be the current trend? Please prove me wrong or this entire constituency of voters/taxpayers, in Dodge County, is in for a WORLD OF HURT.

They are simply taxpaying lambs, being lead to the sluaghter........Political representatives, the floor is yours.

Tue Aug 01, 09:54:00 PM  

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