Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Charter School proposed in West Bend

A certified letter has been send to West Bend school district administration requesting a public hearing on the matter of a charter school in West Bend.

The plan at this point is to start this fall with K and 1st grade. Future expansion to 6th grade or possibly 8th grade would continue next fall. According to Pastor Dunford of First Baptist Church, many parents have expressed a desire for them to begin a charter school.

The West Bend Board of Education needs to approve such a measure. Charter schools typically educate for less money, have smaller class sizes and results that compare favorably to or better than traditional public schools. There is strong potential for cost savings to the community by educating through charter schools.
This is a very exciting idea for West Bend!

More details later...............

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


The district administration is moving toward getting every child ready for college and the ACT test. They are in the process of changing curriculum to move toward that end. "College readiness" is frequently on the lips of our superintendent, Pat Herdrich. The district boasts about expanding curriculum and offering college credits through their courses. They talk about "career clusters" that students will take part in from middle school on up. All this is what makes the comments and concerns of local business leaders, as they spoke to top district administration and the two school board members in attendance(Weigand and Carlson), so compelling.
Local business leaders (see agenda in previous post for some of their names) encouraged the school administration to focus on teaching reading, writing, math skills and good communication skills. They also spoke of the importance of attitude and the ability to learn on the job skills needed in employment. Those who spoke were not as concerned with the job training of potential employees; they regarded strong basic skills in the above items as what they desire in their employees. Someone with good basic skills, they said, can be trained on the job.
One local business leader asked the school administration to restructure and fundamentally change the way we do education- to use technology and save on paid staff, something some school board members are trying to get implemented as well.
District administration was encouraged to "not cut off your fingers and toes", but be purposeful in making budget reductions and controlling costs. "Just remove the accessories". Private businesses are downsizing and because of that are bouncing back, the district should do the same. Government money available to schools is not likely going to increase. We need to use what we have wisely and not ask for more. One person also mentioned that the community does not want an operating referendum, and asked the administration to forgo asking for one. Some concern was expressed about kids making career choices in middle school (thus the career clusters), which will determine which courses they will take in middle and high school, due to kids just not knowing what they will want to do as adults.
These are refreshing comments from local businesses. We seem to have some good business sense in the local businessmen who spoke. I hope the administration and board members were listening. These comments seem to suggest the administration needs to simplify and stay with the basics. They want to see students coming out of high school with strong fundamentals. If the students have those, they will be on the right path to success in whatever path they take after high school.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Business Forum misnamed.....................

When this was first proposed I was under the impression that local businesses would be letting government officials know how they feel about local government and the local government run schools. I thought it a good thing that the voices of local business would have a platform and that local government and school administration would listen to what they have to say. Now, looking at the agenda I can see that this is not the case. It will be your typical, "government bureaucrats taking the floor and telling the community how to run their businesses and what agenda to follow". Just take a look at the agenda, who is speaking, and how long they have the floor. I think you'll come to the same conclusion.
It is really too bad. I had hopes this meeting would have a more beneficial purpose.

The closing statement is very telling:
"this effort at creating a shared vision for this District and City Governments to begin working together in a closer partnership."

Business Forum Agenda (three hour meeting)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

West Bend Mutual Insurance Company

Introductions - (10 minutes - Kevin Steiner).
8 a.m. - 8:10 a.m.

West Bend School District: Strategic Vision / 21st Century Skills (20 minutes - Joe Carlson,
Dr. Herdrich and Ted Neitzke)
8:10 a.m. - 8:30 a.m.

EDC (20 minutes- Charlie Hillman and John Torinus)
8:30 a.m. - 8:50 a.m.

Focused Discussion - (20 minutes - led by Joe Carlson, Dr. Herdrich and Ted Neitzke)
(9:10 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.)

· Describe the skills needed to ensure college readiness and career success in a global economy.

· List the innovations needed in our K-12 Strategic Plan.

· List funding options for the vision and proposed innovations.

· Describe how the stakeholders can collaborate for West Bend.

Round-table discussion - (20 minutes)
(9:30 a.m. - 9:50 a.m.)
School board members, school district employees, University of Wisconsin - Washington County, Moraine Park Technical College, business owners and Village of Jackson.

City of West Bend Vision (15 minutes - Mayor Deiss, John Capelle, Dennis Melvin)
(9:50 a.m. - 10:05 a.m.)

Business Vision for the City Business Climate Discussion- (15 minutes - Economic Development Committee/Chamber of Commerce)
(10:05 a.m. - 10:20 a.m.)

Round-Table Discussion on Future and Potential for West Bend- (30 minutes)
EDC, City Council, City Leaders, Business Owners and Village of Jackson.
(10:20 a.m. - 10:50 a.m.)

Wrap Up (10 minutes - 10:50 - Joe Carlson, Mayor Deiss and Dr. Herdrich)
(10:50 a.m. - 11 a.m.)
Wrap up to determine future follow up and possible meeting to regroup in the future to continue this effort at creating a shared vision for this District and City Governments to begin working together in a closer partnership.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Keep Two High Schools or Change to One High School?

It is increasingly apparent that the district administration is moving in the direction of changing to one high school. As community members, everyone needs to let the Board members know how they feel about the change. The Board will be voting this fall on this proposal.
There are some very serious considerations they need to think about.
1. No one knows if the district will lose students to open enrollment due to the West Bend having the largest high school in the state if we make the change.
2. No one knows if the proposed savings will really pan out.
3. The administration refuses to consider reducing the number of high school principals unless the change is made from two high schools to one. WHY? Just because it has been tried before does not mean that intelligent, well paid people can't make it work.
Such a move will save the district well over $100,000.00 a year while retaining the two high schools.

Please let these men know how you feel:

2009-2010 Members
Joe Carlson

Personnel / Finance
Stakeholder Communications

Vice President
Tim Stepanski

Board Instruction
Stakeholder Communications
Kris Beaver

Board Instruction
Bruce Koenig


Todd Miller

Stakeholder Communications
Randy Marquardt

Dave Weigand

Board Instruction

Monday, June 21, 2010

In the Spirit of More Transparency

A monthly budget report will now be published and available online. Tim Stepanski suggested that this new budget report be made available on the district's website. Be sure to look for it and check it out.

My only question is how detailed it will be. Will it give enough detail for anyone to know exactly where the money is being spent? Time will tell.

Updates on Athletic Handbook

Jeff Rondorf, East athletic director, and Scott Stier, West athletic director, presented to the board of education some good changes to the athletic handbook. Among the proposed changes is a change regarding the penalty of an athlete who is at a party with underage drinking. Any student, whether consuming illegal substances or not, will receive the same penalty, which is a two week suspension from play. Previously, if a student was at an event with alcohol being served to those underage, but was not himself drinking, his penalty was less severe. Now, the handbook will reflect the standard that simply being at a party with alcohol is in violation of the athletic code.

The board gave Rondorf and Stier some input about academic expectations for athletes. The board has asked them to make a change in the handbook regarding grades and GPA for athletes. Currently, the West Bend School District's policy is one failing grade requires a two week suspension from play. The student must verify that his grades are passing in every class before returning to play. The board would like to see the policy also reflect a minimum GPA of 2.0, which would make the policy state that a failing grade OR a GPA of less than 2.0 requires a two week play suspension. Interestingly, the W.I.A.A. policy allows for one failing grade and does not suspend players for one failing grade, but two.
The board is expected to discuss this further on July 19th and possibly act that same evening.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

One High School Plan-Monday June 21 meetings

While the school board has not approved the one high school plan, the district administration is already moving forward on its implementation.
The Stakeholder Communications Committee meeting has on its agenda, "Discussion of Communication Plan around one-high School".
That meeting will be held:
4:30 – 5:30 pm
West High School – Room V15
1305 E. Decorah Road

Public input will be allowed at the Regular Board Meeting that follows: (Stakeholder Communicati0ns is on the agenda which allows for public input on the topic)

Regular Board of Education Meeting
West High School - Library
1305 E. Decorah Road
6:15 p.m.


Sunday, June 13, 2010


ESC 735 S. Main St.
The regular board meeting begins at 6:15pm.
Committee meetings:
Board Instruction and Facilities-4:30 and Finance-5:30
A Work Session is scheduled to begin at 7:22. Probably about the budget. Try and be there!

Friday, June 11, 2010

School Board meeting regarding combining the high schools

Monday June 21st is the date the school board will be discussing combining the high schools. It seems to me that the superintendent already sees this as a done deal.
The public needs to be there letting their elected officials know how they feel about combining the two schools into one. If this goes through, West Bend will have one of the largest high schools in the state.
Everyone has a price, but the projected savings of combining the schools is minimal, and the benefits to students none (that I can think of).
The projected savings the first year is $205,660 and subsequent years savings are projected to be $382,910(from a budget that exceeds $70 million) The projected savings will come from having one less principal and reductions in coaches and staffing events. One athletic director will be called an activity director, but the salary is the same.
We also do not know the impact of open enrollment if families decide to try and get into a nearby district with a smaller high school.
As I think about this I am considering:
1. How many kids will not make sport teams because of stiffer competition. High school is a time when many kids engage in sporting activities for their local school. It will probably impact the number of kids who make the team.I see less kids having the opportunity to participate at a meaningful level.
2. Will we end up losing money in the deal? No none knows. If more kids move to a different school district for high school, this could be a net loss.
3. Is it worth changing the way we structure our schools? Everyone has a price? It is worth it for a "savings" that could end up costing?
4. Impact for the kids in other areas. I hope kids and parents come out and share their thoughts.
I look forward to more discussion from the community on this.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Business Forum June 29th

The date of the invite-only Business Forum has been changed from June 15th(see previous post regarding this) to June 29th. It will be held at West Bend Mutual Insurance and will include large and small business owners, community leaders, the Economic Development Committee, Chamber of Commerce, West Bend Public Schools, the University of Washington County, Moraine Park Technical College, City of West Bend and Village of Jackson government officials.

This event will provide opportunities to share a wide range of perspectives and information for future planning in education, business and government.