Opinion: Wish List
Doesn’t it seem like we are in a pattern of just bouncing from one school issue to the next?
Case in point, the Greendale school board will receive a “long-range facilities planning report” on March 2. The estimated total cost for the improvements range from $12 to 26 million. At least some of the proposed projects must surely be in “wish list” territory.
The report’s recommended next steps will likely help the district determine if it has enough community support to go for a referendum to pay for the improvements — perhaps as early as 2016. Successful school referendums require a ton of hard work and community building. It means that a united school board and administrative team will need to bring its “A” game to the table and be working on all cylinders. Frankly, we don’t have that right now.
The schools will be testing the referendum headwinds at a time when the district is already facing a $1 million budget deficit for 2015-16. The proposed $150 per pupil funding decrease from the state is a tough pill to swallow for any district. However, you can’t lay it all on Governor’s Walker’s proposed budget. Before his budget was even revealed, the Greendale Schools was sporting a budget hole of at least $500,000. Not to mention the changes in Fund 80 that will impact how the district pays for things like the police liaison to the schools.
We will find out more about the state of district facilities and next steps after Monday’s board meeting. Stay tuned.
Youth Sports Uprising
Emails have been flying fast and furious around the community (and to Everything Greendale) about efforts currently underway to have youth sports parents show up en masse at the March 2 meeting to show support John Tharp and his youth sports initiatives. It is another orchestrated public show of support for the superintendent.
As near as I can figure out, it all boils down to access to facilities, fees and school board policy.
The current policy defines the prioritization of use of facilities as first priority given to the needs of the students of Greendale School District and second priority given to Greendale Park and Recreation department.
I wish the superintendent had gathered all the parties together and hashed out a common sense compromise that works for all groups. Instead, he has again chosen the unilateral path that invites community conflict. He is — at least condoning — some very public criticism of members of his own administration as a method of resolving this issue. It isn’t the first time. It is also almost the exact opposite of the character traits he espoused during his recent interview for the job in West Allis.
One person in the community blew another brain gasket last week after I reported what Mark Belling said on his broadcast about a GHS teacher. News is news, both good and bad.
I might also point out that criticism of our local government is the not the same thing as repeated private and public personal attacks on an individual or their family — just because you disagree with them. I join those who choose not engage with toxic individuals who have a demonstrated history of bullying, bigotry and spreading lies or half-truths. Life is too short. ’Nuff said.
I’ve also heard from those who wish I would report more good news about the Greendale Schools. When I run across a good news story from the schools, I post it. Either here, or on our Facebook page (just five more “likes” until we hit 600 — head on over and give us a thumbs up). However, the district’s communication team doesn’t return my calls and emails. So, the district is not much help in that department.
I can say that I have positive relationships with most — if not all— of the members of the Village board. I get speedy responses to both emails and phone calls. I frequently exchange friendly phone conversations with a wide-range of Village leaders to chat and discuss the issues of the day. If I have a question, staff at Village Hall are friendly and quick to answer. The Village even sends me press releases. The school board? Not so much — or not at all. I know I’m not the only one who shares that experience.
I believe a strong and vibrant school system is vital the success of our community. The enormous challenges facing Greendale and the other public schools in Wisconsin need not be compounded by a self-harming school board and divided administration. Some of this school board’s recent decisions or inactions have damaged the brand of our Village and school system. Other actions by the board and superintenent have needlessly and purposefully divided the community.
I wish that were not the case.
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the passing this month of Greendale “original” Ginny Emmons. Emmons and her husband Al have been a fixture in our Village for as long as I can remember. My sincere condolences go out to Al and his family.