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OPINION: Welcome to Greendale

Newly hired Greendale Superintendent of Schools Gary Kiltz poses with Park and Rec Director Jackie Schweitzer and Village President Jim Birmingham prior to the School Board Candidate Forum.

Tom Slota addresses attendees of the Greendale School Board Candidate Forum on March 16.

Candidate Mary Grogan answers questions during the School Board Candidate Forum on March 16.

Andrea Bender makes her opening statement at the School Board Candidate Forum.

Melanie Kuzmanovic talks about voting in schools at the School Board Candidate Forum.

This week, the Village of Greendale held a “soft opening” for its Historic Welcome Center on Broad Street (more on that soon). The School Board Candidate Forum saw Village leaders welcome Greendale’s new superintendent of schools and the Easter Bunny will receive a grand, gala reception at the Spring Fling fundraising event at Greendale High School for the Marching Band on Sunday sponsored by the Greendale Lions Club.

It was a good sign to see Greendale’s soon-to-be superintendent at the School Board Candidate Forum this week. Dr. Gary Kiltz was engaged, shook hands and took lots of notes during the forum. I sincerely wish him good luck and success for our kids and community. Welcome to Greendale.

The candidate forum itself was another lightly attended school affair with 50 or so community members in attendance. There were lots of empty seats and a giant “moat” of empty space separating the candidates and audience members. The crowd probably could have fit in a large classroom rather than the cavernous Multipurpose Room. It wasn’t long ago that events like this saw much larger crowds.

Among the many tasks on Kiltz’s to-do list will be authentic community reengagement in the schools — beyond involved parents, long-time school supporters and Village insiders. Especially, if the board plans a referendum to pay for facilities upgrades or to revisit removing voting from the schools.

As one Village leader told me, “It is time for the school board to sincerely engage to the community and not expect and wait for the community to make the first move.”

The crowd was a who’s who of Greendale politics. I saw Village President Jim Birmingham along with trustees Carl Genz, Ron Barbian, Donna Ouellette and Sally Chadwick. Village Manager Todd Michaels was pulling double-duty and wearing his Chamber of Commerce hat.

Former Village president John Hermes was in attendance and sat behind former school board president Judy Fons and Village board candidate Rich Busalacchi. Eighteen year school board veteran Vicky McCormick was up front near Joe Crapitto and former school board member Ivanka Kuzmanovic (who served on the board in the 1980s).

Former school board treasurer Anne Szcygiel and her successor on the board, John Comiskey were scattered near the rear. And, I saw Village board candidate Brian Schuk.

The rest was a mixture of parents and community members. Candidates Andrea Bender, Mary Grogan, Tom Slota and Mel Kuzmanovic fielded a range of audience questions scribbled on white index cards about Common Core, budget challenges and voting in schools.

On the issue of voting, Bender, Slota and Kuzmonavic clearly didn’t shut the door on a renewed effort by the school board to have voting removed school buildings. Slota invoked Sandy Hook and Kuzmonavic floated The Historic Hose Tower and new fire station as possible new voting locations.

Only Grogan appeared to believe the issue was settled by adjusting the school calendar to accommodate voting. So, that is one issue that isn’t going away anytime soon.

The candidates were also questioned about repairs to the tennis courts at Greendale High School and a proposed parking lot for the district property at 84th and Grange.

Surprisingly, both incumbents Tom Slota and Melanie Kuzmonavic stated they were unaware of any such parking lot plans by the school district. However, a one-page January 4 memo to the school board from Todd Hajewski, Director of Business specifically references the proposed parking lot to them.

“We are analyzing and getting quotes on … a parking lot on 84 and Grange,” wrote Hajewski to the school board. For a link to the memo, please click here.

Both Slota and Kuzmonavic were present for the January 4 school board meeting. So, I think it is fair to wonder if the pair are paying attention and actually reading the memos from the administration in preparation for their meetings. It wouldn’t be the first time an elected official (or two) were totally uniformed about the issues before them.

So, what is going to be different this time around for Kiltz and the school board? It is a question that many parents, teachers, administrators, community members and Village leaders are thinking about and asking.

This will be the fourth superintendent (including interims) Crapitto and his team have burned through since 2012. Privately, some of his predecessors have little good to say about most board members.

Add to that the eight or nine closed sessions last year resulting in the resignation of Dr. Tharp. Ironically, the $145,000 the district has set aside to pay for the tennis court repair is just about what the school board agreed to pay John Tharp to not be the superintendent this school year.

There is also the debacle around the Veterans memorial that required community leaders and influencers to step in quietly to pull the school board out of a major mess they made themselves — and still blame others for. Not to mention the school board’s ham-handed attempt to unilaterally remove voting from the schools in 2013.

Kiltz’s recently released $160,000 salary seems in line with other districts. And, I hear he is considering moving to Greendale. But, as one Village leader joked on Saturday, “Will he be eligible for hazard pay for having to deal with Crapitto and other sitting members of the Greendale school board?”

Tomorrow is the Spring Fling Fundraiser for the Greendale Marching Band. Try to make it if you can. Wednesday is the Trustee Candidate Forum. See you there!

A Parting Gif…

clueless

 

 

 

About The Author

Bill Attewell

Bill Attewell is the editor and publisher of Everything Greendale. He has over 20 years experience as an award-winning newspaper editor, writer and publisher. His work has been read in in over 50 publications across the U.S. and abroad. Bill is a long-time resident of Greendale and a Greendale High School alum. Go Panthers!

14 Comments

  1. factnotfiction

    Here is the complete quote from the last sentence of the 1 page Hajewski report, taken totally out of context by the author of this opinion: “we are analyzing and getting quotes ON OPTIONS including ADA accessibility for the high school pool and a parking lot on 84th and Grange.” He excluded the words ON OPTIONS. This means that there is no new school district parking lot on 84th and Grange, just getting quotes ON OPTIONS. Look at the report. Very misleading. I also find it very spineless for a so-called “village leader” to say things to the writer without attribution like they did twice in this opinion. If you purport to be a village leader, act like one and have the guts to own your own quotes.

    Reply
    • Greg

      Options vs Plans? Everyone knows the school district is looking at it. Why not be honest with the voters instead of saying you don’t know anything about it?

      Reply
      • Ann

        The school board can’t “recall” they are considering a parking lot on 84th and Grange.

        Either our school board members are not paying attention or they are denying what they read.

        But they are sitting with Mrs. Fons, Mrs. McCormick and someone who served on the school board back in the 80’s. That is minimum even before Dr. Slota joined the board.

        80’s…

        Reply
      • factnotfiction

        Plan is defined as a “detailed proposal for achieving or doing something”. There is no plan. Options are being created. Hard to know what the plans are when they haven’t been made. Ask the opinion writer why he excluded the key word from the Hajewski report and who actually failed “to pay attention” and was “totally uninformed” about the subject matter of the one page memo . Better yet, ask the school district for a copy of any plans for a “parking lot” on 84th street. You’ll get the same reply that I got, zero plans.

        Reply
        • Anthony

          Why did the administration write about it in a memo about the parking lot?

          The smoking gun is time the administration spent looking into a “ghost lot” that someone wanted to have but now everyone denies.

          Kinda sounds like the referendum that no one seems to know about either – there are no plans but a consultant has been hired or is offering their services.

          Of course, now no one remembers, but the writer of the memo and administration that is getting cut off at the knees for their foolish work on getting parking lot costs and information provided to the board that the board doesn’t recall getting, wanting, or needing.

          It is safe to say then that the parking lot is a dead issue.

          This is a definition of crazy and wasted time including mine for reading and writing this unless the parking lot comes back after the election along with a miracle referendum idea that just developed too that all the candidates seem to be talking about.

          Reply
    • jeffrey

      So, is the school board bringing forward a parking lot on 84th and Grange or not?

      I live in the G section and would like to know.

      I called the District Office on Monday morning and no one called me back.

      Maybe Easter Break started early for the administration in the School District Office.

      Reply
    • Trud!

      This is more INSIDER COMMENTS!!!!

      Vote Grogan and Bender and kick out the INSIDERS!

      Reply
    • Gia

      The way I read this is that the school district is “getting quotes on options including ADA accessibility for the high school pool and A PARKING LOT ON 84TH AND GRANGE.”

      If I read it correctly, that means that the district is in the PLANNING PHASE for PARKING LOT at 84th and grange. It didn’t just come out of the blue nor was made up.

      The incumbents say they were unaware of any such plans. So, isn’t it fair to ask if they are reading the memo from the business manager? Or, maybe they chose not to be candid with voters on a controversial issue right before the election.

      Personally, I don’t trust this school board. Sorry. Keep Greendale Green!

      Reply
    • Greendale Mama

      factnotfiction: I urge you to read this post in its entirety: http://www.everythinggreendale.com/blog/voting-who-said-what/

      And, then tell us there are no school board “plans” for a parking lot at 84th and Grange.

      It is a fascinating insight into how our school board really operates.

      Reply
    • Community Radical

      So, FNF, even though it is a good idea, there will not be a parking lot proposed by the school district administration – we know the school board never takes responsibility for what their management team proposes till they put their finger in the wind. The new superintendent is going to learn this like the lat 3 or 4 did.

      Then, if he is any good, he will manipulate the school board members getting them to think every idea is theirs…

      Inquiring minds think this is a good idea and sorely needed for parents and families so the current board members are not aware or voting yes for a parking lot we may support?

      BTW, we won’t be voting for the incumbents as we gave up on this school board.

      New perspectives are really needed now.

      Reply
  2. 4discussion

    This is more disgruntlement except for the correct criticism of the Board of Education President who throws superintendents away at a whim.

    Vote Bernie, Chris Larson, and Andrea Bender.

    Reply
  3. Greendale Old Timer

    This blog post was all the talk at the Lions Breakfast today. Is Joe Crapitto going to be elected President of the School Board again? In the private sector, he would be demoted or fired.

    Reply
  4. James D

    Were Kuzmanovic and Slota really “unaware” of the new school district parking lot at 84th and Grange? Or, we they just afraid of losing votes in the “G” section?

    Reply
  5. Trud!

    How are the school board members engaging the public?

    Other then elections and showing up at school events or free dinners, I don’t see much in the line of community engagement.

    Never hear or see anything about them meeting with anyone that might disagree with them.

    Vote for Grogan and Bender.

    Reply

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