Practically Speaking

Kyle and her husband moved to Brookfield in 1986. She became active in local politics and started blogging in 2004. Her focus is primarily on local issues but often includes state and national topics, too. Kyle looks at things from the taxpayers' perspective in a creative, yet down to earth way, addressing them from a practical point of view.

65 from Waukesha petition to join Elmbrook schools: Why now?

Education, Elmbrook, TAXES

Tonight the Elmbrook School Board will hear a presentation on the petition from 65 households "FOR DETACHMENT FROM SCHOOL DISTRICT OF WAUKESHA TO ELMBROOK SCHOOL DISTRICT"


These homes are primarily located in an area just west of Brookfield Road, across from Wisconsin Hills Middle School. (If you look on page 7 of the paperwork included in the petition link, you will see the map showing the shaded area in the Town of Brookfield. I believe only Brandywine Ln. and Rivendell Dr. are part of the City of Brookfield.)


The petition hearing for Waukesha is really just a formality, because there was a problem with the way the petition was crafted. According to the Journal Sentinel, "...the petitions are defective because the residents didn't present his district with the entire value of the geographic area that they want detached." Only the petitioners property values were included, but there are 116 homes in the area in question.


The reasons for petitioning Elmbrook to join our district were weak, in my opinion. Here is the rationale:

Ron Stadler, the lawyer representing the petitioners living near the intersection of Blue Mound and Brookfield roads, said his clients want their children to be able to go to school with their neighbors in the Elmbrook district.

"The sense of community is the overriding factor," Stadler said. He added that most of the homes were built in the 1950s and the residents went to Waukesha schools because Elmbrook didn't exist yet.


Regardless of where the boundary is, there will always be neighboring children who don't attend the same school. (If we admit these petitioners, what about their neighbors to the west?) Does this mean that if your neighbor homeschools or attends a private school, your children won't play with them when at home? It must, according to the petitioners. It is not true in my neighborhood where children from parochial schools play with Elmbrook students.


The other reason was even more ridiculous, "that most of the homes were built in the 1950s and residents went to Waukesha schools because Elmbrook didn't exist yet."


True, many of the homes are older. But I would wager the original owners no longer live in those homes and even if they did, they certainly would not still have school age children!


The present owners in the petition area purchased or built those homes KNOWING that they would not be part of the Elmbrook School District. Yet, they somehow believe they should be absolved of any personal responsibility.

"We are broken, our whole subdivision is broken," I heard one woman tearfully say today in a news clip after Waukesha denied their request.


She made it seem that Waukesha was being heartless in denying their request. But she was the one who chose that particular home, knowing it was NOT part of Elmbrook.


In addition, not all of the residents in the area want to leave, according to Jim Haessly, Waukesha's assistant superintendent.

Haessly and Gray said they've heard from people in the same area who don't want to detach from Waukesha. [Petitions came from 65 of 116 homes.]

"Fifteen kids in our public schools live in this section," Haessly said. "Thirty are already open-enrolled, and many others attend private schools. You don't always know what's motivating them to do this."


Of course knowing that you purchased a home outside of the Elmbrook School District doesn't always serve as a deterrent to admission into Elmbrook. Weston Hills, a newer, upscale subdivision in the Town of Brookfield, did finally prevail in their 4th attempt to gain entrance to Elmbrook. They are the only subdivision to have "won the right to leave the district." 


As much as we are told "It's about the kids" when it comes to education, seceeding is really all about the money! Waukesha is not about to lose the approximate $40,000 to $50,000 from state aids or these homes' tax base by letting these residents go. Unlike Weston Hills, most of these homes are not the McMansion type, that carry with them a juicy property tax base or whose owners have more political clout.


If this is a moot point, why bother discussing not doing it? Because I think it is good to nip certain ideas in the bud. Just bringing a subject up before the board sometimes gives it legs. This is one idea I don't want to march forward.


Contact the board if this is of concern to you.


More reading, Fairly Conservative: Who wants into the Elmbrook School District? (Included the Elmbrook Agenda Item, petition, and maps.)


counter hit xanga

Brookfield7, Fairly Conservative, Vicki Mckenna, Jay Weber, The Right View Wisconsin, Mark Levin, CNS News




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