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.

April 1, 2014 election picks: Ponto, Mellone, Liotta, Kratoska, & Vrana or Brunner?

City of Brookfield, Elections, Education, Elmbrook

Here are my spring election picks for Mayor, District 7 Alderman, and Elmbrook School Board with links to more in-depth postings, articles, websites and endorsements. (There are other races on my ballot, but they are uncontested.)  You may look up ward and preview your sample ballot at  and find your Brookfield voting location here. Remember, the polls are open from 7am to 8pm. 

Mayor of Brookfield: Steve Ponto
It may feel like a moment of deja vu in Brookfield, but Steve Ponto and Jeff Speaker are again both on our April 2014 ballot. This time the tables are turned, however, with Ponto being the incumbent and Speaker the challenger.  Is Steve as conservative as I am? No, but I do believe he is the better choice. He brings an air of professionalism to the office, which is a welcome change from the Jeff Speaker aw shucks days of the past.
Ponto for Mayor
Ponto's campaign funding three times that of Speaker 

Alderman 7th District: Lisa Mellone
Lisa Mellone is a treasure. She has the perfect mix of brains, professionalism, grace, work ethic, and energy to do a top-notch job representing her district. Add Lisa's B.A. in Business Administration - Finance and post graduate Paralegal certificate and it is easy to see why she has a skill-set few possess. Her approach with development is particularly admirable. She meets with the neighborhoods and developers many times and manages to balance the wants and needs of each. This was not only true of the recent Underwood Crossing project (Target and Trader Joe's) but also the Moorland McDonald's, and Brookfield Marketplace (Pick 'n Save). 

Read through her endorsements from residents in our district and you will know why Lisa Mellone is the only choice. Here is mine: "Lisa Mellone has definitely raised the bar on what constituents expect from an alderman in District 7. She is dedicated to helping residents when they have  problems and to working with neighborhoods and developers to ensure optimal outcomes on new projects. Lisa works tirelessly for us all, and I am grateful she is willing to serve another term."
Better Brookfield: Lisa Mellone for Alderman 
7th District Aldermanic race: What a candidate doesn't say or do speaks volumes 
Come back, Lisa Mellone, District 7 needs you! 

Elmbrook School Board 
Elmbrook School Board election 2014: Liotta, Kratoska, and both Area I candidates-all against Common Core
Elmbrook candidates weigh 4K, Common Core programs 
Elmbrook candidates discuss board member roles, block scheduling at forum 
Common Core emerges as potent election issue for fed-up parents

Area III: Jeffrey Liotta
I really appreciate Jeff Liotta's strong opposition to Common Core, and I agree completely that teaching to the test is one outcome of adopting the standard. Standards do drive curriculum!  Jeff Liotta is a former Elmbrook graduate and School Board member, who served in the 1980s.
Elect Jeffrey J. Liotta Flyer
Endorsement letter for Jeffrey Liotta for Area III School Board 

At-Large: Write-in Jim Kratoska
Jim Kratoska states on his website, "We all have a stake in moderating or eliminating the effect of Common Core (CC) in the Elmbrook system. CC is as much about ideology as it is about education. Many of us have suffered through a variety of educational fads.  My first was ‘new math’, which like CC, taught an ambiguous, convoluted approach that could never be used on a tax form or purchase order; just like the cubes, squares, lines and dots of CC Math..." Please take the time to read through his webpage on Perspective on Education. Be sure to scroll down the entire page to the section of Here's why I am asking for your vote. It contains information on how Common Core standards are already being implemented in Elmbrook (without holding hearings.)

Jim has a B.S. in Applied Mathematics and Physics, MS in Business Administration, MA in Philosophy, and has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in the Electrical Engineering and Business Schools at UW-M. 

Jim Kratoska is a registered write-in candidate, which means in the uncontested Area I (correction) At-large race on your ballot, you must connect the arrow next to the write-in line and print in "Jim Kratoska" (Write his name down and take it to the polls or remember this acrostic one clever supporter sent me to help voters spell Kratoska: Kindly Remind All Taxpayers Of Spelling Kratoska At-Large 
Jim Kratoska Website  
Jim Kratoska Endorsement Letter 
Kratoska to run as write-in for Elmbrook at-large seat

Area I:  This still is a difficult choice for me. Young Zackary Vrana is running against incumbent Richard Brunner (senior citizen). Both are opposed to Common Core--Vrana adamantly so, which I like; Brunner it seems in general principle. But Vrana is also emphatically for 4K; Brunner again supports 4K in general principle. Vrana would offer a unique perspective on the board, in that he graduated from Brookfield East in 2012 and will graduate from Marquette in 2015.

Hope this was of some help to you. If I learn anything new, I will try to post it Monday night. 

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Elmbrook School Board election 2014: Liotta, Kratoska, and both Area 1 candidates--all against Common Core

Elections, Education, Elmbrook, Conservatives

When you vote on April 1 this election cycle, you have a choice in each of the Elmbrook School Board races. For the Area III and the At-Large race, whether you support Federal Common Core curriculum standards or not might be your deciding factor.

Common Core has been increasingly in the news. I believe it is not just the latest flavor of education reform but a new form of Federal government overreach.  Last month, the Germantown School District opposed adopting Common Core standards and instead, will set their own, higher ones.

Here in the Elmbrook School District, in the Area III race, Jeff Liotta is challenging incumbent Tom Gehl. This is what each stated at the Candidate Forum: (Emphasis mine)

           Liotta: "Quite frankly, I look at the big picture. I reject the philosophy that is behind the Common Core. I think local boards of education are better suited to determine the standard for their individual communities, and I disagree with the concept that curriculum is separate from standards. I guarantee you that if testing is involved (with Common Core standards), it's going to drive the curriculum and staff, despite what we say, will teach to the test. Elmbrook has a 50-year history of excellence in education. We've done it right. Why would we abdicate our right and authority to determine our destiny and to determine the standards that we want our students to achieve?"

          Gehl: " In Elmbrook, this community and this board has demonstrated our commitment to local control and will maintain that commitment. I believe there have been many good things happening the last two years with our curriculum and content than ever before in our district. The Common Core standards focus on skills...and can be used as a reference. They do not prescribe or demand particular content — that will be determined by the local board and administration — but in many areas, they represent a higher bar than what was in place before."

Area III seat: I am voting for Jeff Liotta.  I really appreciate Liotta's strong opposition to Common Core, and I agree completely that teaching to the test is one outcome of adopting the standard. Standards do drive curriculum!  Jeff Liotta is a former Elmbrook graduate and School Board member, who served in the 1980s. For more information, contact Jeff at  View Flyer

In the At-Large race, Write-in Jim Kratoska will challenge incumbent Kathryn Wilson, who is unopposed on the ballot. Read through his webpage on Current Issues:

          Kratoska: "My principle objection is with the ‘common’ part of the core.  Synonyms for common include ordinary, commonplace, and regular.  Elmbrook district residents expect a much higher level of education.
"CC is as much about ideology as it is about education. Many of us have suffered through a variety of educational fads.  My first was ‘new math’, which like CC, taught an ambiguous, convoluted approach that could never be used on a tax form or purchase order; just like the cubes, squares, lines and dots of CC Math...

"...Two members of the original CC standards review board, stated before the Wisconsin legislature, that the CC standards would set the average student back 2 years by the time they finished high school."

          Wilson"I do support Common Core implementation. There's a lot of misinformation out there about the Common Core standards. The standards are very simple, high-level aspirations. They are plain, college preparatory, liberal arts, achievement-oriented goals. I really don't see how anyone could argue with these standards as they are. That said, school boards get to decide what is taught, how it is taught and what curriculum is used as part of that teaching. We're certainly not limited in anyway by the Common Core standards of what we do with those standards." (Quote from Forum)

While I realize Common Core is the standard, and it is the curriculum that is the bigger problem (often written with a humanist, liberal slant), I still do not believe any Federal program is benign.

Ask yourself, what Federal program has not grown in size and scope to exceed its original grasp? (As I am still working on my income taxes, I can't help but think how that has ballooned into something completely unmanageable! Social Security is another Federal program that initially had a more limited scope. Today, it has expanded to cover far more recipients than just retirees.) I want less Federal intrusion into my life, not more.  

At-Large choice: I will be writing in Jim Kratoska (Write his name down and take it to the polls.) He has an BS in Applied Mathematics and Physics, MS in Business Administration, MA in Philosophy, and has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in the Electrical Engineering and Business Schools at UW-M. Visit his website

The Area I seat is a difficult choice for me. Young Zackary Vrana is running against incumbent Richard Brunner (senior citizen). Both are opposed to Common Core--Vrana adamantly so, Brunner it seems in general principle. Again, look at the Forum answers:

          Vrana "I don't believe the Common Core was written for Elmbrook. We are not a district that strives to meet minimum standards. We should be leading and setting the bar for excellence in the state. My issues with the way we've implemented Common Core are the choices we made with the curriculum, such as taking Speech out of the required English curriculum. I think that's a great disservice to our students. Common Core is great to ensure districts meet the minimums, but we should be providing the best education for our students."

          Brunner:  "I've read a number of Common Core analyses in the last several weeks...and every time I read one, I think I change my mind. As far as Elmbrook is concerned, I do not believe we need to implement this program. I understand we do already have it, but I don't think it's necessary for the school district. I think we can (set standards) very well on our own."

I believe Vrana is spot-on here with Common Core; Brunner is less emphatic.

But their stance on 4K makes me lean to Brunner over Vrana, Vrana cheer-leading for 4K--even calling it day care, which it is; Brunner is just supportive.

          Vrana: "I absolutely support a 4K program. I believe district parents need day care for their 4-year-old children, and it is time for us to provide for that...."

          Brunner: "I think the district could benefit from a 4K program. We would, in effect, have a complete school system where the kids could start at four years old and go on through to high school. It's an incentive for people to move into the city ..."

So, Area I is a tossup for me... at least for now.

Brookfield and Elm Grove go to the polls on Tuesday, April 1, 2014.  You can find your ward and preview a sample ballot at  All Elmbrook School District voters vote for all of the School Board candidates, regardless of what area of the district you live in.

I will be posting a final election pick post on Sunday or Monday.

In the news:  Elmbrook candidates weigh 4K, Common Core programs

Elmbrook candidates discuss board member roles, block scheduling at forum

Germantown School Board opposes adoption of Common Core standards 

Germantown sets higher standards than Common Core

Flyers, Websites, and Letters of Endorsement:  

Jim Kratoska Endorsement Letter

Jim Kratoska Website

Jeff Liotta Flyer 

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25 new homes proposed for Linfield Crossing resubdivision

Brookfield, Development, Elmbrook

Up to twenty-five new single family homes are proposed for southeast Brookfield on the former Linfield Elementary School site*. (Photo was taken from The Red Mill parking lot on Tulane, facing south.)

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My April 3, 2012 ballot picks: Grant, Sutton, Wolfla, Lowerr, Lambert, Wartman

2012, Brookfield, Elmbrook, Elections, WISCONSIN

Tuesday, April 3, 2012, is Election Day in Wisconsin. We vote in the Presidential primary and for local non-partisan races. Click to view larger photo.

It is doubtful that our recently passed Voter ID law will be in effect, however, you will be required to sign the Poll List when you vote.

You can find your sample ballot anywhere in Wisconsin simply by putting in your address at this website: Wisconsin Voter Public Access Find your polling place here.

Polls open at 7am and close at 8pm. District 7 voters, remember we vote in at St. Luke's Catholic Church on Greenfield Ave. and Davidson Rd. in District 6.

Take the time to be an informed voter. If you don't know anything about a candidate, don't vote in that race. The Wisconsin Conservatives - Vote April 3rd! site is a good source for many races in the southeastern quadrant of Wisconsin.

Most of the races on our ballots in Brookfield are uncontested, meaning the candidate will win regardless of your vote. I still cast a vote for some of these people if I support their candidacy; I don't if I don't know much about them or don't support them.

Going from the general to the specific on the front page of the ballot:

Party Preference: You must select a party for the Presidential Primary. For me that is Republican. (Last time, since McCain cinched the nomination, I selected Democrat and voted for Hillary, believing she was the less radical choice should she win!)

Presidential Preference Vote - I am voting for Rick Santorum. Considering his shoe-string budget campaign, I am impressed he is doing as well as he is with Romney outspending him 4 - 7 times to 1, depending on the state. More than likely, by the end of April, if not on Tuesday, results will show Mitt Romney will be our nominee in November, but I still am voting for Rick. His candidacy has made Romney a better candidate as Santorum pushes him more to the right. 2012 Primary Election Schedule

County Races:
Waukesha County Board Supervisor: District 7 - Jennifer Grant She is running in the only contested County Board race in Brookfield in some northern Wards of our city. Jennifer Grant contacted me 2 months ago and we have emailed back and forth a bit. She explained, "I am running because I truly believe that we are at a crossroads and it is time for even the Waukesha County Board to represent conservative fiscal policy and reduce taxes (we are a red county after all). As a CPA and Benefits professional, I think I have the private sector experience needed for the position."

Jennifer Grant is endorsed by my State Assembly Representative Dale Kooyenga and the Menomonee Falls Taxpayer Association. She would get my vote too, but I live south of her district.

Jennifer Grant for Waukesha County Supervisor
Menomonee Falls Patch: April 2012 Election: Jennifer Grant

The other County Board races in Brookfield are uncontested. I am not voting for Tom Schellinger in County District 20. Possibly next time, in 2014, we will have a choice in southern Brookfield.

Municipal Races: City of Brookfield Aldermen

District 1 - Incumbent Dan Sutton - Though I don't live in District 1, if I did, I would be voting for Dan Sutton. He has been my ballot pick before mainly because he supports the residents and has good instincts. Retired Judge Dick Steinberg is challenging him this April. I do appreciate and thank Judge Steinberg for all the years he spent on the bench in Brookfield, but I would leave it at that. Dan Sutton is very popular in his district and he should be reelected.

BrookfieldNOW Alderman District 1 race

District 4 - Cathy Wolfla over Appointee Buck Jurken - I'm thinking I would vote for Cathy Wolfla if I lived in District 4. She seems to be very interested in keeping constituents informed on the issues, something I really appreciate with my 2 Aldermen Renee' Lowerr and Lisa Mellone. I also liked her last line in the BrookfieldNOW profile, "I am open to listening to what the residents think about bond issues and "specialty taxes," but ultimately, we must balance what we can have with what we can afford to pay." Now that is a refreshing concept!

BrookfieldNOW Alderman District 4 race
Brookfield Patch: Aldermanic Election: Wolfla Promises Greater Input; Jurken Touts Record

District 7 - Renee Lowerr - I have lived in District 7 for 26 years, and by this time, I know a good Alderman when I see one! Renee Lowerr takes her job as Alderman very seriously. She is hard working, energetic, listens to her constituents, and does not have divided loyalties. Her focus is on what is best for her constituents and the City of Brookfield. She is very sensitive to residents concerns with new development.

Her challenger is Tom Schellinger, who is and will be our County Board Supervisor. He was our Alderman from 2002 - 2006, but was voted out of office by Lisa Mellone in 2006 and by Renee Lowerr in 2008. Schellinger's performance aside, I believe serving in both positions would be a conflict of interest.

The thing that troubles me is that new to the district residents don't know the issues we have had with him in the past and might believe the very misleading campaign literature he distributed against Lowerr. I do hope they will do some research before voting.

Schellinger sinks to new low with misleading campaign literature, Vote Renee Lowerr!

Conflict of interest? Schellinger for County Supervisor & Brookfield Alderman with left-over Schellinger for Assembly signs

Brookfield Patch: Aldermanic Election: Challenged by Schellinger, Lowerr Focuses on Development
BrookfieldNOW: Brookfield 7th Aldermanic District

District 7 - Lisa Mellone - Lisa again is unopposed as she runs for the remainder of her term, but she does deserve our vote. I will quote my 2010 ballot pick post: "...she deserves mention as an outstanding Alderman. What a pleasant change from our former Alderman [Schellinger] often referred to as "Mr. Rolodex". Lisa Mellone works very hard for her district and follows through on resident concerns. Some day, I hope to draw that little connecting arrow next to her name for Mayor of Brookfield!"

Come back, Lisa Mellone, District 7 needs you!

For School District of Elmbrook School Board races, you must turn your ballot over. Everyone in the Elmbrook School District votes for both school board races, regardless of where you live in the district.

Area IV - Jean Lambert - Her background as a senior financial analyst for Froedert Health makes her a great asset to the board. She is a 40 year resident with 30 years private sector experience and 3 years on the Elmbrook School Board.

Jean Lambert summed it up well in Elmbrook incumbents face challengers: "'I'm running because we have, for the past couple of years, done a lot of heavy lifting with regards to Act 10 and decisions about Open Enrollment and the closing of Hillside,' Lambert said. 'Now we can concentrate on student achievement, acclimating the new superintendent and building our school communities as we have needed to redistrict.'"

At-Large - Meg Wartman - I have supported Meg Wartman in past elections, and I support her now. She, like Jean Lambert, has been a solid vote against adding expensive 4K to Elmbrook. Meg Wartman has lived in the district for 25 years and has served on the board 3 terms as treasurer, President, and Vice President. Her experience has helped her to understand that adding more students through Open Enrollment, 220, or even 4K does not help our district but rather just adds more cost to the taxpayers. Meg Wartman is one of that collective "we" Jean spoke of in the above quote. They have done heavy lifting. They have made tough decisions and our Elmbrook School District and the Elmbrook taxpayers are the better for it.

Please see 2012 Elmbrook School District election picks: Meg Wartman & Jean Lambert for more details from the Candidate Forum

So, there you have it: My ballot picks for April 3rd. Be sure to look into the issues and candidates for yourself and vote. Each of the links to postings I did on these candidates has numerous links to more articles and postings.

Voter guide to conservatives on southeast Wisconsin ballots

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Voter guide to conservatives on southeast Wisconsin ballots

2012, Brookfield, Elmbrook, WISCONSIN, Conservatives

Election day is just a few days away now. Hopefully, you have been following the candidates running in your area, but sometimes, it is difficult to garner the information you need to make an informed decision when voting. Since these are non-partisan races, how do you know who is the more conservative choice?

If you live in the southeast corner of Wisconsin, you can take a look at the Wisconsin Conservatives - Vote April 3rd! Voter Guide*. It covers School Board Candidates, County Races, and Municipal Races, where identified Conservatives are running, from Appleton to Kenosha. There is even a spot to leave a comment on each of these web pages.

I live in Brookfield. So on this voter guide, my Elmbrook School Board incumbents Wartman and Lambert are named as the conservative choices. I heartily concur. In the County Races section, the only contested Waukesha County Supervisor race for us is for District 7 in northeastern Brookfield (also includes southeast Menomoneee Falls, Butler). The Voter Guide picks Jennifer Grant. She is endorsed by my State Assembly Representative Dale Kooyenga and the Menomonee Falls Taxpayer Association. She would get my vote too, but I live south of her district. Our Municipal Aldermen are not on the guide, but in the 3 contested races, I would pick Dan Sutton in District 1 and Renee Lowerr in my District 7. I know Lowerr to be Conservative.

For those living in Milwaukee County, the important Milwaukee County Conservative Candidates are listed:

  • Milwaukee Comptroller: Bunting
  • Milwaukee Judge 17: Nelson Phillips -
  • Milwaukee 1: Cegielski
  • Milwaukee 9: Taylor
  • Milwaukee 11: Borkowski
  • Milwaukee 17: Sanfelippo
  • Milwaukee 18: Alexander

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2012 Elmbrook School District election picks: Meg Wartman & Jean Lambert

2012, 4-K, Brookfield, Elmbrook, Education, TAXES

Everyone in the Elmbrook School District votes for both school board races, regardless of where you live in the district. The School Board races are on the back side of your ballot!

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Elmbrook Candidate Forum & District 7 Info meeting: Thursday, March 22, 2012

2012, 4-K, Brookfield, City of Brookfield, Elections, Elmbrook, Special events

There are 2 important meetings in Brookfield this week, unfortunately, both are on the same day: Thursday, March 22nd at 7pm.

The Elmbrook Board of Education Candidate Forum takes place at 7pm at the Elmbrook Administrative Offices at 13780 Hope Street in Brookfield. (From Capitol Drive, take Lilly north a few blocks to Hope Street. The Administration building is just east of the intersection.)

This is a great opportunity to learn about the 4 candidates running for the 2 board positions on the ballot. Incumbents Jean Lambert and Meg Wartman will face opponents Paul Byrne and Lynne Thomas, respectively, on April 3rd.

Though I am a supporter of both Jean Lambert and Meg Wartman, I do plan on attending the Candidate Forum to get a better sense of each candidate's position on important issues such as 4K, school closings, and open enrollment.

Remember, all voters in the Elmbrook School District vote for both the At-Large and Area IV seat candidates, regardless of where you live in the district. Look for a future posting on my findings.

Elmbrook incumbents face challenges

Also on Thursday is a Brookfield District 7 Info Meeting at City Hall, from 7-8pm. (Now this is the meeting I would much rather attend!)

This meeting is hosted by District 7 Aldermen Lisa Mellone and Renee' Lowerr. I call these two Aldermen my Dynamic Duo. They really do a great job of informing their constituents here in the southeast corner of Brookfield through info meetings such as this one and by working closely with neighborhoods and developers to ensure a better outcome. Underwood Crossing--Target & Trader Joe's, would be a good example of this process. No doubt, they will give an update on Trader Joes that just made its way through the Plan Commission on Monday.

At this particular meeting, Fire Chief Meyers will give a short presentation and answer your questions on the Automatic Aid Agreement with the City of New Berlin that would improve response times for our area. (Response time to our area decreased significantly when the fire station on Moorland was moved to Calhoun Road.)

Aldermen Lisa Mellone and Renee' Lowerr invite you to attend or contact them with your questions, comments, or concerns:
Lisa Mellone (262)-780-0805 or email

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Elmbrook School closing options include Swanson: Speak up! Tuesday, Aug. 23, 6pm

Elmbrook, Education, TAXES

While the weather and calendar may still say it is summer, Elmbrook's Board of Education Meeting Agenda says it is also time for some serious discussion at Tuesday's, Aug. 23rd meeting regarding our district's excess school capacity. The meeting starts at 6pm at the Central Administration Office at 13780 Hope Street--just east of Hope St. and Lilly Rd.

At present, there are 8 scenarios on the table that include closing Hillside, Tonawanda, Burleigh, Swanson outright and/or include incorporating the administrative offices into a smaller sectioned Burleigh or Swanson.

Because Swanson School is mentioned for 2 of the options, the Concerned Calhoun Community is asking for concerned citizens to attend the meeting. Residents may comment prior to an agenda item.

The following is from an email sent by Barbara Roncke, leader of the C.C.C.


The Elmbrook School Board has come up with eight (8) school closing options. At this meeting they hope to pare down the options to two (2) or three (3). One option calls for the closing of Swanson School. Another is the reduction of Swanson coupled with the closing of Tonawanda.
The Swanson community needs to have a presence at this meeting. The Brookfield Now, August 18th issue has the article with complete information on pages 7 & 8. The article also lays out a timetable: August-pare down options; September-hold listening sessions: October/early November- make decision.
Some information to keep in mind:
1. Swanson was closed in 1982 and re-opened bigger and better in 1995.
2. This District has closed and sold six (6) schools-repurposed Fairview South.
3. Swanson is a five (5) section school with an enrollment of about 620 students making it
the second largest Elementary school in Elmbrook. Burleigh has 680 students.
4. Swanson has enough open classrooms to have 4 year old kindergarten or to absorb
some students from another closing school.
5. Closing Swanson or Burleigh would result in a district-wide re-districting plan.
6. Hillside is oldest and smallest of our schools.
7. Brookfield Elementary and Dixon are both under-utilized.
8. The Administration property is For Sale and plans for Administration relocation
should be dovetailed with any closing plan. This property has been on the market
for a year and its underlined zoning is residential.
9. No more school property should be sold. Outside of Maryknoll, Elmbrook has no property
to meet any future needs. Swanson maybe the most saleable but the economy probably
puts off any large scale development in that area 10-15 years.
10. Swanson is the only school south of Bluemound road and services a student population
from 124th St. to Barker Road. This is roughly equivalent to the population of Elm
Grove which has two schools, Tonawanda and Pilgrim Park.

Thank you for your past support. Barbara Roncke

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Catching up: Voter ID, Kooyenga Town Hall & Elmbrook

Conservatives, Elmbrook, Elections, Legislation, WISCONSIN

Voter ID
At long last, Wisconsin's Voter ID bill passed the Senate yesterday and now awaits Gov. Walker's signature. Hallelujah. No doubt it will end up in court, but Sen. Alberta Darling mentioned yesterday on Jay Weber that though she preferred passing 2 separate bills, at least the bill is severable. (The Voter ID portion, which has been upheld by the courts, can be separated from the more controversial portions of the bill.)

Voter ID will be in place for the 2012 elections. I wonder what those elections will look like with Voter ID in place and the end of mandatory Union membership for State workers. (Unions fund Democrat candidate advertising with their dues.) Though the Budget Repair Bill is stuck in the doldrums of the Madison court, the Republicans could just incorporate it into the overall Budget bill.

By the way, Voter ID does not eliminate same day registration, but that turned out to be the better avenue. If we had eliminated same day registration, we then would need to implement MotorVoter laws, which ties obtaining a drivers license with registering to vote. I don't think registering to vote should be such an autopilot arrangement. My understanding of same day registration is that it still requires an approved photo ID. If the person doesn't have this, then they cast a provisional ballot (sealed in an envelope) and are given an opportunity to bring back their photo ID for their vote to count.

Past Post: Call Wisconsin Legislature to move on Photo Voter I.D.

Rep. Dale Kooyenga Town Hall
I didn't know what to expect. Would protesters be there? Would the room be packed as Town Halls had been before the November elections? As it turned out, there were 6 of us there--8 in all if you count Dale and his assistant William Neville. The 6 citizens in attendance consisted of 3 men I didn't know and Elmbrook Schools Superintendent Dr. Matt Gibson, Elmbrook Board President Tom Gehl, and little ole me.

The discussion was informal, with Kooyenga sitting with us in a circle of sorts. One man was talking about the concealed carry legislation when I cam in. Kooyenga briefly talked about the Combined Reporting changes, some which are addressed in the budget bill. Dale said rather than repeal the whole law, they would be looking at lowering the corporate tax rate.

Incidentally, did you know there is now a CPA Caucus? Kooyenga and his fellow CPAs now have their own group. He said they are working on a constitutional amendment to require a balanced state budget, applying business accounting principles to the state.

Dr. Gibson stated his support for the Governor's budget and appreciation for Kooyenga meeting with them regarding the coming budget changes. However, Gibson was looking to influence the per student dollar allocation. He mentioned working with the Fair Aid Coalition that represents property rich districts like Elmbrook (donor districts), who contribute to other school districts through their property taxes. Gibson said he was looking at increasing taxing authority as a possible solution to Elmbrook's shortfall.

It does seem like there might be some wiggle room in the state aid formula, "Some Republican legislative leaders say that they are working on a plan to lessen aid cuts for some Wisconsin schools. The legislature’s budget committee will take up the issue Thursday." I don't know if Elmbrook is included in that group, but it shows there could be some adjustments coming.

You can sign up for Rep. Dale Kooyenga's Legislative Wisconsin Capitol Update by contacting his assistant William Neville at

Petitioning Waukesha School District subdivisions can't join Elmbrook School District
Don't know if you saw this, but those 3 subdivisions to Elmbrook's west lost again at the state level in their quest to be included in the Elmbrook School District. I blogged about this in February of 2011 in What? Families who HAVE 4K petition to join Elmbrook WITHOUT 4K?

BrookfieldNOW reported in Neighborhoods lose bid to join Elmbrook, again that "The state's School Boundary Appeals Board last week denied the request of nearly 200 property owners in the Black Forest, Summit Lawn, Emerald Ridge and Shire subdivisions to leave the Waukesha School District and join Elmbrook.

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If voter turnout is like blog traffic, Prosser will win & Ballot Picks

Conservatives, Blogging, Elmbrook, WISCONSIN

See sample ballot below: Prosser, Carter, Write-In Kormanik & Brunner

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Encouraged to hear he "already voted for Kormanik"

4-K, Elmbrook, Education

I passed out a few fliers for Nancy Kormanik to Brookfield residents at church today. They were all well received.

But as I approached a couple from Elm Grove, I did wonder how they would react to Nancy's candidacy--after all, closing schools is definitely on the table. The wife set my mind at ease when she looked at the flier and said, Oh, my husband already voted [absentee] for this Kormanik. He read about her in the paper and thought she was the best choice. I am going to vote for her on Tuesday. We think we should close some of our schools.

So they had come to that conclusion entirely on their own.

Another person I correspond with via email from time to time originally said they were voting for Wilson because they didn't think a write-in would win. Yesterday, they emailed again to tell me they changed their minds...they were voting for Kormanik.

I spoke with a few neighbors; they reacted very positively too. One man said he was going to take a few fliers to the gym to share with his buddies.

That is how grassroots efforts work, so I am encouraged.

Make a few calls. Send out some emails. Print a few fliers to give out. Talk to your friends and neighbors, and be sure to VOTE on Tuesday!

How to Write-In candidate Nancy Kormanik
April 5, 2011 Elmbrook School Board Ballot Picks: Brunner & Kormanik
Guest Posting 2: Nancy Kormanik on ENROLLMENT
Guest Posting: Nancy Kormanik Fiscal Conservative
Conservatives, you now have a real choice:Write-In Nancy Kormanik
What? Families who HAVE 4K petition to join Elmbrook WITHOUT 4K?

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April 5, 2011 Judicial Ballot Picks: David Prosser & Lloyd Carter

Elections, Elmbrook, WISCONSIN

Tuesday, April 5th's election has risen in scope from being a typical sleepy non-partisan spring election to one gaining national attention. For the first time ever, I had an email from a person in California asking about where he could donate to help Judge David Prosser. (See links below.) And it is no wonder, for this election will mark a turning point in our state.

Depending on the outcome, Wisconsin's Supreme Court will remain dominated by 4 judges who believe in the rule of law or change over to become dominated by 4 activist judges, those who believe you can legislate from the bench. Judge David Prosser IS the swing vote.

The choice is between fair-minded, pro-life Justice David Prosser and Greeniac, Green Party backing, DNR Attorney Joanne Kloppenberg for this very important, 10 year term, position on the highest court of our state.

Joanne Kloppenberg has NO JUDICIAL experience and in fact has been turned down 3 times for state and federal judgeships by Gov. Jim Doyle and President Obama. For comparison, Kloppenberg is to the far left of liberal former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Louis Butler who Doyle appointed to the Wisconsin Supreme Court in 2004 and Obama nominated for Federal Judge in the United States District Court in 2009. (Butler, perceived as too liberal, was rejected by the U.S. Senate.)

Take a look at Judge David Prosser's Endorsement page, and you will see former  Wisconsin Republican GovernorTommy Thompson listed there as Campaign Chair* and numerous Wisconsin State Representatives and Senators. Even The Journal Sentinel Editorial stated We Back Prosser in the primary. The Sun Prarie Star is endorsing Prosser on April 5th.

Tough on Crime Prosser also has Law Enforcement and experience on his side, having been "involved in more than 900 published decisions on the Supreme Court" alone and "authored at least 45 criminal case opinions", whereas Kloppenberg has only handled 51 overall cases ever in appellate and supreme courts, with only 7 being criminal cases, rightly acknowledges, "I never said I was tough on crime".

Between her statement that she would serve as a "check and balance on overreaching by the other branches of government" [the executive and state legislature] and her husband's public support of collective bargaining rights for public employees, it is difficult to believe she has or will remain "independent" on the collective bargaining bill.

If you wish to help David Prosser's campaign, you may donate to Citizens for Impartial Justice, Wisconsin Club for Growth to help them put ads on the airwaves, or volunteer at your local Republican Headquarters branch. The GOP is looking for people to man the phone banks, help put together yard signs, etc. In Waukesha, 1701 Pearl St., they are open M-Sat 9am-9pm, Sun. Noon - 8pm.

Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge
As for our more local race for Waukesha Country Circuit Court Judge, Branch 4, my vote is going for Lloyd Carter, as I stated in Lloyd Carter for Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge. Check out his page of endorsements and supporters.

ELMBROOK residents select school board representatives:  April 5, 2011 Elmbrook School Board Ballot Picks: Brunner & Write-In Kormanik

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Guest Posting 2: Nancy Kormanik on ENROLLMENT

4-K, Elections, Elmbrook, Education, TAXES

This is the second and last guest posting by Nancy Kormanik

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April 5, 2011 Elmbrook School Board Ballot Picks: Brunner & Write-In Kormanik (Yes, that was Brunner! UPDATE)

4-K, Education, Elections, Elmbrook

UPDATES: See brown text sections below.

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Guest Posting: Nancy Kormanik Fiscal Conservative

4-K, Elmbrook, Elections, Education, Conservatives

Recently, I asked Nancy Kormanik if she would write a guest posting for my blog. After all, who better to speak for Nancy Kormanik than Nancy Kormanik!

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How to Write-In candidate Nancy Kormanik for AT-LARGE School Board Member & Flier

Elmbrook, Elections, 4-K, Conservatives

On Friday, I stopped in at City Hall to get a sample ballot. While there, I noticed some people were voting absentee--before candidate fliers have gone out. There is also some confusion as to how to vote for someone as a write-in candidate. I hope this posting clears that up.

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Nancy Kormanik to participate in Elmbrook Candidate Forum, Monday, March 21, 7pm

4-K, Elmbrook, Elections, TAXES, Special events

Just a reminder here, Monday, March 21st, at 7pm, there will be an Elmbrook Board of Education Candidate Forum, at the Central Administrative Offices at 13780 Hope Street in Brookfield.

What you might not know, is that Nancy Kormanik, the Write-In candidate for the At-Large position, will participate in that school board candidate forum, along with the other 5 candidates running for the 3 seats.

I encourage you to be there and get to know the views of each candidate.

The election is April 5th. All Elmbrook residents vote for ALL 3 BOARD POSITIONS: Area 1, 3, and At-Large, regardless of what area of the district we live in.

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Write-In Nancy Kormanik files for Elmbrook School Board Election April 5

4-K, Elections, Elmbrook

April 5th's Elmbrook School Board election just got more interesting: Nancy Kormanik filed as a Write-In candidate on Tuesday for the At Large position on the board.

Nancy Kormanik will run against Pro 4K Sandra Schultz and incumbent Kathryn Wilson. (Kathryn was against 4K in last year's election, then a month ago stated Pro 4K support, reversing her previous position. On March 4, she indicated her vote would probably be no 4K for now.) All of this public support of 4K occurred AFTER the candidate filing deadline, hence, the Nancy Kormanik Write-In campaign.

You may recall I mentioned Nancy Kormanik before. She spoke at the February 22 School Board meeting against implementing 4K: "Nancy Kormanik, spoke against 4K, saying that taxpayers shouldn't have to pay for a program that isn't mandatory. Kormanik, I found out, was a teacher at MATC."

I made a point to speak with Nancy Kormanik after that meeting and found that we have very similar views. She is someone who won't waffle on her 4K position; she is solidly against it.

Nancy Kormanik is also an educator, which I think is a valuable perspective to have on the School Board. She is fiscally conservative.

So Conservatives, you now have a real choice....Write-In Nancy Kormanik.

I will be posting more information about Kormanik in the days to come. In the meantime, if you have a question for Nancy Kormanik, you may contact her directly at or email me directly at

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What? Families who HAVE 4K petition to join Elmbrook WITHOUT 4K?

4-K, Elmbrook, Education, TAXES

How often do we hear that the Elmbrook School District NEEDS to implement 4K to protect our property values? I have even heard it from a school board member, but I don't believe it is true.

No, I don't believe providing 4K is a necessary expenditure for Elmbrook to make in order to attract home buyers to our district. It was obviously not considered a necessity for the 3 subdivisions petitioning Elmbrook last night, which is why I felt compelled to speak up at the School Board meeting.(Agenda items 3 D,E,F,G)

There I sat in an audience of about 20, listening to each women representing their subdivision pitch their plea to attach their homes to the Elmbrook School District. Naomi, the first speaker, representing the Black Forest, Summit Lawn, and southern edge of the Shire subdivisions, explained that others from their group were at the Waukesha School Board meeting petitioning for detachment.

She went on to say that of the 74 school age children in their area, the majority go to private school or to Elmbrook through open enrollment. I did remember that same statement being made at their last attempt to join the Elmbrook School District in 2009. She mentioned that they had petitioned Elmbrook before but were denied. Now their year cooling off period was over and they were trying again. Another woman named Jane then addressed the board; Maurene spoke for residents of Emerald Ridge. One of them mentioned they had been trying to get into Elmbrook for over 10 years.

Wow--10 years of trying to get into Elmbrook? It would have been simpler to just buy in Elmbrook, wouldn't it?

Then I noticed the pages of school districts with 4K in the packet of papers given to attendees. I was pretty sure Waukesha HAD 4K, but checked to verify. Sure enough, there on page 4A-8 Waukesha was listed as providing 4K.

So these 3 areas HAD 4K, but the parents chose to send the majority of their children either to private school or to Elmbrook that doesn't have 4K. Doesn't that say it all? I quickly filled out a request to speak. (FYI, the board unanimously approved these requests to join Elmbrook. This request must be approved by the state, however.)

There were 2 other speakers who chose to address the board before the 4K discussion began.

Nancy Kormanik, spoke against 4K, saying that taxpayers shouldn't have to pay for a program that isn't mandatory. Kormanik, I found out, was a teacher at MATC.

Betsy, the 2nd speaker, talked about 4K not being a new program, that her children had 4K in Wauwatosa, then moved into Elmbrook the following year and had a repeat in our 5K. Here parting words were If you are going to compete, you have to have 4 year old kindergarten. (She wasn't exactly an example of no 4K lowering property values, since she did move into our district the next year.) I couldn't ask for a better set up to speak.

Stating the obvious that isn't so obvious

This was very off the cuff; my address went something like this: I agreed 4K wasn't new; I had 4K! But I didn't choose to move to Shorewood (where I had 4K) but chose Brookfield instead. I also mentioned that we are told--even by a school board member--that 4K is necessary to protect our property values, yet we have 3 living examples of people living in subdivisions, in a district that HAS 4K, petitioning to join a district that DOES NOT HAVE 4K! What matters is the quality of an Elmbrook education.

Incidentally, Mequon-Thiensville School District outscored us with its 25.9 composite score, as did West High in the Madison School District, also with 25.9. Why do I mention them? Because neither of them have 4K.

Later in the discussion, Tom Gehl cautioned about increasing the number of non-resident students just to fill our vacant elementary space. He hinted that there was a correlation between Elmbrook slipping from its #1 status in (ACT) test scores and the number of non-residents.

Jean "Lambert said she believes money would be better spent bolstering outcomes at the higher grades in preparation for post-graduation than at the elementary school level."

I couldn't agree more. So, please Elmbrook, concentrate on the things that matter, the quality of your product which is education, and leave day care where it belongs, in the private sector.

Contact the board:
Elmbrook School Board:
President Tom Gehl
Meg Wartman
Glen Allgaier
Gary Jones
Jean Lambert
Kathryn Wilson
Robert Ziegler

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Elmbrook School Board tonight: Action on petitioning neighboring subdivisions, DISCUSSION of 4K & maintenance budget

Elmbrook, TAXES

In case you didn't see this, the 4K vote was scheduled for tonight but was moved off the Agenda as an action item. The board will still discuss 4K tonight, however. The March 8th Agenda does include voting on 4K, but that could change too, I would think, depending on what happens in Madison regarding the State Budget.

One rather Deja Vu item on the agenda is 3D, E, F, & G. Neighboring subdivisions are petitioning Elmbrook to join our School District. Why do I say Deja Vu? Because we went through this in February of 2009: 64 from Waukesha petition to join Elmbrook schools: Why now? . The School Board accepted in 2009, Elmbrook board unanimously approves petition to join us the State later denied. At least one of the areas seems to be the same as the last time.

Also on the agenda for tonight is discussion on the Long Range Capital Maintenance Budget. That doesn't sound too exciting, but it is important. If you saw Capital needs outweigh funds, Long-term, larger projects put off, maybe you were as surprised as I was to read, (My emphasis)
"The district also has deferred $500,000 in repairs to heating, ventilation and air-conditioning units and roofing at Brookfield Central and Brookfield East high schools. Miller [Elmbrook Facilities Director] said Central has $50,000 worth of urgent needs that will have to be addressed, and the facilities staff will know more once the snow clears off the roofs.

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4K: $222 million a year and growing! Call Elmbrook School Board & Gov. Walker

4-K, Elmbrook, Education, TAXES, WISCONSIN

That is right. In Wisconsin, 4K costs taxpayers $222,000,000 a year. And if the D.P.I. has its way, that number will be increasing after their 4K recruitment effort.

I just got off the phone with Senator Glenn Grothman's office. His assistant urged concerned Wisconsinites to CALL the Governor to defund 4K in his budget.* Governor Scott Walker (608) 266-1212

Taking state funding for 4K out of Wisconsin's budget would mean local districts would fund the entire cost of their 4K programs--no more state aid.

At the local level, presently, our Elmbrook School District does not have a 4K program. But our school board may vote on whether or not to begin a 4K program for the 2011-2012 school year at their meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 22nd, at the Central Administration Office, 13780 Hope Street, at 6pm. Please contact the board about this issue. (Info below)

According to Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, the Governor's next budget will reduce the shared revenue the state pays out and cut the per pupil dollar amount given to local districts for each student enrolled. Hardly an incentive for adding new students to a new, unnecessary and ineffective program such as 4K.

Why do I say unnecessary and ineffective? Because like many other studies, Elmbrook's own internal study showed no difference in the achievement levels of 2nd grade students between children who went to Elmbrook's own pilot program 4K, those who attended private 4K, and those who had no 4K at all!

On top of all that, as one board member stated, the increase to Elmbrook's budget by starting a 4K program does not "make a significant impact" on the "overall budget shortfall". Remember Elmbrook School's budget increase is at Elmbrook TAXPAYER expense: "According to the district, taxes for the owner of a $300,000 home would increase by $34 for 2011-12, $66 for 2012-13, $97 for 2013-14 and $104 for 2014-15 if K4 is implemented." This would be at current state aid levels. If those levels are reduced, the cost for Elmbrook taxpayers would increase even more.

Combining the ineffectiveness of a 4K program, with that small financial gain to their budget , with the very real threat of decreasing state aids per pupil, makes voting against starting 4K in Elmbrook the only reasonable position. Contact the board.

*If defunding 4K doesn't make it into the Governor's February 22nd budget proposal, Senator Grothman will introduce defunding 4K in a stand alone bill.

Elmbrook School Board:
President Tom Gehl
Meg Wartman
Glen Allgaier
Gary Jones
Jean Lambert
Kathryn Wilson
Robert Ziegler

Residents split on K4.

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Here we go again, Elmbrook board discussing 4K tonight, topic at 7pm

Elmbrook, TAXES, Education, 4-K

That's right. At tonight's Elmbrook school board meeting, they will be discussing adding 4K...again. The meeting starts at 6pm with the 4K agenda item at 7pm: Four Year Old Kindergarten - February 8, 2011 Discussion. It is imperative the board hear from you if you are against adding 4K to our district, because you can be sure those in favor of 4K will be there tonight. Please come if you are able, or you may email your comments to the board. The board is to decide on 4K at their Feb. 22nd meeting.

A pro-4K email has crossed my path. To quote: "It is crucial for the Board to hear our voices in support of 4K before the decision is made at February 22nd meeting. 4K has a real possibility of passing this time, but the Board members need to see a packed room and hear our comments..."

The email then gives a number of statistics that I question. One being the survey taken at polling places on November 2nd, where Voters were asked to state their position on closing a school, more non resident students, and adding 4K to close the budget gap. There was no explanation given that 4K would be increasing the Elmbrook budget by increasing our taxes!

The general public doesn't always understand that when the district talks about increasing revenue, it really means higher taxes*. "According to the district, taxes for the owner of a $300,000 home would increase by $34 for 2011-12, $66 for 2012-13, $97 for 2013-14 and $104 for 2014-15 if K4 is implemented."

From the district's own Dec. 7, 2010 work session minutes: "...staffing costs will rise if 4K is added--therefore address salary/benefit concerns before adding 4K."

The Elmbrook School Board voted against 4K in 2007. So what is different with the board we have today vs. the board we had in 2007 when they voted 4K down? We still have Tom Gehl, Meg Wartman, Gary Jones, Glen Allgaier who were NO 4K votes. Bob Ziegler is the only surviving Yes vote. Jean Lambert and Kathryn Wilson have replaced Dave Marcello, a No vote, and Cherry Sylla, a Yes vote.

Has the information on academic achievement changed since 2007? At the time, Meg Wartman even wondered if Elmbrook ever assessed the difference all day 5K made in achievement in Elmbrook.

Well, now we do have our own "data" as Eileen Depka refers to it on how our pilot 4K-ers, now in 2nd grade, do compared to Elmbrook students who did not attend 4K. From what I have heard, on average, they have not done as well as students who only attended 5K. (If they did do better, do you really think you wouldn't have heard more about it by now?) All I could find was this sentence from the Dec. 14, 2010 board meeting minutes, "Eileen Depka presented non standardized assessment data from the current second grade class, many of whom participated in the District’s 4K pilot."

The board meeting starts tonight at 6pm with the 4K discussion at 7pm. As I understand it, people may comment at the Citizen's Forum early in the meeting. Or submit your comments via email.

Contact the Elmbrook School Board:
President Tom Gehl
Meg Wartman
Glen Allgaier
Gary Jones
Jean Lambert
Kathryn Wilson
Robert Ziegler

More reading: *School closing decision put off til fall, Feb 1, 2011

Past Posts: 4-K: The Dog Chasing its Tail Oct. 8, 2007 (Revised) Revenues collected "...would, however, cost the taxpayers more money, because it would be funded primarily from increased property taxes. The district would be allowed to collect more taxes due to its increased enrollment."
Does 4K Deserve Tax Dollars? Nov. 10, 2007
Uncle Matt Wants You--if you are 4 years old Nov. 14, 2007
4K--It's About the Money Nov. 21, 2007
Public Schools: Safety Net or Drift Net? Nov. 23, 2007
4K Solving Budget Woes = Lucy Ricardo Math Nov. 26, 2007
Bet Room Will Be Packed With Pro 4K Tonight Nov. 27, 2007
4K Yellow Hands and Green Trees Nov. 27, 2007
4K Discontinued Despite Emotions & Irregularities Nov. 28, 2007

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It's National School Choice Week - Register for Jan. 27th and/or Jan. 31st events

Education, Elmbrook, Free, Special events, TAXES

Americans for Prosperity and National School Choice team up this week to bring you 2 National School Choice events in our area.

On Thursday, January 27th, from 6pm - 8pm, there will be a showing of "The Cartel", a movie that deals with the failure of public education--especially for minority students. It is free, but you must register. Wisconsin branch of the AFP, Fight Back Wisconsin website, states there will be a Town Hall Q&A connected with this movie showing too. Held at 1126 S. 70th Street, Suite S211, Milwaukee. (North of Greenfield Ave.) Call 414-476-7900 for more information.

The 2nd event is probably of more interest to those of us in the Elmbrook School District, since in general, parents are satisfied with our school system. This one is titled, The Education Revolution Tour: Restoring America's Exceptionalism. This Town Hall will be held from 7 - 8:30 pm on January 31st, at the Country Springs Hotel (2810 Golf Road) in Pewaukee. Call 414-476-7900 for more information. The meeting is FREE, but you need to register. (There is also a pre-Town Hall reception and photo op with Dick Morris and Vicki McKenna at 6pm, for a $59 registration fee.)

Why are they doing this? Because, as their literature and ads state, "American 15-year-olds rank 35th out of 57 countries in math and literacy, behind almost all industrialized nations!"

Never heard of National School Choice week? Don't feel badly. This is a new grassroots movement in our nation and this is the first of hopefully many more nationwide events of this kind.

The Heritage Foundation informs us that over 150 organizations nationwide are hosting events this week. "It’s a grassroots movement of national proportions to highlight the benefits of school choice and demand access to quality educational options. Speaker John Boehner, Newt Gingrich, Sens. Joe Lieberman and John McCain and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush – among many others – are all “in” for National School Choice Week.

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Elmbrook, what if Wisconsin defunds 4K?


Wisconsin changed from a very blue state to very red one last November, with the election of Republican Governor Scott Walker and a Republican majority in the Assembly and State Senate. And from all appearances, it seems we will no longer continue business as usual (or more accurately spending as usual) on government programs that don't work.

Our state is in a serious fiscal crisis, being $3 billion in the red, in this budget cycle. We must look at how we spend our money and then eliminate those line items that do not show benefit. Just because we have had a program in the past is no longer reason enough to continue that program.

One such program is 4K. State Senator Glenn Grothman has talked about defunding 4K several times in recent weeks. His reason? It doesn't work, and it is EXPENSIVE!

Grothman states:
"Recent studies have confirmed that any academic benefits of government funded preschool disappear by the fourth grade... Studies in Oklahoma, the state which has the model four-year-old program, show a decline in their fourth grade reading scores over the past eleven years, after benefits of their 4K programs should have been realized."(My emphasis)

Since 4K is one of the remedies being considered for Elmbrook's budget woes, it is important we consider the What if Wisconsin defunds 4K? before we rely on its curative powers for our budget.

The number of 4-year-olds in kindergarten has tripled in the last 10 years, and more school districts in our state are proposing it for this year. Last year alone, Grothman stated, "four-year-old kindergarten programs cost this state $140 million in state tax collections and cost local property taxpayers another $82 million." That adds up to $222 Million for a program that doesn't show long term educational benefit. And that is not FREE money, that money comes out of the taxpayers' pockets!

The Madison School District is starting a 4K program this year for an additional $10 Million, and other districts are considering it too. At present, 85% of Wisconsin school districts have a 4K program.

So why are these districts so gung ho on a program that doesn't work? Money. It is a school district budget funding tool.

In Campbellsport, for example, "The district receives an additional $423,000 in state aid for the 70 students enrolled. Cost to employ two teachers and two aides for the program is approximately $164,000." This doesn't reflect all the hidden costs of the program, but it does give you an idea of why 4K is so seductive.

Grothman writes: "For the past 15 years, Wisconsin has encouraged adopting four-year-old kindergarten by allowing school districts as much revenue authority for a four-year-old as they have for their more costly to educate high school students. "

But if there were no state revenue authority or funding for 4K, would Elmbrook still be casting an eye toward starting the program? I sincerely doubt it.

Our board will be discussing 4K and other budget enhancing options such as school closings and increasing non-resident enrollment very soon. I have heard we have our own study of how our pilot program 4K-ers perform, compared to Elmbrook students who didn't attend 4K.

Many of our board members are not in favor of 4K, but the make up of the board will be changing in April with Gary Jones stepping down and Kathryn Wilson up for reelection.

Please contact your representatives about this. Wisconsin and Elmbrook cannot afford to spend precious tax dollars on programs that don't work.

Elmbrook School Board Members

State Assembly:
Representative Dale Kooyenga, 14th Assembly District,
(608) 266-9180,
Representative Paul Farrow, 98th Assembly District, (608) 266-5120

State Senate:
Senator Leah Vukmir, 5th Senate District,
(608) 266-2512
Senator Rich Zipperer, 33rd Senate District, (608) 266-9174

Governor Scott Walker (608) 266-1212

More Reading: Time to Stop the Expansion of Four-year-old Kindergarten
Reason Foundation: Assessing Proposals for Preschool and Kindergarten

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Did you attend Elmbrook's Annual meeting?

Education, Elmbrook, TAXES, THE ECONOMY

Last night was the Elmbrook School District's Annual Meeting. I was unable to attend.

I contacted someone who did go and they reported that attendance was light, maybe 40 or so in the audience, with some stragglers as the evening progressed.

Paraphrasing the attendee's take on the evening...

  • The meeting proceeded along Agenda lines without a hitch.
  • Based on questions asked, the crowd seemed equally divided between "pro-program supporters and fiscal conservatives".
  • Treasurer Glen Allgaier did "a masterful job of presenting the budget and answering questions".
  • Most questions were "soft" but some "really went after the Board and Administration" on "total compensation of faculty members".
  • Some attendees agreed we need to control spending, yet advocated "non-core pet programs", didn't want to see class sizes increase, etc.

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Weigh in on Elmbrook's budget, 4K & school closings this week & next - Clarification

4-K, Education, Elmbrook, TAXES

Clarification: Additional thoughts are noted in *blue with asterisks* .

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Can't believe Elmbrook is entertaining 4K as budget fix

4-K, Elmbrook, TAXES, THE ECONOMY, Education

Last week, Elmbrook's Enrollment Management Study Team presented 2 of their 10 scenarios that would help fill the $16 Million dollar budget short fall over the next 5 years. The 2 recommendations they advanced each included adding 4K.

All I have to say to them is, Dorothy, we aren't in Kansas anymore! or more accurately, Elmbrook, the heyday of expanding the Empire by sending the bill to the taxpayers is over.

If you care about this issue, please note that the board will continue discussion of 4K and closings, etc. at their next meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 24th, 6pm.

But what happened to recommendation #3: Reduce to 5 elementary schools (assume closing of three section school in 2011-12), and recommendation 4: Reduce to 4 elementary schools (assume closing of 2 three section school in 2011-12)? Instead, the EMS Team settled on 2 options that both ADD 4K.

The introduction of the EMS Team's 2 4K recommendations opened discussion at the Board level last Tuesday. Now, just because the EMS Team brought these 2 recommendations to the Board does not mean the Board will go for them. Meg Wartman, Tom Gehl, Glen Allgaier, and Patrick Murphy voted against 4K in the last go round in 2007. Our board has changed since then. Murphy has retired; we have added Gary Jones, Jean Lambert, Kathryn Wilson since then. Wilson and Allgaier both indicated they were willing to look at school closings and were not enthusiastic about 4K during the 2010 pre-election forums.

The economic climate of our nation has drastically changed since November of 2007. For one, On January 1, 2011, the Bush tax cuts will expire. That means income tax rates will increase from 35 to 39.6% for top income tax payers. ("Two-thirds of all small business profits are taxed" at this rate.) Even the lowest bracket of 10% will rise to 15%. Don't forget the "return of the Death Tax" and the "higher tax rates on savers and investors" too--capitol gains and dividends taxes will increase dramatically.

These increases will affect all Elmbrook taxpayers in a negative way, and our school district EMS Team is suggesting we pay more, in order to add students so their budget numbers look better?

According to the July 13th Agenda Item 3A report, page 3, we get between $1,500-$2,000 per Open Enrollment student and $1,700 per 4K student. Keep in mind the actual cost per student in Elmbrook is around $12,000-$13,000 a year. (Half that amount for half day kindergarten student.)

A reader alerted me to the fact that the district would NOT conduct a 'baseline analysis' which would consist of sizing our schools to serve only resident students.

And speaking of resident students, one thing I have wondered for years is why do we still have New Berlin students included in the Elmbrook system when Lindfield, the Elmbrook neighborhood school they used to attend, was closed years ago? Students from south of Greenfield Ave. in New Berlin are still in Elmbrook's system even though their own New Berlin elementary school on Sunnyslope Rd. is far closer than sending them to Elmbrook's Swanson School. Maybe this is the time to finally size Elmbrook's schools to Elmbrook residents?

Can we please start looking at public education in the right light? The school district constantly talks about increasing their enrollment numbers like they were a business. During the last referendum discussion, they were asking how they could draw in that 25% or so of students who were either homeschooled or in private school. Why?

Oh, I know the reason, they are trying to increase THEIR budget, BUT their budget boost is at the literal expense of the taxpayers!

Their desire to increase their budget reminds me of the proverbial welfare mom who has more children to get more benefits but doesn't factor in that each child adds to her total expenses and demands more of her time. From an other government supplied service perspective, isn't it like our police looking at increasing the number of people they serve?

Providing "free" education for students is a costly SERVICE, not a money maker. Businesses don't look at ways to increase their work load; they look at ways to increase their efficiency and profit.

Unlike the private sector, each dollar the district receives is out of the pockets of the taxpayers, be it from residents in the nation, state, or school district.

In case you haven't noticed news articles on our economy, the R-word, for Recession, is gradually changing to the D-word, for Depression. We could be in for a long stretch of economic hardship. The nation is broke.

We are also in trouble at the state level. Wisconsin's budget will probably fall $2.5 Billion short by the end of its cycle. Add to that BadgerCare's "shortfall could reach $850 million". Just today we learn that Doyle's $200 Million Patient's Compensation Fund raid must be repaid. In other words, Wisconsin is broke.

And at the local level, the "proposed change to how schools are funded in the state could have a big - and negative - impact on the Elmbrook School District."

There are Elmbrook residents who are facing prolonged unemployment (over 18 months) and foreclosure.

So please, Elmbrook School District, could you look at CUTTING the size of your empire instead of EXPANDING it on the backs of your serfs?

Sorry for this long post, but this is an important issue we must speak up about. Let the board know your thoughts on adding an expensive 4K program--remember to be polite. The next board meeting is Tuesday, Aug. 24th, 6pm

Past Posts: 4-K: The Dog Chasing its Tail (Revised) Revenues collected "...would, however, cost the taxpayers more money, because it would be funded primarily from increased property taxes. The district would be allowed to collect more taxes due to its increased enrollment."
Does 4K Deserve Tax Dollars? Nov. 10, 2007
Uncle Matt Wants You--if you are 4 years old Nov. 14, 2007
4K--It's About the Money Nov. 21, 2007
Public Schools: Safety Net or Drift Net? Nov. 23, 2007
4K Solving Budget Woes = Lucy Ricardo Math Nov. 26, 2007
Bet Room Will Be Packed With Pro 4K Tonight Nov. 27, 2007
4K Yellow Hands and Green Trees Nov. 27, 2007
4K Discontinued Despite Emotions & Irregularities Nov. 28, 2007

Elmbrook Agenda Notes: May 11, 2010 Enrollment Management Study Team Update included 2 school closing/no 4K options
July 13, 2010 Enrollment Management Study Team Report on Team Recommendations and Findings includes tax credits per student

Articles: Elmbrook Urged to Close School, Bring Back 4K Moves would save district millions July 14, 2010
School Closure Called 'Last Resort' But candidates won't rule it out as a money-saving move March 17, 2010 pre-election article.
School Funding Plan Could Hurt July 7, 2010, "And since Elmbrook does not receive a great deal of state aid to begin with, putting the $900 million from the tax levy credit into funds distributed statewide likely would not have a significant impact in the district, Brightman said. "You'll be paying that much more in school taxes, but the district will receive zero revenue," he said."

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Target Store at Plan Commission tonight, 4K Tuesday, Bike Race Friday

Education, City of Brookfield, Elmbrook, 4-K, Development, Special events, TAXES, Just for fun!

Alderman Lisa Mellone sent me the notice on the Target Store and Bike Race. A reader alerted me to the discussion of 4K at Elmbrook's School Board meeting.

Quebecor Target Store Project, Brookfield Plan Commission, 6pm tonight

"A concept review of the proposed Target Store development on the old Quebecor site is scheduled for this Monday, July 12th, 6pm in Council Chambers at City Hall. At this point the applicant is seeking feedback from the Plan Commission on the proposal at their meeting. "

This project has changed considerably from the former mixed use project, of housing and smaller retail, that fell through for the Quebecor site in 2007.

Even the original Ryan Cos proposal had a senior housing possibility, but that has changed too--at least from Ryan's perspective. JSOnline: Plan for new Brookfield Target on Blue Mound Road advance: "Ryan executives considered including senior apartments as part of the development. But that was dropped in favor of doing just retail, along with some expanded green space along the portions of the site that border N. Columbia Blvd. and Krueger Park... ...The green space would likely be donated to the city, the plan said."

Since Ryan Cos'. plan calls for a Target Store with grocery and a few other retail stores-- no housing--the City will have to revisit the plan to approve of the site being solely retail to move it forward.

Elmbrook School Board Meeting
, Tuesday, July 13, 6pm at Central Administrative Offices

The Enrollment Management Study Team will give a report on their findings. (Item 3A on Agenda) Suggestions include ADDING 4K, closing a school and ADDING 4K, and more. With the new school funding changes (not favorable to Elmbrook), I am sure we want to keep an eye on these suggestions!

School Funding Plan Could Hurt

State Schools Chief Proposes Revamp of Funding System

Cycling Classic Bike Race, July 16th, City of Brookfield Civic Center

This looks like fun. On Friday, July 16th, Brookfield's Civic Center roads will be closed to serve as the track for several bike races during the day! Events start at 9:30am and the last race begins at 5:45pm.

The Convention and Visitors Bureau was looking for volunteers to serve as race marshals. If you are interested in helping, contact Nancy Justman at 262-789-0220 or

Additional information can be found at International Cycling Classic

Well, it is back to the grindstone for me, or more specifically, sanding Spackle in my kitchen.

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Upcoming Events: Scrolls, Vukmir/Sensenbrenner Town Hall, Civil War Encampment, Nat. Day Prayer, Garlic Mustard Weed Out

Special events, Conservatives, History, Religion, Brookfield, Elmbrook

There are a number of special events on my calendar for the next 2 weeks that I wanted to share with you. (I will try to post more about each individual event later.)

One thing I would love to mark on my calendar would be the date businessman and Oshkosh Tea Party founder Ron Johnson announces that he is running for U.S. Senate against Russ Feingold. If you haven't heard, State Senator Ted Kanavas just announced he is NOT running.

Here is what is on my calendar:

  1. Tuesday, April 27th, 7:30pm: Dead Sea Scrolls presentation, by Dr. Jastram, at Concordia College.
  2. Saturday, May 1st, 9am: Town Hall Meeting with Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner and State Representative Leah Vukmir, at the Elm Grove Village Hall.
  3. Saturday and Sunday, May 1st & 2nd, 10am - 4pm: Civil War Encampment at Brookfield's historic Dousman Stagecoach Inn ~ The 2 day event includes craftsmen, soldier camps, skirmish, cannon fire, President Lincoln, fashion show, worship service, and more! We had quite an interesting conversation about President Lincoln with the embalmer at a past encampment.
  4. Thursday, May 6th, Noon to 12:30pm: National Day of Prayer gathering at City Hall Plaza flags. Post from last year's event
  5. Saturday, May 8th, 9am - noon: 6th Annual WEED-OUT Garlic Mustard Pull at Mary Knoll Park ~ The Garlic Mustard is coming up early this year. In fact, it is already blooming in places. Check out last year's post for more information, links and pictures: Mary Knoll "Weed Out"
  6. Don't forget Mother's Day on Sunday, May 9th!

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My Tuesday ballot picks: Gundrum, Reilly, Allgaier, Wilson, Ponto & Aldermen

City of Brookfield, Elmbrook, Elections

Tuesday, April 6th, is election day in Wisconsin. On our ballot in Brookfield, Wisconsin, we choose 2 judges, 3 Elmbrook School Board members, Mayor of Brookfield, and 7 Aldermen - 1 for each district.

These spring elections are said to be nonpartisan but for some races, maybe we should call them NINO -- nonpartisan in name only?

Going from the general to the specific, meaning from races that affect all of Waukesha County to all of the Elmbrook School District, to the City of Brookfield, to the specific Aldermanic Districts, here are my picks.

Mark Gundrum for Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge

Mark Gundrum is the clear choice here. He is a conservative and former Wisconsin State Assembly Representative. Gundrum has an impressive page of endorsements including Scott Walker, Waukesha County D.A. Brad Schimel, Congressmen Jim Sensenbrenner and Paul Ryan, and other conservative state legislators such as Ted Kanavas, Leah Vukmir, Rich Zipperer, and Neil Kedzie. (The incumbent Gundrum is running against is a Doyle appointee--need I say more?)

Paul Reilly for Wisconsin District II Court of Appeals Judge
I wasn't sure which candidate I was going to vote for in this race; both are Republicans and pretty conservative. Sometimes a preference gets down to personality or some other factor. On this race, I am deferring to the opinion of some people I trust: Julianne Appling of Wisconsin Family Action, an attorney with a conservative freedoms group, State Senator Ted Kanavas, Former Wauk. D.A. Paul Bucher, Wauk. D.A. Brad Schimel, and blogger Randy Melchert, who moderated a forum with both candidates last week. Radio Talk Show Host Jay Weber mentioned this morning he is also supporting Paul Reilly.

Randy Melchert
includes some video clips of both candidates' closing remarks on his blog. I found Linda Van De Water's rather odd in that instead of telling the audience why they should vote for her, she spent the time talking against her opponent and bringing up some questionable incidents tied to her. Paul Reilly then clarified one of the incidents, though it seemed he would not have brought it up had Linda not mentioned it. He elaborated on his high 97% Qualified rating by the Waukesha County Bar Association and endorsements. Watch it for yourself.

3 positions on Elmbrook School District School Board. (All of Elmbrook School District residents vote for all 3 positions, regardless of Area.)

Glen Allgaier, Elmbrook School Board Area II
I am supporting Glen Allgaier for the Area II position. He is the more conservative choice and he has a proven record of making some tough decisions, which is why I wrote a letter to the editor in support of Allgaier for BrookfieldNOW's forum page. Board President Tom Gehl, had this to say about Glen, "I have come to know Glen very well over the course of the last three years and can say without reservation that in him, this community has an exemplary public servant. Not a good public servant – not a great public servant – an exemplary one."

Kathryn Wilson, Elmbrook School Board At-Large position

In addition to the Area II position, all Elmbrook residents vote for 2 At-Large spots on the board. Of the 4 people running, the one who receives the most votes will serve for 3 years. I hope this person will be Kathryn Wilson. Kathryn is very strong in the area of curriculum. She has been involved in Elmbrook curriculum planning and the Elmbrook Gifted and Talented Parent Advisory Board, to mention 2 areas of her school involvement.

I met with Kathryn Wilson; her approach is very analytical, which is what we need on the board. With the budgetary problems facing the district, we need someone who can clearly see a solution to our problems, rather than just react emotionally. Wilson is very familiar with the workings of the school district and board because she has been involved in Elmbrook schools for years. She will be able to "hit the ground running" to quote School Board Member Jean Lambert. Kathryn Wilson is also endorsed by my Alderman Lisa Mellone, who says, "I have always found Kathryn to be articulate, thorough, attentive to detail, and most importantly, one of the best listeners I have ever encountered. Her dedication and experience is evident..."

As for the other At-Large Board Position, I am at a loss; they are all for 4K, and I cannot support 4K at taxpayer expense. The candidate receiving the 2nd highest total will serve for 1 year as the At-Large representative. Bob Zeigler is the incumbent. Some might look at him as a "better the devil you know" candidate. Since the board has already heard all he has to say on the subject supporting 4K, for example, one might say he doesn't have much traction, and is more benign. Beth Horneffer has the support of some people, but she would still be a new voice in favor of 4K. Sandra Schultz is the 3rd pro 4K candidate. I have decided to NOT vote for any of them. We will end up with one of them; more than likely it will be Bob Zeigler.

Steve Ponto for City of Brookfield Mayor
When I met with Steve, one of the things he emphasized was his support for Brookfield's single family neighborhoods. He also told me how he was against light rail. On his campaign literature, he writes, "As a fiscal conservative, I oppose the federal and state governments wasting money they do not have on high-speed rail." If Steve Ponto wins, I hope to see more conservative stands protecting neighborhoods and against wasteful spending. He has been a member of the Republican Party for years--not just when he decided to run for mayor! Is Steve as conservative as I am? No, but I do believe he is the better choice.

City of Brookfield Aldermen - I live in District 7, one of 2 districts without a challenger. Here are my preferences if I lived in the other districts in Brookfield:

District 1 - Bill Carnell: Bill Carnell is the incumbent and has been doing a good job, I think. He is being challenged by an old time incumbent.

District 2 - Terry Halmstad: I believe Halmstad to be the more fiscally conservative candidate and more willing to protect his district from undesirable development. Terry would get my vote.

District 4 - Mark Nelson: Mark Nelson could be more bold in his opposition to the mayor's agenda but at least he seems kind in his remarks. His instincts are often good; I just wish he would follow through more. His opponent is far too new to Brookfield and doesn't seem to understand the city's role in school district business (which is NONE.)

District 5 - Sheila Buechel: I met Sheila Buechel at one of the mayor forums and was excited about her candidacy. She will be a breath of fresh air for District 5 and seems well prepared to take on the job of alderman. Another bonus, should Sheila win, think of how much shorter the council meetings will be! ;-)

District 6 - Jerry Mellone: Jerry Mellone has worked so hard for his district; they are fortunate that he is running again. Mellone fought valiantly to try to prevent Calhoun Road from being widened to the extent it was but was foiled by the likes of both District 2 aldermen, who pretty much disregarded the Master Plan. (Mellone's opponent has lived in Brookfield for only about a year.)

District 7 - Lisa Mellone: Lisa is unopposed here in the 7th District, but she deserves mention as an outstanding Alderman. What a pleasant change from our former Alderman often referred to as "Mr. Rolodex". Lisa Mellone works very hard for her district and follows through on resident concerns. Some day, I hope to draw that little connecting arrow next to her name for Mayor of Brookfield!

So, there you have it: My ballot picks for tomorrow. Be sure to look into the issues and candidates for yourself and vote.

BrookfieldNOW has devoted a lot of space to the school board, mayor and aldermen races. Check out their election coverage:
BrookfieldNOW Letters to the Editor
BrookfieldNOW Brookfield/Elm Grove Voters Guide

Other blogger's ballot picks
: Cindy Kilkenny How I'll Be Voting
Randy's Picks - April 6, 2010 Spring Election Guide for Wisconsin Tomorrow

Past Post: Tuesday's Primary Ballot Picks

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How about that? It's Speaker and Ponto!

City of Brookfield, Elections, Elmbrook

 The results are in for the mayoral primary: Speaker and Ponto advance to the April 6th election.

Here are the vote tallies:

  1. Speaker - 2,116
  2. Ponto - 1,556
  3. Marcello - 1,051
  4. Schellinger - 457

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Elmbrook School Board At-Large Candidate Forum: Tuesday, Feb. 2

Education, Elmbrook, Elections, Special events

Just a reminder that tomorrow, Tuesday, February 2nd, is the only chance to compare all 6 candidates running for the 2 At-Large positions on the School Board.

The At-Large Candidate Forum will be held in the Elmbrook Administrative Office Board Room at the Central Offices from 7 - 9 pm, 13780 Hope Street, in Brookfield. (Hope Street is a few blocks north of Capitol Drive.)

Funding and increasing the school budget will be an important topic at the forum. Keep in mind that increasing funding often goes hand in hand with raising taxes. Example: adding 4K does increase the money coming into Elmbrook but as an additional expense to the taxpayers of Elmbrook and Wisconsin.

The top 4 candidates that make it through the primary on Feb. 16th will advance to the April 6th ballot.

After the primary, there will be another School Board Candidate Forum that will include the top 4 At-Large candidates and the Area II candidates: Board member Glen Allgaier and challenger Ilse Frayer. This one will also be at Elmbrook's Administrative Offices on March 16th, 7-9pm.
Both forums are sponsored by the Elmbrook Parent Leadership Council.

All Elmbrook residents vote for ALL of the school board candidates.

Hope you can make it to both events. If not, if you have cable TV, they will be broadcast on the district's channel after the 2nd and 16th.

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Pre-primary Mayoral Forums: 1 down, 1 today, 1 Feb. 4th

City of Brookfield, Elections, Elmbrook, Special events

Click for 4 photo version.

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UPDATE on Elmbrook's HG&D (Sex Ed) curriculum

Education, Elmbrook, HG&D (sex-ed)

Monday I went to the district offices to look at the proposed Holt packaged curriculum for middle school students. Elmbrook School District residents may go to look over materials at these times:

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It's Elmbrook's Human Growth & Development (Sex Ed) public review time again

Education, Elmbrook, Family, HG&D (sex-ed)

Elmbrook School District residents may look over the Human Growth & Development materials at the district offices at 13780 Hope Street, just a few blocks north of Capitol Drive.

Daytime Sessions: Jan. 11 - 15, Jan. 18 - 22 and Jan. 25: 9 a.m. - Noon and 1 - 4 p.m.
Evening Sessions: Thursday, Jan. 14 and Monday, Jan. 18: 5 - 7 p.m.

New for this year is the proposed packaged curriculum by Holt for the middle school students. I believe this is the first pre-fab curriculum our district has ever had for health instruction, which is the broader term for sex ed.

I like the idea of a packaged curriculum because it is easier to see exactly what will be taught. The Outcomes, I have heard, are tied to specific chapters and pages, which should help parents see what subjects are emphasized and taught.

One of the challenges in reviewing the HG&D materials is to match the Outcomes with the actual instructional materials. Another would be to look at how much time is devoted to a subject. For example, the curriculum may include teaching abstinence and birth control, but how much time is devoted to each? Hypothetically, if there is one mention of abstinence and then 10 lessons on contraception, are we really covering both subjects? Is instruction glossing over the importance of abstinence in preventing sexually transmitted diseases, many of which are incurable?

As you review the material, keep in mind the state graduation requirement for sex ed is 1/2 credit in the subject of health. Period. Every classroom hour devoted to HG&D takes one hour away from some other subject such as science, math, English, or history.

If you have children in the Elmbrook School District, I urge you to go take a look at what materials are there for your child's present and future grade levels.

Past Posts: Still time to review Elmbrookd's HG&D (Sex-Ed) materials:


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UPDATE: Call State Representative & Senator: VOTE NO on AB458 State Mandated Sex Ed

HG&D (sex-ed), Education, Elmbrook, Legislation, WISCONSIN

Wisconsin's State Assembly will vote on bill AB 458 today, Thursday, Nov. 5th. This bill would seriously alter Wisconsin's current human growth and development (sex education) statutes. If passed, AB458 would remove local school board's control over how sex ed is taught in each district.

Assembly Republicans were able to temporarily block the vote on Tuesday, but it will come to the floor today, the last day the Assembly meets for the year.

Considering the countless hours Elmbrook's Human Growth & Development curriculum committee spent on evaluating our proposed HG&D program, the state usurping our and other school board's local control, disregards the sacrifice of time and talent these committees invested in their programs. The bill disregards the right of local boards to make decisions for their districts.

I urge you to call your State Representative and tell them to vote NO on AB 458. My Rep. is Leah Vukmir 608-266-9180. Rep. Rich Zipperer 608-266-5120 represents the west side of Brookfield. (Even though the Republicans are against this legislation, I still call to voice my support for their position.)

What is so bad about the bill? Senator Glenn Grothman explained on Jay Weber's radio program Wed. morning how AB 458 would change HG&D instruction in Wisconsin (should it pass) Here are my notes:

  • We would have to do [teach] it in a way that doesn't create any bias against those sexually active.
  • It would ban abstinence centered and abstinence only teaching like Thiensville['s program.]
  • This would force districts to allow Planned Parenthood into the classroom for condom demonstrations, starting at age 12.
  • It would normalize teen sex, which is illegal according to state law for children under age 16.

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Fox News at Brookfield Central?

Education, Elmbrook, President Obama

I just heard on WISN's Jay Weber show this morning that Fox News (national) is at Brookfield Central to do a news story about Elmbrook's decision not to show Obama's speech. Granted, Brookfield is RED suburb in a BLUE state, but Wauwatosa isn't showing the President's speech either. I would have thought that was more newsworthy.

I don't have cable TV, but you might want to watch for the piece if you do.

These 2 communities are not alone; all across the country school districts are opting out of showing the speech and doing the lesson plans.

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No need to opt out at Elmbrook, our district will NOT show Obama broadcast

Education, Elmbrook, President Obama

Guess I wasn't the only one who felt watching and discussing the Obama broadcast next Tuesday was an inappropriate use of class time. Dr. Matt Gibson informed Elmbrook district parents via recorded phone call late this afternoon that they will NOT be participating in Tuesday's national address.

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Wow! 2 good decisions in one day: Elmbrook graduation & Siepmann home stays

City of Brookfield, Constitution, Elmbrook

This does not happen too often in my world: 2 decisions that I am happy with, both delivered on the same day!

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Wisconsin Hills' Odyssey of the Mind Fund-raising Concert TONIGHT @ Mitchell Park 6:30pm

Elmbrook, Helping others, Special events, Music

A reader alerted me to this event tonight. Thanks!

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Much ado about swine flu: If it's serious, why no quarantine?

Elmbrook, Healthy living, World News

First, I better state my disclaimer: I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV. I have not had any medical training outside of a college class in nutrition, physiology and anatomy, and genetics. However, sometimes I am dubbed Dr. Quinn or Dr. Spock by friends and family.  I have been interested in natural medicine pretty much all of my adult life.

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4K spending high: 4th grade reading scores low

4-K, Education, Elmbrook, TAXES

I stumbled on this interesting bit from the Heritage Foundation: Oklahoma: High Marks for Pre-K Spending, Low Marks for Reading Achievement: (My emphasis throughout)

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And the winner is....

Education, Elections, Elmbrook, TAXES, WISCONSIN

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More info from candidates

Education, Elections, Elmbrook candidates responses

Elmbrook School Board candidates weigh in on 4K

4-K, Education, Elections, Elmbrook

Last week, the article K4 back on the table in Elmbrook on Brookfieldnow caused quite a stir. The way it was written, it led people to believe that 2 board members who previously voted against 4K were now thinking about it. The article was heavy on the positive effects of 4K on the school budget without much detail regarding the negatives to the taxpayer.

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Existing HG&D materials a failure? I agree. Pre-fab better? We'll see

Education, Elmbrook, HG&D (sex-ed)

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Only Superman can be 2 places at once: School Board & Trustee meetings? + UPDATE

Elections, Elmbrook

I am still wondering about this: How can a person be in 2 places at once? The only one I know of who ever did that was Superman! And even he could not maintain all his super powers when he split himself in two. He was weaker when split apart.

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4K will continue to rear it's ugly head until spending is curtailed

4-K, Education, Elmbrook, TAXES

K4 back on the table in Elmbrook

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Busy week: meetings, state budget hearing & Tea Party, candidate forums, Town Hall

Creation Science / Intelligent Design, Education, Elmbrook, Special events, TAXES, WISCONSIN

Yes, this week is a busy one. Tonight, Tuesday night, the Elmbrook School board decides on Pilgrim Park Middle School's HVAC replacement. Will they opt to include air conditioning?

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You don't miss what you never had: Pilgrim Park School Air Conditioning, UPDATE

Elmbrook, Energy, Going Green, President Obama, TAXES

We are told Elmbrook's Pilgrim Park Middle School is in need of a new heating system. The board has been discussing this replacement for about a year. Bids are starting to come in now. The big question is: do we add air conditioning or not to the new system? They might decide that question tomorrow at the March 24th board meeting.

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Elmbrook School Board candidate forum, March 26, 7pm

Elections, Elmbrook

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Elmbrook's petitioning neighborhood revisited

Elmbrook, Elmbrook: nonresident students, TAXES

 1950s neighborhood my foot. Most of the homes are newer. Many are McMansions and some just a kiddie sized McMansion. Few are a true 1950s ranch.

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HG&D sex-ed success, failures & New Berlin's shocking photo scandal

Education, Elmbrook, HG&D (sex-ed)

People are still talking about that New Berlin young man at Eisenhower High School, who passed himself off as a teen girl on the internet and then blackmailed his fellow male student respondents for homosexual "favors". It is shocking indeed for many adults--especially if they are older.

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HG&D (sex-ed) success, failures & New Berlin's shocking photo scandal

Culture, Education, Elmbrook, HG&D (sex-ed)

People are still talking about that New Berlin young man at Eisenhower High School, who passed himself off as a teen girl on the internet and then blackmailed his fellow male student respondents for homosexual "favors". It is shocking indeed for many adults--especially if they are older.

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Elmbrook board unanimously approves petition to join us

Elmbrook, TAXES

See UPDATE at bottom of post.

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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"

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Primary results

Education, Elections, Elmbrook, WISCONSIN

Election results: I am pleased my 2 Elmbrook picks topped the primary totals and Rose Fernandez made it to the April election. 

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Elmbrook School Board: Who I'm NOT voting for on Tuesday

Education, Elections, Elmbrook

OK, I am going to whine a little here. And yes, I know it is all my fault. I just spent a few hours writing about the reasons I was NOT going to vote for Katie Lemcke for the At Large seat or Barry Wightman for Area 4.

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Economy improving? Elmbrook's bonding and 1% sales increase

Elmbrook, Elmbrook 2008 Referendum, TAXES, THE ECONOMY

Elmbrook schools was able to garner a favorable bond rate for the remaining portion of their $62mil referendum this week.

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Elmbrook School Board candidate forum: first impressions

Education, Elections, Elmbrook

I did make it to the Elmbrook School Board candidate forum last night, but I was about 3 minutes late.  There were about 30 people in the audience, 2 of which were board members Bob Zieggler and Tom Gehl. (There may have been others present, but I did not see them.)

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Don't forget Thursday's Elmbrook School Board candidate forum, 7pm

Education, Elections, Elmbrook

A reader forwarded me the following announcement from the Elmbrook School District regarding the coming candidate forum. (Parents of Elmbrook School students receive these monthly events notices, but residents without children in the district do not.)

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Charles Wickens 10 tips for "successful public private partnerships"


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School board choices

Education, Elmbrook


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Elmbrook: Handwriting's been on wall for school closings for years

Education, Elections, Elmbrook, TAXES

It must have been quite the meeting last Tuesday. At least two difficult subjects were discussed by the Elmbrook School Board: scaling back benefits and closing schools. (Wish I had cable TV.)

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How warm was Dixon to save 66% on nat. gas? What's with their water use?

Elmbrook, Energy, TAXES

In an effort to reduce our utility bill, I have been belt tightening at our house thermostat wise but enjoying it less.  (I'm miserable!) I set our thermostat is set at 68 during the day and 50 - 55 at night. Heat vents to the living and dining rooms are closed unless we are using those rooms. For someone (me) who is always cold, even in the summertime, this is a sacrifice. So when I read that Elmbrook was saving money because of their new energy sleuth, the article caught my eye.  

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Oops. Elmbrook made the news: Pot found at high schools

Education, Elmbrook, HG&D (sex-ed)

School districts probably like free publicity but not in this way.  Last night I saw footage of Brookfield East's parking lot on the evening news. Reason? Pot found in student cars at East, Central. The search was actually done on Monday. The 2 students involved were given a 5 day suspension for their "first-time possession on school grounds" offense. (Don't know if that means they had other offenses, just not connected with school?)

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Elmbrook's HG&D (sex-ed) materials need more review time

Culture, Education, Elmbrook, Family, HG&D (sex-ed)

Wednesday, Jan. 14th, 8:30am to 4pm, is the last official day for interested Elmbrook residents to review the Human Growth & Development sex-ed materials. The HGD committee meets this Thursday to discuss the review comment forms. If you have looked at the sex ed materials, make sure your comments are submitted to Elmbrook's school offices by noon, Thursday, Jan. 15.

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How warm was it at Dixon to save 66% on heating? What's with their water usage?

Elmbrook, Energy

In an effort to reduce our utility bill, I have been belt tightening at our house thermostat wise and enjoying it less.  (I'm miserable!) Our thermostat is set at 68 during the day and 50 - 55 at night; it is my choice. Heat vents to the living and dining rooms are closed unless we are using those rooms. For someone (me) who is always cold, even in the summertime, this is a sacrifice. So when I read that Elmbrook was saving money because of their new energy sleuth, the article caught my eye.  

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This little piggy went to the bond market...this little Elmbrook piggy stayed home

Education, Elmbrook, Elmbrook 2008 Referendum, TAXES, THE ECONOMY

What if you went to the bond market and no one wanted to buy yours? What would you do? Well, not wanting to face that dilemma, the Elmbrook School district stayed home. They are "postponing $31 million worth of borrowing for construction [referendum] projects, citing an unfavorable bond market."

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How hot was it at Dixon to save 66% on heating? What are they doing with their water?

Elmbrook, Energy, TAXES

I have been tightening our belt at our house thermostat wise and enjoying it less! I'm miserable. The thermostat is set at 68 during the day and 50 - 55 at night. For someone who is always cold (me), even in the summertime, this is a sacrifice. 

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Still time to review Elmbrook's HG&D (sex -ed) materials: Jan. 5th-9th, 12th & 14th

Education, Elmbrook, HG&D (sex-ed)

Between preparing for Christmas and the snowy weather, I did not make it over to Elmbrook School's Administrative Offices to look at the newest version of the Human Growth and Development curriculum materials. I wasn't alone though. Because of "additional interest", Elmbrook extends sex-ed review sessions.

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Budget cuts: Elmbrook giveth and taketh away

Elmbrook, TAXES

Santa's elf comment about 4.1% raise 

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Expanded Elmbrook Human Growth & Development review hours

Culture, Education, Elmbrook

Subject: expanded HGD review hours

A recent change in school board policy, combined with the dedicated efforts of several active members of the Human Growth and Development Parent Advisory Committee provides a unique opportunity : 
Parents and community members are welcome to preview all Human Growth and Development videos, DVDs, books, materials, lessons, handouts, worksheets - everything - under consideration for presentation to our children, before it is approved by the board and implemented.  Your input is welcome on every aspect. This is the time to act - while the lessons are in the formative stage.
Because more time is needed to thoroughly review the HGD materials K-12 than the three, 2-hour sessions originally scheduled, I understand the district was flexible in creating open review this week (Mon Dec15 - Fri Dec19, during regular CAO hours). Unfortunately this open review is unadvertised. Please spread the word. People may call Dr. Stewart (262-781-3030 ext  1112) or Dr. Stewart's secretary Mary Tagliavia  (262-781-3030 ext  1117) for details.
Due to being in the midst of the busy Christmas and holiday season, several have requested open review of the HGD materials to be extended throughout January.  We will keep you posted.  If you would like to have evening hours or a Saturday scheduled for open review, please feel free to contact Dr. Stewart or Mary Tagliavia with that request. 
Why review HGD lessons and materials? 
  • Quite simply, the district does not have the personnel. A thorough in-depth review requires many eyes and viewpoints. 
  • Providing valuable input to the district at this stage is an important opportunity to partner with the district, while lessons & materials selection is in progress.
  • It is important for parents to understand what their children are being taught, and evaluate whether these lessons are what is desired for their children's education in this area.
  • Even if your child(ren) is/are "opted out" of the district's HGD program:
    • Other students may share the info with your student(s) over lunch, at extracurricular events, parties, sleepovers, etc.
    • There are portions of the program which are considered "mandatory" and from which your requested exemption will not apply.  We are working with the district to have these lessons & materials plainly identified, for transparency.
  • Once approved, lessons/materials are in play for three years before an HGD advisory committee is reconvened.  The work of the committee can take 2 years.  Lessons/materials approved from this session may be used for 5 years.  Even if your child is in First Grade, s/he may be in middle school before lessons & materials are reviewed in their entirety again.  If your child is in 4th grade, s/he may be in high school before lessons & materials are reviewed in their entirety again. 
Some examples of things you may notice and think about when reviewing lessons & materials include:
  • Would you want your child asked, or have them watch a video in which male students are asked, whether they have had erections?  wet dreams?  Does this set a positive precedent or work against empowering students to maintain their modesty and not discuss sexual matters with others who may inquire about them?
  • Would your child named Chad or Jenny feel comfortable watching a video with their classmates depicting drawings of male genitals on a rendering named "Chad"?  on a female rendering named "Jenny"? 
  • Would you want your child to have the understanding that penis and breast size do not matter in being able to give and receive sexual satisfaction?  (Should sexual satisfaction be discussed with children?) 
  • IF we are educating children regarding the penis, should they learn the correct vocabulary (flaccid) as opposed to common terms ("in a relaxed state", "just handing there")?
  • IF we are education children regarding the vagina, should they learn there is a hymen, not just a "vaginal opening"?
  • The above examples are from one grade level and resource.  
  • If we are teaching our children about what the materials refer to as the sex act, do we want them to know that condoms do not cover the entire area and prevent safe contact, but may still pass STI's?  That viruses and bacteria producing STI's may wreak havoc internally but not produce obvious outward symptoms until it is too late?  That many STI's are "treatable" but not "curable"... students will have them for life?  That virus/bacteria are many times smaller than a sperm cell and can easily pass through a condom?  That oral sex can lead to oral cancer?  That kissing a person who has participated in oral sex can transmit the virus for oral cancer?  That there are negative emotional consequences to premature sexual behavior?  
We are working diligently to create a transparent process and provide HGD content which serves the best interests of our kids.  We encourage reviewers to list specific strengths and deficits they may find so that the committee, the board, and any future lesson developers / package screeners will have these observations as tools to work with.  (A general thumbs up or thumbs down statement doesn't provide these tools.)


You don't miss as much what you never had: Air Conditioning school

Education, Elmbrook, Elmbrook 2008 Referendum, Energy, Going Green

Obama promises even more stringent green pacts than Kyoto

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Elmbrook Human Growth & Development Parent Review: Dec. 9, 12, and Jan. 6

Common sense, Culture, Education, Elmbrook, Family

File this under: Plan ahead. Human Growth and Development team member Cheri Mastel left a comment reminding us of these upcoming HGD meetings. Since I don't want any interested parents or residents to miss this opportunity, I am posting portions of her comments here:

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Teaching to the test takes its toll

Education, Elmbrook

Link act scores. that is how we measure intelligence these days.

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Class sizes then and now

Education, Elmbrook, TAXES

Tuesday, about 20 Elmbrook residents gathered at Brookfield El. to discuss state funding and its affect on class sizes. Board member Glen Allgaier attended as well.

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Elmbrook pdf District Seeks Community Involvement in Financial Planning Process Nov. 2008



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Elmbrook pdf District Ends Year On Positive Note Financially Nov. 2008



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Elmbrook's revenue pie and future

Education, Elmbrook, TAXES

Tuesday, about 20 Elmbrook residents gathered at Brookfield El. to discuss state funding and its affect on class sizes. Board member Glen Allgaier attended as well. We all introduced ourselves and stated the ages and grade level of our children in the Elmbrook school system. I think I was the only person in attendance who never had a child in Elmbrook schools. (I homeschooled my son.) I would say most of the attendees were mothers of grade school aged children. 

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State funding & Elmbrook class size discussion Tuesday, Nov. 18, 1:30 - 3pm

Education, Elmbrook, Elmbrook: nonresident students, TAXES

I almost missed this little notice, it was tucked away on page 27 of Thursday's Brookfield NOW:

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Elmbrook's $62.5 mil referendum over budget: That was then, this is now

Education, Elmbrook, Elmbrook 2008 Referendum, TAXES, THE ECONOMY Board considers cuts on high school plans Nov. 14, 2008

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Elmbrook plans

Elmbrook, Elmbrook 2008 Referendum

 Santa elf

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Elmbrook enrollment shrinks, tax levy grows

Education, Elmbrook, TAXES, THE ECONOMY


Elmbrook's 2008-09 enrollment decline affects 2009-10 budget


Elmbrook enrollment down by 103 students, but no need to "The state exempts districts from fluctuations in enrollment for one year."

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Elmbrook to discuss Chapter 220 enrollment, Tues. Oct. 28, 6pm & 7pm

Education, Elmbrook, Elmbrook: nonresident students

The Elmbrook School Board will be discussing future Chapter 220 enrollment at their work session on Tuesday, Oct. 28th from 6:00 to 6:55pm at the District Offices.

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Elmbrook's referendum off to an over budget start

Elmbrook, TAXES

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Elmbrook's levy rate increases, property values decrease


Elmbrook's tax rate on the rise

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Pilgrim Park engineering study eats up savings for next 11 years?

Elmbrook, Energy, THE ECONOMY


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R and PG-13 movies in Elmbrook Schools

Culture, Education, Elmbrook

 've recently become aware by parents in our community, as well as by School Board members, that "R" rated movies are being shown in classrooms within our Elmbrook Schools (as part of "curriculum") and are also kept within the school libraries. Please consider contacting Elmbrook School Board members as this item will be up for discussion very soon. Board Members need to hear from the community in order to make changes to this policy (or lack thereof). Board Member email addresses can be found in the email address section below.

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Elmbrook is NOT planning to discontinue board meeting cable broadcasts


Recently, a reader emailed the following:
Rumor has it that Elmbrook may discontinue cable broadcasts of BOE meetings, as they aren't sure anyone watches.  I cannot recall who told me this several weeks ago, but now I see there is an item scrolling at the top of the district home page to the effect of:  please tell us if you like the broadcasts.  
If you do, this is probably the time to let them know.  I certainly value them. 
So I emailed Elmbrook Schools Feedback:
Someone told me that Elmbrook is thinking of discontinuing their cable TV broadcasts. Is this true?
What ever happened to the idea that Elmbrook would just post the school board meetings on the internet like Wauwatosa does?
Kyle Prast
Here is my reply: (Emphasis mine) 
Hi Kyle
Thank you for contacting Elmbrook Schools.  We are pleased that you are interested in how we make board meetings available for public viewing.
At this time, there is no plan to discontinue broadcasting the meetings on cable channels 13 and 96.  We will continue to do this.
We do not record the meetings digitally at this time, therefore they are not posted on the web.  It may be an option in the future for the district.
If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact me at 262-781-3030 ext. 1176, or
Thanks again!
Melinda Mueller
Communications Manager
School District of Elmbrook
Ph:   262-781-3030 ext. 1176
Cell:  414-587-3171
Fax:  262-901-0056
This was my reply back:
Thank you, Melinda. It would be great to have the meetings on the internet. Not everyone has cable TV. Plus, viewers could then watch at any time.
So if you value the broadcasts on Cable TV, give Melinda Mueller a call or email. If you would like to see them on the internet, let her know that too. If they don't hear from you, how will they know?

4K out of the picture...for now

4-K, Education, Elmbrook

Lisa Sink reported that 4 year old kindergarten lacks support in Elmbrook. Am I breathing a little easier? 

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I went to say, thank you, to Elmbrook School Board

4-K, Education, Elmbrook

Last night I stopped in at the Elmbrook School Board meeting to say, thank you, to the board. I had heard there might be a group of impassioned pro-4K parents making their pleas during the public forum time and thought a different point of view might be in order.

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Say "No way 4K" at Elmbrook school board meeting Tuesday, Sept. 23, 7pm

4-K, Alert, City of Brookfield, Education, Elmbrook, TAXES

I almost missed this, but thanks to a reader, here it is: A group of pro 4K residents will be making an appeal to the school board this Tuesday during the Citizen's Forum time--first on the agenda.

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Elmbrook 5K enrollement requirements + reading ideas

4-K, 5K, Education, Elmbrook, Family

My posting on Dr. Gibson flirts with 4K again to cure Elmbrook budget woes sparked a bit of a controversy regarding Elmbrook's 5K enrollment requirements in the comment section.

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Dr. Gibson flirts with 4K again to cure Elmbrook's budget woes

4-K, Education, Elections, Elmbrook, H. Clinton 2008, Obama 2008, TAXES

Last night I caught a bit of the July school board meeting on cable TV*. The board was discussing Elmbrook's coming budget woes and the difficult decisions our district needs to make to keep our schools operating within budget. (Unfortunately, I missed at least the first half of the meeting, but I will watch again and take better notes.)

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Testing the waters: VK, McCain, and Elmbrook Swim Club

Elmbrook, High Schools, Sports, TAXES

Unsure about how an idea will go over? Test the waters!

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Going "halvesies" should mean we each pay half--up front

Elmbrook, Ethics, TAXES

I remember being surprised the first time I heard BC(2) was behind in their payments for the artificial turf project at Central High School. Behind?  I would have thought they were required to pay their half up front?  After all, what do you do if they can't or won't pay up?

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To Air or Not To Air, That is the $1 Million Dollar Elmbrook Question

Elmbrook, Energy

Elmbrook may tap reserves for projects tonight after the Annual Meeting at 7pm*, at Brookfield El. What are the projects? The HVAC replacement, including air conditioning, at Pilgrim Park Middle School and some SmartBoards for some elementary schools. (*Actually, the budget hearing is at 7pm, the Annual Meeting is at 8pm.)

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Percheron Square: Again, Density is the Problem

City of Brookfield, Development, Elmbrook

The Commission OKs plans for Ruby Farms site.  What I find so frustrating with our Plan Commission is that they grant PDDs and project proposals so easily. Oh, they raise all sorts of questions and concerns, but then vote as if with one "Aye."

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I Am Sorry To See Andy Smith Go


This may surprise you a bit, but I am truly sorry to see Andy Smith go. Although he sometimes put the "ick" in public relations*, I was glad he was the Director of Communications for Elmbrook.

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Taxpayers Need a Referendum Reprieve

2007 Referendum, Education, Elmbrook, Elmbrook 2008 Referendum, Legislation, TAXES, WISCONSIN

I admit it. I was surprised when Elmbrook's $62 million dollar referendum passed last April 1st. Usually, it takes 3 referendum tries before one will pass.

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HG&D Work Session Report: Keep Parent & Board Approval

Culture, Education, Elmbrook

I attended the Human Growth and Development (Sex Ed.) work session Tuesday night. Several of the HG&D parent committee members were in the audience along with some interested parents. 

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Come to HG&D Work Session Tuesday, May 13, 6-7 PM

Education, Elmbrook, Family

(Be sure to contact our state legislators today about budget!)

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5K parents still have a half-day choice

5K, Education, Elmbrook

Thank you Elmbrook board for accommodating the few parents who still want a half-day kindergarten experience for their children.

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Elmbrook parents, Fri., April 25 is East & Central's homosexual "Day of Silence"

Elmbrook, Ethics, Truth

If you are a parent of an Elmbrook High School student, are you going to be silent about East and Central High School's Day of Silence?

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Half day kindergarten extinct? Show me the benefit

Education, Elmbrook

Elmbrook just ended half-day kindergarten for 5 year olds. Why? Because there was lack of interest in half day kindergarten. The public only wanted full day.

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UPDATED: So what happened with HG&D and school board?

Education, Elmbrook

There were about 40 residents attending last Tuesday's School Board meeting--most of them because of the HG&D topic.

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HG&D (Sex Ed.) "Outcomes" on School Board agenda Tuesday, 8pm, BE THERE!

Education, Elmbrook, Ethics

Hard to believe there could be an issue I am as equally passionate about as preventing wasting taxpayers' dollars in our schools, but Human Growth and Development (Sex Ed.) definitely qualifies.

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2% of voters left referendum question BLANK!

Elections, Elmbrook, Elmbrook 2008 Referendum

Can you imagine going to the polls and not having an opinion on a $62.2 million dollar referendum? Well, at least 294 voters did just that on Tuesday.

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Where were the other 4,135 NO votes?

Elections, Elmbrook, Elmbrook 2008 Referendum, High Schools

Don't worry, I am not going to drag on about the referendum too much, but I think some things need analyzing before I move on to other areas of interest. It is important to understand why it passed and how the process works...for next time.

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Sutton, Owen, Balzer, Lowerr +YES to $62.2mil

City of Brookfield, Elections, Elmbrook

I am very pleased that Dan Sutton and Ron Balzer will be returning to the council, but extremely sorry that Terry Halmstad will not be joining them. Thank you, Terry for making the effort to make a difference.

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STUNNING: Pt 2, Double, Double Toil and Trouble; $13mil to make boilers chill & bubble?

Elmbrook, Elmbrook 2008 Referendum, High Schools

I could have titled this STUNNING: Pt 2, Putting $26 mil for HVAC/mechanicals into perspective, but that would not have been as much fun. You may wish to read part 1 first.

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Oh oh, you can't do that

Elections, Elmbrook, Elmbrook 2008 Referendum, High Schools

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The 3 Rs: Recession, Rising energy prices, and Referendum

Elmbrook, Elmbrook 2008 Referendum, High Schools, TAXES, THE ECONOMY

People constantly ask me if I think the referendum will pass. I just answer, I don't know. Truly, I just don't know.

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WOW! We could have had a V8 like Brookfield Academy's $12.5 mil high school

Elmbrook, Elmbrook 2008 Referendum, High Schools

I still believe that we could manage our facilities needs without a referendum. Adding an unbonded $1 to $2 million a year, just for the high schools, to our capital improvement budget, could go a long way in improving our schools. (This would require referendum approval.) 

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My ideal Tuesday ballot picks

City of Brookfield, Elections, Elmbrook, WISCONSIN

It is nearing the big day for the 2008 spring election on Tuesday, April 1st. True, it is April Fools Day, but this election is no joke. There is a lot riding on the ballot this day, for one thing, a $62.2 million dollar school referendum.

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STUNNING: Putting $22.7 to $26million for HVAC/ mechanicals replacement in perspective, pt1

Elmbrook, Elmbrook 2008 Referendum, High Schools

Sometimes you just cannot see the forest for the trees. I know I didn't see the HVAC/mechanicals costs for the Athletics costs. I wish I had more answers for you right now, but the following musings are just some of my observations. Take them for what they are worth.

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Correction: Athletic costs: $21, $18.2, $15.8, $15.2, $14 mil? Clear as mud

Elmbrook, Elmbrook 2008 Referendum, High Schools, Truth

Have you noticed how compared to last year's referendum, where we were inundated with details, facts, and figures, that this year's specifics are rather late in coming or hard to come by?

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Unloved, but now thriving

Education, Elmbrook

Lindfield now Heritage 

Wish Elmbrook had new computers like this?

Elmbrook, Elmbrook 2008 Referendum, High Schools


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Threat from within or without? re: Safety and Security

Elmbrook, Elmbrook 2008 Referendum, High Schools

UPDATE: Student busted for selling pot at school, Community Watch, Monday, April 14, 2008 (emphasis added)

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Safety & Security: Aren't we inviting trouble?

Elmbrook, Elmbrook 2008 Referendum, High Schools, Unintended consequences

STRANGER DANGER, we have all heard the phrase. We've taught it to our preschoolers; they teach it in our schools from kindergarten on up. We all want to protect our children from predators and those who would cause harm.

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Questioning why we should build a 1.4 acre gym for who?

Elmbrook, Elmbrook 2008 Referendum, High Schools

OK, I have had enough of number crunching for the day with Part 1 and Part 2 of my 4th installment of Questioning "sadly mistaken when it comes to the facts..." regarding "...current gym space is being repurposed. It is more cost effective to build gym additions vs. classroom additions."

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Questioning "sadly mistaken" re: science labs

Elmbrook, Elmbrook 2008 Referendum, Elmbrook: nonresident students, High Schools

Please note, for some reason this reposted itself to March 25th. It should be dated and placed March 24th.

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Questioning "sadly mistaken" about gyms to arts at East, pt 2

Elmbrook, Elmbrook 2008 Referendum, High Schools

This is part 2 of the 4th installment from my series on Questioning "sadly mistaken when it comes to the facts".

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Questioning "sadly mistaken" about converting gyms to arts at Central, pt 1

Elmbrook, Elmbrook 2008 Referendum, High Schools, Truth

We are now getting into some of the more interesting aspects of our $62.2 million dollar question in this 4th installment from my series on Questioning "sadly mistaken when it comes to the facts".

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Questioning "sadly mistaken" re: libraries - UPDATED

Elmbrook, Elmbrook 2008 Referendum, Elmbrook: nonresident students, High Schools


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Questioning "sadly mistaken when it comes to the facts" re: referendum

Elmbrook, Elmbrook 2008 Referendum, High Schools

Often it seems that whenever people disagree with the school district about a program change such as the new Human Growth & Development curriculum, or what needs improving via referendum, if a citizen disagrees, that opposing person's view is chalked up to being uneducated or misinformed.

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$5,280 raise for Dr. Gibson answers the question

Elections, Elmbrook, High Schools, TAXES

Jessica Rasmussen reports, "The Elmbrook superintendent will see $5,280 added to his salary for the 2008-2009 school year.", so that answers my question from last week, Will Gibson get hefty raise this year?

"The School Board voted, 5-1, to approve the 4 percent package increase, which will bump Superintendent Matt Gibson's salary to $147,510." (Remember that Dr. Gibson's complete wage and benefit package is substantially more than just salary.)

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Lot$ of loot for locker$

Elmbrook, Elmbrook 2008 Referendum, High Schools, TAXES

While on tour at Central on March 4th, our tour guides Principal LaBonte and Shawn from the maintenance department repeatedly emphasized that they were keeping as much that was usable as possible for this referendum. That was good news.

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Two different referendums, two different tour themes

Elmbrook, Elmbrook 2008 Referendum, High Schools

It's been a busy few days at the Prast household, but this afternoon I had a little time and started working on a new posting. That required digging out my notes from last year's mechanical tours.

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Past referendum posts tagged & will Gibson get hefty raise this year?

2007 Referendum, Elections, Elmbrook, Elmbrook 2008 Referendum, High Schools, TAXES

I spent last night going through all of my past Practically Speaking postings from the last referendum up until Easter 2007. I gave them a quick read and made the appropriate subject tags.

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What did you think about the Link?

Education, Elmbrook, Elmbrook 2008 Referendum, High Schools

Yesterday I received my copy of the Elmbrook Link. What did you think about the information they chose to include?

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"Gluttonous greedy misers" don't usually propose spending more

Elmbrook, Elmbrook 2008 Referendum, High Schools, TAXES

Recently, a reader of my other blog, Brookfield7, sent me this comment anonymously regarding my "cynical view on today's children" and my "gluttonous greedy miser who can't spare money on the children who need it" attitude. I would encourage you to read it and see if you agree. 

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Elmbrook: We agree, nix the office cubes

Education, Elections, Elmbrook, Elmbrook 2008 Referendum, High Schools, TAXES

Although I am not in favor of the present $62.2+ million dollar referendum, I was pleased to see this practical solution for creating larger classrooms while on the Central High School Tour this week. They are proposing removing the approx. 8' x 9' office cubes from some of the classrooms.

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On tour at Central High School and forum

Education, Elections, Elmbrook, High Schools

Last night I took the tour of Brookfield Central High School before the Elmbrook Candidate Forum. It did not seem there was much interest in either event.  

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And then there were 3, Elmbrook Candidate Forum and tour tonight

Education, Elections, Elmbrook, High Schools

So much for any choice in School Board candidates: Brooks Fleming now dropped out of the school board race. But there is still the School Board Candidate Forum tonight at Central High School's library, 7:30 - 9:30pm.

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Virtually there: church, geysers, and classroom

Education, Elections, Elmbrook, High Schools, National Parks, TAXES

Technology can be a wonderful thing. Two weeks ago, we had that snowstorm warning on Sunday and the weatherman cautioned people to stay home. We were rather torn as to what to do, but since we just had 2 weather related fender benders that week, we chickened out and stayed home. The great thing was though, we did not need to miss our church service.

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Hillary, we agree, Steve Schwei, we do too!

Elections, Elmbrook, H. Clinton 2008, High Schools, Obama 2008

I have often said that if you wait long enough, there will be something that two opposing camps can agree on. Hillary Clinton and I do not see eye to eye on much, but when she gave her "Celestial Choir" speech the other day, we finally found our common ground!

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Don't forget your Elmbrook school survey

Elections, Elmbrook, High Schools

If you want to give the Elmbrook School District your 2 cents on their online Strategic Planning Survey, the deadline is this  Wednesday, Feb. 27.

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Elmbrook's new referendum mentioned on talk radio


You ask for the outrageous so that you can come back for the ghastly.

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Please Elmbrook, fewer open enrollement students, not more

Education, Elmbrook, Elmbrook: nonresident students, High Schools, TAXES

When I read the Community Watch posting, Board considers change in Open Enrollment* headline, I thought, at last they are starting to "get it".  (*Sorry, this is not a perm. link)

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4K discussion reveals disturbing trend

4-K, Education, Elmbrook, Family, Homeschooling

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4K discontinued despite emotions & irregularities

4-K, Elmbrook, TAXES

The room was packed; emotions ran high. Maybe 80 residents were in attendance? Judging from the Pro 4K-ers holding up little yellow "4K Yes" paper hands, they outnumbered those against maybe 5 to 1.  I thought to myself, Oh, this is going to be an emotion filled night. I was right. (My aside comments will be in parenthesis.)

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4K yellow hands and green trees

City of Brookfield, Elmbrook

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Bet room will be packed with pro 4K tonight

4-K, Elmbrook, TAXES

I hope you are planning to attend the school board meeting tonight. I am planning on being there. It will probably be a very late evening.

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4K solving budget woes=Lucy Ricardo math

4-K, Elmbrook, TAXES

I know I pick on Lucy Ricardo of I Love Lucy fame from time to time, but no other character so easily embodies ridiculous thinking when it comes to money. Lucy Ricard math is: the reasoning process by which Lucy justifies a faulty fiscal policy in order to finagle what she wants out of Rickey.

Currently, some Elmbrook administrators and board members are engaging in what I call, Lucy Ricardo math by thinking that by boosting enrollment, we can ease our budget woes.

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Public schools: safety net or drift net?

4-K, Education, Elmbrook, History, TAXES

Recently at a neighborhood party, a few of the moms were talking about school and the high cost of private school tuition. Two of them had their children enrolled in parochial elementary and high schools.

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4K--It's about the money

4-K, Elmbrook, TAXES

There are a couple things to note in yesterday's Brookfieldnow article. The first is the subtitle: Few academic gains, tax costs are concerns

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Speak up now: 4K vote next Tuesday

4-K, Elmbrook, TAXES

If you don't want the Elmbrook School District to implement a permanent 4K program, you better contact the board soon, or forever hold your peace. The board will vote on this next week Tuesday, Nov. 27.

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Can Elmbrook do that?

City of Brookfield, Elmbrook, Free

Someone brought to my attention that Wauwatosa Schools puts their school board meetings on Google video.

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Uncle Matt wants you--if you are 4 years old

4-K, Elmbrook, TAXES

If this picture and title seem a bit familiar, it is because I used it last April to discuss the district's desire to pull in every possible student--even if they were non-resident students. See: Uncle Matt wants you, even if it means we have to build bigger schools

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Does 4K deserve tax dollars?

4-K, Elmbrook, TAXES

On November 27th,  Elmbrook's school board will decide the very important question of should we continue or discontinue 4K. We do not get to vote for or against it; our only opportunity to influence that decision is to contact the board members.

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BIG NEWS! Elmbrook tells me they will be LISTENING!

4-K, Elmbrook, TAXES

It must be big news, Elmbrook sent out a special LINK* publication to tell me all about their two LISTENING SESSIONS coming up. 

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Did you notice the 4-K increase?

4-K, Elmbrook

Ever notice that when government or our school district is selling an idea the estimated price is lower than the real price? They start out a program (think foot in the door) and just keep expanding it--forever.

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No taxpayer tea party, at least not in Elmbrook

Elmbrook, TAXES

Here I was all set to blog something about your city, school district, state, and nation rationalizing a tax increase by saying,"It's only a such-in-such% increase in your tax bill?" and that it was time for a Boston Tea Party.

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Oh, what a surprise. Tonight, Elmbrook to discuss more 4-year-old kindergarten in a non-videotaped work session.

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