Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Kiel Area School Board Annual Meeting

Annual School Board Meeting
October 25, 2010

The annual School Board meeting began with the call to order and the Pledge of Allegiance. Dr. Louise Blankenheim and Ruthie Rumpff spoke about the School District's Mission Statement, focusing on “future focused education.”

The discussion then moved to the Budget and the School Levy increase for 2010/2011. The information discussed prompted audience members, including myself, to question further and share concerns about the numbers being discussed.

Student enrollment has dropped off, from 1,452 in 2008/2009 to 1,407 in 2009/2010 and 1,394 in 2010/2011. This decline has resulted in less money from the state, which funds 59% of our students education. (Property taxes make up 31.5% and local grants cover the remaining 9.5% of the amount.) The student enrollment looks to continue to drop off as there are approximately 139 High School students in the graduating class this year (2010/2011) and only 90 Kindergarten students enrolled this year.

Among the issues discussed were the fact that the school district has to spend to the maximum to receive the maximum. This formula, put in place by the Board of Education at the state level, makes no sense when it comes to budgeting in a fiscally responsible manner. The Kiel School District set aside $686,057 so the budget would not run short last year. The state looked at that and said “you didn't spend that amount, we're going to give you that much less this year.”

When asked what portion of the health insurance was paid by the union teachers/staff, the answer was 5%. In the private sector, health insurance co-pays range from 15% to 50% and beyond. While this is negotiated by the Teachers Union and the School Board, there is very little room to negotiate. The unions aren't willing to settle for less, even if some of the teachers agree. They come back with the threat of arbitration which leads to expensive hearings and, most times, an increase in the terms for the teachers. The binding arbitration laws that are in place have so stifled our school district, and our city government, that it's nearly impossible to fight the unions and win. I did bring up the idea of communities joining together to fight the unions for better negotiations, especially when it comes to the teacher contracts, but I was told that “it's very difficult to work together.” If we don't stand together, we'll fall apart, and pay the taxes regardless.

The tax levy increase of $6,102,011 was approved. This increases our current levy amount of $860 per $100,000 of a home's value to $912 per $100,000 of a home's value, an increase of $52. While this may not seem like a great amount, consider that, with the approval of the Fire Station upgrades and additions, our taxes will go up approximately $52 as well. An increase like this on our taxes in these trying economic times is adding insult to injury.

I realize that sacrifices need to be made, but when the idea of having local businesses look at the schools to see what needs have to be addressed, and then getting the community involved in deciding what needs have to be addressed in a referendum is shot down with little or no discussion in favor of having an independent study of the district and its needs done (and at a significant cost), one has to wonder where the priorities of the School Board really lie. The referendum is in our future, and the study that the School Board is requesting proposals for is meant to “sell” it to the citizens of this city and school district.

Another topic of discussion was the request from the School Board to authorize the sale and/or disposal of school property if determined appropriate by the Board. This was denied and left as an open issue pending change of the language prohibiting the school from selling land or buildings without the community's approval. It didn't sound like this issue would be addressed until next year's Annual Meeting.

Other concerns were brought up as well. We all know that our young people need to be aware of what is happening in the world. However, we are a School District of a State of the United States. We are not a School District of the World. We need to teach our students about our own history, laws and citizenship (and its responsibilities) first, and then look outside our borders.

Curriculum replacements and upgrades are something every school district looks at and needs to be aware of. We were very unhappy with some of the curriculum being used and the lack of the fundamentals being taught to our children. I asked that when any curriculum comes up for review, that I, along with other parents, be able to research it, read and critique it. Even if we aren't utilizing Kiel Area School District for our children, we still want the best education for all of the students attending the schools.

I walked away from the meeting last night with an understanding of where the School Board is coming from, but with a very skeptical view of just how serious they are about cutting costs and minimizing the effect on the taxpayers. We need more people to get involved. The Valders School District had their Annual Meeting last week and had over 200 people there. We were lucky to have 30 people, including School Board members and District personnel.

Friday, October 15, 2010

October Meeting Notes

Meeting Notes for October Meeting

Call to order

Pledge of Allegiance

September Meeting Notes—none—only one person showed up besides us

Current issues discussed:

Voting transportation. Wisconsin Citizen's Involvement is offering rides to anyone who cannot get out to vote (just within the city limits of Kiel.) Call an elderly neighbor, check with friends. We need to make the voting accessible to all who will accept that responsibility.

Speaking up in churches. Our duty to God underlines our duty as citizens. As a Judeo-Christian country, we do need to keep politics apart from religion, but we need to support each other in our community in a Christian manner. This, to me, includes helping those less fortunate in providing an opportunity to perform their civic duty. Keep politics out of church, but offer rides to those needing it. Don't support any political candidate or party—keep it neutral.

Attending City Council meetings and School Board meetings. This is important because we need to be able to address our local government as much as possible on the issues that affect us. Do you have an opinion on the current fence issue? Do you have an opinion on who serves on the Library or School Board? How about the Binding Arbitration issues we face as a community? The only way we can make this known is to attend meetings. Boring they may be, as our 3rd graders say, but we need to keep our officials accountable to us—we hired them!

Take responsibility for our city. This falls on our shoulders. Too many times we are left wondering why ordinances are changed or new ones put in place. We need to shoulder the responsibility of being a citizen of this city, county, state, and country. We live here but it isn't without its cost. That cost is getting involved. Talk about politics with whoever you can engage in a respectful manner. Don't force your opinions down someone's throat, and don't let them do it to you. Listen to their opinions, and offer your own. Leave it at that. Do research your facts so you know they are the truth. Only the truth matters.

Open discussion. The floor was opened to those attending. Issues ranged from: the recent example of the stock market just prior to the crash that caused the Great Depression overlaid on the current stock market swings; the possibility of violence if the Republicans win the mid-term elections; the state of the state; the attitude of those in positions of authority and the lack of wanting to step outside our comfort zones to run for office for fear of failure.

Our next meeting will be on November 18, 2010. It will be at 6:30pm at the Stoelting House, Kiel, WI. Any questions or comments, please e-mail or call us at 920-894-1410.

Three Articles Well Worth Reading

You Thought I Was Kidding
"The definition of freedom is the absence of coercion or constraint in choice or action. Most North Americans claim to love freedom, yet I am constantly amazed at how easily we are willing to give it away for what government tells us is “your own good.”"

Dems' Demons: Voters Who Pay Attention
"The question in Wisconsin, as elsewhere, is whether the voters want more political cleverness of the kind that has gotten this economy into its present predicament."

Three Things Government Cannot Do
"Governments can provide certain services -- like protection of private property or defense from foreign enemies. Governments can also, through taxes, fees, and regulations, redistribute wealth and control some aspects of the goods and services that come to the market...Everything else that we are told that governments can do for us is fanciful fiction. "

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Editorial for Herald Times Reporter, Sheboygan Press and Tri-County News

Wisconsin Citizens Involvement, a local independent citizens group, (www.wisconsincitizens.blogspot.com) would like to support Jack Lechler (I) for the State Assembly District 27 seat. His opponent Steve Kestell (R) has been in this seat for 10 years and it is time for change. We believe Jack will bring new ideas to our state that is now $2.5 billion in debt and over 230,000 unemployed workers which Steve has been part of. Jack is running an independent campaign without any special interest money. On the other hand Steve Kestell has received $51,010.00 from special interest groups. This can lead a candidate to support laws or to introduce laws that help those who helped finance your campaign. Look at our current President who received millions of dollars from the unions and how he supports laws that bail the unions out or help them profit.

Some of the issues Jack supports are Term Limits which is needed to keep corruption to a minimum. Putting the control back in our local governments to allow the citizens decide what is best for the community, not the State legislature in Madison. Providing an ID to vote to help stop voter fraud. The last is to stop the train project cold in it's tracks.

Please elect an independent voice to our State Assembly and vote for Jack Lechler on November 2nd.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

October Meeting Date

The October meeting for the Wisconsin Citizen's Involvement group will be on October 14, 2010 at 6:30pm at the Stoelting House in Kiel.

Any questions can be directed to Patty or Randy at 920-894-1410.

Please come and get involved!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Support Jack Lechler (I) for the State Assembly District 27 seat

Wisconsin Citizens Involvement, a local citizens group, (www.wisconsincitizens.blogspot.com/) would like to support Jack Lechler (I) for the State Assembly District 27 seat. His opponent Steve Kestell has been in this seat for 10 years and it is time for change.

Jack will bring new ideas to our state that is now $2.5 billion in debt and over 230,000 unemployed workers which Steve has been part of.

Please elect an independent voice to our State Assembly and vote for Jack Lechler on November 2nd.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Whether you vote democratic, republican or independent party - remember to vote.

We need to get out and vote and use this right that was fought so hard for by these very courageous women.

Remember the timeline of voting rights in the United States:

1776 –White property owning males have the right to vote

1792 –New Hampshire eliminates property qualifications for voting

1856 –Some property qualifications in North Carolina are eliminated

1869 –Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution is passed giving African American males the right to vote

1870 –Fifteenth Amendment is ratified expanding the franchise to freed slaves and other African Americans

1920 –Native Americans who abandon their tribes earn the right to vote

1920 –The Nineteenth Amendment adopted in 1919 is ratified, giving women the right to vote

1923 –Asian Indians are given the right to vote

1924 –Non-citizen Indians born in the United States are declared citizens and given the right to vote

1943 –Chinese citizens are given the right to citizenship and the right to vote

1960 –Congress passes the Civil Rights Act of 1960

1965 –The Voting Rights Act is passed

1971 –the 26th Amendment is ratified, giving 18 year-olds the right to vote

Tuesday, November 2nd VOTE!!!!!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Debt mounts in States

As you can see in the chart that our state taxes raise and so does our debt. Doyle raised taxes in 3 of the 4 categories listed.

We need to get involved to fight this and stop trying to ignore it. If we continue to ignore the problems then the government will continue to "FIX" the problems and put us deeper in debt.

Also if you want to see our state debt click here:

This shows us that
we are now $50,675,306,764.00 in debt as a state which is $8,825 per citizen or $35,300 for a family of 4.