After reading this morning's West Bend Daily News, I couldn't help but feel like my computer chair was slowly leaning to the left... I found it "curious" to see that the exact same article was posted twice in the paper. Hmmm....
Publication:APD - West Bend Daily News;
Panel mulls referendum options
Alternative plan’s author says he can tweak his plan and work with district
By MITCH MAERSCH Daily News Staff
A community member’s alternative facility plan was heavily debated at Monday night’s Facilities Committee meeting, and Bart Williams said he is willing to tweak it to reach a draft on which the district, School Board and community can agree.
...I was there. This is a bit theatrical. It was not "heavily debated". To the contrary. The general audience, with the exception of two outspoken Jackson gentlemen (for obvious reasons) spoke in thanks and agreement to the plan presented by Williams. The only oppositional conversation came from the School Board members, who were picking apart William's hard-worked, intelligent plan. (The picking was supported by the fact that the Board did not give Williams' all the information he needed to give a complete referendum package. Shame on them...)
Williams and his wife, Jodi, on their own developed a $34 million alternative to the West Bend School District’s $68 million plan under consideration for a fall referendum. ----
He reminded the district to tell the truth about the second referendum. “Let’s be honest. We’re going to have another referendum,” he said. Superintendent Patricia Herdrich said solutions may change as time goes on, and board member Kathy Van Eerden said she took offense to the idea that the board is being dishonest.
... No offense needs to be taken if no offense is deserved. Mr. Williams is correct in asking the School Board to disclose the plan to hit us with a second referendum in two years, which will lead to an ultimate total cost package of over $130M.
Several (Let's be honest here, Mitch. MANY community members thanked Williams.) community members in attendance thanked Williams for his work and said the district and School Board seemed to be tearing apart Williams’ plan. Williams and the district have a recent, contentious past as Williams this month e-mailed a written complaint about Herdrich over whether or not 30 referendum options were available on the district Web site during the recent community survey period. A district legal opinion found no “intentional misleading or unresponsive communication” from Herdrich. Williams filed another written complaint over comments toward him made by School Board President Joe Carlson. A legal opinion on that has not been developed. Williams said he disagrees with the legal opinion and still claims he is right, but said after the meeting he is past it and wants to work with the district to develop a referendum.
...I obtained a packet of information from Mr. Williams following the meeting that includes every piece of information leading up to last night's presentation. If one reads through his information, it is readily noticed that the Ms. Herdrich withheld information and did not follow through with promises. I have learned, personally, that the district legal opinion does not work WITH the community.
“This was tremendous discussion,” he said of the meeting. “There is a middle ground there and we just have to find it.” The main difference between Williams’ and the district’s proposed plans is what to do with Badger Middle School. The district’s plan has a new school built on the same site. Williams calls for adding an elevator on the north end of the school, and a safe and secure entrance. He took a tour of the school with district officials just before the meeting. “You’ve got to start somewhere. That’s how I would address the Badger issue — over time,” Williams said.
...Absolutely right, Mr. Williams. Don't "sock it to us" all at once just because the former board mishandled funds and did not do the appropriate facilities care over the last ten years. The taxpayers should not suffer that type of fiscal punishment. Let's do what is "affordable" and "necessary".
At least three board members in attendance said they would not support a referendum that does not replace Badger.
...Let's see who votes for them next term.
Williams deemed Jackson Elementary to be the worst school, not Badger. At $17 million, Badger is the largest item on the district’s $80 million deferred maintenance plan. Superintendent Patricia Herdrich said Badger last spring was cited by the Office of Civil Rights for not being in compliance for handicapped access. That puts the district in danger of a lawsuit.
...And what has Ms. Herdrich done to bring this to light in the community? And why are we not pressing that as an immediate need in the referendum? Here was the answer we received last night "Because the school is not worth putting the money into. We need to address it by knocking down the school entirely and rebuilding a new facility."
Jackson Village Administrator Del Beaver said the public needs to understand the danger. Beaver said it took the village $600,000 and two years of legal fees to defend itself against a lawsuit claiming the village was in noncompliance, and he said that case was a “slam dunk.” “If you’re not scared of that, you ought to be,” Beaver said.
...Beaver has an obvious stake in this referendum. He was one of the two very vocal men (both of Jackson) who was driving home a lawsuit threat as a scare tactic to the audience.
Adding an elevator at Badger without updating the rest of the building to meet the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is allowed, but it must be done with a plan in place to address the rest of the ADA issues. Herdrich said the elevator would cover only seven of Badger’s 12 levels, and handicapped people using the school’s main entrance couldn’t access it because it’s on a different level. Another difference is Williams’ land costs in Jackson. He calls for a new Jackson Elementary School on a new site and built in a cost of $15,000 per acre. Board and Facilities Committee member Todd Miller said it’s closer to $90,000 per acre.
....Mitch fails to discuss how Williams' brought about his figures. Williams has previous experience in building new schools and has found that there are, many times, people who are willing to support a community project in a philanthropic way by either reducing the cost of the land sale or, even better, donating it to the community. Williams had various land estimates from lots currently for sale to back up his figures.
Class sizes were another issue. Williams’ projections use class sizes of "X" number of students in a class times "X" number of classes in a school, using district documents as a guide. Herdrich said those aren’t all the documents used to determine school capacities.
...This is because Williams (he stated) could not obtain them from Ms. Herdrich.
At Badger, for instance, the hallways are too narrow to allow "X" number of students in certain classrooms to remain within fire code. Williams took notes on all the comments and said he will do more work on his plan.
...I hope taxpayers are taking notice of how much work this man is putting into saving all of us some money with a more realistic referendum.
Miller said he is willing to use a portion of Williams’ plan in the referendum, but cited its holes. “I have a feeling when he plugs all those holes he’ll be up where we are (for cost),” he said.
...Williams admitted he would not have had the holes if he would have had cooperation from Ms. Herdrich in obtaining the appropriate information/records needed.
Regardless, some of the public suggested paring down Williams’ $34 million plan. “I predict the referendum’s going to fail. I don’t think the taxpayers can afford it this year,” said Dave Miller, 62.
...This goes without saying.
“You should seriously look at Mr. Williams’ plan and maybe tone it down.” The committee did not review community survey results addressing the proposed referendum as results were not yet available.
...The West Bend School District has a formal complaint filed against it from the Williams' citing the survey is "tainted" and "cannot be relied upon". Fully agree.
The School Board will see the results at Monday’s work session. Williams has a master’s in accounting and undergraduate degrees in finance, economics, and political science. He served one elected term on the New Berlin School Board. Jodi Williams has a bachelor’s degree in education. They are the parents of three children in the West Bend School District.
...Perhaps Mitch should have spent time interviewing some of the audience members to assure their readers that the general public feels as they do. Let's start hearing how the taxpayers REALLY feel instead of dumping the WB School Board/Jackson Village agenda into the newspaper menu and spoonfeeding it to us. We aren't swallowing it.