Thank you very much for your support. A special thank you to all the people who worked behind the scenes to make this happen. The referendums and election have been a divisive issue but it is never a bad thing for a community to get involved in the political process. I realize there are many in the community who are upset with the no vote and are concerned about where we go from here. First and foremost, my interest lies in ensuring the continued excellence of our school system. There are certainly many different thoughts on how to accomplish that but weighing the financial realities of our times should, in my opinion, be an extremely important factor. One thing I want to express is that I hope people will just step back for a moment and let things settle before making any drastic changes. I was talking the other night to some yes voters about open enrollment. I made a statement about eligibility for sports that they said was incorrect. Not knowing for sure, I checked the next day. They were right. I was wrong. I called them to confirm their position. Under WIAA transfer rules, students who transfer after completing four semesters in a school must sit out a year before they can compete in another school. If they transfer as freshmen or as sophomores but before the end of the school year, they don’t have to sit out.
However, if they transfer during the year (rather than at the start of the year), they may be limited to non-varsity competition only. There are other rules and regulations for certain specific situations. The above is an example of how I intend to interact with the community. I do not profess to have or know all of the answers. In the event anyone challenges a position I may take, I will do my best to support my position with facts and/or applicable rules and regulations or, if my position is inaccurate, I will say so and adjust accordingly. Increasing the public’s ability to participate in the regular school board meetings has been a hot topic of conversation. As someone recently told me, no one person can possibly know everything in terms of running a school district. The more the public is involved, the more likely informed decisions will be made. I have a suggestion that I am hoping someone will pick-up and run with. I would like to see a group of at least six volunteers form a public watchdog committee. A member from the group would attend each school board meeting. After each meeting, the attending member would write a short article for the local papers describing in his/her own words the happenings of the meeting. The more people involved, the better. If anyone would like to talk to me about this, please feel free to contact me. I would be happy to help put this in motion. I think most of us will agree that we have a strong community full of good people with good ideas. It is up to us to decide what kind of community we want to have. Parents have to do what they think is best for their kids. I am hoping if parents decide to move their kids out of our district it isn’t because the referendum failed or two new members have been elected to the board. If you are happy to live in Brodhead, if you are happy with the education your kids have had so far, if you want to support and encourage growth for our community and schools, I would ask that you give us a chance to show you we can do more with less. We can be mindful of the desires of the taxpayers while at the same time providing a school system that takes into account the best interests of our kids.
I disagree with the board’s decision to go to referendum to ask to exceed revenue caps. That is why I ran in the first place. Yes, I took some shots at the board but they were not, in my mind anyway, mean spirited. I certainly did not mean to personally attack anyone. I was attacking positions taken, not the people taking the positions. For the most part, I think our district is in pretty good shape. I think the board has done a fine job in years past. The difference today stems from economic changes that are going on all around us. Just because some-thing worked in the past doesn’t mean it will work going forward. I believe Al and I will bring new ideas to the board that perhaps others on the board don’t currently have. How can that be a bad thing? Saying that is not an attack on the current board members, it is simply a statement of where I am coming from.
There have been bridges burned and fences broken over the past few months on both sides of the issue. We, as a community, and we, the board members, need to decide if we are going to try and build new bridges and mend fences or if we are going to continue the divisive dialog with no hope of reconciliation in the immediate future. Perhaps I am being naïve and perhaps I am asking too soon for the wounds to heal, but how does letting the wounds fester help? I want to get to work. I want to start engaging with the public and with the board members. I want to start listening to creative ideas and expressing my own. I want to help bring this community back together again. I want to show our kids that adults can have differences and that communicating in an open and constructive manner to address conflicts is better than taking up fighting positions to try and force your position upon someone else. Sometimes there is no other choice than to defend oneself, but if a fight can be avoided, then by all means, that should be attempted.
I cannot tell you enough how excited I am to have this opportunity to be one of your new representatives on the board. I hope recent events only strengthen our community and schools. I hope we can be a model for other districts around the state. I hope the enthusiasm exhibited by many these past few weeks encourages others to get involved. I hope we do not let our differences of opinion bring our community and district to its knees. We cannot let that happen. As an administrator recently expressed to me, let’s agree that we can disagree on issues but let’s agree to not to be disagreeable.
Thank you once again for your support, for staying in touch with the issues and for giving us an opportunity to promote and facilitate a school system that you can be proud of.