All content, of both the original and this blog, is written from my point of view and is my opinion. I believe it to be accurate at the time it is written. ~ Kyle Prast, Brookfield resident since 1986

Saturday, January 27, 2007

East High School will NOT have 4 min. response time if we relocate station #2

I don't know why I did not see this before. Look at the maps .

East High School is NOT inside the 4 minute window of Fire/EMS service. It currently looks to be within 2 minutes!

These days, with the bomb threats and violence in our schools, prompt Fire/EMS service has never been more important.

Did the Task Force just overlook the lack of East High School's coverage, or did they choose to discount that need because it did not fit into their plan? I don't know. It seems that they pick and choose which issues are important. Example: I was surprised that Chief Dahms and the Task Force did not think an immediate interstate access was necessary for a fire station location. In fact, they said at the HRPS meeting, a longer distance to the freeway would be a good thing. I would bet that if the station gets moved to Calhoun and Greenfield, an immediate freeway access will be needed, for safety sake.

It is becoming clear that something needs to be done to update the fire houses. That does not need to translate to relocating them to an inferior location.

All I ask is that people really look at the proposal and THINK it through! The aldermen need to study it for themselves before they vote.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The HRPS report: All 5 vote Yes, not all enthusiastic about the recommendation

While I really did not expect any other outcome from the Human Resource and Public Safety Committee meeting Wed. night, still the proceedings of the meeting disturbed me. The way the meeting was conducted fully illustrated why committees so frequently unanimously approve ill conceived proposals. It is often said: An individual is much more reluctant to be wrong alone than in a committee. That was certainly true Wed. night.

This is how the meeting unfolded:
Alderman Mahkorn, chair of the committee, asked for some background. Dean Marquardt gave a little history of our fire stations. He mentioned the cost to rebuild & relocate the stations has already been factored into our taxes so there would be no noticeable jump. He also cited a number of statistics that I do not buy into (to be addressed in a future blog).

First out of the gate to heartily support the Task Force resolution was Alderman Reddin. He approved the move because it was best for the majority of people.

Next Alderman Balzer said he did not have a problem with moving station #2 (Lilly & Capitol), because it needed updating. He also wanted the City to engage in further negotiations with the Town for the 4th station. His next response surprised me—it is not in his district. He said, station #3 (Moorland) is in a good location near the expressway, hotels, (etc.), it should be rebuilt on that spot.

Alderman Garvins concurred with the Task Force: move them and sell off the old land.

Alderman Franz agreed with Balzer: Station #3 should stay where it’s at and we should keep negotiating. “Are we still trying to negotiate”, he asked?

Mahkorn realizes he has 2 no votes. The measure would still pass, but he wants consensus. So he now tries to deflate Balzer and Franz’s position of keeping #3 where it is. He defines Franz’s statement as: keep #3 where it is because we might be able to work out an arrangement with the Town. (Trouble is, I don’t know if that was his position. It seemed to me Franz just thought #3 was in the best position regardless of the Town’s offer.) Then Mahkorn adds, I would be surprised if the Town’s proposal would come to pass—it shouldn’t be considered tonight. Then he goes to the big gun: “Would the Town’s offer change your opinion Chief Dahms?”

Chief Dahms, a bit taken aback, but explains: We’ve exhausted exploratory efforts...This is a tough question. Then he quotes the report: Relocation of 2 & 3 captures 13% more people into the 4 min. travel zone, reaching 70 % of households, etc. etc.

Mahkorn then goes on about how we made every effort to negotiate and how the current gesture won’t come to pass. He states his support for the resolution because he cannot justify leaving the (poor) quality of those buildings. (What happened to remodeling or rebuilding at the same location?) He goes on justifying his rationale for supporting the Task Force findings. That rationale was so illogical (too much to go into here, it will be a future blog).

Balzer then states his position again: I think everyone on the panel agrees that the fire stations need rebuilding, but I really have a problem about moving #3. You talk about a life threatening situation—needing to get to the freeway is very important! We need to discuss 1 more time with the Town—you don’t know if/where we are going to have an entrance to the freeway (at Calhoun).

Mahkorn: Would you still feel that way if the town wouldn’t work out?

Balzer: No, but I need to try one more time. Station #3 covers the whole east end and moving it covers ½ of New Berlin! (That fact does not change if the Town addition works out or not!)

Mahkorn clearly does not want to let Balzer be. He pressures Balzer to cave.

Reddin then says, I agree about the Town—it would be silly not to find out what the Town would do. But we should still move ahead and then if the Town works out, great.

Now Mahkorn works on Franz. Would your decision be the same if the Town would not work out? Franz mumbles something inaudible. Must have been a “no” because then Mahkorn asks Marquardt to fashion a motion.

The committee chats while Marquardt works on the motion. Balzer does not like it. He says he is uncomfortable without an amendment about the Town negotiations...he would have to vote NO because he wants to see more negotiating on this.

Reddin says there are plenty of chances to weigh in on this. (He may be too new to realize that the more times something passes committees, the more compelling the measure becomes. Few things ever get voted down later.)

Balzer then asks Dahms, What are your thoughts if we had a Town agreement? Would #3 still need to be moved? Now Dahms really is at a loss for words. He cites the track record of failure, then says #3 would not necessarily need moving, but adds, if located at Calhoun, the fire crew could go either to Barker or Moorland’s entrance ramps.

Mahkorn again states he has never been adverse to negotiating and Balzer again states his reservations about moving #3. Mahkorn really pushes, But if the Town isn’t which Balzer states, We need 1 more try!

The motion language is set—the committee approves the Task Force recommendations with the condition the Council pursues providing fire service to the town for the originally discussed (terms?). 5 yea votes, Balzer adds, Reluctantly.

So there you have it. Under cross examination, the witness caves in. Mahkorn is good at what he does, he is an assistant district attorney after all! The sad part is, no one ever questioned if the Task Force recommendation was a good one or not. It was an all or nothing proposition. It did not have to be. Such is life in Brookfield.

Whose Master Plan are we following anyway? Part 3

As I stated in What is our City thinking? Moving the fire stations is a BIG MISTAKE!, moving the fire stations is illogical. When things don’t add up, follow the money. Who does it make sense for?

This is the way I see it, in 3 parts. (Read Part 1 and Part 2 first)
Part 3:
At present, there is discussion that our fire stations are in need of extensive repairs and remodeling. The city says the remodeling will cost almost as much as new buildings. The idea of relocating them and building new is explored by a task force. The cost for this is between $4 and $6 million. Relocated where? Calhoun Road! All three on the same road. No matter that the area without 4 minute response times has increased, and the area of overlapping 4 minute response times increased too.

Station 3 would be relocated to Calhoun near Greenfield; station 2 to Calhoun near Capitol. Interestingly, both new locations are very near the developer’s properties (Capitol Heights, Willow Brook, Stanford Place, Berkshire Heights, Berkshire Hills, The Haven, and Vincent Park in the north). These properties now all fall within the 4 minute zone. Somehow, this benefits him: lower insurance rates possibly? His future convention center property already was in the Moorland fire station 4 minute zone, but he needed the station moved to Calhoun Road to legitimize the new Calhoun interchange.

The new site on Greenfield and Calhoun Road may not have been considered for a fire station if that south of the interstate section of Calhoun remained a 2 lane road at 25 mph. But, not to worry, the widening to 4 lanes and increase to 35mph has already been approved. People are objecting to the Calhoun relocation site for many reasons. Some point out it has no immediate interstate access. Not to worry, again: The neutral replacement bridge could accommodate an interchange! So, moving fire station 3 creates an artificial need to add an interchange.

You can see the relocation of fire station 3 is the key to the developer’s convention center success. That relocation will set into motion the remaining pieces of the puzzle for the developer’s convention center (or whatever he is planning). The fire station move will validate the road widening (conveniently already included in a previous budget?) It will necessitate the interchange addition at Calhoun to provide a faster response time to interstate accidents.

Where is the developer in all of this? That remains a mystery. Can we assume he is not involved at all in city planning? No, we cannot. Why? Because historically, he was involved in discussions with the City concerning the trade for Swanson school (Remember the Swanson Swap was a school district issue not a city issue.)

The developer is a very intelligent man and is good at what he does: He builds beautiful properties (too dense, but attractive). He is patient. He is careful not to have filed any plans yet with the city. When asked what he is planning for that vacant parcel, the city can say, we don’t know—no plans have been filed. Yet the city is planning a colossal widening project for the adjacent roadway, fire protection, and an interchange as if they do know.

You tell me, whose master plan are they following?

Coming up next: Report from the HRPS committee

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Sorry Steve, they are calling it $100 million!

I am sure by now you have heard the $99.3 million dollar high school referendum was approved by our school board in a 6-1 vote. Thanks Patrick Murphy for standing up for the taxpayers! Sad to say Tom Gehl voted for it.

Steve Schwei knocked $500,000 off from the price tag in an effort to massage the public's perception of the referendum as $99 million instead of $100 million. (Much like retailers calling something $9.99 rather than $10.00.) I am sure the voters will be fooled by that one!

This morning on the news, the reporter spouted the headline: Elmbrook approves a $100 million referendum, the most expensive in state history. Sorry Steve, your plan did not work.

More about this later...I can only deal with one horrendous waste of taxpayer money at a time!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Whose Master Plan are we following anyway? Part 2

As I stated in What is our City thinking? Moving the fire stations is a BIG MISTAKE!, moving the fire stations is illogical. When things don’t add up, follow the money. Who does it make sense for?

This is the way I see it, in 3 parts. (Read Part 1 first)
Part 2:
The entire section of Calhoun Road between Bluemound and Greenfield is in great need of repaving. The north section, from Bluemound to the interstate, could use some lane improvements. The stretch south of the interstate is purely residential and posted at 25mph. It is not heavily used. Somehow the city’s engineering department is portraying this section as heavily used--needing widening and an increase in speed limit!

Residents from all over the city don’t want this change; they know this is overkill! The proposed size and scope seems foreign to their suburban senses. They know the increased roadway width and speed limit will also increase the traffic volume. This project is expensive. There is evidence that the traffic count projections are way too high.

The city’s own 2020 Master Plan shows the north section with only an additional lane, and the south stretch just minimally widened. This does not matter—the city projects an artificial need: we need to widen this road for safety reasons and then proceeds with its plans to widen it to the width of many city highways.

Because of the widened road, the interstate overpass bridge is no longer adequate. It now needs to be replaced, even though the DOT has no plans to replace it for years to come. Brookfield taxpayers must now shoulder the expense of the premature replacement rather than it being a routine state expense.

The replacement interstate bridge is deemed interchange neutral, even though its configuration is obviously preparing for an interchange. Most Brookfield residents, according to a city survey, did not list an interchange as a priority. The DOT does not believe this is a good location either, citing that an interchange at Calhoun and I-94 would be dangerous, because it is less than 1 mile from the Moorland interchange. These objections do not matter—the city proceeds with its plans to replace the bridge in a non- neutral interchange fashion.

To be continued...

Whose Master Plan are we following anyway? Part 1

As I stated in What is our City thinking? Moving the fire stations is a BIG MISTAKE!, moving the fire stations is illogical. When things don’t add up, follow the money. Who does it make sense for?

This is the way I see it, in 3 parts.
Part 1:
Suppose there was a developer who wanted to build a huge convention center on Bluemound Road. He saw the potential in some vacant farm land on Bluemound and in an adjacent older farm on Calhoun Road. Calhoun is just a two lane, rural road; however, it does pass under the interstate. The developer knows an interchange and widened road are necessary for a successful convention center. Successful developments translate to good return on investment.

There is also a small strip mall, gas station, and office building on the corner of this acreage, but the developer knows in due time, those could be purchased too. The strip mall and gas station owners do not want to sell. Eminent domain may be necessary to obtain those properties. He can wait for them.

Unfortunately, there is a grade school located in the middle of this prime real estate on the Calhoun side. How could he get that? In May of 2003, he offers to build the community a new school on the district’s land a few miles east of this location in exchange for the existing grade school.

Meanwhile, he purchases the old Ruby farm and vacant WTMJ land, and buys the tiny office building too. That just leaves the school, gas station and strip mall. Once those properties are obtained, the entire corner is his. Unfortunately, the community isn’t so thrilled with his swap idea and they vote it down--big time. Once, in an interview, this developer attributed his success to his patience. He probably has not given up on the idea of owning the school property.

To be continued

The fire station issue is heating up, pardon the pun

In essence, the Fire/EMS Task Force told the people of Brookfield that relocating the fire stations was necessary because the Town of Brookfield was not interested in sharing services. Sharing services made perfect sense: The town could cover most of the uncovered southwest area in our city. Moving the fire stations to the same road, within a power walk distance from each other, did not make sense: It left 2 large sections of the densely populated east side uncovered and overlapped coverage with our other stations.

Now the Town puts a fly in the Mayor’s ointment: They send a letter to the mayor and aldermen saying, it’s not true we aren’t interested in sharing services! In fact, they give us a free trial offer of sharing fire/EMS service “at no cost” to the city. (Be sure to check pages 3 & 4 of the letter to view the coverage maps.)

"I need something substantial that I can take to my council," he said. You could interpret that statement at face value: He wants to make sure the coverage is adequate.

Some skeptics might translate that: I need to figure out how I can put a negative spin on their free offer because I really want the fire stations moved! (Why he wants them moved will be covered in a future blog, Whose Master Plan are we following anyway?)

Alderman Lisa and Jerry Mellone sum up the situation beautifully on their website, "For the long term benefit of all taxpayers it is time to accept the town’s offer for a joint committee of elected officials and staff to work towards an agreement."

I could not agree more. Too bad Lisa or Jerry are not on the Human Resource and Public Safety Committee. They are meeting tomorrow (Wed. 7pm) to discuss and possibly act on the Fire/EMS Task Force’s recommendation to move the fire stations. They could approve, amend, or reject the Task Force recommendation. The committee consists of Reddin, Mahkorn, Garvens, Balzer, and Franz.

What do we have to lose by giving this shared service plan a try?
Non-Elected Officials and Fire Stations: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Don't miss the photos in Part 4
Links:Betterbrookfield and brookfieldnow
You may wish to check out too. It looks like blogger Matt Thomas will touch on Brookfield, county, and state issues from time to time.
Brookfieldnow’s local officials link page

Saturday, January 20, 2007

What is our City thinking? Moving the fire stations is a BIG MISTAKE! (UPDATE)

I don’t know why I did not think of this sooner. Maybe because it was so obvious, it was inconceivable that our city would not have taken it into consideration: IF THE CITY OF BROOKFIELD HAS DESIGNS ON ANNEXING* THE TOWN OF BROOKFIELD, WHY WOULD THEY MOVE THEIR ONLY EAST SIDE FIRE STATIONS CLOSER TO THEIR NEWLY ACQUIRED WEST SIDE FIRE STATION? (Town of Brookfield's fire house on Bluemound and Janacek Rds.--near Fun World)

It is pretty obvious that the City of Brookfield is interested in annexing the Town of Brookfield. Our borders have been steadily expanding to the west over the years, and it was a topic of discussion during the last mayoral campaign. Mayor Speaker even funded a study on the feasibility of annexation.

So if we are gradually moving in the westerly direction, why would we choose to move our east side fire stations in that direction too? What would be the motivation to do that?

If you get out a Brookfield map, you can see that the City of Brookfield is divided into 1 square mile sections—bordered by our major roads. UPDATE: The Town sent this proposal to Mayor Speaker and the aldermen on Saturday. Pages 3 & 4 show the existing locations and proposed. (More on this in a later blog.)

Fire Station 2, on Lilly and Capitol, is situated 1 mile south of our city’s border with Butler/Menomonee Falls and 1 mile west of Wauwatosa. Currently, its farthest boundary to the west is 3 ½ miles—and that last ½ mile is sparsely populated. So we could say the maximum area served is 3 miles to the west plus 1 mile north or south of Capitol. Any location within its territory, in general, would be within 4 miles of travel.

Fire Station 3 is located about ½ mile north of our southern boundary with New Berlin and 2 miles from our densely populated eastern border with West Allis. It is 3 miles from our not so populated western border with the Town of Brookfield. Most of its territory would be within a 4 mile travel distance. Its present location is ideally suited to the “HOT ZONE” of the interstate, hotels, and Brookfield Square.

Fire station 1 at the Safety Building, is located 3 miles from our east/west and north/south boundaries—right in the center of our community. It can serve the northwest area, due west, or even the south. Currently, it is serving the western most area of the city along Gebhardt or North Ave. at a total travel distance of 3 ½ to 4 miles. This 3 ½ to 4 mile distance must be an acceptable travel distance, since this distance will not be improved under the NEW FIRE STATION LOCATION plan.

Now look at proposed locations for Fire Station 2 & 3. Moving them to Capitol & Calhoun and Greenfield & Calhoun will NOT improve the east/west distances. Station 2 will still have a maximum of 4 miles or more travel distance, and station 3 will be moved away from the HOT ZONE and have maximum of nearly 4 miles travel distance.


Now if you factor in the possibility of either forming some agreement with the Town of Brookfield for sharing their Town Hall fire house (just 1 ½ miles west of Calhoun Road). OR, jump to the future when the Town is annexed to the City. We will now have all of our fire stations within 2 to 2 ½ miles of each other but still have the maximum travel distances over 4 miles to the east. THIS DOES NOT MAKE ANY SENSE!!!

When things do not make logical sense, follow the money. Who does it make sense for? Certainly not the taxpayers.

Coming up in my next blog: Whose Master Plan are we following?

The Brookfield News article, “Fire service issue continues to smolder between city, town” posted that residents with questions about this relocation should call Director of Administration Dean Marquardt at 262-796-9650 and Fire Chief John Dahms at 262-782-8932. I would think you could email Marquardt too. I could not find him on the new website, but you might try or put his name in the subject line and email to

Contact the Aldermen and City officials with your concerns. The Fire/EMS Task Force Report Public Information Meeting question/comment form reads:
The purpose of this meeting is to gather information from interested residents through written questions and provide a broad overview of the Task Force work to date. Staff will research and provide a written response for each question. This information will be assembled into a report and presented to the elected officials for their policy deliberation. Your questions, concerns and other relevant information to this project are an important part of the public policy process. Be sure to include your name, address, and phone number with your comments.

City of Brookfield Fire Station Information

Brookfieldnow blogger Robert Flessas: Non-Elected Officials and Fire Stations:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Town offers fire service to city

Fantasy vs. Reality

3 Fire sations all in a row. Really? A Want? A need? Or just illogical?

You may wish to check out too. It looks like blogger Matt Thomas will touch on Brookfield, county, and state issues from time to time.
*FYI I am not in favor of annexing the Town. I believe the Town should have the right to remain the town. I do believe in cooperation however.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Good News! The Bennett amendment to Senate bill 1 passed: Free speech is protected

Here it is, short and sweet: Your calls and emails paid off!

This update came to me from my Home School Legal Defense group:

Last night, the U.S. Senate approved the Bennett amendment by a vote of 55-43. American citizens will remain free to organize and contact their congressional representatives without being forced to comply with federal regulation and oversight.

We have reports from Congress that your outpouring of calls made the difference.

Thank you so much for making the time and sacrifice to call your U.S. Senators asking them to support the Bennett Amendment to Senate Bill 1 (S. 1), the "Legislative Transparency and Accountability Act of 2007.

Thank you for standing with us for liberty.

J. Michael Smith
President, HSLDA
(Emphasis added)

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Protect free speech & grassroots efforts: Call your U.S. Senators today! (UPDATED)

First bill out of the new Senate deals with stomping on our right of free speech: Senate Bill 1, the Legislative Transparency and Accountability Act of 2007, (Section 220). Everyone’s right to free speech? Nope. Only pro-family grassroots style organizations. (Groups like the AFA mentioned in Strength in numbers translates to policy changes.)

Whether you share the values of these types of groups or not, the principle of restricting free speech is alarming. These groups are only doing what I try to do: alert you about issues affecting your life and then urge you to contact the officials involved in making the decision.

Why? Some members of Congress are tired of getting emails and phone calls! It seems that organizations such as the American Family Association and Focus on the Family are too effective in getting their message out to their concerned members about controversial legislative issues. Unbelievably, the Senate wants to curtail these types of organizations from availing themselves of inexpensive alerting methods such as email or websites.

Instead, the new bill would require grassroots organizations to jump through all sorts of expensive hoops when alerting their members. The new bill also includes civil fines of up to $100,000 for failing to comply with their new restrictions. (The bill defines grassroots lobbying firms as any organization that encourages 500 or more members of the public to contact Congress.)
(UPDATE) According to Focus on the Family - Action, "most of the bill deals with cleaning up recent lobbying scandals that have plagued the halls of our government. While most of the bill is good, it contains...section 220, which will severly limit your ability to stay abreast of important issues...harming the ability of share that information with you." (Emphasis added)

Senate Bill 1 makes exemptions for larger, organized groups who employ paid lobbyists, who don’t dominantly rely on public communication to get their messages out.

The American Family Association (AFA) reported, “Basically these new rules were written to isolate pro-family (type) organizations. Large corporations (which spend millions in lobbying expenses) would be exempt. Communications aimed at an organization’s “members, employees, officers or shareholders” would be exempt. That means that groups such as the AFL-CIO,, National Education Association and other organized groups would be exempt.”

Not every Senator is in agreement with Senate Bill 1. Senator Robert Bennett has introduced an amendment cosponsored by Senator Mitch McConnell to strike section 220 from S. 1.

The amendment (amendment 20) could come up for a vote on the floor of the Senate as early as next Tuesday. Please call your U.S. senators and urge them to support the Bennett amendment (amendment 20) to S. 1.

Your message can be as simple as:

"I am very concerned about the grassroots lobbying provisions in section 220 of Senate Bill 1, the 'Legislative Transparency and Accountability Act of 2007.' Please support the Bennett amendment (amendment 20) to remove section 220 from S. 1. Organizations should not have to register with Congress in order to ask citizens to contact their elected officials."

You can reach our U.S. senators by calling their U.S. Capitol offices or Milwaukee offices: Kohl 202-224-5653 or 414-207-4451 and Feingold 202-224-5323 or 414-276-7282. Any senator may be contacted by calling the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. (I called each office and they said they were getting many calls. We need to flood them!)

If you care to read more about this or sign an online petition, you may on the AFA’s action alert page, click here. Focus on the Family - Action also has an info page and online petition, click here. Neither one include the Bennett amendment 20 information, however, so you still need to call our senators.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Fantasy vs. Reality

Have you ever remodeled? We did in 1995. When deciding on the scope of our project, our first consideration was BUDGET. How much could we afford? Budget constraints dictated our project’s size.

Now think about the price tags on the proposed 2 high schools renovations (around $110 million for reno and field houses) and 2 fire station remodeling estimates (I think that was around $4-5 million). They are nearly the cost of building entirely new facilities of $125 million and $6 million. How can that be? Is that by coincidence or design?

A few reasons pop into my mind: remodeling costs per square foot are higher than new construction, a BUDGET was never considered to be necessary, and they want you to logically conclude that remodeling is foolish—you need to build new!

If I came to you (that middle of the road average priced homeowner in Brookfield) and said, What don’t you like about your home? What do you want to change? I suspect the price tag on that fantasy remodeling job would be much higher than building a new home with all the features and space your imagination could conjure up.

But, what if I came to you and said, What items absolutely need repairing or improving? You have $25,000 to $50,000 to spend. You then might get serious and say, well, my roof needs replacing, or since we had the twins, we could use an extra bedroom.

You would then work out a remodeling budget and get SEVERAL bids for the project.

Is this how our city or school district does it? According to the 2 Fire Station remodeling project estimates and 2 high school remodeling cost estimates it does not seem so.

We, the taxpayers, must live in the real world. Our government lives in the fantasy world of: the taxpayers are footing the bill so why should we hold back?

3 Fire sations all in a row. Really? A Want? A need? Or just illogical?

You may wish to check out too. It looks like blogger Matt Thomas will touch on Brookfield, county, and state issues from time to time.
Join the

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The community spoke; 4 on the school board ignored (+ Correction)

I am disgusted by the Elmbrook board’s approval for expanding 4-K. The community appealed to them with a tremendous outcry of don't do it, but Sylla, Ziegler, Ford, and Schwei voted yes anyway. Whatever shred of good will they had created with the community since the Swanson Swap, I believe was just destroyed. The 4-K program will not stay within that *$97/year tax range. It cannot. It will be a needless burden to the Elmbrook taxpayers, compromising other real, needed programs. (*Correction: The per year figure is estimated at $67 not $97/year, although the $97 I stated is probably closer to the truth, when all is said and done!)

One only needs to look at the facility space, or lack of it, to know 4-K will lead us in the direction of more building referendums. If you don’t have the room to start the project now, in an era of lower enrollments, how does the district think this can possibly work when enrollments rise again? (Kindergarten space is not interchangeable with regular classroom space--it is some of the most expensive classroom space in an elementary school. Kindergarten classrooms are larger and have self contained restrooms.)

Cheri Sylla did tell me that the district could always drastically limit the open enrollment students, as Mequon (?) recently did, to control the size of the program and upper grade class sizes. I doubt that will ever happen though, it never has so far. Elmbrook’s policy to date is: once enrolled in the Elmbrook system, always enrolled—until graduation.

Oh, that is right; we can contract with the private sector to house these 4-K students. What a great idea! Why, we never need to build another school ever again! All we need to do is contract with the private sector for needed classroom space. This could be the answer to our facility needs at the high school level too. No need to build those $100 million schools, just rent some of that vacant retail or office space that abounds in Brookfield.

My next blog: Why does remodeling cost the same as building new? I will try not to be sarcastic.

Articles and Posts: Yes, they think you’re stupid. I particularly liked the two ideas: Our own community focus team and adding tax conscious referendums.

Elmbrook board prepares revamp plans

Links: and You may wish to check out too. It looks like blogger Matt Thomas will touch on Brookfield, county, and state issues from time to time.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

UPDATED: Last chance to speak out against 4-K

The Elmbrook School Board will vote on the 4-K issue at their meeting this Tuesday, 6 pm, Jan. 9, 2007 (13780 Hope Street). Attend if you can; voice your opinion!

Please contact each board member, prior to the meeting, and express your concerns about implementing 4-K. I would not recommend email, since I have only heard back from one member regarding my original email questions and concerns. Phone numbers are listed on the board's contact information page. (UPDATE: 2 board members I spoke with said they did get my earlier email, but said they received so many that they were not able to respond.)

I plan on calling and asking them:
How much do we, the Elmbrook taxpayers, pay for each Elmbrook student?
The board members in favor of 4-K will tell you we gain state aid for each student, BUT be aware that the amount gained is nowhere near the amount spent!!! (More about that below.)

How are we, the taxpayers, supposed to pay for this AND their proposed high school renovations? The 4-K implementation is to cost the average household $67 additional tax dollars per year; the high school renovations costs are around $315/year. That is nearly a $400 increase! The $67 is an estimate, but you know it will be higher once all the costs are factored in. Don’t forget the coming expenses of $1.7 million for renovations at Fairview South and the new heating plant for $2.5 million at Pilgrim Park Middle School.

Why should we start a 4-K program when we already do not have the facility space to carry it out? Their proposed 4-K program requires partnering with the private sector in order to have enough classroom space. What happens next year when the private sector classroom providers decide they have us at a disadvantage and wish to raise our rent? What happens when we crowd our 4-K space with non-resident students? Our district has a policy that once a student is enrolled, they may attend Elmbrook schools for their entire 14 years of schooling. The 4-K program will adversely impact high school space.

I asked Bob Borch, the Assistant Superintendent for Finance & Operations, what the amounts of reimbursement for resident, open enrollment, and 220 students were. This is his response to my question:
“Resident student count is used as part of the formula for determining the amount of equalization aid, along with property value and costs. (The chart he sent stated Elmbrook received, from the state, $1,701 per resident student.) Open enrollment funding is not a state aid, it is a transfer between school districts based on the number of students who go from one district to another. It is coordinated through the state as part of their funding mechanism. The amount per student for open enrollment is set by the state (last year was $5,435) and is a state-wide number. Chapter 220 aid is another different formula and is based on each district's prior year costs and the number of 220 students. It generates about $10,000 per year per student.”

On the surface, you may think the taxpayers benefit from adding resident, non-resident open enrollment*, and 220 students*, BUT when you look at the total cost per student of about $12,300, you see each additional student is an expense to the taxpayers—not a benefit. We Elmbrook taxpayers must make up nearly all of the remaining portion of the per student costs. Therefore, each additional resident student, costs the taxpayers about $10,599. Each open enrollment student costs us $6,865, and each 220 student costs us an additional $2,300. (Figures are approximate.) Of course the 4-K students are part time (so far) and their costs would be adjusted accordingly.

The educational benefits of 4-K just do not warrant the expense and negative impact of 4-K on the Elmbrook School District, facilities and budget. Our district must prioritize its real needs and separate them from their unnecessary wants. To do otherwise is imprudent and a disservice to the taxpayers.

*This figure would pertain to non-resident students that are not filling in the excess space in a classroom. Typically, these students would be in the upper grades. No study has ever been done, to my knowledge, to truly get a grasp of the real cost of adding non-resident students to the district in excess space or otherwise.

Links: and You may wish to check out too. It looks like blogger Matt Thomas will touch on Brookfield, county, and state issues from time to time.