April 5, 2011 Elmbrook School Board Ballot Picks: Brunner & Write-In Kormanik (Yes, that was Brunner! UPDATED)
Yes, it is true! I am voting for Dick Brunner for Area 1 Elmbrook School Board Member.
Here is my sample ballot with all my picks selected: David Prosser for Supreme Court Justice, LloydCarter for Circuit Court Judge, Branch 1, and School District of Elmbrook Board Members: Richard Brunner for Area 1 and Write-In Nancy Kormanik for Member-at-Large.
Why Brunner? (Pictured left) He is the more conservative of the 2 men running. Notice, I did not say he was a conservative, just that he was more conservative. While they both* support 4K, (*Brunner just emailed me to clarify that he is "not necessarily a proponent of 4K, but [he] would consider it as an option if appropriate"), at least Dick Brunner realizes if we cannot reduce the budget by other means, we must close some of our existing schools because of excess capacity. He has stated this privately to me in an email as well as publicly at the Candidate Forum.
He wrote, "As it stands now, we're in a box if the [enrollment] numbers don't change. We have to work within our revenue limits and expenditures. Expenses have to go down. We have two choices: lay off teachers and increase class size or close schools. Closing schools won't save nearly as much as layoffs though. I've been looking at administrative staffing and [it] appears that they are VERY well staffed!"
Brunner also wrote this about his financial background, "I was employed by Waukesha County for 16 years as a financial manager. During that time, I was the primary architect of the annual budget. Each budget was scrutinized line by line and the responsible manager was asked to fully justify each item. If this technique was applied to the Elmbrook budget, I believe we could make a substantial cut in the deficit. ...I sincerely believe that there are substantial amounts of fat in that budget."
He closed with this statement, "I am committed to our students getting the best education possible..."
So, Richard Brunner has my vote, while Mr. Moe seems to think that renting out vacant old school space could be a money maker. History would not prove that to be true, but he can believe what he wishes.
UPDATE: I see from the comments, that this race needs a bit more explanation. Ken Moe was a former Superintendent for Brown Deer schools. Superintendents historically are in favor of growing their empires. It was true of our former Elmbrook Superintendent Cronin, who pushed numerous building referendums at the community, and is true of our present Superintendent Matt Gibson, who was hired in 1995 because of his reputation of passing building referendums. (By the way, some fought against these referendums because data showed declining enrollment.)
Even now in the face of our schools only operating at 70% capacity, Moe still doesn't believe we need to close a school. Keep in mind even if we rent out the space, which is VERY difficult to do at a profit, or even at a loss, these buildings still need maintaining--think heating, lawn care, boiler care, roof repairs, etc. The roofs need resurfacing regardless of occupation and is a huge expense. These costs are what Tom Gehl referred to as OPERATING COSTS, and a reason to close a school if too high.
In shopping for a new Superintendent, would you rather have an empire builder on the board or someone who realizes our financial shortfall and need to cut back. It is your choice.
For the Member-at-Large position, I am voting for Nancy Kormanik (pictured in the center). Since I have written much about Kormanik's candidacy already, perhaps this would be a good time to explain why I cannot support Kathryn Wilson. (Sandra Schultz was never a consideration since she is pro 4K and anti school closings.)
Had I not entered into some back and forth with Kathryn Wilson regarding 4K in mid February, I easily could have had a Wilson sign in my yard right now. But after some email exchange and conversation, it became clear to me that I no longer trusted Wilson's judgment on what constituted a priority in the Elmbrook School District.
In a nutshell, though Kathryn Wilson agreed with me that 4K had no real academic value and no real revenue enhancement value, she still was supportive of it. She admitted it would probably fail if the vote was taken, but she felt it was important because parents wanted it. This wasn't a little wobble in her former position, it was a complete about face.
When I pressed her that taxpayers shouldn't be asked to fund an unnecessary 4K program, she then wondered what we could cut out of Elmbrook's budget to afford 4K outright--that we would take the state reimbursement but not charge the remainder of the cost to the Elmbrook taxpayers by increasing the tax levy. In other words, Elmbrook would absorb the extra cost within their existing budget.
That really shocked me, since the whole reason the Enrollment Management Study Team was considering starting 4K was that it would increase Elmbrook's revenue via new taxes. Why were we looking at these options if there were areas in the budget we could cut to make up the $16 million budget shortfall for the next 5 years?
So Wilson was willing to divert scarce funds from what we are told is money needed for valuable programs in Elmbrook, to start an academically unnecessary 4K program?
I retorted if there was excess money in the budget, it should be used for building maintenance, and referred to the maintenance deferment article--that we needed to be a better steward of our buildings. She agreed. (I have since found out that East High School's roof is leaking onto the newly tiled floors. This neglect has got to stop!)
I told her I was disappointed in her; she said she needed to go. So Kathryn was going to vote for 4K. But then 4K was taken off the agenda. I still attended that school board meeting on February 23rd and spoke against 4K. But before I spoke, a very articulate woman spoke out against starting 4K. That woman was Nancy Kormanik!
About 2 weeks later on March 4th, Wilson emailed and indicated she was backing down on 4K in response to a constituent asking, "Is this [4K] the most important thing you have to do right now?"
But for me, this isn't a reassuring retreat. As the Patch reported, "Only one candidate (Nancy Kormanik) expressed opposition to adding a 4-year-old kindergarten program, while four favored adding 4k and one (incumbent Kathryn Wilson) did not clearly endorse or reject it." Wilson admits, "so far I have not been impressed with 'revenue,' per se, as a reason to support 4K", but is still looking at 4K. At this point she is willing to wait for more data on it to see if it is necessary for the district to remain competitive in the future.
And that is why I have a Write-In Nancy KORMANIK sign in my yard instead of a Wilson.
To vote for a Write-In on any race, just connect the arrow next to the write in space and print in your candidate's name.
How to Write-In candidate Nancy Kormanik.
If you want to help the campaign, email Nancy: NANCY.KORMANIK@gmail.com
You may LINK to her pdf to view an exact copy of her campaign flier or to print yourself to share with friends.
March 23, 2011 Budget has board hopefuls' attention Some want to cut, others seek better financial picture "Kormanik, a former educator and program coordinator at Milwaukee Area Technical College, said it may sound obvious, but the district needs to stop spending money unnecessarily. She said all options - closing a school, increasing class sizes, changes to pay and benefits - need to be considered."
March 23, 2011 Elmbrook School Board at-large race "There is nothing off the table anymore, all the way from toilet paper to contracts. We need to look at everything: insurance policies, contracts not just for teachers but for other personnel, personnel, staff, bills that have to be paid, investments, fees."
March 21, 2011, Elmbrook Candidates Disagree on 4K, School Closure "Only one candidate (Nancy Kormanik) expressed opposition to adding a 4-year-old kindergarten program, while four favored adding 4k and one (incumbent Kathryn Wilson) did not clearly endorse or reject it."
Cindy Kilkenny Public Forum: Kormanik will stand up for taxpayers
Cheri Mastel Public Forum: Kormanik has can-do attitude Elmbrook needs
Nora Schumann Public Forum: Kormanik offers choice beyond names on ballot
Barbara and Michael Shore Public Forum: Kormanik has the courage to make hard choices
Blog posts: What? Families who HAVE 4K petition to join Elmbrook WITHOUT 4K?
Conservatives, you now have a real choice:Write-In Nancy Kormanik
Links: Practically Speaking, Fairly Conservative, RandyMelchert, Betterbrookfield, Jay Weber, Vicki McKenna, CNS News, Mark Levin, Breitbart BigGovernment, The Heritage Foundation