SCHOOL DISTRICT REFERENDUM LETTERS (Dog Track purchase)
Letter: Offers ideas for schools
In her latest political column, Superintendent Mary Bowen-Eggebraaten gave us the school board’s “non-build” options if the dog track referendum doesn’t pass. She stated that they would have to either increase class sizes, divide the school population into two shifts or go to year-round school. So are we to understand that there are absolutely no options other than a $250 million dog track debacle (land, construction and staffing for the first 20 years) and these three “non-build” options?
What Mary Bowen-Eggebraaten has done here is unbelievable. The fact that she would reduce this referendum debate to the point of threatening parents with these options is in my opinion grounds for immediate termination. Even if she happens to get her way, there will be no new secondary school until the fall of 2015. What does she intend to do in the meantime?
Instead of proposing the equivalent of an educational nuclear option, where are the more reasonable alternatives? How about utilizing Prairie Elementary for the middle school students since we are currently 500 students under building capacity at the elementary level? But of course they will come up with every excuse in the book as to why this is not feasible, as Dan Koch did at the recent school board meeting.
And how about some changes at the high school? Things like an open campus to free up the cafeteria, junior and senior only parking to free up the parking lot, adding study hall space and freeing up classrooms for instruction (a novel idea) and compartmentalizing grade levels to free up hall space. And for heaven’s sake return the passing time back to seven minutes from five minutes. Can you believe Principal Laura Love says the reduced time actually helps congestion? She has no solutions either, just excuses.
In 2003 the school board discarded the idea of moving administration out of the high school to free up space. Only after a resounding referendum defeat did they actually make that move. Of course they gave no credit to the concerned taxpayers that came up with the idea. This school board will do the right thing as well, but only after another resounding defeat.
Here’s my four part plan for educational accountability: 1) Vote out the incumbents; 2) Vote no on the dog track debacle; 3) Terminate Mary Bowen-Eggebraaten’s contract; 4) Implement common sense changes to existing infrastructure to accommodate our students.
Curt Weese, Hudson
Letter: Vote ‘yes’ for school
Our middle school has the largest student population of any sixth- through eighth-grade school in Wisconsin. Our school is not only the largest in the state but it’s over capacity by 169 students. We have 14 teachers on carts. We are out of classrooms at the middle school and currently use three classrooms in Hudson Prairie Elementary. Our high school requires students to travel between classes outside the building, lacks adequate common areas and does not have enough science or computer lab space.
Our educational issues are significant and need immediate attention. I encourage community members to consider how difficult it is to do any job when you are working from a transient location, in an overcrowded space. Now, I challenge you to be responsible for student achievement and measurable learning in this environment. Additionally, consider being a student in this educational environment year after year. Imagine the challenge of learning and retaining new and complex information in such a stressful setting. Certainly, we can all agree that this is not a tolerable situation for our children or our community.
Despite all of these challenges, our middle school has been named 2011-12 Middle School of Excellence and Hudson High School was recognized for the second year in a row as an Advanced Placement Honor Roll District. There are only 367 schools recognized nationally for this award. Twenty of those schools are in the state of Wisconsin. These are amazing accomplishments that reflect positively on our community and our schools. Strong communities create and support strong schools. People want to live in communities that value education. I want my children to have the best education possible to compete in a global society. Our administration has been fiscally responsible, our teachers have met challenges with creative alternatives; it is our time as a community to support our educational system.
Our community has the opportunity to use the existing infrastructure and a portion of the St. Croix Meadows dog track for a much needed high school. It’s time to take advantage of this opportunity and turn a vacant site into a secondary campus that provides adequate space for teaching, learning, and school events. Our schools are the heart of our community. Please join me in supporting our schools and our community by Voting Yes on April 3.
Laurie Stein, Hudson
Letter: Suggests ‘no’ on dog track
I’ve been doing some homework regarding space issues at Hudson’s schools. This is what I’ve found. This information comes from the superintendent’s office:
Student capacity, K-5, all grade schools, 2,940. Current enrollment K-5, all grade schools, 2,545. Excess grade school capacity, 395.
Middle school building capacity, 1,125. Middle school enrollment, 1,285. Excess enrollment, 160. The middle school is currently using three classrooms in Prairie Elementary to accommodate enrollment.
High school building capacity, 1,680. High school enrollment, 1,629. Excess capacity, 51.
The current enrollment in K-3 is 1,685, which is five students more than capacity when these four grades get to the high school in eight years. The current K-2 enrollment is 1,282. When these three classes get to the middle school, enrollment will be three students under middle school capacity.
From this information it would appear that the major space issue we currently have is in the middle school, not the high school, and that problem will be resolved in the next six years. The three rooms the MS is using in Prairie Elementary will handle MS enrollment well into the future. If new grade school children enter the district they can easily be accommodated at grade schools other than Prairie Elementary.
If high school cafeteria and lab space is an issue, the high school can be added on to. A lunch period open campus policy could be adopted. Crowded halls could be helped by returning to seven minutes between classes or staggered release times. Year round school is also an option.
Regarding the UU land owned by the district, if it truly cannot be used for a school as is claimed, then sell it.
Here’s why you should vote no on the dog track purchase. Potential $1.2 million in lost property tax revenue every year. The school district portion of that? $518,784 yearly. Rezoning? City of Hudson would lose 33 percent of their remaining commercial property. Cost of “new” school building project? $70-80 million, based on New Richmond’s new HS. The $8.25 million to purchase the track is just the beginning. Finally, there is no plan or price tag.
The Hudson School District for 2010/2011 had 687 properties with delinquent property taxes totaling $2,351,922. The county projects this figure will be much higher for 2011/2012. Residents are struggling financially.
Don’t let the superintendent’s “What’s next if the referendum doesn’t pass” column in last week’s paper intimidate you. I encourage you to vote no.
Sandy Gehrke, Hudson
Editor’s note: The writer is a candidate for the board of education.
Letter: Can’t afford dog track
I have lived in Hudson for nearly 50 years and have lived in the same house for nearly 48 years this coming August and September. I am a widow and living on a fixed income.
My reasons for not wanting to buy the St. Croix Meadows dog track are: 1) real estate taxes — this year’s is the highest I have paid since living here, and 2) I want to stay in my home! These are the two priorities in my head and heart now.
High gas prices and high grocery prices and the city’s passage to add another fee to our utility bill which amounts to another $30 per year. I am being taxed and “fee-d” out of my home. I cannot afford another “less” than $30 additional tax (for the dog track) to what is already being charged and more next year.
I know there is a need for more school space but find or build a school that we can afford. I would like to see something in SCM but not the proposed school.
Jean Becker, Hudson
Letter: Don’t buy dog track
As probably several others, I have been wondering why the school administration had the school board approve shortening the time between classes from an already short seven minutes, to just five minutes. Was it for purpose of squeezing another two minutes of instruction time into each hour of the school day; or maybe, and I am afraid more likely, for purpose of deliberately increasing the alleged congestion of some 1,000-plus students squeezing through the hall ways between classes in a yet more limited time?
Obviously, requiring some 1,000-plus students to move through hallways between classes in less time results in hallways becoming correspondingly more crowded, actually equivalent to a congestion increase of 28 percent, so one only can wonder why the time between classes was not lengthened by two minutes, as obviously, that would have resulted in hallways being less crowded, equivalent to a congestion decrease of 28 percent.
But of course, that probably would have been contrary to the ultimate objective of the administration and board.
It appears that seemingly using the students as pawns in its attempt to further its objective, the administration and board have failed in their obligations, unbelievable as that might appear, by seemingly deliberately making the school days of students more stressful in an effort to further their, in my view, missing justification of proposing purchasing the dog track for purpose of eventually building of one or more allegedly “much needed” secondary schools, when, sometime down the road and after the hoped for approval of the proposed purchase by the voters of the district, “we” have determined what “we” really need.
Give me a break. The manipulation evident by the administration and the board appears appalling, and frankly, quite unacceptable.
In my view, this school district needs nothing more pressing at this time than a renewed school board, ideally with voter or self-imposed term limits, as longevity on the board appears to be a detriment to any real progress, and the first charge of a renewed board ought to be to find a new chief administrator, of course one without circumspect appearing close ties to construction firms.
Vote no to buying the white elephant dog track on April 4. The district has not proven the need for more secondary school space now, nor anytime soon, and please support the renewal candidates to the school board. They are urgently needed.
Carl J. Dyrbye, Town of Hudson
Letter: Against buying track
When you go to the polls on April 3 remember what the great Winston Churchill said after the Battle of Britain; “This is not the end, this is not the beginning of the end, it is the end of the beginning.” Because if the referendum passes and Mary and the board get their way it will be a long, expensive and frustrating campaign to eventually arrive at a new school. The board is banking on that once the people make the decision to purchase the property they will endure no matter what the price.
No one can say what the deconstruction and cleanup of the SCM property will cost. No one can say what the landfill of all the debris from demolition will cost or where it will go. No one can say what we will do with the property once we own it. There may be three new members on the board. Instead of hastily spending $8 million we should let the new board have a chance to develop some ideas. I recently heard one of the non-build solutions and it sounded very doable. The urgency the school board has put on this issue makes a person feel like its do or die. If we don’t go along with their proposal our children are doomed to a life of mediocrity. Well, my life is subpar and I wouldn’t trade it for the nicest two-holer in all of Arkansas.
If the referendum fails and the people are allowed to express their thoughts and ideas I have confidence that a smart, creative solution that satisfies all concerned can be reached (after all not everyone in the district went to Hudson High.) We must also consider the City of Hudson, taking that much commercial property off the books could have echoing financial repercussions for years to come.
Again it’s not so much what the board is trying to do, but how they have gone about doing it. The board should act on the will of the people. Not launch a campaign and flood their website and the HSO with propaganda like material. If you go to the school district’s website it pushes only one thought, build! Almost like a promotion of some one’s own personal agenda. Doesn’t matter what we build, as long as we build.
John A. Windolff, Hudson