News – January 15, 2016

Mayville, Horicon Consolidation Referendum Discussed


1/15/16 – During a joint meeting last night, Horicon and Mayville’s school boards agreed by consensus to work toward a November referendum that would ask voters if the districts should consolidate. With both districts facing projected budget deficits, Mayville approached Horicon last year about the possible merger. Last night’s meeting centered on a financial report from Baird Financial that detailed mill rate impact, consolidation aid projections and revenue limit exemptions.


The report says without significant budget cuts, both Horicon and Mayville will see a budget deficit in each of the next five years. Conversely, there would be $11-million dollars in consolidation aid from the state over five years followed by $1.6-million in annual savings from revenue cap exemptions. Consolidation aid could be used for building upgrades or curriculum enhancements. Both districts would be completely debt-free by 2022. Based on estimations, if a consolidation were to take place in 2017, the mill rate in Horicon would drop by over a dollar while Mayville residents would pay 86-cents more. By the second year, that gap would close and the mill rate decrease for Horicon taxpayers would be 29-cents while the Mayville school district would increase 16-cents. The merging of district-wide positions, everything from superintendents to secretaries, would save 375-thousand. The study concludes that the consolidation would be fiscally feasible as both districts have a similar fiscal profile.


Both boards then identified more questions that need to be answered, hammered out a general timeline and brainstormed needed benchmarks. The joint board first agreed by consensus to involve the public in the process but the nature of citizen involvement still has to be determined. A second consensus vote establishing a timeline for a referendum had two dissenting votes. The boards are working toward a July board vote that would determine if they want to proceed with consolidation, then having voters make the final decision in November. The board last night identified several questions to answer at future meetings, including: how buildings would be utilized, how consolidation would benefit students and what the merged school board would look like. The joint board and the public toured Horicon’s school buildings last night and will meet a week from Monday to tour the Mayville campus with another joint meeting planned on February 8. A number of matters will be considered at that meeting including whether or not to hire a professional to facilitate the effort moving forward.


Hustisford Superintendent Retiring After School Year


1/15/16 – The Hustisford School District will soon be looking for a new superintendent.  Dr. Doug Keiser has submitted his resignation, effective June 30, after four years on the job.  He says “it’s time” as he is turning 62 years old and looks forward to spending more time with his wife and grandchildren.  Over his 38 years in education, Keiser has held a variety of positions throughout Wisconsin.  In 2010, he retired for the first time but went to work at Hustisford after just one year off.  Keiser considered stepping down after the 2014-15 school year due to health concerns but stayed for one more year to see through some technology initiatives.  Keiser says technology upgrades and building a more cooperative culture in the district are two of the things that stand out from his four years on the job.  The board is expected to accept the resignation at its meeting on Monday, and Keiser says the search for a new superintendent will likely start early next month.  In addition to Keiser, the board will act on the resignation of the district’s Special Education Director Steve Pasono.  Keiser says Speech and Language Teacher Terri Kreitzman will likely replace Pasono.


BDUSD Making Progress On Monthly Goals


1/15/16 – The Beaver Dam School District continues to work toward making a number of improvements listed in its four-year strategic plan.  At this week’s school board meeting, Superintendent Steve Vessey provided an update on this year’s projects.  He says the district has 53 monthly milestones for this year.  Those are tied to nine performance objectives which include: expanding technology, bolstering district-wide safety, and improving communication.  Vessey says 28 of the milestones for 2015-16 are complete.  Another six are in progress and 19 are pending.  School officials, parents, teachers, and members of the community spent two years identifying goals for this strategic plan, which focuses on student achievement, staff effectiveness, facility needs, and community involvement.  Funding for some of the larger projects, including up to $35-million dollars’ in high school upgrades, would likely require referendum funding.  The first in a series of listening sessions to discuss a potential referendum is at 6 pm on February 1 in the high school cafeteria.


Guns In Schools Unlikely To Pass This Session


1/15/16 – A bill to let permit-holders carry concealed guns on Wisconsin school grounds is “highly unlikely” to pass this session. G-O-P Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says he supports it, but time is running out for a session he hopes to end in February. Vos says guns-in-schools is not a high priority for his fellow Republicans, and there are not many in the public who are asking for it. Two G-O-P lawmakers announced the measure this week, saying it would prevent concealed-carry permit holders from being arrested for guns they have in their cars as they take their kids to-and-from school. Madison Assembly Democrat Lisa Subeck says it would put children in jeopardy in a “wild west” classroom environment for school boards that take a proposed option to allow guns in school buildings.


Gun Sales Up


1/15/16 – Gun sales in Wisconsin are continuing at a face pace, with firearms retailers reporting that they are running short of supply in some cases. Also, calls to the state Department of Justice hotline for gun purchase background checks are running at more than twice last year’s rate. From January second through Tuesday, the Wisconsin Department of Justice background check hotline handled six-thousand,306 background checks. That dwarfs the number for the same period in 2015, when the state hotline handled two-thousand,784 calls.


Watermark Entry Rules Outlined


1/15/16 – There are a number of requirements for guests at the new Watermark Community and Senior Center, which opened in Beaver Dam this week.  While the center was designed for all city residents, Beaver Dam’s Community Activities and Services Coordinator Evonne Boettge says many of the programs are designed for those 50 and older.  Despite that, she said during a recent appearance on WBEV’s Community Comment that age requirements are not strictly monitored.   While city residents can get in for free, non-residents must pay a $25 fee, which is up from $10 at the old senior center.  Boettge says all visitors need a reason to be at the center and must register at the front desk upon arrival.  Boettge says the center is open weekdays from 7:30am to 4:30pm and notes that all fees collected go back to the city.


Master Gardener Training Program Deadline Is Today


1/15/16 – Today is the deadline to register for this winter’s Master Gardener Volunteer Training.  The Dodge County UW-Extension holds the program every other year for gardeners of all skill levels who want to earn their master gardener certification.  24 hours of community service is required in addition to the 13-week class, which runs every Tuesday night from February 2 through late April.  Cost is $150, and registration forms can be found on the Extension’s website.