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We’re there for you, so you can be there for our children You’re tasked with providing the next generations with the education they need to excel in and out of the classroom. You shouldn’t have to worry about the quality or affordability of your health care benefits. At UnitedHealthcare, we understand the specific needs of the Wisconsin school market, and we’ve developed plans and programs that keep costs down while keeping quality of coverage up. And we’ve got a dedicated Public Sector service team located in Green Bay, so you can count on us to be there for you when you need us. More than 70,000 educators and their families trust UnitedHealthcare and our third-party administrator, UMR, to cover them, and you can too.


©2012 United HealthCare Services, Inc. Insurance coverage provided by or through UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company or its affiliates. Administrative services provided by United HealthCare Services, Inc. or their affiliates. Health plan coverage provided by or through UnitedHealthcare of Wisconsin, Inc. UHCWI537834-001

March 2014  |  Volume 68 Number 8 T H E O F F I C I A L P U B L I C AT I O N O F T H E W I S C O N S I N A S S O C I AT I O N O F S C H O O L B O A R D S, I N C.

John H. Ashley Executive Editor

Sheri Krause Director of Communications

Shelby Anderson Editor n REGIONAL OFFICES n 122 W. Washington Avenue Madison, WI 53703 Phone: 608-257-2622 Fax: 608-257-8386 132 W. Main Street Winneconne, WI 54986 Phone: 920-582-4443 Fax: 920-582-9951 n ADVERTISING n 608-556-9009 • n WASB OFFICERS n

John H. Ashley Executive Director

Mike Blecha Green Bay, Region 3 President

Wanda Owens Barneveld, Region 9 1st Vice President Stu Olson Shell Lake, Region 1 2nd Vice President

Nancy Thompson Waterloo, Region 12 Immediate Past President n WASB BOARD OF DIRECTORS n Capt. Terry McCloskey, USN Retired Three Lakes, Region 2 Bill Yingst, Sr. Durand, Region 4

Alice Marquardt Rio, Region 10 Colin Butler Kettle Moraine, Region 11

Patrick Sherman

Rick Eloranta Owen-Withee, Region 5

Genoa City J2/Lake Geneva, Region 13

Florence Hyatt Onalaska, Region 6

Terrence Falk Milwaukee, Region 14

Vacant Region 7

Ron Frea Pewaukee, Region 15

Steve Klessig Brillion, Region 8 Wisconsin School News (USPS 688-560) is published 10 issues per year by the Wisconsin Association of School Boards Inc., 122 W. Washington Avenue, Madison, WI 53703. Contents © 2014 Wisconsin Association of School Boards Inc. Subscriptions are available to nonmembers for $40 per year. Periodicals postage is paid at Madison, Wis. The views expressed in Wisconsin School News are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent WASB policies or positions. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Wisconsin School News, 122 W. Washington Avenue, Madison, WI 53703.


3 4 6 8 10 12 14 15



Viewpoint — Bolstering Public Schools Forward Together — A photographic look back at Convention 2014 A Hunger for Education — Keynote: Dr. Freeman Hrabowski Vision in a Time of Disaster — Keynote: C.J. Huff Teaching the Unteachable — Keynote: Stacey Bess What’s Your Legacy? — Keynote: Brad Meltzer We’ve Got Much to be Proud Of — State Superintendent Tony Evers Walker Supports State Common Core Commission — Gov. Scott Walker

16 17 18 20 21 22 24 25 26 27 28 29

Opportunity Through Technology — Session Recap

31 34 37 40 41

Accomplishments — Recognition

Delegate Assembly — Assembly Recap Teachers of the Year — Session Recap The School Safety Checklist — Session Recap Right Solution, Right Time, Right Message — Session Recap Early Learning for Life-Long Success — Session Recap Common Core State Standards — Session Recap Achieve Like a ’Cane — Session Recap Protecting Yourself — Session Recap Creating a Culture of Achievement — Session Recap Superintendent of the Year — Session Recap School Business Official of the Year — Session Recap

Student Art Awards — Award-winning students, student video team Legal Comment — Recent Cases Address Employee Speech Rights Legislative Update — WASB Delegation Attended NSBA Advocacy Institute

Association News — A New Chapter in NSBA’s Rich History; Stand Up for Public Education; 2014 WASB Board of Directors

44 Convention Highlights — Notes and photos from the 93rd Convention 45 Service Associates ARTICLES IN THIS ISSUE were written by WASB staff members: Shelby Anderson, Sally Sweitzer, and Joe Quick. Freelance writer Anne Davis also contributed articles. Kevin Leavy, public information specialist for the School District of Janesville, wrote “Creating a Culture of Achievement” on page 27. CORRECTION: On page 17 of the January-February 2014 issue of Wisconsin School News, Bay Port High School was incorrectly listed under Green Bay Area Public Schools. Bay Port High School is a part of the Howard-Suamico School District.


Thank you. DI A MOND




CESA Purchasing


Associated Financial Group | Lamers Bus Lines | Liberty Mutual Group Lifetouch | Siemens | Vanguard Computers Voorhees Associates, LLC | WASBO Foundation | Wisconsin OPEB Trust

Because of the generous support of the above companies and organizations, our members enjoyed a high level of services, speakers, and amenities at the 93rd State Education Convention. Thank you!



Wisconsin School News


John H. Ashley

Bolstering Public Schools


ublic education remains the backbone of our democracy and our economy. Only public education has the responsibility to reach all students and to ensure that every child has access to a free, high-quality education. There are shining examples of success in public schools throughout the state and throughout the nation. To highlight these success stories of our public schools, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) has launched a national Stand Up 4 Public Schools campaign. It complements the WASB’s Stand Up for Public Education campaign that was initiated last fall and intended to help spread the word about all of the great things happening in our public schools. The intent of the NSBA’s Stand Up 4 Public Schools initiative is to counter the aggressive, well-funded attacks on public education with a public campaign that supports local school board governance and honors the achievements of America’s public schools. The campaign operates under a simple premise: “Who I am today began with public education,” paired with the rejoinder, “Today’s public schools are better than ever.” To help get these messages out, NSBA has enlisted the help of several celebrity advocates: Sal Khan, founder of the not-for-profit Khan Academy; Earvin “Magic” Johnson, basketball legend and business mogul; and Montel Williams, former talk show host and celebrity spokesperson.

The campaign includes a website, print ads, digital ads and a dedicated social media campaign. You can access the campaign at www.standup4public or by clicking on the WASB Stand Up for Public Education button at A key tenet of the campaign emphasizes the responsibility and ownership everyone has in our public schools. Community ownership of public schools safeguards transparency, accountability, equity and excellence in education for every child. This campaign is about partnering with public school advocates across the country and keeping the public in public education. This effort also ties into the WASB’s Stand Up for Public Education website, which highlights positive stories about Wisconsin public schools. The NSBA’s campaign is part of a refocused and renewed advocacy plan. A key element of the research-based campaign is the NSBA-developed “A School Board Vision for Public Education.” Wisconsin’s Elk Mound School Board President Tim Sivertson was a member of the committee that helped develop NSBA’s public advocacy focus (see page 41). To learn more about the Stand Up 4 Public Schools campaign and to participate in this important effort, visit Or you can access it through the WASB website by selecting the Stand Up for Public Education button at There is a wealth of resources to help school leaders reach out to the public and become better advocates for your schools. Additionally, NSBA urges school leaders to visit the site over the course of the year as new content and resources will be added. We also encourage you to tell your community members about these campaigns. Post links on your district’s website or Facebook page. The best advocates for our public schools are our public. Having prominent community members speak out in support of their local public schools sends a convincing message to other community members. We need to tell our stories. I urge you to visit the NSBA Stand Up 4 Public Schools website and encourage you to keep sharing your local stories on the WASB Stand Up for Public Education site. Finally, I would like to end by thanking all of our members who attended, presented, and participated in the 93rd State Education Convention in January. We are proud to work with the Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators and the Wisconsin Association of School Business Officials to put on a great convention. We hope you had a memorable experience, connected with other Wisconsin school leaders, and gained important information and ideas to improve student achievement in your schools. n

A key tenet of the Stand Up 4 Public Schools campaign emphasizes the responsibility and ownership everyone has in our public schools.

March 2013




FORWARD TOGETHER School board members, administrators, educators, and other education stakeholders from around the state met in Milwaukee for the 93rd State Education Convention. This special issue of Wisconsin School News captures some of the events, sessions, and people that made this year’s Convention one of the best yet.

Hundreds of school board members and administrators from across the state listen as State Superintendent Tony Evers provides his vision for public education in Wisconsin.

The Convention provides a good time for school leaders to connect and share ideas. Perry Hibner (left), community relations specialist for the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District, talks with an attendee after his session on successfully passing referendums.



Wisconsin School News

Dozens of breakout sessions provide attendees with information on a variety of important school leadership topics. Dennis Pauli, district administrator of the Edgerton School District, leads a session on school finance strategies.

Hope Klessig (left), a sophomore at Billion High School, opened up the 93rd State Education Convention with the National Anthem. Members of Vocal Point (right), from the Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau School District, blew away school leaders with their vocal interpretations of modern and classic pop songs.

The Oconomowoc High School Wind Symphony put on a fantastic performance during the opening general session. Each year, student music groups are selected to perform in front of hundreds of school leaders during the general sessions.

The Shawano High School Jazz I ensemble gave an energetic show, performing several classic jazz pieces. All student music groups that performed at the convention were supported by the WASBO Foundation.

March 2014




“We can’t compete against those two big giants [China and India] in terms of numbers.

What’s most important? Creativity and ingenuity.” 6


Wisconsin School News

A Hunger for Education Dr. Freeman Hrabowski calls on school leaders to elevate education and achievement Keynote sponsored by


r. Freeman Hrabowski, president of the University of Maryland Baltimore County, has been passionate about education and learning his whole life. As a child, his parents once bribed him into going to church by allowing him to work on math problems during the service. However, that day a speaker caught his attention. Hrabowski remembers the speaker talked about education for black children. The speaker said if children march, the nation will see that they want a better education. Hrabowski, who was tired of using old, fallingapart textbooks, agreed with the man at the pulpit. That speaker was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Hrabowski, along with hundreds of other black children, took up King’s challenge and marched in downtown Birmingham, Alabama to show the mayor they wanted to end segregated schools. A number of the children, including Hrabowski, were jailed. Hrabowski said he was scared to march, but his passion for education overshadowed that fear. “Sometimes when people do courageous things it’s not that they are courageous, it’s just that they want to see change,” Hrabowski said. Out of the civil rights movement, more people began going to college. As Hrabowski pointed out, in the 60s only about 10 percent of Americans had a college degree, whereas today it

is about 30 percent. To people like Hrabowski, education and success are intrinsically linked. Hrabowski told the story of his mother who, as a young girl, worked for a wealthy family that allowed her to borrow books from the family library. As his mother read more, her appetite for reading and education increased, and eventually, she put herself through college and earned a degree in education. “There are two groups of people — those who achieve dreams, and those who don’t,” Hrabowski said. “The biggest reason people see their dreams realized is because of education.” Hrabowski sees this every day in his job as president of a university. With students from 114 countries represented on his campus, Hrabowski said many of these foreign students become successful because they have a hunger for knowledge. Hrabowski said this same kind of excitement needs to be fostered in our nation’s K-12 schools. He asked school leaders how many could say that their best students get as much press in the local paper as their football team. “We need to bring the same kind of excitement to academics that we do for sports,” he said. Additionally, Hrabowski called for educators and students to not shy away from tough questions, noting that in other countries, students work

on tough math problems over the course of several days. “We focus on problems that are easier, shorter to solve,” he said. “We haven’t challenged our children to think critically. You don’t always have to be able to solve the problem — the important thing is to be able to talk about the problem.” Likewise, Hrabowski said that American creativity, specifically the technology boom in Silicon Valley, is what helped establish the United States as one of the most successful in the world for several decades. However, the U.S.’s position is slipping with China, India, and other countries quickly catching up. Hrabowski noted that India is in the process of opening 800 new universities. “We cannot compete against those two big giants in terms of numbers,” Hrabowski said. “What is most important? Creativity and ingenuity.” These are big challenges. Hrabowski said today’s current climate for public education takes a strong vision and belief in our education system and students. “When I heard Dr. Martin Luther King speak that day in Birmingham it was the first time I believed that the world of tomorrow could be better than today.” Hrabowski said. “There are two kinds of leaders. Those who suck all the energy out of everyone and those who believe in the possibilities.” n

March 2014




“You have to have a vision even in a crisis situation.

Our vision helped us see a better place in the future.” 8


Wisconsin School News

Vision in a Time of Disaster C.J. Huff recounts how Joplin Schools reopened with the help of community partnerships and a strong vision Keynote sponsored by


n May 22, 2011, one of the most destructive tornados in U.S. history levelled much of Joplin, Missouri. Dr. C.J. Huff, superintendent of Joplin Schools, said the tornado impacted 4,200 of the district’s students, destroyed 600,000 square feet of school buildings and killed one staff member and seven students. The tornado hit Joplin on the afternoon of graduation day. Huff remembers walking out of the graduation ceremonies and hearing a tornado siren and his cell phone ringing at the same time. It was his wife, calling to say that a tornado had been spotted north of Joplin. Huff drove south, towards his house, and away from the spotted tornado. However, as he got closer to his neighborhood, winds from the west picked up. He remembers pulling into his subdivision and seeing a tree go down in front of his car. He made it home and rode the storm out in the basement with his wife. The tornado ended up tearing through the southern part of the city, only about a quarter mile from Huff’s home. The tornado was about a mile wide and was on the ground for 32 minutes. The images from the destruction show the strength of the storm — in one photo a piece of lumber pierces a concrete curb, another photo shows a chair embedded into the side of a concrete wall. As Huff surveyed the damage,

he soon realized he had a much bigger challenge than helping his neighbors — he had to assemble his district leadership team to decide how to handle the situation. The district leadership team met and quickly decided to cancel school for the rest of the year. That night, Huff appeared on national television. After the interview, he got a call from his dad who told him he was proud of him and also urged him to, “Now show them what you can really do.” “About that time I realized I had a problem because my father thought I had a plan,” Huff said. “From a leadership standpoint, I was at a very lonely place as the gravity of our situation started to sink in.” After thinking about his district’s role in the recovery effort, Huff said it was clear the district’s responsibility was to take care of Joplin’s children. “We’re in the kid business – that’s what we do,” Huff said. “I soon realized we can take care of our community by taking care of our kids the best we can.” Looking back, Huff says having a vision was essential to recovery. “You have to have a vision even in a crisis situation,” Huff said. “After the tornado, Joplin was an abysmal place but our vision helped us see a better place in the future.” With this single vision, Huff and his leadership team worked to find facilities for displaced students to go to school in the fall and rebuild the

damaged schools as quickly as possible. Additionally, a team was created to attend funerals, and undamaged schools were opened to the community as shelters. On August 17, 2011, school started again with 91 percent enrollment. “Teachers were hugging kids, parents were hugging teachers,” Huff remembers. “If nothing else, we proved to the world that public education matters.” The district’s response serves as a model for districts recovering from a natural disaster. In addition to vision, Huff says community partnerships the district had forged in years prior to the tornado came through when disaster struck. In one instance, Huff was able to work with a local mall to have displaced students use their facility as a school as theirs was being rebuilt. In another example, a group of women from a local church knit hats and scarves for every single student in a high-poverty school that was completely destroyed by the tornado. Since the tornado, Joplin Schools have rebounded tremendously. The graduation rate has improved and the district opened three new schools. Huff recalled the story of one teacher who asked a student how he liked his new school. The teacher asked the student if it “feels like school” and the second-grade boy responded, “No, it feels like happiness.” n

March 2014




“All of the trials and all of the triumphs that make us people are what

changes the lives of children and their families.� 10


Wisconsin School News

Teaching the Unteachable Author Stacey Bess’s inspiring story shows the importance of reaching all students


pon her mother’s advice, Stacey Bess went to college and got a ‘degree she could use’ — in elementary education. To be honest, Bess said, she didn’t really want to be a teacher; she wanted to be a mother. But once she got her degree, her mother and husband encouraged her to go to the Salt Lake City School District and inquire about a job. At the district office, Bess was offered a tough assignment — teaching students at the city’s homeless shelter. Immediately after being offered the job, Bess cried in her car in the district office parking lot. She wasn’t crying because she was happy, she was crying because she didn’t want the job. After a few nights contemplating whether or not to take it, she came to a realization. “It isn’t your skills that these people will remember, it is you,” Bess said. “All of the trials and all of the triumphs that make us people are what changes the lives of children and their families.” Bess didn’t know it at the time, but the job would change her life. She would write a best-selling book based on her experiences that would eventually be made into a movie. In her classroom, Bess had 36 students and 15 desks. It didn’t take long for her to feel out of place. One student, Zachary, resisted Bess. At the end of each day, he gave her a little

shove and told her to go home. One day, Bess pulled Zachary into her classroom and asked for his help. Zachary, who was a leader among her students, told her to not be anyone’s friend, just teach. Eventually, Bess learned Zachary’s story. When he was five, his mom lined her children against a wall and said she couldn’t afford to keep all of them. Zachary was one his mom decided she couldn’t afford. He lived with his dad and frequently moved from city to city. Every time he grew attached to a woman, he had to leave. Bess made a promise not to leave him, “I told him, ‘If you help me, I will stay until you graduate from high school.’” Soon after making this promise to Zachary and gaining his trust, Bess was diagnosed with cancer and had to undergo surgery. When Bess told her students she would have to leave for a while, Zachary took it badly. As Bess woke up after the surgery, a group of her students were standing around her bed. The students were led by Zachary who had put his trust back into Bess. “You said you’d stay, I trust you,” he told her. Zachary, who is now an adult, works in Alaska as a contractor. Before speaking to one group, Bess called and asked Zachary what she should tell people. “I kept hearing you say that I was incredible and I believed

you,” Zachary said. “That’s what you should be telling people.” In another story, Bess promised to give an especially energetic child a prize if he would listen to her instructions for two weeks. At the end of the two weeks, the student pounded on her desk and told her he was ready for his prize. Bess told the student the prize request had to be within reason. The student said he wanted to meet Karl Malone, an all-star basketball player for the Utah Jazz. Doubtful that he would respond, Bess put in a request to Mr. Malone. Remarkably, he agreed to visit the school. Bess remembers walking down to the lobby of the homeless shelter to meet Malone. She saw him standing in the lobby — all 6'9"of him. Intimidated, Bess introduced herself and was surprised to hear he was eager to meet her students. “He told me, ‘Miss Stacey, I didn’t come here to hide behind my jersey. Today I want to be Uncle Karl, I want to get down on the floor and play with the students,’” Bess remembers. In the classroom, Bess said she cried as she watched the children climb all over Malone, measure his hands, and play with him on the floor of the classroom. “I learned that you can’t hide behind your credentials, you’ve got to get down on the floor and be a human being,” Bess said. n

March 2014




“Separate what you do for yourself from what you do for others.

What you do for other people, that’s your legacy.” 12


Wisconsin School News

What’s Your Legacy? Bestselling author Brad Meltzer says we live on by helping and serving other people Keynote sponsored by


onging to live forever? Brad Meltzer can tell you how. The bestselling writer and host of the History Channel’s “Brad Meltzer’s Decoded” series shared his recipe for eternal life plus his thoughts on what makes a hero during a farranging and fast-paced keynote address at the State Education Convention. “What we’re going to talk about today is heroes because I’m talking to a room full of heroes. You are all heroes,” Meltzer began. But before discussing heroes, he took a lengthy digression to examine end of life issues, starting with his own obituary. After writing his parents’ obituaries, he began to wonder what his would look like and hired a newspaper reporter to put one together. The writer was called away on assignment before he could finish so the piece ended with the words: “He was a …” The answer to that question, Meltzer said, will reveal something we don’t always think about but should — our legacy. “Separate what you do for yourself from what you do for others,” he added. “What you do for other people, that’s your legacy.” Punctuating his comments with funny stories about life as a famous author of political thrillers, Meltzer defined four types of legacies: your impact on your family, on friends

and acquaintances, on community and on complete strangers. He shared his legacy from his parents, their love, support and trust. Then there was his legacy from a beloved ninth grade English teacher, who recognized his gift for writing and worked hard to foster it. After the release of his first best seller, The Tenth Justice, he went to visit her and thanked her for contributing to his success. Overwhelmed, she began to cry and told him she was about to retire, discouraged because she thought she was not making an impact on her students. She taught for 13 more years and he went to her retirement party. “Sometimes we have no concept of what our legacy is, no idea of what we left behind,” Meltzer said. He used the example of Jumbo’s, a soul-food restaurant in Miami, to illustrate the concept of a community legacy. The restaurant was the first in Miami to integrate and hire African American employees. Because of this, it was left untouched during devastating race riots years later. It is still open today and is recognized as a landmark of the civil rights movement. When he talked about legacies left for complete strangers, he told the story of Frank Shankwitz, a police officer whose act of kindness for a dying boy helped lead to the creation of the Make-A-Wish

Foundation. Meltzer reminded his audience that their work in public education meant they were leaving their own legacies every day without realizing it. “All of you are helping people and you will never know who they are,” he said. As part of his own legacy to his son and daughter, Meltzer has been working on a series of books about real-life heroes. The first two, Heroes for My Son and Heroes for My Daughter, grew out of a desire to counter a mass media culture that idolizes badly behaved pop stars and athletes and money-mad celebrities. He researched and retold the stories of ordinary people who accomplished great things through hard work and perseverance. The first two in a new series of children’s books that tells the stories of some of these heroes as children were just released. “I believe ordinary people can change the world. That is my core belief,” he said. He encouraged his audience to do their part to change the world, starting with two small steps: find someone who has helped them and thank them and find a way to help just one other person. “Go say ‘thank you’ and go help one person and you won’t just live a good life, you will live forever.” n

March 2014




‘We’ve Got Much to be Proud Of ’ State Superintendent Tony Evers addresses the challenges and opportunities for public education


ddressing hundreds of school leaders from across Wisconsin, State Superintendent Tony Evers called for support of the Common Core State Standards, increased state funding for education, and accountability for private voucher schools. In the case of the Common Core, Evers said the standards set a higher and more realistic bar for students. However, the standards have come under attack, with some believing the standards will take away local control from school districts or that the standards set the bar too low. “You know better than anyone that setting higher standards is actually about providing more opportunities for all kids to succeed in college and career,” Evers said. “You’ve done the hard work associated with implementing higher standards and higher expectations, and the stories you have to tell about the early results are compelling.” Evers addressed school funding and emphasized that his “Fair Funding for Our Future” plan provides the state with the comprehensive school reform that it desperately needs. Evers pointed out that spending per student in Wisconsin has dropped by more than 15 percent since 2008 — the seventh

steepest drop in the nation. In dollar amounts, those cuts put Wisconsin second only to Alabama. “We’ve all heard the claims that the past cuts did no harm or somehow even helped,” Evers said. “I can tell you that is not the case.” In addition to less state funding, public education is also facing a challenge from voucher schools that don’t have to answer to the same set of accountability measures as public schools, yet still receive public funding. To highlight the trouble with voucher schools, Evers told a recent story about a voucher school in Milwaukee that shut its doors in the middle of the night during the school year, leaving its students without a school. Evers said the owners of this school are now reportedly running a voucher school for special needs students in Florida. “Isn’t it long past the time that we hold all schools that receive public dollars to the same standards of public accountability?” Evers asked. “Taxpayers and parents need accountability from voucher schools now, not next year or next decade.” Facing these challenges, Evers said during his second term as state superintendent, he will continue to work to expand high-speed internet access to all schools and libraries, invest in

personalized learning, and create customized academic and career plans for all students. Additionally, Evers said he will continue to work to expand access to career and technical education, course options, and dual credit opportunities, and reform school finance. Through programs like Academic and Career Plans and a new Course Options program, Evers hopes more high school students will takes courses at UW system schools, technical colleges, private colleges, approved nonprofit education providers, and other school districts. “It’s my goal that every Wisconsin child graduates from high school with college credit or an industry certification already in their pocket,” Evers said. “Course Options, dual credit, Academic and Career Plans, and reinvesting in CTE (career technical education) are all strategies to get us there.” Evers acknowledged that there are many challenges to public education but also opportunities. “This school year, and the next few to come, will bring many important, exciting and positive changes to Wisconsin schools. We’ve got much to be proud of, and a lot yet to do.” n

“Isn’t it long past the time that we hold all schools that receive public dollars to the same standards of public accountability?” 14


Wisconsin School News

Walker Supports State Common Core Commission Governor Walker tells the 2014 Convention audience a commission is “thoughtful and reasonable”


dding another wrinkle to Wisconsin’s hesitant embrace of the Common Core State Standards, Gov. Scott Walker told convention attendees he supported a state commission to examine the model standards in Wisconsin, eventually making recommendations to the state superintendent. “I think (a commission) is a thoughtful and reasonable way to go forward and avoid going off on a hundred different tangents,” Walker said. Though sketchy about the commission’s make-up, Walker said appointments by the state superintendent, governor, and Legislature would comprise the study group. “I’m all for high standards,” the Governor said. “In fact, I want Wisconsin to have higher standards than any other state. There’s got to be a way for us to put our fingerprints on it. The standards we have in the state should be driven by people in Wisconsin.” [Editor’s note: Updated information about the governor’s commission is available at]

Walker also touted his efforts to confront the state’s workforce shortages. He said more than 1,200 students were in youth apprenticeship programs last year, noting, “Manufacturing jobs pay 25 percent more than the average job in Wisconsin.” “Increasingly, a two-year degree or a certificate is necessary for a familysustaining job,” he said. Walker urged school board members to place greater value on welders, fabricators and other manufacturing jobs, “We need young 21096 Ad Wisc School News 3.14_Layout 1 people to aspire to those (technical)

professions.” He added that the greatest growth in new technical college students come from the ranks of those with four-year degrees. The Governor concluded by discussing his work in getting Act 10 passed. “More than anything, I wanted to put power back in the hands of locally elected school board members. Ultimately, you should be responsible for what happens in your community. We’ve empowered you to focus on curriculum and what’s best for your 1/31/14 3:49 PM Page 1 students.” n

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“Standards we have in the state should be driven by people in Wisconsin.”


March 2014




Opportunity Through Technology Education technology specialist Kevin Honeycutt says wise use of technology can benefit students and districts


evin Honeycutt, a nationally renowned school technology expert, serves on the Inman School Board in Kansas. Inman, Honeycutt said, is a small town in the middle of Kansas in danger of dying out. The interstate no longer goes through the town, and, as Honeycutt says, the school district needs to give people a reason to stop in Inman or to get parents to consider sending their children to its schools. “What do we do?” Honeycutt asks. “We’ve got to live out loud. We need to brag a little.” In a special Pre-Convention Workshop, Honeycutt told school leaders how his district has been working hard to use technology in innovative ways to make their district one of the best small districts in the state. As far as bragging, Honeycutt said one idea the district had was to ask parents to talk about one thing they liked about the district. Parents were asked this during parent teacher conferences and teachers recorded the responses on their iPads. Every parent that answered the question was entered to win a gift card for a local restaurant and the responses were made into a video to promote the district. Technology can also bring benefits to the classroom. Honeycutt talked about the amazing amount of free online opportunities that can be used to expand classroom activities and get students excited about learning. Among other online resources, Honeycutt talked about – an online marketplace that provides on-demand 3D printing. To use the



Wisconsin School News

website, students upload a 3D design file and then set up their store. Family members can purchase their student’s work. Honeycutt said this gets students excited about creating and developing 3D designs, and along the way, students learn engineering and design skills. Another amazing resource is ondemand printing. Honeycutt told the story of a troubled student who was always writing poetry. One afternoon, Honeycutt helped the student use to upload her poetry, format it, and create a store where she could sell her book. Honeycutt went home that night, ordered the book online and presented it to the student a couple days later. “She opened that book like it was the most precious thing in the world,” Honeycutt said. He said she also noticed all of the spelling mistakes she had made. Suddenly, Honeycutt said, she cared about spelling. and other websites like it can be useful for schools in a number of other ways. Honeycutt said his district no longer pays an outside company thousands of dollars to produce their yearbooks. The school now does it itself and actually makes a little money in the process. As far as technology hardware, Honeycutt encourages schools to use technology such as tablet computers, but warns “don’t get stuff just to get stuff.” Instead, Honeycutt says districts need to make sure teachers are trained and know how to use tablets first.

Additionally, he says he likes the “use/ lease” model where students have to show their teachers something productive they’ve done with their tablet computer or else it might get taken away for a period of time. Additionally, Honeycutt emphasizes teachers and school leaders to use the technology such as tablet computers but also any websites such as YouTube or before using it in the school setting. This helps to not only make sure the technology is something that would be useful for the school, but also shows students that you are modeling good use of the technology. Right now, Honeycutt says, he sees too many students using technology without any supervision. “Kids are on digital recess and no one is watching,” Honeycutt said. “I want kids to slow down and think.” Honeycutt said part of technology integration should emphasize how a Facebook comment or Tweet is out there forever. Additionally, Honeycutt said when a class covers current events, it should include discussions on the influence of social media to show students the power (good or bad) of social media. “The stakes are higher and the whole thing is faster,” Honeycutt said. For a list of educational, online and free resources visit n

2014 WASB

Delegate Assembly Delegates Address Voucher School Accountability, Common Core State Standards, School Calendar The 2014 WASB Delegate Assembly approved 15 resolutions supporting more robust voucher school accountability, implementation of the Common Core State Standards, flexibility and local control in setting the school calendar and start date, and, among other issues, opposing legislative efforts to limit or dictate local districts’ fund balances. For the complete report on the 2014 WASB Delegate Assembly, visit Select “Advocacy and Government Relations” and then “Delegate Assembly.” n

15 14 1

by the number s resolutions proposed


resolutions passed

resolutions address voucher school accountability, standards, public records

emergency resolution passed


resolutions address school start date/school calendar

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March 2014




Teachers of the Year A look into the teaching practices and philosophies of some of the state’s Top Teachers SESSION: Teachers of the Year | Presenters: Anne Hasse, teacher, Menomonie Area School District; Richard Erickson, teacher, Bayfield School District; Lynne Kohlhepp, teacher, Wausau School District


hat makes a good teacher great? Anne Hasse knows, and so do Richard Erickson and Lynne Kohlhepp. The three were among four educators to receive Wisconsin’s Teacher of the Year award last fall. Hasse, who teaches fifth grade in Menomonie, was named the Elementary Teacher of the Year. Erickson, who teaches chemistry, physics and alternative education at Bayfield High School, was honored as High School Teacher of the Year. Kohlhepp, who works with students with learning disabilities at Wausau West High School, was named Special Services Teacher of the Year. Hasse, whose class is known as Mrs. Hasse’s Posse, talked about five key elements in effective instruction: innovation, integration, community, teamwork and excellence. A good teacher always seeks ways to keep changing and is not afraid to try something new, she said. She finds ways to integrate curriculum or combine subjects like math and art through projects like designing a new school building. She finds ways to build community in the classroom so students love to come to school and learn. Her class has morning meetings and works together to set classroom procedures and routines. She works closely with the other two fifth-grade teachers as an educational team. She always works hard to remember that “all data has a face” and that a good teacher is “willing to do whatever it takes” to reach students and spur them to achieve excellence. A teacher for 30 years, Erickson discussed the challenges of working in



Wisconsin School News

Anne Hasse (pictured above), Wisconsin Elementary Teacher of the Year, describes her innovative technology integration, hands-on learning experiences. At the session, Richard Erickson, Wisconsin High School Teacher of the Year, and Lynne Kohlhepp, Special Services Teacher of the Year, used the opportunity to inform board members and administrators of how they motivate and inspire their students.

a district where 75 percent of the students are eligible for free and reduced-price lunches and 73 percent of his students are members of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. He believes teachers need to use multiple methods of reaching students and encourages fellow teachers to embrace innovation even if it “may look chaotic.” He believes the most important job of a teacher is to build self-esteem in students and help them learn to master skills. To do that, he leaves the classroom and has his students work on multiple experiential learning projects. Some students helped build boardwalks on the sea caves trail at the Apostle Islands while others helped place cameras in a forest to track the number of carnivores for a partnership with the Red Cliff and National Park Service fish hatcheries. Other students Skyped with a class in Siberia and shared their experiences living near large bodies of water (Lake Superior and Lake Baikal). Kohlhepp is one of three teachers

working with 60 high school students. The students have a variety of disabilities and one of her challenges is to figure out the most effective way for the students to learn. Another challenge is working with students whose experience with school has largely been negative and getting them excited about education. Her students take regular subjects like chemistry and algebra and she supports them by helping them learn the material at their own pace and in their own way. She works hard to build relationships with her students so “they know I have their back.” She also cultivates relationships with students’ families and becomes their contact so they can understand what is happening at school and in the classroom. She is concerned about the growing emphasis on testing since her students don’t usually test well and also about cuts to special education funding. She also worries that people don’t truly understand what is happening in special education. n


The School Safety Checklist School safety expert provides tips for keeping schools safe SESSION: The School Safety Checklist Your Wisconsin School Must Have | Presenter: Peter Pochowski, executive director, Wisconsin School Safety Coordinators Association


safer school starts at the front door. So says school security expert Peter Pochowski who shared a checklist of 25 common sense tips for keeping schools safe. “You have some schools that leave their front door open. Not only is that a bad idea, but you’re leaving yourself open to a lawsuit,” said Pochowski, executive director of the Wisconsin School Safety Coordinators Association (WSSCA). “You don’t have to make school look like a prison, but you have to lock those doors.” In addition, every school should have an access plan that outlines how staff, students, and visitors enter and leave the building. Pochowski, a former Milwaukee Police Department captain, also worked for eight years as director of security for the Milwaukee Public Schools. He backed up his recommendations with anecdotes from his years of experience. In one case, he said a door left propped open so a teacher could go outside to smoke let in a thief who made off with expensive computer equipment. Pochowski put together the checklist after the 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School prompted a flood of phone calls and emails from school officials asking him to do safety assessments of their schools. The WSSCA offers training but does not do assessments, which are expensive. The checklist was designed to give advice on how to make sure schools are “reasonably safe.” Under state law, school districts are required to have an emergency action plan for all schools and update it every three years. Each school is also required to designate a staff member as a safety coordinator, who maintains



Wisconsin School News

contacts with local law enforcement agencies and undergoes regular training to keep current. Framed as a series of questions, the checklist recommends that schools have a safety committee and written memorandums of understanding with local law enforcement and other external agencies, such as local businesses that could offer help with evacuations, and local media outlets that would help communicate information during an emergency. All school staff should be trained in emergency procedures. However, Pochowski reminded his audience that there are other more common emergencies than school shootings such as fires and chemical spills. Security cameras should be checked regularly to make sure they are working properly and money should be budgeted for their mainte-

nance. Students and staff should wear identification badges and doors should be clearly marked so emergency vehicles can quickly identify them. Other recommendations include developing written procedures for what to do in case of an emergency before or after school as well as during a field trip. Pochowski recommends schools have a key control policy and a written procedure for how to work with students with mental and physical disabilities during an emergency. He is an advocate of police school liaison officers and recommends that school offices be located near the main entrance to help control visitor access. He ended by encouraging his audience to do everything they can to make their schools as safe as possible. “If we can’t make our kids safe, we have failed as adults,” he said. n


Right Solution, Right Time, Right Message SESSION: Referendum Success: Getting it Right for the Short-Term and the Long-Term Presenters: Perry Hibner, community relations-education foundation specialist, Donald Johnson, district administrator, Annette Ashley, board clerk, Tom Wohlleber, assistant superintendent, Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District; Christin Mlsna, communications specialist, J.H. Findorf & Son, Inc.; Joe Donovan, communications consultant, The Donovan Group; Matthew Wolfert, principal, Bray Associates Architects, Inc.


fter two failed referendums in the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District, the school board brought forward a sizeable $59.8 million operational referendum in 2012. Undaunted by the hefty price tag, the board worked diligently with community partners, steadfastly maintaining the proposal was the right solution for the community. In the November election, the referendum passed with an overwhelming 68 percent. Luck? Happenstance? No, just thoughtful determination. “There’s one way to pass a referendum,” said Perry Hibner, communications specialist for the district. “The right solution, at the right time, with the right message.” Hibner noted that after the failed referenda, the board took the time to analyze why the previous campaigns faltered, using focus groups, surveys and long-range planning discussions. Assistant Superintendent Tom Wohlleber implored, “Keep the message simple.” He said the district routinely communicated about different options examined (over 20 were considered) and made a concerted

effort to engage diverse opinions about the schools’ future. “You want people with divergent viewpoints,” he said, adding that architects and engineers approach problems differently and that’s useful. Hibner emphasized the importance of communicating with and involving all stakeholders — staff, students, parents, the school board and the community. “Don’t expect people to come to you,” Hibner said about educating the community. “You have to go out to the community.” Hibner said over 300 presentations were made in the community — 150 by himself and District Administrator Don Johnson. Hibner added that it’s important to tailor your comments to the group you’re speaking with. “Make sure your message is unique to the group you’re talking to. Explain how the referendum will benefit them.” Christin Mlsna, a consultant with J.H. Findorff & Son, Inc. who worked with the district during the referendum, summed up the goal succinctly, “You have to tell stories to your community to help them

Perry Hibner of the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District, shares how the district successfully passed a $59.8 million referendum in 2012.

understand why this is the right solution.” School board member Annette Ashley urged advocates “to stay focused on the referendum. “Remind people of the process — how the board met regularly over the course of a year to engage the community,” Ashley said. She also urged the audience to discuss the ramifications of a failed referendum. “Be sure to discuss as a board what the course of action will be if the referendum fails,” she said. “You have to be clear with people about what will happen.” Communications professional Joe Donovan, another member of the referendum team, explained that involving everyone in the schoolcommunity is invaluable; noting a custodian who worked for the district for 48 years became an important spokesperson because the custodian had intimate knowledge of the buildings’ conditions. “Communication is just about telling a story,” Donovan said. n

yourthe message unique to hold the group talking to. receive “Isn’t “Make it longsure past timeisthat we all you’re schools that how referendum will them.” public Explain dollars to thethe same standards ofbenefit public accountability?” — Perry Hibner, communications specialist, Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District

March 2014




Early Learning for Life-Long Success Monona Grove educators discuss how their early learning program is increasing student achievement SESSION: 4K and Kindergarten: Critical Foundations for School Success Presenters: Connie Haessly, principal; Christa Macomber, school psychologist; Jessica Wells, teacher; Emily Foster, teacher, Monona Grove School District


uring their presentation at the State Education Convention, educators from the Monona Grove School District didn’t debate the importance of early childhood education. Instead, they showed how it was done. The team of teachers, a school psychologist and an elementary principal shared their success story of how the district’s four- and fiveyear-old kindergarten programs have resulted in improved student achievement that will pay off, not just now, but throughout the stu-

dents’ school careers. “College and career readiness is our long-term outcome,” explained Christa Macomber, a school psychologist who works with the kindergarten programs. “We don’t start thinking about college and career readiness when kids hit high school.” In order to meet those long-term goals, it’s critical to eliminate gaps in academic skills. So another goal of the district’s kindergarten programs is to recognize, address and close those gaps so that all children enter


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Wisconsin School News

Wisconsin K-12 Analytics Program:

Christa Macomber, Monona Grove School District

the primary grades on an equal footing despite coming from diverse cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. “This is our opportunity to change things,” Macomber said. “If we do nothing (about the gap), it increases rather than decreases in elementary school.” Monona Grove’s 4K program, Together 4 Kids, takes place at five sites, two of them in district schools, two in child care centers, and one in a parochial school. The staff at all the sites work together to ensure a consistent program. Ensuring that staff are properly trained and have a common vision is key, said Connie Haessly, the principal of Taylor Prairie School, who oversees Together 4 Kids. The shared vision comes with setting school goals that align with district goals and making sure that goals for individual teachers align with the school goals. Professional development sessions also align with teacher and school goals. There is a strong emphasis on data collection and analysis so that an individual student’s progress can be monitored and teaching strategies can be adjusted when needed. Haessly meets with her Continuous Improvement Team three times a year to look at data and set goals.

Smaller groups of teachers meet more frequently to go over school and individual student data. The program also includes instructional coaching to help support teachers. Emily Foster, a 5K teacher, is an instructional coach who is released from her classroom duties every other week to spend time observing other teachers. She meets one-on-one with teachers and develops lesson plans based on her observations. Foster shared some of the teaching strategies they use in the classroom. Their frequent assessments allow them to identify strengths and weaknesses in reading and math for individual students. They have four basic categories of skills to work on and each is color coded. Students learn what area they are working on and wear different colored bracelets that help teachers

remember who is working on particular skills. Teachers can then adjust their instruction and offer additional practice in areas where students need more assistance. All the work has paid off. After six years of the 4K program, more students are meeting national benchmarks for reading and math. Last spring, 97 percent of the district’s

kindergarten students met their reading goal on the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) assessment. Results for 4K students on tests of early literacy and numeracy skills were equally strong. And what was even more encouraging was the fact that the gap between minority and white 4K students was only one percent. n

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March 2014




Common Core State Standards DPI Sifts and Winnows Through Common Core Contentions SESSION: Common Core State Standards: What You Need to Know Presenter: Emilie Amundson, CCSS team member, Department of Public Instruction Emilie Amundson, Department of Public Instruction


uring 2009 and 2010, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) worked methodically on efforts to create new standards for mathematics and English/language arts. The 2011-13 biennial budget reviewed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Walker in the summer of 2011 directed the DPI to adopt student assessments that “measure mastery of the common core standards.” Three years later, the Common Core State Standards have been criticized by the far political right and left (for different reasons), been subjected to months of legislative scrutiny and discredited by critics because, allegedly, interested parties had been left on the sidelines while the standards were developed and adopted. Regardless of the backstory, in the final analysis it is important to understand what will be expected of students for future assessments. Emilie Amundson, the DPI’s Common Core State Standards team director, walked attendees through the process used by the DPI, as well as key elements in the standards — a sort of

Common Core State Standards 101. Amundson explained that in 2008 the Council of Chief State School Officers and the bipartisan National Governor’s Association brought together teachers, content experts, researchers and others to begin crafting new standards. Amundson spent much of her discussion helping people understand what the standards are and what they are not. “The Common Core State Standards do not mandate a particular book. We have never had a book list in Wisconsin — that’s a local decision. We are a proud local control state.” Amundson emphasized this won’t change with the new standards. She said CCSS provided suggested books related to text complexity, but not specific books for content. “From top to bottom, the new assessments allow us to better help students and we’re excited about that. The Common Core provides a lot of flexibility for teachers and school boards.” Amundson echoed what Rep. Steve Kestell (R-Elkhart Lake), chairman of the Assembly Education

Committee told a gathering of WASB members in November — over 90 percent of information coming into his office related to Common Core is erroneous. “We had to fight back against a lot of myths being propagated — and it was an active misleading of the facts,” she said. Amundson gave kudos to local education partners. “We had unbelievable support from the school districts in Wisconsin — unparalleled!” She suggested that, “The misinformation campaign against the Common Core State Standards is best fought at the local level.” Commenting on the WASB Delegate Assembly’s overwhelming passage of a resolution supporting the Common Core, Amundson said, “We really want to thank our partners.” For more resources related to the Common Core State Standards, visit DPI’s website Click on “Common Core” in the “Quick Links” section of the department’s homepage. n

“From top to bottom, the new assessments allow us to better help students and we’re excited about that. The Common Core provides a lot of

flexibility for teachers and school boards.” — Emilie Amundson, CCSS team member, Department of Public Instruction



Wisconsin School News

Achieve Like a ’Cane How one district has improved school climate by reaching out to the community SESSION: Increasing Achievement by Improving School and Community Climate Presenters: Craig Olson, district administrator; Diane Tremblay, grant coordinator/ teacher, Hayward Community School District


chieve. It’s as simple as that in the Hayward Community School District. “Achieve” is the mission statement of the district. Two years ago, when Craig Olson was hired as district administrator, the leaders of the district and community didn’t know the school district’s mission statement. Additionally, there was a significant divide in the community surrounding Act 10 issues. The school district community needed a common language. Very quickly, the school board approved its one-word mission statement. Since then, the district began a school promotion campaign to link the school and area businesses together and to further develop a common language for the community. The district mascot is the Hurricanes, so the campaign was titled, “Like a Cane.” The campaign intends to create and improve partnerships between schools, families, and the community to improve culture and climate. According to the district, Hayward believes that when schools, families and communities support each other, student achievement improves and students tend to feel a sense of belonging and pride in their school and peers. What does it mean to be “Like a Cane”? The community has responded in great force to show the students just how much the area business leaders care for the Canes. Banners, flags, signs and stickers are

visible throughout the community with messages such as, “Golf Like a Cane,” “Be Healthy Like a Cane,” “Bank Like a Cane,” and “Stylin’ Like a Cane” depending on the business displaying the message. There are more than 100 banners hanging in the community spreading the district message. “This program has created ownership,” Olson said. “It’s like the Packers with community ownership.” The district administrator feels that in order to “Achieve,” his staff must be team-oriented, enthusiastic, flexible, and want to be around kids. His mantra includes the phrases, “No excuses,” “Know Your Role,” and “Stay Positive.” Olson believes that the hiring process is critical to the success of his campaign because you can teach someone to teach science, but you can’t teach someone to be team-oriented. Therefore, he must be sure that new hires possess the desired traits. In addition, the district administration tries to support its teachers in coping with the many mandates that affect their professional lives. Olson says that, in Hayward, they don’t constantly talk with their teachers about PBIS, Common Core, RtI, etc., but instead focus on creating an atmosphere surrounding “The Way We Do Business” (WWDB). Again, the culture and climate of the school district is emphasized. Has the district seen success?

Diane Tremblay and Craig Olson, Hayward Community School District

Definitely. Here are some ways in which the district has seen positive change as a result of the “Like a Cane” campaign: • no fights in the high school this year; • the tribal council and the school district talk together; • student perception of violence in their school is down; • physical assaults on school grounds have decreased in number; • weapon possession is down; • alcohol use has decreased; • students feel safer at school; • students report greater teacher support; and, • graduation rates have improved. n

“This program has created [community] ownership …” — Craig Olson, Hayward Community School District

March 2014




Protecting Yourself Strategies for shutting down disrespectful behavior from other adults SESSION: Adult Bullying: How to Deal with it Effectively | Presenter: Michael Weber, district administrator, Port Washington-Saukville School District


e focus on bullying among our students then we make an assumption that when people become adults the bullying stops,” said Michael Weber, district administrator of the Port Washington-Saukville School District. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Bullying among adults exists in all areas, including our workplaces. However, Weber says, there are tactics and strategies to shut down adult bullying and protect yourself. The definition of a bully is, “someone who persistently uses intimidation and manipulation to get their way.” Research shows that many people who were bullied as kids are bullies as adults, which makes a strong case for clamping down on bullying among children. One of the first steps in protecting yourself against adult bullying is to understand that you are not responsible for bullying. Weber said a bullying incident can affect us more strongly than it should if we play back the situation over and over in our head. These are called thought attacks. “We need to protect this point of human dignity within us at all costs,” Weber said. One strategy Weber recommends to shut down bullying is to write down exactly what a bully says or does. Keeping a logbook shows the bully that their behavior has been recorded and that they will be held accountable. Weber remembers one union battle in which an individual bullied the other side. Weber used his logbook to recite some of the things this person said.



Wisconsin School News

“It shut down their bullying in an instant,” Weber said. In other situations, Weber says it can work to “push back respectfully.” You can accomplish this by using phrases that keep the focus and pressure on the bully’s behavior. This can include using phrases such as “What did you say to me?” which help keep the attention on the misconduct. Similarly, people can call a bully on their behavior by focusing on them and their behavior and not how it makes you feel. For instance, Weber said, don’t say “I don’t appreciate how you’re talking to me,” instead say “You need to talk to me more respectfully.” When you use “I,” it doesn’t motivate the bully to quit, it actually

Michael Weber, Port WashingtonSaukville School District

reinforces them. Weber covered a number of other strategies and offered advice. He said that ignoring bullying behavior doesn’t cause it to stop – it needs to be confronted. Similarly, Weber said that the only people bullies give any respect are those who do not allow them to get away with their harassing behavior. As far as repelling bullying behavior, moving and speaking with confidence does much to thwart bullying behavior. n

Creating a Culture of Achievement The Janesville Story — how they changed their culture SESSION: Creating a Culture of Achievement — Improving Student Learning in a Large School District | Presenters: Karen Schulte, district administrator; Kim Ehrhardt, director of curriculum, instruction, and assessment; School District of Janesville


ix years ago, the School District of Janesville embarked on a district-wide effort focused on raising student achievement titled, “Journey to Excellence.” This past September when the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction released the School Report Card Scores, the School District of Janesville ranked first out of the 15 largest school districts in the state. With an accountability score of 74.8, the district was in the “exceeds expectations” category. District Administrator Dr. Karen Schulte continues to aim high by setting a four-year goal of reaching a new accountability score of 84 by 2017. Dr. Schulte and Dr. Kim Ehrhardt, director of curriculum, instruction and assessment, presented this success story at the 93rd State Education Convention and shared the district’s change formula and the role educational leadership plays in terms of reaching this accomplishment. Specifically, they discussed how the use of district-defined, nonnegotiable goals for teaching and learning resulted in the positive student achievement gains. Dr. Schulte credits the district’s adoption of Evidence-Based Leadership (EBL) as a key foundational change that is pivotal to the improved results. EBL caused school leaders to begin analyzing key student learning indicators revealing a lack-luster profile of student achievement results.

The response was to set new improvement goals for each of the district’s 21 schools. This in turn set in motion the use of strategic instructional interventions designed to improve student performance in reading and math. The 2013 result is the cumulative effort of applying this formula to all schools during the past four years. Dr. Ehrhardt explained how the staff at each building put their student achievement data under the microscope and then developed a set of specific intervention strategies to positively impact the student achievement tide. Specifically, the What Works In Education Framework by Robert Marzano was used to provide the research-based instructional model to structure and inform the changes. Dr. Ehrhardt went on to explain that the incorporation of the Professional Learning Communities model, the use of curriculum-based assessments and other foundational practices that were responsible for the achievement gains. He also shared that high-powered, staff development from Tom Guskey, Anthony Muhommad, Eric Jensen, Sharroky Hollie, Marcia Tate and Michael Clay Thompson were critical to raising teachers level of expertise and knowledge necessary to support the change. Both leaders explained that the

Karen Schulte, School District of Janesville

evidence-based leadership model helped to bring to scale the following practices: clear and nonnegotiable targets, dynamic leadership, active response to what the data informed each school, quality professional development, and reward and recognition. In conclusion, Dr. Schulte reported the district’s latest list of achievements, which include: six Janesville schools being named Wisconsin Schools of Recognition (2013); two high schools recognized as US News and World Report silver medalists; a National Blue Ribbon School (2011); and a school being recognized as having one of the top 100 Chinese classrooms in the nation by the Asia Society’s Confucius Classrooms Network. n

March 2014




Leading with Purpose Superintendent of the Year calls on media to reduce school shooting coverage SESSION: Superintendent of the Year Honoree: Ron Walsh, district administrator, Elk Mound Area School District


on Walsh, superintendent of the Elk Mound Area School District, is the first to tell you that any success that has been achieved in his district is the cumulative work of many. His modesty was evident during a luncheon hosted by the Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators that honored Walsh as Wisconsin Superintendent of the year. Walsh was quick to give recognition to his school board, which includes Tim Sivertson, Gary Bodenburg, Kyle Jenson, Loren Hanson, Bill Moore, James Holte and Margeret Dieter. He also recognized his family and all of the staff in his district. “This award is more about the

people who are around me and work with kids,” Walsh said. In his role as district administrator, Walsh said one of the most important aspects of his job is helping to provide the day-to-day needs of his students. One of these most important needs is having a safe place to learn. Dismayed by the increase in media coverage surrounding recent school shootings, Walsh said the media needs to have a better understanding of how reporting of such events may actually encourage others to carry out similar acts. Citing evidence that school shooters have relied upon and perhaps been motivated by media profiles of school shooters and the details of how

“We have the honor of taking part in meaningful decisions

that affect so many lives…” — Ron Walsh, Elk Mound Area School District

they carried out the crime, Walsh said the media needs to reconsider its detailed coverage of school shootings. “If we’re going to prevent the spectacle of mass shootings, we need to prevent them from being spectacles,” Walsh said. For Walsh, standing up for his students’ safety and well-being is an important duty. He emphasized that school leaders are in a unique position to shape the future of their district and community. “We have the honor of taking part in meaningful decisions that affect so many lives,” Walsh said. “And when it gets difficult we can walk into a preschool classroom and remember why we do this.” n



Wisconsin School News

For the Students School Business Official of the Year: make sure your decision-making keeps the best interests of students in mind SESSION: School Business Official of the Year Honoree: Gail Moesch, school business official, Shawano School District


onths after she graduated from Shawano High School, Gail Moesch took a job in the district’s business office. She never left. Moesch, now Shawano’s business manager, capped a 50-year career in the district by being named Wisconsin’s School Business Official of the Year for 2014. She accepted her award at the Wisconsin Association of School Business Officials’ luncheon during the State Education Convention. “You don’t expect to be recognized so it’s an honor when you are,” Moesch said as she thanked her family and the co-workers who nominated her. In her nomination, she was cited for starting a wellness program at

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Shawano and helping the district keep its self-funded insurance program. She also thanked her fellow business officials in other districts. “Everyone is so willing to share. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel,” she said. Moesch grew up on a farm in Shawano a mile away from where she lives now. Her father was a bus driver and she spent many days riding the bus with him even before she started school. “I guess I got an early start on education riding with my father,” she said. Widowed at an early age, she worked full time to support her two

“Make sure when you are making decisions

you are making them for the students.” — Gail Moesch, Shawano School District

children and also went to night school for 15 years. She earned her master’s degree in 1998. Acknowledging that her job can be very demanding at times, she said she has always made a point of listening to her staff, the administration, the school board and the community and used their input to make the best decisions possible. “Just make sure when you are making decisions that you are making them for the students,” she said. “Then you can hold your head up high and say, ‘I did the best I could.’” Moesch received $500 as part of her award. She plans to donate the money to the district to use as a scholarship for a graduating high school senior. She will retire at the end of this school year. n

March 2014



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Accomplishments | R E COGNI T I ON Outstanding educators, administrators, and long-time school board members were honored at the 93rd State Education Convention. Please join us in recognizing some of this year’s honorees. |

20-Year Service Award

Alice Marquardt, a member of the Rio Community School Board and the WASB Board of Directors, was recognized by WASB Executive Director John Ashley for serving 20 years. Other 20-year service award winners are: David Ahlquist, Grantsburg; David Amundson, Cashton; Frederik Anderson, Gibraltar Area; Jerilyn Bitney, Shell Lake; Carol Craig, Eau Claire Area; Randy Erickson, Prentice; George Everson, Whitehall; Dianne Gierman, Prentice; Roger Heisel, Coleman; Thomas Hoffmann, Northern Ozaukee; Daniel Kundert, Linn J4; Joseph LeBlanc, Arrowhead UHS; William Leonard, Linn J4; Herman Maier, Fennimore Community; Deborah Nelson, River Valley; Darrell Pierson, Prentice; Dennis Rew, Wittenburg-Birnamwood; Sandra Robinson, Waupaca; Cynthia Schmahl, Kiel Area; Timothy Sivertson, Elk Mound Area; David Skoyen, Whitehall; Frank Stanaszek, Cudahy; Daniel Tjornehoj, Hudson; and Glen York, Linn J4.


30-Year Service Award

Ed Schaub, Jr., (second from left) a school board member from Lakeland Union High School, was recognized for serving 30 years. Pictured with Schaub are State Superintendent Tony Evers, WASB President Nancy Thompson, and WASB Executive Director John Ashley. Other 30-year service award recipients are: Larry Eakins, Monore; Clifford Gerbers, Gillett; and Keith Jacobson, North Cape.

March 2014





45-Year Service Award

Kelly Freeman, (second from left) a school board member in the Walworth J1 School District, was honored for 45 years of service. Other 45- or 40-year service award recipients are: Phillip Markgren, a member of the Spooner School Board, recognized for 45 years, and Robert Langham, a member of the Birchwood School Board, honored for 40 years of service.


Teacher of the Year

Richard Erickson, a science teacher at Bayfield High School, was honored as High School Teacher of the Year. Other teachers of the year are: Anne Hasse, Wakanda Elementary School, School District of the Menomonie Area (Elementary School Teacher of the Year); Jane McMahon, Jack Young Middle School, Baraboo School District (Middle School Teacher of the Year); and Lynne Kohlhepp, Wausau West High School, Wausau School District (Special Services Teacher of the Year).



Wisconsin School News


Milken Teacher of the Year

Sarah Berndt, a Spanish and International Basslaureate (IB) technology teacher at Ronald Reagan College Preparatory High School in the Milwaukee Public Schools, was honored with the Milken Educator Award.


Principal of the Year

Danielle Bosneac of Pewaukee High School was honored by State Superintendent Tony Evers as Associate Principal of the Year. Other principals of the year were: Theresa Loehr, Chegwin Elementary School, Fond du Lac School District (Elementary Principal of the Year); Jacquelin Coghlan, Northland Pines Middle School, Northland Pines School District (Middle School Principal of the Year); and Michael Frieder, Bay Port High School, Howard-Suamico School District (High School Principal of the Year).

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March 2014




Student Art Awards

Congratulations to our award-winning student artists, and thank you to our student video team


n partnership with the Wisconsin Art Education Association, the WASB holds an annual art contest showcasing the work of Wisconsin student artists. Award-winning pieces from the students were proudly displayed at the 2014 State Education Convention.

| Student Video Team The WASB invited school districts to submit an application to have students attend the State Education Convention, tape highlights, and then produce a video. A group of students from Tomah High School were selected to take on this task and helped us capture the events, speakers, and other highlights at the 93rd State Education Convention. Special thanks to Tomah students Clayton Backes, Josh Valdez, Stephen Deming, Wyatt Westphal, and teacher Brian Kibby. View this special highlight video at



Wisconsin School News


2 0 1 4




1st — Kendyl Pettit, Merrill High School, Merrill Area Public Schools 2nd — Mirada Roberts, Beecher-DunbarPembine High School, Beecher-DunbarPembine School District 3rd — Mindy Sczygelski, Merrill High School, Merrill Area Public Schools 4th — Abby Frank, Beecher-DunbarPembine High School, Beecher-DunbarPembine School District 5th — Josie Overback, Wautoma High School, Wautoma Area School District 6th — Dakota O’Dell, Cambria-Friesland High School, Cambria-Friesland School District 7th — Madey Heimerl, Merrill High School, Merrill Area Public Schools 8th — Lindsey Jones, Ashwaubenon High School, Ashwaubenon School District 9th — Abbey Bagnieschi, Niagra High School, School District of Niagra

1st place artwork from Kendyl Pettit, Merrill High School.

10th — Sophia Hagen, Washington Island High School, Washington Island School District

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Wisconsin School News


B o a r d ma n & C l a r k LL P

Recent Cases Address Employee Speech Rights


he First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution provides that “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech.” Although this language only restrains acts of Congress, through interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment, this restriction also applies to acts of school districts. As a result, school district officials must be cautious about taking any actions that affect this right, including actions impacting the rights of individuals who are employed by the district. However, such public employees must recognize that there are limitations on their freedom of speech. Courts have recognized that public employers may control their employees’ speech in certain instances, particularly where the speech threatens the efficiency of the employer’s operations. When a public employee asserts that an employer violated his or her First Amendment right, a court will typically take a number of steps to analyze the claim. First, a court will consider whether the employee spoke either as an employee or as a citizen. Statements within the employee’s official duties are typically not protected, and therefore, a court will end the analysis at this step. However, if the employee was speaking as a citizen, a court will

proceed to a second step and will consider whether the statements were made on a matter of public concern. If the statements do not relate to a public concern, the statements are usually not protected, and a court will end its analysis at this step. However, if the statements relate to a public concern, a court will proceed to a third step and will consider both the interests of the employee in making such comments and the interests of the employer in promoting the efficiency of its public services. In some cases, the employer’s interests will outweigh the interests of the employee, and in effect, no constitutional violation will be found. Recently, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (the federal court of appeals that includes, and whose decisions impact, Wisconsin) decided two important cases where employees brought First Amendment claims against school districts. In both cases, the Court of Appeals proceeded under the steps above in analyzing the claims, and in both cases, the court rejected the claims brought by the employees. This Legal Comment will review both cases and consider the guidance that each provides for school district officials in analyzing such claims.1

| No Constitutional

Protection For Speech Made As A Public Employee McArdle v. Peoria School District No. 1502 involved a middle school principal who alleged that a school district terminated her contract in violation of her First Amendment rights. In particular, the principal claimed that she was terminated to prevent her from publicizing misconduct by her immediate superior. However, as discussed below, the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit held that her statements were not protected by the First Amendment because her speech concerned matters within her official duties as principal. Julie McArdle was the middle school principal of Lindbergh Middle School in Peoria, Illinois. She had a two-year contract with the district that allowed the district to terminate her with severance after one year. During her employment, McArdle discovered that one of her superiors, Mary Davis, was allegedly using school funds and a school credit card for personal purposes, was paying a student teacher in violation of district policy, and was circumventing admission procedures for nonresident students. McArdle questioned Davis about some of these practices, but never received a

Courts have recognized that public employers may control their employees’ speech in certain instances, particularly where the speech threatens the efficiency of the employer’s operations.

March 2013



LEGAL COMMENT satisfactory response. Sometime thereafter, Davis put McArdle on a performance improvement plan citing parental complaints as the reason. Davis also presented her concerns to the district superintendent who ultimately recommended to the board that McArdle be terminated. During this time, McArdle went to the police to report Davis’ behavior and reported the alleged improprieties to the superintendent and the board. The board voted to exercise the termination provision of McArdle’s contract at the end of her first year and pay her the required severance for one year. Davis was eventually prosecuted for theft of school funds. McArdle sued the district in federal court (the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois) alleging that, in acting on Davis’ recommendation, the district terminated her for improper reasons. McArdle alleged that Davis orchestrated the termination to prevent McArdle from revealing the improprieties she discovered. McArdle claimed that the school district and Davis violated the First Amendment in acting on that motive. She also brought claims for breach of contract and tortious interference with contract against the district and Davis. The district court ruled in favor of the school district on all claims. McArdle then appealed that decision to the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. The Court of Appeals also ruled in favor of the school district, concluding that McArdle’s speech was not protected by the First Amendment. In reaching this conclusion, the Court of Appeals first stated that in order for McArdle, a public employee, to maintain a First Amendment claim, “the speech must be in her capacity as a private citizen and not as an employee.” Quoting a



Wisconsin School News

U.S. Supreme Court case, Garcetti v. Ceballos,3 the Court of Appeals explained that public employees who make statements pursuant to their official capacity are not acting as private citizens and, therefore, are not protected from employer discipline by the First Amendment. While McArdle tried to argue that oversight of Davis was not part of her job duties or required by law, the court stated that “a public employee’s commentary about misconduct affecting an area within her responsibility is considered speech as an employee even where investigating and reporting misconduct is not included in her job description or routine duties.” Because the school’s reputation, its adherence to district policies, and its finances were all matters within McArdle’s oversight as middle school principal, her speech was not protected by the First Amendment. Further, because her contract allowed the district to terminate her after a year for whatever reason, her breach of contract and tortuous interference claims were dismissed as well. This case is significant because it reaffirms that a court, when faced with such a claim, will first consider whether the employee has spoken either as an employee or as a citizen. Consistent with the holding in Garcetti, the Court of Appeals in McArdle concluded that McArdle was speaking as an employee and therefore concluded that the speech was not protected. This case also reaffirms that the question of whether speech is made pursuant to a public employee’s duties is not answered by mere reference to the speaker’s legal obligations or job description. Instead, regardless of whether reporting misconduct is part of any job description, a public employee’s comments involving misconduct affecting an area within

the employee’s responsibility is considered speech as an employee.

| No Constitutional Violation

By District For Termination of Guidance Counselor Craig v. Rich Township High School District 2274 involved a guidance counselor who alleged that a school district terminated him in violation of his First Amendment rights. In particular, the counselor claimed that his termination was in retaliation for statements made by him within a self-published book containing adult relationship advice. As discussed below, however, the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit held that there was no violation of the First Amendment because the district’s interest in remedying the potential disruption caused by the book outweighed the counselor’s free speech interests. Bryan Craig was a tenured guidance counselor at Rich Central High School in Chicago’s south suburbs who advised students and coached the girls’ varsity, junior varsity, and freshman basketball teams. While employed at the school, Craig selfpublished, “It’s Her Fault,” a collection of Craig’s relationship advice for women. The book was an adult book filled with provocative themes and sexually explicit content and terminology. Craig referenced his employment at the high school throughout the book. In the introduction, he established his qualifications by citing the time he spent coaching girls’ basketball, working with female counselors, and counseling 425 high school students a year, about half of whom were female. When school board officials became aware of the book, Craig was discharged on the basis that his actions in writing the book created concern, disruption, and distrust in

the community; violated Board policy which prohibited conduct that creates a hostile, intimidating, or offensive educational environment; and did not comport with his obligation to present himself as a positive role model. Craig filed suit in federal court (the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois) against the school district, the board, the superintendent, and several board members alleging that his discharge was in retaliation for a protected exercise of his First Amendment rights. The district court dismissed Craig’s complaint, concluding that the book did not address a matter of public concern and thus was not protected by the First Amendment. Craig then appealed this decision to the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. The Court of Appeals affirmed, but on different grounds. Specifically, the Court of Appeals disagreed that the book did not involve a matter of public concern, concluding that the adult relationship dynamics addressed in the book were matters that interest a large segment of the public and thus qualified as a matter of public concern. However, the court pointed out that an employer does not necessarily violate the First Amendment by discharging an employee that speaks out on matters of public concern when the interests of the public employer in “promoting efficient and effective public service” outweighs an employee’s right to comment on the matter. This determination is made under a balancing test established by two U.S. Supreme Court cases, Connick v. Myers5 and Pickering v. Board of Education of Township High School District.6 In weighing the competing inter-

ests of both parties, the Court of Appeals stated that it could consider the content of the speech; the nature of the employee’s responsibilities; and the manner, time, and place of the employee’s speech. The court dismissed Craig’s claim finding that the district’s interest in avoiding disruption to the school’s operation outweighed Craig’s free speech interests. The court also found that the district reasonably predicted that Craig’s book would create an intimidating environment, make female students uncomfortable seeking advice from him, and potentially cause some female students to forgo counseling services entirely. In short, the court concluded that the book would make it impossible for Craig to do his job and would compromise the integrity of counseling services at Rich Central High School. Accordingly, it affirmed the district court’s dismissal of his complaint for failure to state a claim. This case reaffirms that when reviewing such a claim by an employee, a court will usually consider whether the statements were made on a matter of public concern and, if so, will undertake a balancing of interests. In Craig, the court emphasized that the “matter of public concern” inquiry does not require that the speech relate to an issue of exceptional significance; instead, a public concern is something that is a subject of legitimate news interest (that is, a subject of general interest and of value and concern to the public at the time of publication). Once this public concern is established, the employer bears the burden of justifying its restriction on its employee’s speech. The Connick-Pickering balancing test is a very fact-intensive analysis,

but can be established, as it was in Craig, through evidence showing a reasonable prediction of disruption.

| Conclusion Both McArdle and Craig are excellent recent examples of how a court will conduct its analysis to determine whether certain speech is protected under the First Amendment. In McArdle, the court ended its analysis immediately after concluding that the statements were made in the principal’s official capacity. In contrast, the court in Craig needed to go further and review whether a public concern was at issue and whether the school district’s interests outweighed any interests of the employee. Both cases provide excellent insight for school districts in Wisconsin regarding proceeding in analyzing potential First Amendment claims by employees. District officials may find it necessary to conduct a fact-intensive inquiry to determine how the speech and the district’s response fit within the extensive case law precedent and may want to consult their legal counsel for assistance with the analysis. n

ENDNOTES 1. For additional information related to this topic, see Wisconsin School News, “Employee Speech and the ‘Chain of Command’” (January 2009), “Teacher ‘Free Speech’ in the Classroom” (May 2007), and “Employee Speech Rights” (August 2006). 2. 705 F.3d 751 (7th Cir. 2013). 3. 547 U.S. 410 (2006). 4. 736 F.3d 1110 (7th Cir. 2013). 5. 461 U.S. 138 (1983). 6. 391 U.S. 563 (1968). This Legal Comment was written by Michael J. Julka and Richard F. Verstegen of Boardman & Clark LLP, WASB Legal Counsel.

Legal Comment is designed to provide authoritative general information, with commentary, as a service to WASB members. It should not be relied upon as legal advice. If required, legal advice regarding this topic should be obtained from district legal counsel.

March 2013




School Board Members Advocate for Wisconsin Students WASB Delegation attended NSBA Advocacy Institute in February


ne of the most important activities a school board member can undertake is legislative advocacy. Lawmakers want to learn about folks in their districts and issues they’re interested in. Three members of the WASB Executive Committee ‘walked the talk’ when they went to Capitol Hill in February to meet with members of Wisconsin’s congressional delegation to discuss important issues for the state’s public school students. WASB President Mike Blecha, a member of the Green Bay Area School Board, WASB Immediate Past President Nancy Thompson, a member of the Waterloo School Board, and First Vice-President Wanda Owens, a member of the Barneveld School Board, joined more than 750 school board leaders from across the nation who gathered to advocate for strong public schools for all students. Their trip coincided with the National School Board Association’s (NSBA’s) Advocacy Institute, held Feb. 2-4, 2014. The three met with members of Wisconsin’s congressional delegation, encouraging them to complete the long-overdue reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA, a/k/a the No Child Left Behind Act) in the current Congressional session. The House version of the reauthorization, H.R. 5, was passed last summer, marking the first time a reauthorization bill has cleared at least one house of Congress. They also urged Wisconsin’s U.S. senators and representatives to prioritize federal funding provided to local school districts under Title I and the Individuals with Disabilities Education



Wisconsin School News

Act (IDEA) when federal budget decisions are made. The WASB members noted that Title I and IDEA grants are effective in helping to raise K-12 student achievement and school performance, affect nearly all school districts, and should be given funding priority over newly created programs that do not have a proven track record of effectiveness. Another issue raised relates to newly introduced federal legislation that would reduce the authority of states and local school districts to decide the appropriate use of restraint and seclusion in public schools. The three urged our lawmakers to recognize the efforts of states such as Wisconsin and others that have enacted a statutory framework to prevent the inappropriate use of such techniques when considering any proposed federal legislation in this area. Finally, the WASB representatives raised concerns about federal intrusion and overreach into areas historically reserved to school board policymaking and governance, in areas such as school nutrition and meal programs, bullying and even requirements added to the ESEA waivers. They urged support for H.R. 1386, federal legislation known as “The Local School Board Governance and Flexibility Act.” This legislation, coauthored by Wisconsin’s 3rd District Congressman Ron Kind, recognizes the benefits of local school board governance and formalizes a process for reporting and oversight of U.S. Department of Education actions by

WASB Director of Government Relations Dan Rossmiller and WASB Immediate Past President Nancy Thompson met with Wisconsin Congressman Tom Petri during NSBA’s Advocacy Institute in February. Congressional committees. While the fate of a number of important state proposals affecting public K-12 education — such as bills related to establishing an accountability framework for all publicly funded schools, creating special education vouchers and changing the process for establishing and revising state academic standards — remains uncertain as of this writing, there is room for at least some optimism. A pair of identical WASB-backed bills to repeal the current law mandate on school districts to schedule 180 school days, and instead allow districts to be governed by the hours of direct pupil instruction required under current law are advancing through the Legislature. These bills — Senate Bill 589 and Assembly Bill 749 respectively — were approved unanimously by the Senate and Assembly Education committees and now move on for floor votes in their respective houses. Delegates to last month’s 2014 WASB Delegate Assembly overwhelmingly approved Resolution 14-6 in support of such legislation. n

D av i d P i c k l e r


A New Chapter in NSBA’s Rich History


recently received a book that details the history of the National School Boards Association. This book not only told some fascinating tales about the 73-year-old organization, it also gave me a great understanding of where we’ve been and described some of the battles we’ve undertaken as a national organization. Some of these are familiar debates. But the lesson I took away from the book was this: There has never been a more critical time to stand up for local school board governance and for public education across the country. As your 2013-14 NSBA President, I’m working with Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel, who took the reins in December after nearly 30 years at the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, and his team to transform the organization. We are revamping NSBA to be a tougher, leaner, and more effective advocate for the work you do as school board leaders. While we know that NSBA has always been a player in Washington, D.C., we may not have operated to our full capacity. And with the current political environment, we no longer can afford to do that. NSBA is focusing on our core missions — legislative, legal, public advocacy, and member services — to better promote school board governance and public education. We are going to take on the misguided special interests who seek to dismantle public education for their own profit. Those who promote school choice though vouchers, charters that are not held accountable by local school boards, and other unproven experiments will have to answer to us. NSBA will go to battle, through the courts and legislatures, for laws and policies that support public education and local school board governance. We will build strong partnerships with state association members, corporate stakeholders, and other national groups to

increase our effectiveness. To do this, we are building an army of advocates: local school board members who will take a stand for our community schools. I believe we have a responsibility to fight for the futures of our more than 50 million schoolchildren and their civil right to a great education. We need school board members across the country to unite behind this cause and help us stave off all the initiatives from state lawmakers who are being bought out by special interests. We’re going to take our army to Capitol Hill and demand that the federal government back off and let local school boards do their jobs. For example, this year NSBA proposed legislation, the Local School Board Governance and Flexibility Act, and it recently has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. We now have 20 cosponsors for the bill, which would establish a framework for improved recognition

of local school board authority when the U.S. Department of Education acts on issues that impact local school districts unless specifically authorized in federal legislation. NSBA has worked with the Louisiana School Boards Association to file suit against that state’s school voucher program. The Louisiana Supreme Court found in favor of public schools and declared the funding mechanism for the vouchers unconstitutional earlier this year. We are also launching a major public advocacy campaign, to show the good work of public schools and school boards. And you will be hearing about new services we will offer to help you do your jobs better. n Pickler is president of the National School Boards Association and a member of the Shelby County School Board in Tennessee.

NSBA’s New Direction Perspective from Wisconsin school board member Tim Sivertson


im Sivertson, president of the Elk Mound Area School Board, serves as Central Region Director for the National School Boards Association (NSBA). He also served on the “New NSBA” Planning Committee that provided new strategic direction to the NSBA. Concerning NSBA’s new direction, Sivertson shared the following: “The Board of Directors of the NSBA has been very engaged over the past couple of years aligning and refocusing NSBA’s direction. We have completed our internal work and are now applying it externally. Our new mission is focused on working with and through our state associations (like the WASB) and stepping up NSBA advocacy for equity and excellence in public

education through school board leadership. To that extent, the NSBA has launched a new national campaign — “Stand Up 4 Public Schools.” Visit and be part of the team of ‘Army of Advocates’ as we put our advocacy into action. I am committed to our children’s future by making a difference today. The WASB is ready to serve you in providing the tools and information you may need as you put your state and federal advocacy into action. Being well versed with accurate information is the key to all of our credibility and wanted outcomes. As part of the federation built on the state associations, the NSBA is ready to work for you.” N

March 2014




Stand Up for Public Education 2013 WASB President Nancy Thompson urges school leaders to share their success stories


n a passionate address wrapping up her year as WASB President, Nancy Thompson, a member of the Waterloo School Board, called on school board members and administrators to form an army of advocates to stand up for public education. “The forces working to dismantle and discredit public education have not gone away,” Thompson said. “Their advocacy for independent charter schools with no local school board oversight, their support for increased vouchers, and their efforts to ultimately eliminate public education, as we know it, continue to increase.”

Thompson said now, more than ever, school leaders need to share their district’s success stories to show that public education is flourishing. She urged school leaders to participate in the WASB Stand Up for Public Education campaign, which highlights outstanding programs and accomplishments in public schools around the state. “We need to ensure that the greater community knows about the good work taking place in our public schools on a daily basis,” she said. Progress has been made. Over the course of the past year, Thompson pointed out that many positive steps were made on behalf of public edu-

2014 WASB Board of Directors Mike Blecha

President Green Bay, Region 3

Capt. Terry McCloskey USN Retired Three Lakes, Region 2



Bill Yingst, Sr.

Durand, Region 4

Wisconsin School News

Rick Eloranta

Owen, Region 5

Steve Klessig

Brillion, Region 8

Alice Marquardt Rio, Region 10

Wanda Owens

1st Vice President Barneveld, Region 9

Colin Butler

Kettle-Moraine, Region 11

“We need to ensure that the greater community knows about the good work taking place in our public schools on a daily basis.” cation. These included an increase in allowable school spending in each year of the biennium, and needed funding for educator effectiveness programs, SMARTER Balance and ACT assessments, and reading readiness screening. Thompson was also proud of the fact that advocacy efforts led to the removal from last year’s budget bill of proposed statewide special education voucher program and a state-level independent charter school oversight board. “I believe that we made progress working together and that we moved forward,” Thompson said of the past year.

In addition to urging school leaders to advocate and share the success stories from their districts, she also thanked school board members and administrators for their work. “Your commitment to all students is just outstanding,” she said. “Your support of public education, your willingness to go above and beyond everything for the students in your district was a beacon shining brightly to me throughout the year. I thank you so much for everything you do.” n

Blecha to Lead WASB in 2014

Stu Olson

2nd Vice President Shell Lake, Region 1

Patrick Sherman

Genoa City J2/Lake Geneva, Region 13

Nancy Thompson

Immediate Past President Waterloo, Region 12

Terry Falk

Milwaukee, Region 14

WASB Region 3 Director Mike Blecha was elected as the 2014 WASB President by the WASB Board of Directors. Blecha is a member of the Green Bay Area Public School Board. Region 9 Director Wanda Owens was elected 1st Vice President and Region 1 Director Stu Olson was elected 2nd Vice President. Thompson will be recognized as immediate past president. Additionally, Ron Frea, a member of the Pewaukee School Board, officially joined the WASB Board of Directors as Region 15 Director.

Ron Frea

Pewaukee, Region 15

March 2013




Convention Highlights

“To be successful, we need to be adaptive leaders willing to evolve.” – Nancy Thompson, WASB 2013 President

Members of Vocal Point, a group from GaleEttrick-Trempealeau High School, provided high-energy musical entertainment during the final general session of convention.

Students from the Auburndale and Juda School Districts shared information with attendees about innovative programs in their districts as part of the School Fair.

Students from Auburndale talked about their district’s meat science lab that gives students hands-on experience in fresh and smoked meat production. Students from Juda discussed how they have reduced costs through the use of energy efficient strategies such as solar. Joe Schroeder, associate executive director of the Association of Wisconsin School Administrators, presented a session with Brad Saron, district administrator of the Chippewa Falls School District and Todd Gray, district administrator of the Waukesha School District on strategies for school board members to improve student achievement and success.

“The biggest reason people see their dreams realized is because of education.” – Dr. Freeman Hrabowski, University of Maryland Baltimore County President

Exhibitors such as WEA Trust, a sponsor of the 93rd State Education Convention, had an opportunity to meet with school leaders from around the state.

Ryan Meyer, a teacher in the New Lisbon School District presented a session with Wendy Murphy, a member of the New Lisbon School Board, and Dennis Birr, district administrator of the New Lisbon School District on vision and the district’s ambitious plan to accomplish district priorities by 2020.

“This school year, and the next few to come, will bring many important, exciting and positive changes to Wisconsin schools. We’ve got much to be proud of, and a lot yet to do.” – Tony Evers, State Superintendent



Wisconsin School News

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ASSOCIATED FINANCIAL GROUP, LLC 8040 Excelsior Dr. Madison, WI 53717 Phone 608-259-3666 Our focus is financial security options that protect and assist growth. We go beyond simply protecting against the loss of assets and property.

COMMUNITY INSURANCE CORPORATION 18550 W. Capitol Dr. Brookfield, WI 53045 Phone 800-236-6885 Community Insurance Corporation is dedicated to providing school districts with the tools they need to economically and efficiently address today’s changing insurance and risk-management environment.

EMC INSURANCE COMPANIES 16455 W. Bluemound Rd. PO Box 327 Brookfield, WI 53008 Phone 262-786-1800 Property and Casualty Insurance

HUMANA N19 W24133 Riverwood Dr. Suite 300 Waukesha, WI 53188 Phone: 800-289-0260 Insurance Company

KEY BENEFIT CONCEPTS, LLC 2717 N. Grandview Blvd., Suite 205

Retail natural gas services into all Wisconsin utility companies, including national and commercial customers.

Waukesha, WI 53188 Phone: 262-522-6415



SPRINGSTED INCORPORATED 710 Plankinton Ave., Suite 804 Milwaukee, WI 53203-1100 Phone 414-220-4250

Actuarial and employee benefit consulting services. 3113 W. Beltline Hwy. Madison, WI 53713 Phone 800-272-2443

TRICOR INSURANCE 2001 W. Beltline Hwy., Suite 201 Madison, WI 53713 Phone 877-468-7426 TRICOR now insures over 150 public schools. TRICOR’s School Practice Team is made up of a diverse group of experienced individuals who are extensively trained (30+ years experience) and specialized in school insurance products, risk management, support services, loss control, human resources and claims advocacy.

NATIONAL INSURANCE SERVICES OF WISCONSIN, INC. 250 South Executive Dr., Suite 300 Brookfield, WI 53005-4273 Phone 800-627-3660 National Insurance Services has been a specialist in public sector benefits since 1969. Our insured products include: Health, Dental, Disability, Life and Long-Term Care Insurance. Our financial solution products include: Health Reimbursement Accounts, OPEB Trusts (Fixed or Variable), Special Pay Plan and Flexible Spending Accounts.

UNITEDHEALTHCARE 10701 W Research Dr. Milwaukee, WI 53226 Phone 414-443-4094 UnitedHealthcare’s mission is to help people live healthier lives by providing access to high quality, affordable health care. We are committed to improving the health care experience of K-12 teachers, staff, retirees and their families in the state of Wisconsin by providing Better Information, to drive Better Decisions, to help Improve Health.


Advisors to the Public Sector in Finance, Human Resources and Management ­Consulting Services.

M3’s dedicated education specialists combine more than 100 years of experience and expertise to provide schools with the very best in risk management, employee benefits and property and casualty insurance.



400 N. Executive Dr., Suite 300 Brookfield, WI 53005 Public sector practice

832 Niagra Ave. Sheboygan, WI 53082 Phone 920-457-7781 Fax 920-459-0251

The attorneys at Buelow Vetter have decades of experience in representing school boards across the State of Wisconsin. We advise school boards and administrators on a variety of issues from labor and employment to student discipline and expulsion.





1581 E. Racine Ave. Waukesha, WI 53186 Phone 262-574-7000

10140 N. Port Washington Rd. Mequon, WI 53092 Phone: 262.241.7779

1289 Deming Way, Suite 208 Madison, WI 53717 Phone 608-828-3741 Fax 608-828-3757, Gallagher specializes in serving the risk management and insurance needs of public schools.

R&R Insurance’s School Practice Group has more than 25 years of educational institution experience and a dedicated Resource Center designed with school district’s risk and claims management needs in mind.

20855 Watertown Rd., Suite 200 Waukesha, WI 53186 Phone: 262.364.0300

Phillips Borowski, S.C. works with schools throughout the state to guide them through the complex system of laws and regulations affecting school operations.







2013-14 EXECUTIVE COACING WORKSHOP SESSION 4 building r e l at i o n s h i p s a n d strengthening leadership

March 28 crowne Plaza Madison, wi

Session Four: Governance, Budget Cycle, Handling Stress In the final session of this four-part series, participants will: • Learn tips on effective governance and governance structures; • Review budgeting practices; and • Learn ways to address stress in their personal and professional lives. The WASB Coaching Program is designed for initial and second-year superintendent along with their board presidents, but the workshops are open to all WASB members.

May 3, 2014 chula Vista resort wisconsin dells, wi

a f o u n d at i o n in school board g ov e r n a n c e f o r new and experienced school board members

The WASB 2014 Spring Academy will feature tracks on: • The Fundamentals of School Board Service • School District Leadership • An Overview of the Referendum Process - What School Board Members Need to Know and Ask The WASB 2014 Spring Academy is a great opportunity for new board members to get the basics of school board service and for experienced board members to delve more deeply into how to govern effectively or one of the most pressing issues facing districts today deciding whether or not to go to referendum. Watch your mailbox and the WASB website for details.

v i s i t wa s b . o r g f o r co m p l e t e i n f o r m at i o n a n d to r e g i s t e r

Ph: 608-257-2622 FAx: 608-257-8386

Wisconsin School News - March 2014  
Wisconsin School News - March 2014  

Official magazine of the Wisconsin Association of School Boards