Academics, not athletics

Elmbrook Superintendent Matt Gibson took to task the numbers used in the advertisement that ran in last week’s papers. So, using the numbers the district released, here are a few accurate statements:

–34% of the cost of the referendum goes to improving athletic facilities. That’s over a third of the money to be bonded.

–98% of the cost of new construction will be spent on gymnasiums. (That $15.7 million including soft costs was set at about $10 million in a separate referendum last year.)

Question: What percentage of high school students are active in extra curricular athletics? 34%? 98%?

How many participate in the music curriculum? How much of this referendum goes to improving those facilities? Technology? Foreign language?

Reading, writing, or arithmetic?


  1. Dan, you missed the point entirely. The current facilities are managing the current PE load or they wouldn’t be able to graduate students.

    Why don’t you tell me how many times the gym have been used for the activities you list in the 2nd paragraph.

  2. Dan,
    I still think you are missing the point. No one is arguing to eliminate sports or gym class. No one is saying these things are entirely unimportant. However, the pot of money is only so big. Is this where we NEED to spend it? If funds were unlimited, then sky’s-the-limit…but unfortunately, that is not the case. With limited funds, we must pick and choose what issues are important by defining where our true “needs” lie. Take a look at the district survey. As a community, our “wants” – 4K, foreign language in the elementary schools, cost-of-living increases for staff, adequately funded retirement accounts, better technology, more concise programming for our GT students, more AP opportunities, better arts facilities (and so on) – are all over the map. In your opinion, is this particular “need” (or “want”) greater than all of the others listed? Is this how the district and community should spend the money, in lieu of other identified needs/wants? That is the question, and (I believe) the point Cindy and others are trying to convey.

  3. Dances at East are in the cafeteria – the gym is deemed to large to keep track of the students. The big ones are at high-cost venues, usually downtown.

  4. Dan, it would only be fair for you to admit that as a football player you are biased towards athletics. A student interested in drama would want a big stage, etc. The point is that one can’t have it all unless money is unlimited. Since you are likely not a property tax payer yet, and only have at most one year of experience in the work force, you may find that your opinions will change when you are paying all your own bills and struggling to make ends meet. Remember, you did alright at East!

  5. I think if you have to pay for all the “wants” of yourself and others, you might find that it’s overwhelming and you have to be content with funding the needs. That’s all. I wasn’t attacking you…just suggesting that time might change your rationalizations. Students go to schools to be educated in the “three R’s”. All the other stuff is secondary. Character should be developed at home and at their religious functions primarily. Schools can’t be all things to all people. Sports is definitely an extracurricular activity and should be self-supporting. You might remember the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center was not paid for by the taxpayers if I’m not mistaken.

    I guess my point is that you have your biases and I have mine. I have paid property taxes for about 45 years and the bulk of that was for education, so I certainly have paid plenty and am willing to pay more…but only for needed educational facilities. I bet 45 years from now you might feel the same way unless you win the lottery! LOL.

  6. Wilson Center and taxpayer dollars – no and yes.

    No the taxpayer is not part of the original contract. Yes, the taxpayer funds the Center every year through a contract made by the Elmbrook school district which is taxpayer money.

    Beats the heck out of funding two high school performance areas (but wait! we are doing that in the new referendum) individually. Still an ok compromise for me. I much prefer performances there over the cafetorium performances of the past…even if I did cough up a few thousand dollars to replace the Pilgrim Park sound system.

  7. Dan, I don’t think you’ll be convincing El gato to swallow any kind of pill soon. Make your point, but it’s unlikely you’ll be swaying his.

  8. Obviously. There are also fair-minded individuals NOT supporting the referendum as currently written. That’s why we’re gonna vote.

    Do you live in Elmbrook? Will you be voting on this one?

  9. Um, not if you want to stay out of trouble, you won’t. Your permanent address – you know, the ones you pay your bills for? – should be your voting address.

  10. I thought students were allowed to choose one place or the other. Are you a student, Dan?

  11. Hey, I didn’t know you were headed back…med school?

  12. Got it. Granted, it’s not what I expected to hear. Good job finding someone to ask.

  13. Sorry Cindy, you’re wrong on this one. Homecoming is held in the gymnasium and I think only MORP is held in the cafeteria because it’s smaller and they use the court yard.

    Unless it’s changed from last year.

  14. My bad. My inside source says you are correct, Shawn.

  15. Hey, Dan, my inside source is sitting on the couch. Gotta trust her.

  16. When my mother became a teacher in 1945, she was told that character & values education were off limits–no Aesop’s Fables, no “moral of the story” etc. She feels that this void has contributed to societal decline.

    I do believe that schools should support basic values, such as courtesy, integrity, kindness and fair play. Of course developing character is primarily the responsibility of parents, but I am pleased and grateful when others in the community–especially those who have authority over my children for long periods–actively support my efforts.

    I am wondering how team sports fit into the equation? Dan and many other men say team sports build character. There is another vocal contingent that says that athletes have a sense of entitlement. Case in point, I know a woman who cooks for a sports trainer. He insists that she wear only athletic gear to work so that it is clear to his clients that she is part of the team rather than the menu. Obviously the character building works for some and not for others. What are the factors when it works? What makes it work?

  17. Kathryn
    Are you suggesting that those who are questioning the expanded sports facilities are doing so because they believe “athletes have a sense of entitlement”? I am having a hard time following your point.

  18. Libby, I’m following a tangent; the original thread seemed to have come to an end. I’m not trying to characterize anybody, just get some insight into how athletics can develop character (one of Dan’s earlier assertions).

    I appreciate your comments about good coaching, Dan. It sounds like that is the heart of the matter I was wondering about. I’ve heard of some communities where the high school athletes can sign up for sports they don’t care about in order to “serve” their team suspensions for grades or behavior. Quite different from what you describe. Maybe we should say good coaching builds good character.

    As for my example, the trainer said his clients are spoiled and used to having their way. He was afraid the cook would be sexually harassed if she looked like ‘some girl’ instead of ‘training team.’ Not entirely logical, but he was trying to protect her–and yes, she is modest in her attire.

  19. Kathryn makes a good point–good coaching builds character. I was never an athlete, but as a beneficiary of really great coaching (and a team environment), I have gained a better ability to work with others and contribute to other’s success.

    That was my experience in Speech and Debate. And to this day in interviews or meeting new people–I’m asked if I was on a Speech team. It shows. And I think that being a team athlete forces you to do a lot of things you wouldn’t usually.

    We’ve all heard about the low-GPA student who turns it all around because of soccer, or the football player who escapes from a tough family life through excellence in his athletic area.

    But it’s hard to get good coaches when they’ve been paid the same wage for almost 20 years.

    I think administrative salaries need to be pulled back, and coaching salaries expanded.

    And to be honest, I think that our athletic facilities are some of the worst i’ve seen.

  20. Dan made the point about coaching, I just rephrased.

  21. I meant to say I like your rephrasing, but both made a good point.