That was to word that kept popping into my head as I walked around Central High School this morning. Here’s a picture to help:

Central ficus - unloved

This tree has obviously been around for a while. It’s been neglected though. It has – and I’m not kidding – about six leaves. A branch is broken off and placed across the pot. In a word this plant is unloved. It’s a fitting picture of the rest of the school.

I met the principal after the morning tour. He had 6 guests and a couple of children. They were chatting on their way through the cafeteria as I was taking pictures of our sad plant friend. I had made the appointment so I could photograph the video room that was finally acknowledged last week. Although the coach’s room isn’t on any map, it does exist. There are two TVs and many (6? 8?) dvd or vcr devices; a couple of computers; a long conference table. But the room, too, seemed unloved. That’s why I didn’t take a picture. It felt like it would be unkind.

To get to the coach’s room we entered through the health room, room 52, which is on the map as much larger than in reality. The room was awful. There was a newer dropped ceiling and lots of exposed pipes. There was a front counter with the laminate ripped off exposing the pressed wood base.

Unloved. This school has been ignored for a long, long time. I told the principal that I’d seen a lot of homes for sale in my day. If this school were a house I’d assume it was too far gone.

So what the hell was this district doing with all that money for the last 50 years? Why does the cafeteria have tile that appears to be original? How in the world can a district be so irresponsible with such an important physical asset?

Here’s my conclusion:

1) I still will not support this referendum because it isn’t the right answer. We have a problem maintaining what we own. There’s no way I’m trusting this administration with a newer version to trash.

2) We must be more diligent as voters when it comes to this school district’s assets. What I saw today was a pathetic example of squandering the public trust. The tree pictured above is a great example of the love this school receives.

3) If this referendum fails, which I suspect it will, I will volunteer to chair (not co-chair or facilitate) a group to finally solve Elmbrook facilities issue. I will ask for full access to the district’s resources. I will look into closing two grade schools. I will look at selling vacant land. I have a feeling once the facilities are studied as a whole and a plan put in place to maintain and improve those facilities using both regular and some referendum funding, we can move forward.

4) Matt Gibson needs to apologize. Then he needs to plan his resignation. What he has done is inexcusable.

I can’t be more blunt here. After what I saw at Central I’m angry. It’s time to make changes.


  1. Well, Cindy, at least we agree on the state of this school. Did you see the conference room, near the health room, with the hole in the wall so a person can put an arm through to reach the light switch? And the lounge chairs around the conference table, that make everyone at the meeting too short for the table? The labyrinth that leads to the special education room on the second floor? The cramped and shabby condition of the counseling area? The building looks like nothing has been updated since 1974. I’m not sure we can pin that on any one administration.

  2. “I’m not sure we can pin that on any one administration.”

    I disagree. There’s plenty that could have been done over the last 10 years to mend and maintain. It should have been done.

  3. Ok, I’ll meet you on that last point.

  4. I need to ask:

    Are band-aids on schools truly the answer?

    We can patch up potholes on roads all we want, but sooner or later the road needs to be fixed or replaced. Otherwise, your car ends up getting damaged.

  5. Greg – what “Band-aids” are you referring to? Have you even looked at the proposed remodeling?

  6. He’s saying is remodeling worth it or should we rebuild. I think it’s environmentally (and financially) irresponsible to knock down a school to build a new one atop.

    If we consolidate into a new campus, then sure–maybe. But I think it’s very clear the schools have been (central more than east) grossly neglected.

  7. Even the disrict has conceded that our buildings are, in fact, structurally sound. This community has yet to even demonstrate that they will support a remodel, let alone tolerating a consolidation. You can go on and on debating the pros and cons of one giant high school…but the fact remains that there is simply no justifiable reason to knock these buildings down and start over.

  8. W

  9. Whoops, sorry Cindy for the previous comment.

    I guess a question needs to be asked as to how long a school can go as an original before major repair or consideration of a new school occurs.

    Franklin’s current high school is 40+ years old, and some residents already dub it an embarrassment and are trying to put their kids in other suburban districts that have items their kids wouldn’t get in Franklin.

    I know Elmbrook has tons more options than Franklin when it comes to schools, but how long will it go over there before it becomes an issue where people will finally say, “OK, we need to something now!”

    People can vote NO til their hands become stiff from staying in the same position checking the same answer. That’s not providing anything new, or positive, for the district. If you don’t like the referendums, then reject the board members who propose them. I just hope in 20+ years, when the district could become a mess, I won’t be reading various Brookfield blogs complaining about why nothing was done in the past.

  10. Libby, I think you misunderstood what I was saying. I said that unless we consolidate into one school which would save money in the future, there is no need to knock down the schools to build news ones.

    I think moderate remodeling needs to be done with the idea of saving for future new construction.

  11. Greg, a building can go forever if it is properly maintained. Had intermediate improvements been made on a timely basis there would be nothing to parade before the voters.

  12. Good Morning, Shawn –
    No…I got that. I was still debating with Greg (based on your interpretation of what he meant by “band aids.”)

    Now, to address that last statement of yours. I’ve said it before, and I will continue to say it again – having two smaller schools is what separates us from Arrowhead and keeps us comparable to Homestead. Moving to one giant student body would be, in my opinion, a grave mistake.

  13. J. Strupp says:

    Greg, no one in Franklin is trying to put their kids in other districts because of the current state of Franklin High School. That’s a bunch of bologna. Let’s not get carried away with things and embellish the situation.

    Take it from Hillary.

  14. Mr. Strupp, with all due respect how would you know of this?

    Personally, I know of this because I hear it being discussed on the drive home after picking up my sisters from school. Right now, one of them is in the critical year of 7th grade, and parents currently are debating on where to send their children to high school. So talk of sending them OUT of Franklin is, indeed, happening.

    Even at the Cultural Arts Center discussion, I bumped into many individuals who openly called our high school an embarrassment to our community. The shame rests on our Board for failing in the past to accurately present material to the residents to keep them well-informed and well-knowledged on where the funds would go and the percentages.

    Very much similar to what Elmbrook was/is facing, if I’m not mistaken.

  15. J. Strupp says:

    Let me know when you actually find a parent that sends their kid out of Franklin specifically becuase of the poor condition of Franklin High School.

    I don’t know how much merit you should give third-party accounts from a 14 year old, Greg. My B.S. detector is going off pretty loud right now.

  16. Seriously, where do all of these pretentious people come from? You know the ones I am talking about…the people who are more worried about the appearance of their child’s classroom than the actual quality of education being received. The idea that someone would pull their child from a school because they believe it is an “embarrassment” is laughable. Good grief, it’s not a country club…it is an institution for learning. Doesn’t anyone remember the old saying, “You can’t judge a book by its cover?”

  17. From the loins of Kate Bloomberg maybe?

  18. LOL 🙂

  19. Shawn, you win.

    Is anyone having trouble with this post looking differently from others in their browser? I think I need to do something with the picture.

  20. Lucky Lady says:

    No, Cindy, I’m not having trouble with this post, but the “No Lisa, Not Quite” one. I’m losing the left side of the comments. Is it me or you?

  21. Everything is working fine on all fronts with Firefox.

  22. Lucky Lady says:

    Oh, Firefox, I’ll try that.

    Anyway, what I wanted to say is that I like your plan of action, Cindy. My plan is to do a Write-in Vote for “Cindy Kilkenny” in the school board column on Tuesday. It seems the only way to make changes is in the voting booth. Hopefully, others will do the same.

  23. For which seat? I think Cindy was hoping to draft Brooks Flemming for at-large.

  24. I’d only be eligible for the at-large seat.

    Do you know Brooks Fleming, Kathryn? I don’t, so I’m not sure I’d be a good person to draft him.

    LL – it might be you, but if it’s just every once in a while, I wouldn’t change browsers.

  25. Sorry Cindy, I must have misunderstood. Do you want to be drafted?

  26. It’s a flattering idea, but I don’t think it would do any good since it’s pretty late in the game. I would serve if elected, but then I always do!

    I was hoping you knew Brooks Fleming.