I just got my “Vote YES” call

Dave Luczak – you remember? The guy PR guru Andy Smith said was an independent moderator at the Q & A the district held for (and I mean FOR) the referendum? – just called to tell me the plan is, “realistic and fiscally responsible.” How very disingenuous of the district. Believe me, I don’t use that word lightly.

If you get an out of area call today, consider letting the answering machine catch it. I’d like a voice copy.


  1. I saw a Vote NO sign this morning. Are you folks organizing after all, or was this a left-over?

  2. Dan, Dave is welcome to have an opinion. I don’t think it’s fair that he gets to be “neutral” AND have an opinion about the same issue.

    Signs are leftover from last round modified with a new date. The group is still actively filed from a year ago, so the disclaimer is accurate.

  3. I think people can play a neutral role when called upon and still have an opinion-or form one-later.

    You are in the opinion business here, but I’m quite confident you could play a neutral role if you wanted to. Moderating requires some skills that not all of us have.

  4. Yes, we could probably pull it off. But I think I would disclose my opinion prior to moderating. I feel certain we will hear the Luczak hadn’t made up his mind until after the forum.

    I think I’d like to emphasize that I am questioning the district fronting Luczak as neutral and not Luczak’s right to an opinion. The call is fine. The fact that the YES call came after he was touted as neutral by the district is not.

  5. BrkfldDad says:

    Hey, you are part of Molly Steffen’s YES e-mail document…

    I’ll admit, if this referendum passes it won’t be the end of the world.
    Cindy Kilkeny, local blogger

  6. Can you send it to me? Oops, sorry, or post the whole thing –

    Right. Obama could get elected and life will still go on. (Sorry, Shawn, I know how you feel.)

    Good grief, it’s just like the YES crowd to do something like that. Frankly, it shows how reasonable I am to admit that the world will go on even if this referendum passes.

    Come on someone! Send me that e-mail!

  7. I probably had a call too, but it is on my voice mail, which I cannot get to, because I have no phone!

    I agree, I would be lost without my techno-boy too. I sure miss my regular internet connection; my iffy cell phone connection is only better than nothing.

  8. So, is this an actual violation or is Luczak just jumping ship here? Anyone have any predictions as to how this referendum vote is gonna turn out? I’m not really sure what to think, but I haven’t seen many yard signs either for OR against it, unlike last year…

  9. The world might even be a better place, instead of more than the same, Cindy.

  10. BrkfldDad says:

    Hey everyone, (from Carver Smith)

    By now you all know I have been very supportive of the new high school plan. I don’t mean to fill your e-mail with “political stuff” but to me, this isn’t about politics but the right answer for our community. In short, two separate groups, with no agenda but coming up with a solution to a problem everyone agrees exists, came up with a very fiscally responsible plan developed by our community. Tomorrow is the vote.

    There will be no signs to remind you, probably not much other coverage, so this is your reminder to vote!

    Below is a message from from Molly Steffen and some editorials she summarized (attached). Molly is a great friend and a person who has been in the details on this issue and been a part of the solution more than anyone I know. She has put in countless hours on this project for which I am very grateful.

    Also, please don’t hesitate to call me if you have any questions I can clarify!

    Thanks for your time.


    Dear Friends, (from Molly Steffen)


    It is parents like us who tend to be the most apathetic when it comes to elections. We are too busy with our kids and daily lives to find time to get to the polls. The referendum for the High Schools will not pass unless each one of us gets out and votes. If the referendum does not pass, history tells us we will not get more. The next plan will certainly be for less and anything less than this will simply be a band-aid solution.

    Please get out and VOTE YES for Elmbrook High Schools on Tuesday, April 1st!

    Pass this on to 5 friends and you will have good luck for 1 day

    Pass this on to 10 friends and you will have good luck for 1 week

    Pass this on to 20 friends and you will have good luck for 1 month

    Just kidding – Pass this on to friends and family because it makes sense.

    Attached are excerpts from Letters to the Editor written by local community members and leaders.

    Excerpts from Editorials found in BrookfieldNOW

    The direction of the team was to devise a plan to satisfy the needs of the high schools and provide accountability to the taxpayer. Through a lengthy, detailed process, a unanimous recommendation was achieved.
    Roger Johnson, HSST committee member

    No single plan could possibly include everything that each voter wants to see, but I think this solution has solved the major problems faced by the schools and is still fiscally responsible to the taxpayers.
    Gary Jones, School Board Candidate

    In recent years I have had numerous opportunities to visit high schools throughout southeastern Wisconsin. The Elmbrook School District high schools are at the bottom of the run when it comes to the actual physical structures. For a community blessed with so much, this is an embarrassment.
    Gary Makhorn, Alderman

    It is a sound plan, based on needs – one that will provide students with upgraded and updated facilities to appropriately support their education and ensure accessibility and safety.
    Dorothy Smaglick, HSST committee member

    I hope we can all come together as a community and provide facilities that will sustain the high academic achievement of the Elmbrook School District.
    Glen Allgaier, School Board Member

    With new mechanicals, upgraded lighting and modern windows, the revised buildings (even with their additions and with air conditioning) will use less water and energy (and cause less environmental impact) than the current buildings.
    William Armstrong, eProgress committee member

    This referendum will …. give Elmbrook the opportunity to take a needed leap forward in science education.
    Ted Kanavas, State Senator

    This plan solves the critical facility needs and shortcomings of our high schools for the next 40 to 50 years.
    David Marcello, School Board Candidate

    The process used in determining what should be included in the remodeling of our schools was sound and took to heart concerns from across the whole community.
    Jeff Speaker, Mayor

    The remodel option at $62.2 million is solid. It provides the academic, enrichment and athletic facilities that are needed. There is no excess spending in this plan. This is an optimal plan. It is balanced for the good of the taxpayers, students, parents, faculty and administration.
    Jerald Theder, HSST committee member

    …this is a realistic plan that addresses the current issues and those for the foreseeable future of our high schools.
    Carver Smith, eProgress committee member

    I’ll admit, if this referendum passes it won’t be the end of the world.
    Cindy Kilkeny, local blogger

  11. Thanks BrkfldDad, you’re the best.

  12. How come dad only posted comments from YES voters? I don’t agree with anything they say!

  13. El gato,
    BrkflDad was just posting an email that was put out by the VoteYes group. That is why all of the comments speak positively to the referendum. Cindy’s comment was included by the “yes” voters to imply that even she supports it.

  14. He was forwarding an e-mail he got, El gato. It’s not his work, but the work of the Vote YES group. Maybe that’s why you don’t agree!

  15. I’m just happy election day is tomorrow so that all of these ridiculous phone calls will finally stop!

  16. Amen to that!

  17. BubbasMom says:

    Voting NO may keep your property taxes stable. Voting NO may also keep your perceived property value on the decline. If we want to continue to attract young families to our fine community, we must be competitive with the outlying suburbs. They can get more house for their money, and more schools for their money. When you try to sell your home at some point, and nobody wants to move to Brookfield because there is no K4, the schools are crumbling and outdated, and the facilities are insufficient, good luck. Be progressive. Our kids deserve the best we can offer.

  18. Do not tarnish the “progressive” label. Being progressive would be funding needs, saving up for some wants, and trying to improve things so that people like my elderly great grandparents aren’t forced to sell the house they’ve lived in since World War II because of their fixed income which is already bursting at the seams.

  19. Oh my goodness, BubbasMom. We are so lucky that you choose to live in a community as pathetic as Brookfield. Can I assume you don’t work for the Chamber of Commerce?

  20. When all the elitists get all their “wants” fulfilled on the taxpayers dime and property taxes are no longer reasonable, THAT’S when people won’t choose to live here. If the “best” we can offer our kids is “things” then we are very shallow indeed. I pity people with these values.

  21. BubbasMom has a point about comparisons. You may not buy it, but some of the surrounding schools have stars on thars, and we don’t.

  22. Kathryn, please explain.

  23. I mean Tosa West, the middle school in Muskego, other communities have attractive schools. If you don’t have much to go on, you’re visiting an area for a day or two and the realtor says “good schools” here, here, and here, the ugly one is not the one that’s going to appeal. It goes back to what I said the other day about keeping up with the Joneses.

    I’m not saying appearances are more important than quality of education, but they are a factor in the overall impression one gets of a community.

  24. It goes to what you said about appearing unloved.

  25. OK.

    I do think back to when I looked for a house 13 years ago. I never even considered the public schools because I was from the South, and darn it, if you wanted an education you paid for it. I had no idea that Wisconsin had such good public schools.

    The kids were each in parochial school until the 5th grade, and then they switched to Elmbrook.

    What else would you choose to base a decision in addition to the physical facilities? Would you actually visit those?

  26. I would visit now.

    When I moved here, and when I lived in Madison, I was homeschooling and didn’t care what the public schools were like. I cared about commute time and if I could afford the house.

    Now, I would shop schools like I would shop universities, and I DO actually. I am always reassessing education options.

  27. I didn’t answer the rest of your question. I care about the atmosphere of a school, how students and staff are treated. I care about variety of classes, rigor, and intellectual peers for my kids–I have gifted, slow, and in-between. I care that the kids at the extremes have a place to fit in and are treated with respect. I care about the quality of the teaching and of the teachers. I care about SAT scores, college counseling, and academic counseling within the high school. I care about arts, and I care how the place looks–the environment counts.

  28. Kathryn, I understand and agree with your viewpoints completely. Shopping around was, is, and will be a personal staple of mine. A solid school system is a great personal priority of mine. Whether or not you find it wants vs. needs, curb appeal will always have an effect. Let’s not forget being functional from the inside out too. Ever try navigating the halls of East and Central between classes? Forget it… I’ve been in both and it is a logistical nightmare.

  29. Kathryn,
    While I agree that all of those things are important, many of those factors can not possibly be determined by simply visiting a school or even doing your research. Knowing how the staff and students are treated, the availability of academic/college counseling (come on…they will all say they provide it), the potential for intellectual peers for your children, and so forth…none of that will come to light until your children are actually enrolled in the school (unless you are fortunate enough to speak with other families – but again, then you are basing decisions on their experience.) My point is that MANY families research schools before they make a move…but so many positives and negatives simply can not be determined via research or even school visits. For instance, on the district site it says that our elementary school offers a variety of after-school clubs. Of the entire list, so far I have only seen 3 actually being offered. Two of the 3 are new this year and one of them is only on there because I asked that it be started for my child and bought all of the supplies. Someone moving into the area would look at that list and think, “Wow! Look at all of the wonderful opportunities for my child.” Once they are actually enrolled, however, they will quickly see that things aren’t always as they appear.

  30. Kelly Frank says:

    I would have to agree with Kathryn about school shopping. We decided where to live in the metro area based on schools. We narrowed to two districts and the commute became the deciding factor between the two.

    As I have said in previous posts, we have the ability to be patient on fixes to high schools as our little ones are 10+ years from being in those buildings. So those facilities didn’t play as heavily into our decision. We did pick a house in the Dixon Elementary area – very appealing. The house we chose needed additional lovin’, but the tradeoffs are/will be worth it when our oldest starts school.

    If our kids were older when we were moving in, we definitely would have taken tours and the the facilities and general impressions of the schools would have played a much larger role in our decision as to where to live.

    I know that not everyone is that diligent about looking for homes, but I know that there are those of us out there. As a result, I DO believe that home values are affected by how schools perform – and the perceived performance factors. These performance factors would include (obviously not exclusively) facilities – whether they are functional, but also whether they are appealing as compared to the other options out there.

  31. You are right, Libby. I couldn’t learn all that in a weekend, which gives appearances a little more gravity than they deserve.

    I can learn more than you might think, though. I do find other families to talk to–that’s how I got to know Cindy, for one. I listen to how people talk to kids in the hallways and libraries, how kids talk to adults, how their demeanor changes when they switch from conversing with peers to teachers. Half an hour here and there reveals a lot.

  32. Kelly, do you think taxes are a consideration for property value? Brookfield’s really moved up on the list of most taxed.

  33. Okay – but based on the premise of appearance…wouldn’t it stand to reason that homes in the Brook El/Dixon areas would be selling faster (or perhaps for more money) than homes in our older elementary school neighborhoods? Is that, in fact, the case?

  34. Interesting question.

    I’m not arguing that appearances are first and utmost, just that they could be a factor. My kids’ high school is dumpy and I am shocked when I visit the fresh sunny schools in other districts.

  35. Why is it all about your homes, and their value and not your children and the value of their learning? Environment, space, ambiance, and enlightened and healthy teachers make all the difference in the world. VOTE YES!!!! for our/your children of the future our/your children of today.

  36. I know I will totally offend someone if I use specific district’s names…but there are schools in other local communities that look FANTASTIC from the outside. Yet, I would not choose to send my children there. Why? Lower test scores, less emphasis on college prep, lower graduation rate and so forth. Let’s face it – there will always be some people that judge on “image” or “looks” first, and there will be other people that judge on “other” – not just about schools, but about all kinds of things. Please, don’t read into this. I am not trying to specifically label anyone here. I am just making a generalization that I think applies to not only this discussion thread, but the entire referendum debate as well.

  37. Kelly Frank says:

    I do think that taxes are a factor. However, it depends on the perspective that you have. We moved from an area of the country where taxes were less – so was the quality of education. We were/are willing to pay more on taxes because of the level of education that our children will receive in this district.

  38. Kelly Frank says:

    Libby – I can only speak for our neighborhood. Over the past two years, I can’t think of a home that took longer than about 3 months to sell – most within a month. For the homes with published sale prices, the homes sold within a few thousand dollars of asking price. I don’t know that the schools are why the houses sold, but I’m sure it hasn’t hurt. Most of the new homeowners have or will be having small children.

  39. If you’ve been convinced that investing this amount in our high schools will maintain property values, please pause a moment to consider…
    1) low property taxes attract residents
    2) schools sized to accomodate more students while resident enrollment is declining, attract non-residents
    3) we are encouraging non-resident families to take advantage of our school system without becoming part of the tax base and paying our level of property taxes, and we are building excess capacity into our schools to accomodate this.

    We could do better. Time will tell.

  40. Winegirl says:

    Are the only people buying or building houses those with children?

    In 1995, when we moved from a condo to our single family home in Brookfield, we looked in Mequon and in Brookfield. Our decision to buy here was based on location, house amenities and property taxes. In other words, we wanted an affordable, high quality single family home.

    Until 2000, the tax rate was very stable. Since 2000, when the school board decided to rebuild every school in the district, the property tax rate shot up. Vis a vis the value of our home, we don’t feel we are getting good value for the tax dollar as we used to.

    Remember: 2/3 of the residents here have no kids in the schools. Some may be interested in funding new buildings, but I suspect most are more interested in trying to age in place in their homes. Keeping the tax rate affordable is key. In my own small subdivision, the vast majority of us are retired, near retirement age or never had children. Most built what they felt would be their final home, a “dream home.” None of us are planning to sell our homes or move to a condo (at least not until they carry us out in a pine box.)
    The entire US population is aging, and the demographic of families with children is shrinking, except in the south and southwest where Hispanic immigration is bolstering the population of younger people. So to assume that any municipality is going to get by attracting primarily families with school age children as buyers is delusional thinking.