Elmbrook School Board 11/25

Tonight’s meeting feels a lot like the meeting two weeks ago. The school district’s interaction with the City of Brookfield consumes a lot of the evening’s agenda. Here are a few items I noted. Click on them to read the memos delivered by district staff to the board members.

East 2010 is asking for $25,000 in the next budget to continuing improving Brookfield East high school’s athletic fields and facilities. This group has repeatedly met or exceeded fundraising expectations. Unlike the Central version BC(2), promises from this group have been fulfilled. The recommendation is to honor the request. I hope the school board will, as it would seem very unfair to punish East for the poor performance from Central.

(Disclosure: I’ve written checks to East 2010 in the past.)

Next is the High School Facilities Design Development Package. Wonder how the pre v. post planning is shaping up? It’s in this document somewhere. There are a lot of lines and columns to show you the total is magically $62,190,000. The last two pages show “cost control.” These might better be described as promises the board didn’t intend to keep.

Once again, there’s the decision to sell part of Swanson’s land to the City of Brookfield.

It completely blows me away, but last Tuesday, buried in the consent agenda (which means NOT ONE alderperson commented on the issue), the Council voted to spend $150,000 to help VK build his next folly. Public money is going to facilitate development privately held. The city will no doubt argue this money is spent for public purpose – a road easement – but that is a complete reversal on how development has been handled in the past. A developer usually builds roads on land he purchased and dedicates that to the city. Look for more unusual behavior to come from Mayor Jeff Speaker as he works to help his friend and campaign contributor Vince Kuttemperoor on this project. VK wanted a TIF, but the TIF concept isn’t liked by voters, so it looks like the Mayor is simply going to pay outright from the stash he’s got going at City Hall.

The final vote in which every member of the Elmbrook electorate is eligible to participate will be December 9th. For the record, I think the board should have to declare how this $150,000 in unexpected revenue will be spent so it doesn’t end up paying for artificial turf at Central.

There’s to be discussion on the 5 year enrollment projections. Current resident enrollment is 6,619. Here’s the table staff provides:

Page 2 of this document shows enrollment by school. Think about how large Brookfield Elementary and Dixon were built. Look at how Hillside and Tonawanda could combine with those two schools. I argue again that Elmbrook needs 4 600 student grade schools, not 2 600 student grade schools and 4 300 student grade schools. As the board continues to whine about revenue, the obvious answer is to cut costs by closing Hillside and Tonawanda.

It’s that time of year again where a board member’s loyalty is divided between getting re-elected and attending the warm-weather conference of school board members across the country. I think it’s Wartman and Schwei up in April, so I’ll bet these two won’t be going anywhere. The conference is San Diego this year, and $3,200 of your taxpayer dollars are set aside to whisk some lucky board member or two to hear these fine speakers on education:

Toni Morrison, one of the world’s most prominent authors and winner of both the Nobel Prize in Literature and the Pulitzer Prize will be the speaker on Sunday, April 5.

Actress and best-selling author Julie Andrews will speak on Monday, April 6.

Author of the best-seller, Three Cups of Tea, and co-founder of the non-profit Central Asia Institute and Pennies for Peace, Greg Mortenson will speak at the Tuesday, April 7 General Session.

I promise to warmly roast any board member who chooses to attend. Last year I think a little public pressure kept everyone off that list. I’d like to see the same thing happen this year. Set the money aside for a new Smart Board at each high school instead. Consuming tax money to hear Julie Andrews speak is pathetic. I’ll lend the board my two Princess Diaries DVDs if the really need a Julie Andrews fix.

The district will again discuss the lease of land to the City of Brookfield for the purpose of a park at the cost of $1 per year.

I have mixed feelings about this plan, but since it will happen anyway, I’ll keep them to myself this time.

That’s it. Be sure to click the full agenda above if you want every detail.


  1. Hi Cindy,

    I agree with the closing of Hillside and Tonawanda. The following is my B.N. Forum post from March 2008:

    I beleive we need to look at the big picture, and at least look at considating our facilities and creating one new high school.

    We are failing to look at the entire picture. There are more costs coming soon.

    It is my understanding that the District owns raw land for future school sites. Are we looking at selling this land, since our enrollment is decreasing?

    It is also a concern that 3 existing schools have soon will have to be upgraded or expanded at a cost of millions of dollars.

    West Allis and Menomonee Falls addressed there concerns by decreasing the number of schools.

    In West Allis, they went from 3 high schools to 2, 4 jr high schools to 2 middle schools. They sold off 2 middle school properties and the main library, built a new library at the site of one of two high school football fields. They then converted West Milwaukee High School into a middle school, and converted one jr high into an elementary school and sold an additional elementary school.

    The 2 W.A. High Schools now share 1 outdoor athletic facility (soccer, football, track, etc).

    The proceeds of the facility sales more than paid for the upgrades, and decreasing school administrative and maintenance costs by consolidating the schools benefit the district by millions of dollars per year.

    We will be faced with segnificant costs to update, maintain, and expand Hillside and Tonawanda Elementary, and Pilgrim Park Middle School.

    We should look at the cost and feasibility of divesting the 2 elementary schools above and convert Pilgim Park into an elementary school with the enrollment of 800 students (Hillside and Tonawanda’s combined enrollment). This would be at the same enrollment as Burleigh Elementary, which is an outstanding school (825 students).

    We then should consider making Brookfield East High School into a middle school and expand or rebuild a new High School at or near the Brookfield Central Campus.

    We would avoid major renovations for Tonawanda (1 million dollar gymnasium addition, 270,000 in capital maintenance coming up next year, plus possible conversion from the “pod” layout to traditional classrooms. )Hillside also has issues regarding updating and maintanence.

    We would decrease administration costs by combining 2 elementary schools into one, keeping the classroom sizes consistent across all elementary schools. This would save Millions each year, and use the proceeds from the sale of the 2 schools to pay for a new, state of the art high school with state of the art athletic facilities.

    Pilgrim Park Middle School facility would be an upgrade for elemenary students, and the Brookfield East facility would be a possitive upgrade for the Middle Schoolers.

    We would be upgrading 4 schools, by just moving buildings, and creating a new high school, with the savings and proceeds paying for most, if not all.

    There would be little tax burden.

    – L.R., New Berlin

    Here’s the link: