Elmbrook school slates set

There are PRIMARY races for both seats!

From the district Web site:

Stephen Schwei, the incumbent for the Area IV seat, is not seeking re-election. Barry M. Wightman, Jean Lambert and Donald J. Moore have completed the necessary paperwork to have their names listed on the February 17, 2009 primary ballot. The two candidates with the highest vote totals will advance to the April 7, 2009 election.

Meg Wartman, the incumbent for the at-large seat, is seeking re-election. Meg Wartman, Katie Lemke and Charles D. Wickens have completed the necessary paperwork to have their names listed on the February 17, 2009 primary ballot. The two candidates with the highest vote totals will advance to the April 7, 2009 election.

Please note that residents of the School District of Elmbrook elect all Board of Education members, and each Board member represents the entire School District. Therefore, all District residents will be voting for both the Area IV and the at-large seat.

Against Wartman, Wickens from Elm Grove has run for the village board there. It could be setting up an East v. Central vote. Lemke has rallied the 4-K supporters and could very well use that strategy to whip up on both of them. There is strong support for 4-K from district voters, but Wartman has gone on record to squash the program.

In the open race, I have contacted Wightman, but he has not made any return. It looks like Donald Moore may have been an East graduate. My support is likely to go to Jean Lambert.

I didn’t sign nomination papers for anyone. When I get back in a week or so, I’ll get copies of those papers for all six candidates and we’ll see who’s on them.


  1. These are important races, and I know the primary will be ignored or missed by many voters. It’s an opportunity to shape the Board in a way that will consider taxpayer resources before going off on more spending sprees. I just wish I knew more about these people. Thanks for the heads up about Lemke.

  2. I can tell you a little about Jean Lambert. She has compassion, integrity, and a heart for children. She has been a Scout leader for years–boys and girls. She volunteers in her children’s schools and in her church. She is articulate and personable; never pretentious or presumptious. She’s also smart–a nurse and an MBA, with administrative experience at various levels. She would do well by us.

  3. Yea! Thanks for filling us in.

    The couple of interactions I’ve had over the years were very positive as well. I sensed we had some things in common.

    Like responsible government.

  4. The Lorax says:

    To anyone shilling for a candidate, i am particularly interested in how the candidates feel about extracurricular activity funding (Cindy, you know my angle on this one).

  5. Ahhh…the 4K debate. Our district can’t afford it, and neither can the State. When will people begin to understand this? The funds should be used for districts where it is a necessity…not simply a nicety. Our district will need to make significant cuts over the next few years – and that projection does not even take into account the upcoming contract negotiations with our teachers (nor the possible repeal of the QEO.) Which current programs do these 4K supports suggest we give up in order to fund preschool?

  6. The district will laud 4K as a revenue stream, much as they approach non-resident enrollment. (Of course, like non-res, it will also be cooed as the “right thing to do!”)

    It will make for interesting primary debate if voters wake up. I’d like to get all of the candidates on the record for the issues. Maybe we should start defining them here?

  7. Tinkerbell says:

    Issue: supports referendum to exceed state spending caps, increasing property tax to fund daily expenses like district salary and benefits -or- supports concessions, tightening belts to live within district budget as defined with spending caps in place?

  8. They tout 4K as a revenue stream…but does the State have the money they have promised to help fund it? Especially for districts like Elmbrook?
    Although the administration touts full-day Kindergarten as a revenue stream, as well, they have yet to provide specific documentation.

  9. If 4K is a revenue stream just think of the financial gold mine in 3K or even 2K.

  10. Tinkerbell says:

    Dear Libby,
    I believe I read that the revenue stream looks like this: 4K increases the number of students enrolled in the district. The larger number of students enrolled means the district is allowed to collect more property tax per homeowner. This higher expense of the local residents is additional income to the district. The district at one point expressed that the materials needed for 4K were less expensive than the cost per student at other grade levels, so some of the additional propert tax collected might be diverted to other grades.

    The flaw in this reasoning was the lack of district-owned and operated physical space. At that time money was paid to existing local daycares to expand their offerings to include new programs for “4k” . Eventually the district would require physical space, teachers, adminstrator(s), staff for 4K.

    Dear Leapin,
    Don’t give them any ideas. Your comment here may be taken out of context and quoted as constituent demand for Toddler-K. Remember their revenue stream is your non-discretionary tax expenditure.

  11. Hi-

    I’m Don Moore, running for Area IV Elmbrook School District. Just wanted to say that I’m not a graduate of the district, but I have lived in Elmbrook for 20 years and have two children that attend schools here. I also wanted to say that I don’t have much of an ideological bias but I am a strong supporter of public schools, particularly Elmbrook. As a real estate broker/appraiser I know the value our good schools to our community. I’m just starting to get my thoughts down on how I’d like to move forward but I am quite accessible and would be very interested in hearing from all Elmbrook constituents. My blog, donaldjmoore.com will be a place where hopefully people will be interested in coming and telling me about important issues to them. I will also post my ideas about Elmbrook issues for others to comment. That’s about it for now. Thanks a lot!

  12. Hi there….I’m Barry Wightman, one of the Area IV candidates. Elm Grove and the Elmbrook schools have been part of my life since I married into a big Elm Grove family back in ’77. My wife, Jill Williams and her three sisters (Jennifer, Bonnie and Jamie), are all products of Elmbrook, all grads of Central. So after raising our three kids up in Minnesota (the Wayzata Public School District), Jill and I finally circled back here four years ago and reestablished our roots in the old family homestead in Elm Grove. These days, I’m a student myself–I’m going after a Masters of Fine Arts in writing (an MFA) at Vermont College in Montpelier. It’s one of those “low residency” programs where I spend a few weeks per semester in Vermont. It’s great. I’m also a freelance writer and voiceover talent.

    As a life-long learner and as someone who is still a student even at this point in his life, I think will bring a unique perspective to the School Board. I believe that we are ennobled by learning and that the education of our children is a vital and heroic task.

    Look forward to hearing from you all….thanks.

  13. Well thanks you two for stopping by Fairly Conservative.

    Barry – I wanted to make sure people had the link to your other Web site. Thanks for including the link (through his name above) to Sound and Script.

  14. I am seeking election to the Elmbrook School Board At-Large seat. I have chosen to seek election because I am passionate about our unique community, students and teachers. I believe that educational innovation and leadership in a global context continues to challenge us to find new and broader ways of achieving excellence and impact. History shows that teaching does not necessarily result in learning. I want to help our schools ensure that learning is successful with fresh insights to enhance successful learning, reexamining the fundamental question of what it means to be educated in the 21st century, and restructuring programs to meet future needs.

    My personal philosophies and experience that I have to help best represent the Elmbrook electorate include extensive Board experience i.e. I am currently the President of the American Liver Foundation and serve as President of Adonai Employment. I have extensive leadership experience including a successful career at General Electric. I currently serve as a Senior Executive Business Consultant helping our business leaders achieve excellence and teach college level Economics and Finance. I come from a family of educators and have a daughter who just graduated from graduate school and is currently teaching kindergarten.

    I look forward to hearing from you to chat about how I may be able to help and hear your thoughts as to what we need to do to strive for new levels of excellence.

  15. The Lorax says:

    Cindy, might I suggest developing a Fairly Conservative Questionairre to ask of candidates, developed by you and your readers?

  16. Hi, I’m a campaign worker for Charles Wickens and he told me to mention his website, charleswickens.com. He will have a blog on there that will be kept up with updates. The site just went up two days ago so please forgive if it isn’t quite fine tuned yet.

  17. Jean Lambert says:

    I’m Jean Lambert – seeking election to the Area IV seat. I attended Elmbrook Schools through 8th grade, then moved with my family and graduated from the Kettle Moraine School District. After completing Nursing School, I moved back to Brookfield in the early 80’s, and earned an MBA from Marquette University.

    I currently work at Froedtert & Community Health as a Project Manager, and come prepared with extensive management and leadership experience. In my spare time, I enjoy working with Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and teaching Christian Formation at our Church, St. John Vianney. Five of our 7 children have graduated from college; the two still at home attend Elmbrook Schools – one in 5th grade at Swanson, the other in 9th grade at Brookfield Central.

    Elmbrook Schools have held a solid reputation for excellence for many years. Each of the past number of years the District has been challenged to cut $1-2 Million dollars from the annual budget. As with trees and shrubs, wisely planned and executed cuts can bring stronger growth and better fruit. Too much, too often, too deep – saps strength and vitality.

    We’re facing particularly daunting challenges these next couple of years: declining enrollment, the current economic downturn, rising health insurance costs, technology that’s ever-changing, and a huge state budget deficit. Taxpayers have been clear in their expectations that this Board must be fiscally responsible and make wise and well-informed decisions.

    I believe that my education, experience and commitment to the students and families of this district has prepared me well to help maintain our District’s reputation and meet taxpayer expectations.

    I look forward to discussions on the issues.

  18. The Lorax says:

    I still want to hear about funding for extracurriculars.

  19. Tinkerbell –
    You are correct in your summary, but left out a few details.
    The increase in enrollment brought by the 4K students also allows the district to apply for aid through the state (which is funded by our taxes…so we are really getting a double-whammy.) (BTW…this is the same reason for the push for full-day Kindergarten. The more “full-time” students enrolled in the district, the more state aid the district can apply for.) This, of course, is all based on the assumption that the state has the funds to give. If that money source dwindles (which is not entirely unlikely given the state of Wisconsin’s current finances), even more burden will be placed on funding through local property taxes.
    Also, you mentioned that eventually the district would need physical space and staff for 4K. While some of the 4K classes were held at local daycare centers, each Elmbrook school also had a 4K classroom. All of the teachers in the 4K program (regardless of whether it was in a district building or a daycare center) were Elmbrook employees. They were not employees of the daycare facilities.
    While the cost of materials may have been less than at other grade levels, the cost of staffing is not (except that 4K teachers are 1/2 time, not full-time.) As time goes on, however, those salaries will continue to increase – especially if the QEO is repealed. The revenue numbers were also based on current contracts with these daycare facilities. No one addressed what would happen if these centers banded together and asked for an increase in rent. Given the fact that our own district facilities have very limited space for 4K, we would be over a barrel.
    If the district had maintained our 4K, we would have also been required to open the program to Chapter 220 and Open Enrollment. This district is already among the top three in accepting non-resident students. By using non-district facilities for the 4K, administration would have the potential for unlimited expansion – which could ultimately lead to over-crowding in the lower and upper grades. This could once again falsely inflate our numbers and lead to a perceived “need” for expansion – a situation we have already been fighting.
    In my opinion, publicly-funded 4K in the Elmbrook schools provides nothing but a whole lot of financial uncertainty for a program that has no documented need, and an overwhelming majority of parents in this district were already voluntarily paying for out of their own pocket.

    ps. To Leapin’ – One of the reasons the district touted a “need” for 4K is to remain competitive with the local private schools that already offered it. They were afraid we were losing district students who started at private schools in the 4K program and then remained there. Valid argument – except that several of the private schools then responded by opening 3K programs (St. Dominic, Elm Grove Lutheran, for example.) Had we continued with our 4K, I imagine the other private schools may have followed along. So, your assertion of a publicly-funded 3K is not off-base.

  20. Lorax, I can’t speak for the candidates, but for the sake of discussion could you be more specific about extracuriculars? It’s a big subject.

  21. Tinkerbell says:

    Thank you, Libby! I do hope the candidates are still reading, and preparing to share their candid thoughts on this important subject.

  22. ElmbrookMom says:

    I would like to hear the candidates thoughts and what they plan to do regarding to ensure that our staff is up to date in the protection of students from bullying behavior, like what happened to the girl at PPMS.

    From my understanding, every other district in the state has better programs than the ones our district currently practices. Why aren’t the counselors going into the classrooms and teaching this? They do in the other area schools. They have enough counselors and administrators…why aren’t they preventing this stuff instead of reacting to problems? It appears that our district is “behind the times” in prevention and character education.

  23. Elmbrook Mom,
    Shouldn’t “character education” be addressed at home, instead of hoping the schools will adequately cover the subject? I will agree that there appears to be a lack of adequate supervision in our middle schools, but firmly believe that character education (not to mention sex education and drug/alcohol awareness) should be the responsibility of the parents – not an expectation dumped on the schools. Our teachers have a tough time fitting just the core curriculum into a 7-hour day. Every social program added takes precious time away from learning the basics.

  24. Yes and no, Libby. I’m beginning to realize that as long as our school board insists upon 10% non-resident population, resident students – who probably get stuff like this at home – will suffer because those who don’t get adequate parenting are going to need it.

  25. The Lorax says:

    Sure, Kathryn. I’m wondering specifically about national travel for activities such as, oh i don’t know, debate and forensics?

  26. Good parents spend decades telling their kids what to do, what not to do, but you just can’t think of EVERYTHING they might think of doing, and you can’t control it when they are out of your keeping. I agree with Libby that character education begins and ends at home, but I want the schools backing me up when the kids are running in packs.

    A school is a different institution than a family, and it has it’s own set of issues–bullying is one of them. As I’ve said before, I like the lessons my kids are getting on that subject. Swanson has been particularly active on the topic of anti-bullying.

  27. Thanks, Lorax. Are we shlepping kids around the country on the district’s dime?

  28. ElmbrookMom says:

    What is most interesting is that most other area school districts that have made time to teach kids the basics of getting along with others, conflict resolution and bullying prevention, have also witnessed that their tests scores have risen with the amount of attachment that the kids have for their teachers and their schools. If you read the latest research…you’ll find the connection that kids perform better academically when they are HAPPY and connected within their school. If they are being secretly harassed or bullied, they are not happy and their performance in school declines.

  29. The Lorax says:

    Yep, but i thought you knew that. It’s for competition of course.

  30. No, guess I’m behind the curve on extra-curriculars. Just assumed parents footed the bill for this stuff.

  31. WRT the bullying issue… When I went over the HG&D information at EHQ, I did notice some emphasis on prevention of this behavior but it seemed, like most of the HG&D information, scattershot. Now I don’t have a fully fledged opinion about the HG&D cirriculum as I’m still working on it, some of the feedback I got from Advisory Committee members was that it’s a hodge podge that needs to be streamlined and made more up-to-date. We’ll see, but it looks as though this issue and others, will fall within HG&D. It’s important.

  32. “Scattershot” is an interesting word. Kind of sums up Elmbrook’s management style.

  33. If you would like to discuss this, or any other issue, Charles Wickens will be hosting a meet and greet event at Starbucks coffee, 17000 W. Bluemound Rd., Brookfield, WI. It is Friday, January 23rd from 5:30 – 7:00 p.m. Hope to see you there!

  34. So, Lorax, the extra-curricular discussion isn’t going anywhere. What are your thoughts?

  35. The Lorax says:

    My thoughts? It shouldn’t be curbed. I benefited too much from it to see it taken away from others who would benefit from it.

    They have already pared down the funding, and to just be blunt, I learned more from those competitions than I ever did from a lot of classes @ East.

    AP Psychology,anyone?


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