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Friday, June 30, 2006

Blooze Brothers Kicks Off Evansville 4th Celebration

The blooze brothers, cruised into Evansville this eve escorted by two of Evansville's finest as well as their personal parole officer from Chicago---this female policeman is seen escorting the two lead singers of the Blooze Brothers to the stage for the kick off music gig of the 2006 Evansville 4th of July Celebration.

The show included such favorites as "Soul Man," "Mustang Sally," and "Brown Eyed Girl." Local municipal officials showed leadership on the dance floor and the Evansville Observer covered the event on the dance floor.

Congrats to all those who helped this electric opening event.
 
 
  Posted by Picasa

Mark Schnepper Speaks: On Possible Negative Impact of busting growth limit; On impact study

this is an audio post - click to play

Will Evansville Honor Developer agreements previously negotiated? Mr. Berg asks. Listen for the answer.

this is an audio post - click to play

Gazette Corner: Gazette covers the Planning Commission growth plan change--

Click on the post for the Gazette coverage of the Planning Commission last night.

Evansville Planning Commission: Mayor casts Deciding Vote on 4-3 decision to potentially rev developement

On a 4-3 Vote on Thursday night, June 29, 2006, with Mayor Sandy Decker casting the deciding vote, the Planning Commission voted to move the land use designation of the Phil Maas property under resolution 2006-12 from the future land use map to the interim use map. This property, which is in Union Twp, is in effect in position to be annexed and developed as soon as the applicant gains approval for annexation, rather than waiting ten years.

The applicant and developer, Mr. Mourning, described the project as a walkable neighborhood with about 100 homes of various sizes and prices, with lots that will vary and have as yet to be determined. There will be a "node" of commercial.

The population impact will be that the growth rate of Evansville will move to about 31% growth rate rather than the 27% rate that 70% of the citizens in the recent citizens survey had seen as desirable.

Mayor Decker said that her main concern was reducing the traffic on West Main, and the improvement of an alternative way for traffic to exit Evansville would be a plus for her.

Mr. Hammann, Mr. Gil Skinner as well as Mason Braunschweig spoke in opposition to the proposal citing the impact on schools and Mr. Hammann mentioned that the "Holy Grail" of target 27% under the Smart Growth Plan was something to be preserved.

Mr. Mark Schnepper as well as Richard Woulfe as citizens spoke requesting that some impact studies be done prior to the approval citing the adverse impact on schools. Both had no objection to the project concept, just the timing and possible negative impact on taxes for homeowners.

Mr. Schweke, the City Planner, indicated that the land use matter change is one thing, but that the annexation hearing will be ample opportunity for citizens to express their preference regarding whether they wish the target growth rate to be busted.

Planning Commission: Mourning Proposal: Connors asks whether Smart Growth Target which 70% of Citizen Survey desired is Important: Commission: NO

this is an audio post - click to play

Planning Commission: Mourning Proposal; City Planner Recommends Approval of Land Use Status Modification

this is an audio post - click to play

John Mourning Speaks on Proposal

this is an audio post - click to play

this is an audio post - click to play

Back to the Future 2016--another nightmare dream

(Ed. note: Due to reader request, I have republished a noted nightmare of mine.
Alas, the nightmare might be coming true.)

Last week there were three things that came together----the school board election, watching the old version of "Back to the Future," and our neighbors having a new baby. The suspense was building on election day when I saw the pickup truck in the driveway ready to go with the babyseat ready. There is just a special look that I have picked up over the years that alerted me--maybe it was the fact that the pickup was turned around with engine near the street for fast exit.

Anyway, that night, I had a dream I was on the way home from the hospital with a newborn. We were driving a pretty exotic car so I knew it was about 2016. Just as we entered the city limits, my wife said to me, "Don't forget to stop by the school so we can drop off the baby."

Yes. In the years since 2006, with enrollments dropping, and with the need for keeping buildings filled--- and teachers employed--- there came to be a push to enlarge the notion of "It takes a whole village" to raise a child, to the mantra, "Schools raise kids--- They know better." Quickly it moved from 4 yr. old kindergarten to 3yr. old pre-kindergarten and so on. Finally when the Coca Cola contract was cancelled at several schools, "Pampers" offered the schools a special volume discount, and nobody could resist the purchasing power and knowhow of schools. Yes. Schools really did know how to raise kids from day one.

When I awoke from the dream, I realized that it was just post election trauma. Sometimes when one loses an election, there is a slight disturbance in the dream pattern. No, the school busses were running as usual. The kids were standing outside ready to go to school. What a relief. For now, parents were still parents.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

School Beat: 4K Proposal scheduled for July 10th school board meeting

Evansville Community School District

Four Year Old Kindergarten Investigation Committee

Process and Recommendation

July 10, 2006

Purpose of Committee:

Many school districts in Wisconsin have implemented 4 year old kindergartens or pre-schools either within school facilities, or in collaboration with other community agencies. In the past 3-4 years, more and more parents are calling the elementary school to request pre-school or 4 year old kindergarten. There is substantial research that suggests that 4 year old kindergarten is particularly helpful for those students who are disadvantaged or need extra support. The long range data currently available suggests that early interventions such as 4 year old kindergarten result in less special education referrals in school and less anti-social behaviors resulting in incarceration in adult life. The school board approved an investigation into the feasibility of such a program in the Evansville Community School District in November of 2004.

An investigative committee was created of volunteers who were interested. Area daycares and in-home childcare providers, Head Start, parents and school district staff members were invited to participate. Some were initially supportive of the concept, some were not.

Committee Members:

Lisa Langer Parent

Sara Tortomasi Parent

Jen Sauser Parent

Jackie Liebel Parent

Doreen Guzman Parent

Jammie Fellows Director/Owner of Kids Korner Daycare

Erika Stoker Director/Owner of Kids Connection Daycare

Theresa Peterson Director/Owner of Theresa’s Family Daycare

Barb Stephenson Director/Owner of Barb’s Family Daycare

Chelsea Titus Exchange Family resource Center of Rock County

Yvonne Nash Head Start Teacher

Carol Mishler Child Development & Health Coordinator of Headstart

Robin Zulfer North Rock County Head Start Site Team Leader

Rachel Marty Kindergarten Teacher

Heather McMahan Kindergarten Teacher

Jenny Runkle Kindergarten Teacher

Sonya Keyser Early Childhood Teacher

Sandra McClellan Early Childhood Teacher

Dennis Knudson Evansville School Board Member

Krista Jones Director of Student Services

Louisa Havlik Elementary Principal




Process:

The 4K Investigative Committee met for the first time in December 2004. Meetings were scheduled twice per month throughout the school year. This continued during the 2005-6 school year as well. A mission statement was developed to guide our investigation:

We believe the children of the Evansville Community School District deserve a quality foundation for their education including the opportunity for participation in a 4K program. This experience for 4-5 year old children will enhance the social-emotional, motor, self-help, cognitive and language skills through developmentally appropriate play and hands-on activities. Parents, childcare providers, Headstart and school staff will be involved in this community based, collaborative model.

In the beginning, many questions were raised regarding the impact on young children, the school system and area childcare providers. Some fears were also expressed; fear of loosing business – possibly having to close one’s business, space needs at the elementary level, cost, taxes, parental perceptions, the function of 4 year old kindergarten, and what was the real benefit of a 4 year old kindergarten program. There were also concerns for families who receive subsidies for childcare and any possible loss of these funds for the families. We agreed that our three basic premises guiding our investigation and eventual recommendation had to be:

The outcome must benefit children.
There can be no new taxes because of 4 year old kindergarten.
Four year old kindergarten cannot be the cause of childcare businesses closing.
To answer the questions raised, committee members read many research articles (Copies are available in Lou Havlik’s office.), attended workshops and conferences designed for those interested in 4 year old kindergarten, and visited other districts; Portage Waterloo, Montello and Monroe, who had implemented 4 year old kindergarten. In addition, the committee held a listening session with the community and a forum for the committee members.

During these investigative activities, we learned about Wisconsin Early Learning Standards, how collaborative 4 year old kindergarten looked in other districts, the glitches and barriers that other districts faced and how they overcame these, and we learned that no daycare in any district ever closed as a direct result of the 4 year old kindergarten. The collaborative daycares actually found their businesses expanding, although in some cases changes in structure within the daycare were necessary. We learned about having a governance committee consisting of representative members to problem-solve and oversee the operation of the 4 year old kindergarten.

The listening session was not as successful as we hoped due to poor publicity (it did not get published in the local newspaper) and we did not yet have answers to the many questions that arose. The forum for the committee was more successful in that the visitors who came answered many of our questions. While all districts go through some “growing pains” in the process, those we visited and heard from problem-solved together and built stronger relationships as a result.

We learned that there are substantial benefits for children in a 4 year old kindergarten:

Children who attended state-funded preschool showed gains in vocabulary scores that were about 31 percent greater than gains of children without the program. This translates into an additional three months of progress in vocabulary growth due to the preschool program at age 4.
State-funded preschool increased children's gains in math skills by 44 percent compared to children's growth without the program. Skills tested included basic number concepts, simple addition and subtraction, telling time and counting money.
State-funded preschool produced an 85 percent increase in growth in print awareness among children enrolled compared to growth of children without the program. Children who attended a state-funded preschool program before entering kindergarten knew more letters, more letter-sound associations and were more familiar with words and book concepts.
A large body of research shows that high quality preschool programs can lead to increases in school success, higher test scores, fewer school dropouts, higher graduation rates, less special education and even lower crime rates.
The 4K investigative committee then looked into details concerning the Evansville Community School District. We developed sub committees to consider Curriculum, Staffing, Structure and Transportation & Finance.

Curriculum This sub committee spoke with other pre-school teachers, checked into the Wisconsin Early Learning Standards, and investigated curriculums used in pre-schools. It was determined that the Creative Curriculum most closely matched the developmental levels of young children, the Wisconsin standards and the recommendation of the larger committee that the curriculum focus on social, language, motor, pre-academic, and self-help skills.

Staffing The members of this committee learned that staffing ratios for daycares, Head Start and schools must be in sync with one another. The most restrictive regulations; that of daycares and Head Start, indicates that there must be one adult for every 12 students. The Department of Public instruction (DPI) requires that qualified, or certified and licensed teachers must be in each classroom. These members too investigated with other districts and learned that most class sizes were approximately 17-18 students with one licensed pre-school teacher and one para-professional or educational assistant in each classroom. It was agreed that this is a good model to follow as well.

Structure This sub committee considered the class time each day and length of the school year, the locations of a 4K or pre-school, and the size of the space necessary. In most school districts, the 4K begins and ends the school year at the same time as the K-12 students. The school day typically is from 8:00 until 11:00 each morning, or from 12:00-3:00 each afternoon. One day per week is given to the staff for professional development, parent contacts, planning or meeting with other pre-school staff. In one school district, the students attended full days, 8:00-3:00, either on Mondays and Wednesdays, or on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This alleviated some busing costs. Lunch and nap time then was built into the day’s schedule. Locations for a 4K or pre-school could include interested daycares or home care providers. In district locations may include currently empty classrooms in any of the four school buildings. In addition, the Head Start and Early Childhood classrooms could be used to some extent although consideration for the students in these programs would need to be a priority. The classroom space would need to be approximately the size of an elementary classroom with a sink and bathroom readily available. This sub committee recommended a morning and afternoon session with a day for staff as described above, following the school district calendar.

Transportation and Finance Other school districts have created personalized contracts with childcare providers. Each contract is a little different since the settings, communities and available materials and staffing are a little different. The contracts are created such that they are mutually beneficial for the school district as well as the provider. Most providers use existing 4 year old rooms and spaces. Most of the children previously in them signed up for the 4K. Some expanded their 3 year old offerings. Most daycares saw a savings on staff since the 4K program had its own staff hired by the school. In the districts visited, and those who presented at workshops, none of the daycares closed their doors because of the 4K. Most either held their income at a similar level or saw increases (siblings of 4K child also attended daycare, 4K students stayed for daycare, etc.)

School districts have used 4K to bolster declining enrollments. While it has not been a huge money maker for these districts, it has allowed them to maintain a student enrollment. However, over a three year average, it does eventually bring in more funding. Until that third year is reached, many districts dip into their “fund balance.”

Karen Kucharz at DPI ‘s financial department told us that 4 year old kindergarteners who are scheduled 437 hours with 87 parent outreach hours are considered at 60%. Deb Olsen, our business manager worked through the numbers for our district. We would receive approximately $1,400 per student. This would cover the salary and benefits of a teacher, but not the supplies or payment per student to the daycare.

The guideline that was given by Jill Hagland at DPI is that there is a range of payments in existence: The district payment to a community site when the district employs the teacher is from $250-$1200 per child per year. The district payment to a community site when the community site employs the teacher is $1850-$3,174 per child per year.

One of the major concerns we had, was how this program might affect working families who had childcare reimbursements based on a non-school age child. Rebecca Brueggeman at Wisconsin Workforce Childcare Subsidy, specializes in working with schools and “wrap-around” childcare. She said that they work with families and school districts to cover all the time that the child is in the daycare. So if a child attends a 4K and goes to the same location for daycare, their care will be considered for the full day. For example, a child goes to daycare and attends the 4K that is offered there. This results in a total day of 8.5 hours or 42.5 hours per week. The total 42.5 hours is covered under the subsidy. However, if a child goes to a 4K in a different location than their childcare, then they are only covered for the time they are in the childcare.

Transportation would be provided within the school district for those who are eligible. 4K students will travel with K-12 students before 8:00 and after 3:00. If a half day program is chosen then an additional two routes would be necessary. This would increase overall costs by $27,000. If a full day twice a week option is chosen, then no additional costs would be incurred.

To summarize for a pilot year:

Revenues

State assistance per student $ (1,400)

Pilot with 36 students (50,400) ($50,400)

Expenditures

Location in a daycare $ 9,000

Personnel – Teacher 50,000

Educational Assistant 25,000

Curriculum, furniture and supplies 4,000

Transportation if half-day 27,000 $115,000

To summarize for the first full implementation year:

Revenues

State assistance per student $ (1,400)

100 students (140,000) ($140,000)

Expenditures

Location in a daycare(s) $ 25,000

Personnel – 3 Teacher s 150,000

3 Educational Assistants 75,000

Curriculum, furniture and supplies 12,000

Transportation if half-day 27,000 $214,000

As the program continues, the state funding takes over a bigger share of the 4K budget. If a full-day program, every other day is chosen, as outlined above, then $27,000 can be removed from the expenditures. Furniture and supplies may already be at the location in a daycare and may be supplemented with a planning grant, see below. There would be an impact on the school budget of $35,600 - $64,600 in the pilot year and $45,000-$74,000 in the first full implementation year.

On June 9, an Early Education Matters planning grant application was submitted to Wisconsin Council on Children and Families. If we are awarded the grant, it would be $10,000 for professional development, planning time and some materials.

Recommendation:

The 4 Year Old Investigative Committee recognizes that funding in the district is tight and that it is very difficult to introduce a new program. Several considerations were given before making any kind of recommendation:

The demands made of our current and future graduates in an increasingly complex and competitive economic environment
Emphasis at the state level from Governor and Mrs. Doyle on the importance of early interventions in the education of young children
The research that overwhelmingly supports 4K or pre-school for young children
The success in other districts who have implemented this program
The eventuality that districts may be required to offer 4K much as we are currently required to offer kindergarten
While the state funding per child does not entirely cover the cost of implementing 4K, it will increase after the third year based on the current funding formula.
Area school districts; Edgerton, Albany, Monroe, Beloit, Madison, have 4 year old kindergartens or pre-schools.
The 4 Year Old Investigative Committee respectfully recommends that a 4 year old kindergarten or pre-school be implemented in the Evansville Community School District. This implementation process would involve the following timeline:

Planning year – members of the planning team would include a teacher, childcare provider, Head Start representative, parent and an administrator. Community education, professional development and outlining the details of implementation is the purpose of this year.
Pilot year – a morning class of up to 18 students and an afternoon class of up to 18 students would receive the benefits of a 4K program. This year gives the planning team a chance to work out any glitches or issues that may arise.
Full Implementation year – it is estimated that approximately 100 four year olds will be registered to attend the 4K this year.
It is further recommended that the 4K is structured as a half day program either four mornings or afternoons per week with the fifth day given over to professional development, parent contacts and planning. A licensed teacher and an educational assistant will staff each classroom. The Creative Curriculum will serve as the basis of the educational activities in the classroom.

Family events will also be a part of the 4K experience. Parents would be encouraged to be involved in the classroom, and/or to assist in planning events such as classes, discussion groups, pot-luck dinners or field trips. A Governance committee consisting of a representative from the childcare providers, Head Start, parents and the school district, will meet monthly to solve problems, listen to concerns and implement changes as necessary.

The purpose in having a 4 year old kindergarten in the Evansville Community School District is to provide early interventions particularly for those who cannot afford quality childcare and do not qualify for Head Start. This program would help all students to be ready to join a larger learning community in kindergarten and successive years. Research documents the benefits, parents have made requests for a pre-school or 4 year old kindergarten, and local daycares with pre-schools are already taking registrations for the 2007-8 school year. There is clearly both a desire and a need for this program in the community.

Respectfully submitted,

Louisa Havlik

Elementary Principal

Classic Audioblogger: The Get to the Lake Rule

this is an audio post - click to play

Re: Mail: Mr. Connors Writes: New comment on Re: New comment on Gazette Corner: Mourning Proposal for Thursday night could rev growth for Evansville



billconnors <noreply-comment@blogger.com> wrote:
billconnors has left a new comment on your post "Re: New comment on Gazette Corner: Mourning Proposal for Thursday night could rev growth for Evansville":

Mr. Schnepper is correct that the 27% population growth target was based on the population growth rate from January 1, 1990, to January 1, 2000. A majority of respondents to the community survey taken during the Smart Growth planning process said they want the population to grow at this same rate or slower (or not at all). The population grew at a slightly faster rate from January 1, 2000, through January 1, 2005. Mr. Schneper is correct that there has been no analysis to determine if a 27% growth rate is the "right" growth rate in terms of having the least adverse fiscal impact on the city and school district.

If the Plan Commission recommends any changes to the city's comprehensive plan, there will be public hearing at the Common Council before the Council takes action on the recommendation.

The developers of the Westfield Meadows Subidivision have informed me that in July they intend to start construction of the first sub-phase of that subdivision, including the extension of S. 6th St. to make it a through street, the extension of Badger Dr. from Evans Dr. to south 6th St., and the construction of a large detention pond north of Porter Rd. It appears that developers are not particularly concerned about the weak demand for new housing at the moment.

Further evidence of the developers' bullish view of the long-term housing market is that a developer wants to start a new subdivision on the Every property north of Porter Road.

Because the Every property is not scheduled for development in the city's plan until 10 to 15 years from now, the developer has enlisted the Town of Union to push the city to change its plan to allow the subdivision to be developed immediately in the township. Whether the subdivision is in the township or in the city is irrelevant to the school district. The Town of Union, which has publicly criticized the city for not controlling its residential growth because of the potential adverse impact of rapid growth on the school district, is aiding and abetting developers in circumventing the city's growth controls by pushing to allow the development to occur in the township.

Bill Connors
Evansville City Administrator


Re: New comment on Gazette Corner: Mourning Proposal for Thursday night could rev growth for Evansville



Mark Schnepper <mschnepper@yahoo.com> wrote:
Mark Schnepper has left a new comment on your post "Gazette Corner: Mourning Proposal for Thursday night could rev growth for Evansville":

This potentially could add in the neighborhood of 150 homes (if the lots are 1/4 acre like some of them have been in recent years). My concern with this growth is how does this impact the need for new school facilities. My understanding is that the 20 year bonds on the high school are "back loaded" with the anticipation of more growth towards the end of the bond term.

My concern is that 27% was picked as a somewhat arbitrary number. This was based on the growth rate of the previous 10 years. What is the correct growth rate? If 27% is the correct rate, adding this project is bad for the taxpayer. I would like to see the plan commission involve the school board and ask them for their thoughts on how this will impact the schools before they agree to this. Perhaps I am incorrect, but I don't think there has been enough dialogue between the PC and the school board/district. When the PC makes decisions that will impact the school district I would like to see them make an informed decision by approaching the school for their input.

What is the status of Westfield Meadows? I had heard that this was put on hold by the developer this summer due to a cooling housing market. If that is the case, is it really necessary to annex more land into the city at this point?


Gazette Corner: Mourning Proposal for Thursday night could rev growth for Evansville

Click on the post for an article in the Janesville Gazette on the proposal to be presented on Thursday night at Planning Commission by John Mourning. Enjoy.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Gazette Corner: Albany: Mission Statement vs. Where to drink

Gina Duwe has an interesting article on the discussion in Albany on revitilizing their downtown.

Althouse Corner: Hillary Clinton names "Blog Advisor."

Click on the post to read all about the latest trend as noted by Ann Althouse: Hillary Clinton has named a "blog advisor." Others are sure to follow suit. Including possibly state and local officials. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Monroe Times: Opinion: Wind Turbines and Homeland Security---

Click on the post for an opinion piece in the Monroe Times on how Homeland Security is hijacking the development of wind farms in Wisconsin and Minnesota. Enjoy.

Franklin Park: Recent notes from the Park Board

(In the recent June 19 Park board minutes was the following:
"7. Franklin Park Update. (Moved to this position by prior agreement)

a. Ray Anderson reported that the new playground equipment for the park will be installed before school starts in fall. He relies on assistance from other Public Works staff to do this work, and they are very busy now. There was discussion about exactly where the new equipment will be located. Anderson presented a plan from the Burke Company locating the equipment near the existing east fence. There’s a difference of opinion on where the equipment should go; if it’s to be located where the equipment seller is suggesting, then two and possibly three trees will have to be cut down. Some residents living nearby the park want to avoid cutting trees. Juergens asked why the entire footprint of the equipment installation couldn’t be moved more into the center of the park, recognizing that this might interfere with some of the space associated with the existing backstop. No resolution of this issue at this time.

b. Landscape update. Resident Ayn Steinlein and a crew of volunteers she is organizing will plant as soon designated area is roto-tilled and plant materials purchased.

c. John Rasmussen of Water & Light presented a cost estimate of about $2300 to remove one temporary pole and move another of the electrical service about 48 feet to the east. He gave PRB members a copy of the plat map showing the current locations of the poles and the proposed change. He does not yet have all the information Juergens requested as to what the cable and telephone companies will charge to move their lines to the new pole location, but did say that the “old” pole will have to stay in place until they do so. He estimated that the phone cost will be about $1500 – $2000, but hasn’t heard from the cable company. When the electrical service is moved, there could be a power-outage of several hours in the immediate area. Jacobsen questioned the proposed location of the moved pole and wanted more information about possible other pole locations.

Krueger moved and Merritt seconded that Water & Light undertake the planned pole re-arrangement at their earliest convenience and that PRB approve funding the cost from the Franklin Park allotment of the 2006 Capital Budget. Motion passed 6-1.

Park Board Hears about Dog Park

In the notes of the Evansville Park Board for June 19:

"3. Citizen appearances other than agenda items:

a. Alderperson Doug Wessels and resident Ayn Steinlein, spoke regarding a dog park. Minimum space requirements are roughly the size of a football field. Needs to be fenced. Benches and trash disposal facilities would be nice. Wessels stated that over the years roughly a dozen sites have been proposed and shot down for one reason or another. Without a definite site in mind, it’s hard to work up enthusiasm for fund-raising. The PRB needs to take another look at possible sites and see if something can be made to work. Juergens requested that Dog Park proponents help by coming to PRB in the future with definite suggestions of possible sites."

Mailbag: Lou Havlik Writes: RE: 4 Year Old Kindergarten.



"Havlik, Lou" <havlikl@evansville.k12.wi.us> wrote:
Melissa,
 
Thank you for taking the time to research 4K and to create these documents.  The report that you saw is a draft.  I asked for input from the committee members to be sure I had represented the 2 year work of the committee.  I will include their input before sending it to the board members.  I have not yet sent them this report.
 
As you noted, the long-term data is missing in general.  This is due to the fact that we have had Head Start, kindergartens and daycares much longer than we have had a 4K in our state and the 4K are arranged differently in many communities.  Few of these 4K have had a longer than 5 year history.  There is also some disagreement about what constitutes a good pre-school experience.  Many daycares and pre-schools across the state and across the nation have had this discussion.  Our proposal includes using the state standards designed for early education as a basis for a 4K curriculum.  
 
Some of the links we used in data collection include the following:
We have also used a variety of research documents as well as media releases from various organizations and school districts.  I have extra copies and would be happy to share them.
Again, thank you for your time and interest in quality education for our students.
Lou Havlik
Principal, Levi Leonard Elementary
 

From: Melissa Hammann [mailto:Mhammann@charter.net]
Sent: Sunday, June 25, 2006 10:33 PM
To: Willoughby, John; Rossmiller, Tina; Phillips, Arthur; Larson, Michael; Pierick, Michael; Knudson, Dennis; Hatfield, Dennis
Cc: Havlik, Lou; Carvin, Heidi; Richard Woulfe; Jennifer and Peter Petruzzello; Joan Sorteberg (Conner); Karen Aikman; Mindy Roys; Theresa Tolan; Tom & Lynn Olson
Subject: 4 Year Old Kindergarten.
 
Hello all-Attached, please find a lengthy, but informative report I have prepared regarding 4K.  You will also find 2 Excel spredsheets to better consolidate the data for you.  I have been doing this research for 3 months and hope it is of use to you.  Thanks for your time.  Melissa

Melissa Hammann Writes: On 4 Yr. Old Kindergarten ( 1 of 3)

(Ed. note. This research information of Melissa Hammann is published unedited. The issue of the 4Yr. Old Kindergarten is scheduled to be in the July 10th Evansville School Board Meeting. Plan on attending to hear the debate. The Observer)

To: Evansville School Board June 25, 2006

Cc: Heidi Carvin, superintendent

Lou Havlik, LLE Principal

Dick Woulfe, Evansville Observer

From: Melissa Hammann

Subject: Four-year-old kindergarten (4K)

I patiently waited for the results of the study from the four-year-old kindergarten (4K) committee, hoping to see if sanity reigned. I see from the June LLE newsletter that my optimism got the best of me. The committee plans to recommend implementation of 4K in the Evansville school district after a pilot study in 2007-2008. I am completely dumbfounded. The school district has managed to accomplish what 17 years of marriage to a staunch Republican has not. You made me agree with the republicans on something. And I am aghast. Soon, I predict that new parents will get school registration paperwork at the hospital, along with SSN and birth certificate applications. Then they can just drop off the newborns at school on the way back to work. There will be no more childcare costs at ALL! The DPI continues to support abdication of parental responsibility. The money would be better spent on educating parents to respect education and the opportunities it can open for their children in the future. If there is no support for education at home, or, worse yet, an environment of disdain for education, the rare child will overcome such an obstacle to reach his or her full potential.

According to their report, the 4K committee was formed to “investigate the feasibility of implementing 4K in the Evansville School District.” To me, this begins with the most fundamental question of whether Evansville could or should support 4K at all. The report from the committee is more of a “how do we implement 4K in the district” study. There is no data presented in the report to confirm that Evansville supports implementing 4K, nor are there studies cited for one to confirm the dramatic claims of 4K students’ superiority. From what I understand, the majority of people surveyed who indicated a desire for 4K did so to “save money.” Just whose money are they saving? The statement that no additional local taxes will be collected is disingenuous because state law requires a local revenue match to all state funding. I have done a great deal of research since March, when I found out that our school district was still pursuing implementation of 4K. I urge the school board to review the plethora of online information about 4K at length before making any decisions on this issue. There are numerous arguments for and against 4K. I have tried to limit my remarks to quality and cost issues, while noting websites to support the remarks I make here.

I first began debating the usefulness of 4K with the administration during the half-day (5-year-old) kindergarten standoff. I was told that study after study proves vast reductions in societal pathologies attributable to the participation of at-risk students in a quality 4-year-old kindergarten. At that time, no references were provided so I searched for and found several articles and studies.

One article with a sound scientific method is available at www.preknow.org/documents/WIEconImpactReport_Sept2005.pdf. It highlights savings for one 4K cohort over its 14 years in public school. The calculations were done several ways with various assumptions and the savings seem microscopic (0.0017%), with other non-direct savings projected at about 70% recoup of investment. But the study seemed skewed toward theoretical scenarios or was so condensed the essence of the data was lost to the casual observer. This was frustrating for me since 4K programs have been available long enough to do specific side-by-side comparisons. At the time, I was looking for, but could not find, a study based on this premise: Here is a population of at-risk students with 4K; Here is one without the benefits of 4K; This is what they look like at age 6, 8, 10, 12 and so on. Ms. Carvin supplied me with the name of the most cited study, the High/Scope Perry Preschool Study. This study does follow a theoretical scenario similar to that stated above. However, it is not a 4K study.

Melissa Hamman Writes: Part 2

( Ed. note. This is the second of three posts.)

The High/Scope Perry Preschool study was undertaken from 1962-1967 in the Ypsilanti Michigan school district. They identified 123 low-income African American students assessed at high risk for school failure. 58 children were randomly assigned to the High/Scope preschool group and 65 were assigned to no preschool group (control). This study has been touted as the gold standard of early quality preschool for children living in poverty. Some sources even imply that Head Start was implemented as a result of this study. Its premise was that if high-risk students were provided with the High/Scope model of preschool, society would benefit enormously.

When one reviews the reports, there are striking societal implications including seemingly significant: lower incarceration rates, lower teen pregnancy rates, higher incomes and reduction of dependency on welfare for the group of students that were fortunate enough be assigned to the High/Scope preschool program. The exact cost benefit analysis of the High/Scope preschool program, in constant 2000 dollars, showed a return of $258,888 per participant on an investment of $15,166 per student, or $17.07 per dollar invested. This broke down to a $12.90 return to the public per dollar invested and a $4.17 return to each participant by age 40 per dollar invested. Amazing!

However, the problems with the study are twofold. The first is the statistically small sample. The study factored this into the statistical calculations, but a rebuttal of the study done at age 23 nicely demonstrates the limitations of the statistics (http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/~adiep/zigrebut.htm). The second, more pertinent problem with the study is the initial investment required to provide the High/Scope preschool model. The High/Scope preschool model calls for 2 years of preschool (ages 3 and 4) provided to low-income students. Teachers required bachelor’s degrees and were certified in education. The teacher to student ratio was 5 or 6 to 1 and a specific curriculum (High/Scope) was followed. This means that $7,583 (in constant 2000 dollars) was spent per child per year to achieve this success. The authors of the High/Scope study explicitly state that the enormous social gains proven with their study group can only be achieved by strictly adhering to their regimen. Sadly, I cannot realistically envision any scenario in which Wisconsin (or any state) could afford to offer such rigorous preschool. I have found comparative cost data for various preschool programs that are provided in Wisconsin so you may contrast this with the Perry Preschool model.

The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) summarizes all states’ annual preschool provisions and these data are taken from their reports. Refer also to the table provided in the Excel attachment (Preschool Cost and Quality Data).

Government funding in Wisconsin supports three preschool programs: Federal Head Start, Wisconsin Head Start and 4K. In 2001-2002, Federal Head Start provided $6,445 per student and Wisconsin Head Start provided $5,124 per student. 4K received the least government revenue in 2001-2002, averaging $3,335 per student. This is less than half of the High/Scope expenditure per student. (http://nieer.org/yearbook2003/states/index.php?StateID=WI). Adding the required local match of $1,667 (presumed at 1/3), total revenue for 4K in 2001-2002 was about $5002 per student. NIEER also ranks all states on three provision categories: four-year-old access, three-year-old access and resources provided. In 2001-2002 school year, Wisconsin ranked 11th for 4-year-old access, 20th for 3-year-old access and 11th in resources provided. Let’s move forward to the 2004-2005 school year. In that year, the same group (http://nieer.org/yearbook/pdf/yearbook.pdf) ranked Wisconsin 9th for 4-year-old access, 21st for 3-year-old access and only 23rd for resources provided. The abrupt fall to 23rd from 11th for resources provided is easily seen in state expenditure for 4K. Federal Head Start provided $6635 per student, Wisconsin Head Start supplied $5468 per student but the State of Wisconsin average revenue provision for 4K dropped from $3335 per student to $2895 per student enrolled. The drop in average local revenue, to $1662 per student, was less drastic, indicating a higher percentage of the cost being absorbed locally. The total average revenue provision for 4K students in 2004-2005 was $4557 per student, which is $445 less per student 3 years later. This probably reflects a 50% increase in students participating from 12743 to 18653. But the other programs show modest increases in revenue provision from year to year, not a nearly 10% reduction. This reduction in state revenue provision tells me that the legislature is not favorable toward 4K at this time. What sacrifices will the older students be forced to make to fund this service?

NIEER also does a quality points report card for all the states on their early education initiatives. Wisconsin’s Head Start program remained consistent at 6/10 quality points earned toward meeting the NIEER benchmarks in both academic years cited above for such criteria as curriculum, teacher degree requirements, assistant teacher degree requirements, class size, student to teacher ratio, home visits, screening requirements and meal provisions. Wisconsin 4K, however, earned only 3/10 quality points in 2001-2002 and 4/10 quality points in 2004-2005. This is abysmal. If the point of introducing 4K to Evansville is to achieve the High/Scope study results, as has been suggested in the committee report, Wisconsin needs to go back to the drawing board. Offering at-risk students mediocre programming is not going to help them. It’s clear to me that Wisconsin is trying to reinvent the wheel that Head Start has had nearly 50 years (and almost 50% more money) to perfect. All of the studies I have reviewed emphasize that these enormous gains are seen for students living in poverty. Head start addresses this demographic. The ECH program serves students with special needs. The at-risk population is already being served by superior programming. Why does DPI want to mess with success?

If the point of forcing 4K on Evansville is to extricate more state revenue, that seems to be a game of diminishing returns as well. I believe the citizens of Evansville are not willing to make up the difference in revenue as the state continues to reduce its contribution to 4K. The Wisconsin State Journal (June 4, 2006) summarized the state’s Four-Year-Old Kindergarten Task Force agenda. The task force was formed because “not enough information is available about the educational or societal benefits of the program.” Yikes! This statement was made about a program that the DPI spent $95.6 million to provide in 2005-2006. It appears that the legislators are also interested in seeing the side-by-side study I originally searched for and could not find. I would argue that the same question of validity could be asked regarding full day 5-year-old kindergarten. This seems to be a disturbing norm associated with DPI programming. Throw money at an idea first, ask questions later. Data is our friend. Let people see it to draw their own conclusions.

(continued below)

Melissa Hammann Writes: (3 of 3) on 4Yr. Old Kindergarten

Now I’d like to briefly review the financial aspect of the 4K-committee report. Please refer to the attached Excel file (4K Committee Financial Data). For the sake of clarity, I’ll restrict my discussion to the half-day options requiring additional bus service. In the pilot year, if you factor in the standard local revenue match of 33% ($25,200) the school district will have to provide about $40,000 in 2007-2008 to fund the 4K pilot study, thereby denying some other program. It finally dawned on me why there was such an unexplained urgency to cut off the half-day (five-year-old) kindergarten program, one of the bastions of reason in our school district. I have included the local revenue in my analysis because I want to re-emphasize that there will be additional local revenue commitments required to provide 4K in Evansville. The calculation for full implementation in 2008-2009 was predicted on a conservative estimate of 100 participants. The current kindergarten enrollment is 130. This level of enrollment would require another teacher, another assistant, more physical plant and possibly another bus. For purposes of discussion, I will only consider the 100-student scenario. The 4K report I have from the committee showed the sum of expenditures to be $214,000. Perhaps I have a preliminary version. When I started to figure in the local matches to calculate shortfalls, it was clear there was a math error. I double-checked the figures and came up with $289,000 in projected expenditures. Subtracting the state revenue of $140,000 and the local match of $70,000, it will cost the district $79,000 to fully implement 4K in 2008-2009. The administration told the board that the school district “can’t afford” to keep a half-day kindergarten option, placed Gifted and Talented services on the chopping block and scaled back the AP program. I submit to you that the school district also doesn’t have a spare $119,000 to pilot and implement a program that “has no proven societal or educational benefits.” The administration’s concern that the state will soon require 4K is unfounded in light of the recent political climate. The legislature just established the task force to “study” the issue. These things are notoriously slow to complete. The prudent approach is to wait to see if and when the DPI states “by the year 2XYZ, all Wisconsin schools will have 4K.” Then the program can be phased in thoughtfully, with full endorsement of the legislature, factoring in standardized 4K facilities with the next building cycle. There have been too many battles robbing Peter to pay Paul in the recent budget cycle to consider the boondoggle of 4K. I strongly urge the board, in light of this information, to deny 4K implementation in Evansville.

Thank you for your time.

Ode to Bridget Rolek;

Gina Duwe has a nice article on the contribution of Bridget Rolek as librarian at the Eager Free Library. Bridget is going to be a customer of the library now that she is staying home to care for her new son. Thanks, Bridget, for all your fine work.

Click on the post for the article.

Evansville Planning Commission--Marathon meeting--June 29th, Thursday, 6PM: Agenda to include Romano's expansion, China Wok and more....

Evansville Plan Commission

Regular Meeting

Thursday, June 29, 2006, 6:00 p.m.

City Hall, 31 S. Madison Street, Evansville, WI

AGENDA
Call to order
Roll call
Approval of agenda
Approval of minutes
Motion to waive the reading of the June 5, 2006 minutes and approve them as printed
Motion to waive the reading of the June 14, 2006 minutes and approve them as printed
Citizen appearances other than agenda items listed
Unfinished business

Traffic impact analysis of Highway 14, County M and J. Lindemann intersections
Presentation by Foth & Van Dyke
Discussion by Plan Commission
Motion to support the establishment of a controlled four-way intersection at USH 14 and J. Lindemann Drive

Motion regarding the preferred method of controlling traffic and pedestrian flows at the intersection (e.g., traffic signals or roundabout)
Other issues, if any

Report on the establishment of an ad hoc study committee to develop a proposal for the Plan Commission’s consideration relating to Traditional Neighborhood Development projects and design standards for residential structures
Discussion regarding the establishment of a standing committee on Intergovernmental Cooperation, composed of three specified Union Township representatives and three specified City of Evansville representatives
Report on cost-benefit studies

New business
Conditional use application for indoor commercial entertainment at 128 East Main Street, Sophia X Huang applicant (Application #2006-17)
Initial presentation by applicant
Staff report, if any
Initial discussion by Plan Commission
Public hearing
Final discussion by Plan Commission
Closing comments by applicant
Motion and roll call vote to act on the application (not defer to a later date)
Motion to approve the application based on the findings as contained in the staff report and the conclusion that the public benefits of the proposed use outweigh any and all potential adverse impacts, if any

Site plan application for Ramono’s Pizzeria expansion, Frank Ramono applicant (Application 2006-18)
Initial presentation by applicant
Staff report
Plan Commission discussion
Closing comments by applicant
Motion to approve the application with conditions as contained in the staff report (and other conditions as may be imposed by the Commission)
Landowner-initiated comprehensive plan amendment, Phil Maas applicant (Application #2006-15)
Initial presentation by applicant
Staff report, if any
Discussion by Plan Commission
Closing comments by applicant
Motion to adopt Plan Commission resolution #2006-3 recommending the City Council change the designation of the subject property on the interim future land use map to be the same as shown on the future land use map (Note: Consistent with state law, at least four affirmative votes are needed for passage.)
Landowner-initiated comprehensive plan amendment, Kurt Kamholz applicant (John Gishnock) (Application #2006-16)
Initial presentation by applicant
Staff report, if any
Discussion by Plan Commission
Closing comments by applicant
Motion to adopt Plan Commission resolution #2006-4 recommending the City Council change the designation of the subject property on the interim future land use map from townhouse/alternative housing/two-family residential to rural residential (Note: Consistent with state law, at least four affirmative votes are needed for passage.)
City-initiated comprehensive plan amendment (Application #2006-21)
Initial presentation
Staff report, if any
Discussion by Plan Commission
Motion to adopt Plan Commission resolution #2006-5 recommending the City Council change the designation of the subject property from light industrial to government/institutional on the interim future land use map and future land use map (Note: Consistent with state law, at least four affirmative votes are needed for passage.)
City-initiated comprehensive plan amendment (Application #2006-22)
Initial presentation
Staff report, if any
Discussion by Plan Commission
Motion to adopt Plan Commission resolution #2006-6 recommending the City Council change the designation of the north half of the subject property from government/institutional to light industrial on the interim future land use map and the future land use map (Note: Consistent with state law, at least four affirmative votes are needed for passage.)
City-initiated comprehensive plan amendment (Application #2006-23)
Initial presentation
Staff report, if any
Discussion by Plan Commission
Motion to adopt Plan Commission resolution #2006-7 recommending the City Council change those areas designated as walkable neighborhood and townhouse/alternative housing/two-family residential to agricultural/undeveloped on the future land use map (Note: Consistent with state law, at least four affirmative votes are needed for passage.)
Sign code text amendment to provide for the regulation of window signs
Presentation by staff
Initial discussion by Plan Commission
Public hearing
Final discussion by Plan Commission
Motion to recommend to Council the adoption of Ordinance #2006-16 as drafted
Ordinance authorizing the assessment of an application fee for comprehensive plan amendment applications
Presentation by staff
Initial discussion by Plan Commission
Public hearing
Final discussion by Plan Commission
Motion to recommend to Council the adoption of Ordinance #2006-17 as drafted
Discussion of resolution setting the amount of the application fee for comprehensive plan amendment applications and floodplain development applications
Motion to recommend to the Finance and Labor Relations Committee the adoption of Resolution #2006-17 as drafted

Discussion of draft ordinance amending the city’s zoning code (Chapter 130) relating to large-format retail stores
Discussion of draft ordinance amending the city’s zoning code (Chapter 130) relating to completion of a traffic impact analysis for development projects exceeding a specified threshold
Discussion of draft ordinance amending the city’s subdivision and land division regulations (Chapter 110) relating to completion of a traffic impact analysis for development projects exceeding a specified threshold
Discussion relating to amending the city’s zoning code (Chapter 130) to allow the city planner to review and act on minor site plan amendments
Discussion relating to the drafting of outdoor lighting regulations
Preliminary development presentations
None
Report of the Evansville Redevelopment Authority – none
Report of the Evansville Historic Preservation Commission – none
Wisconsin legislative update
2005 Wisconsin Act 477 (SB 681)
City planner’s report
Update on Common Council actions relating to Plan Commission recommendations
Update on Board of Appeal’s action on Kleven variance application
Report on creation of digital zoning map

Enforcement – Tom Nonn, dba Badger Cycle
Motion to adjourn
Mayor Sandra J. Decker, Plan Commission Chair

Requests for persons with disabilities who need assistance to participate in this meeting should be made to the Clerk’s office by calling 882-2266 with as much advance notice as possible.

Please turn off all cell phones while the meeting is in session. Thank you!

Monday, June 26, 2006

On Classic, On Trendy, On Historic

Recently my brothers college age daughter, Jessica, was discussing fashion during a trip to Rosedale in St. Paul. Denis was listening to her describe the latest in fashion. "Well," he said, "How would you describe the way I dress?" Yes. He asked a question one never should.

She calmy responded, "Dad, You're "classic" not "trendy." This means that sweatshirts from one's college and sweatpants are o.k. It is just not what young college kids aspire to.

I can live with the cost difference. I know that "trendy" is very expensive.

A few years ago, my daughter traveled to Italy for a year in Bologna to study. Upon arrival, she phoned that none of her clothes worked. The continental folks required fine clothing and one had to aspire to "Milan" quality.

Thus it is with some trepidation that I read that locally, in Evansville, we may be instituting "design standards" for all residential structures. I wonder if this may soon get to clothing. Could this imperil the very heart of Wisconsin. The sweatshirt. Oh no. Heaven forbid.

Because of the tendency to "broadly" and and "liberally" interpret local ordinances, it may be necessary to adopt such language in these ordinances to specifically protect the sweatshirt and sweatpants and tennis shoes as "protected attire." Certainly one must rank priorities, but right up there with crucial highway construction---casual attire must be ranked right up there.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Current Poll Results: Evansville Opposes 4Yr. Old Kindergarten: Favors Return to 7 period day; Favors Higher Athletic Fees rather than cut sports etc.

(Ed. note. These polls are still open. Only one vote per resident. Stay tuned to the Observer for the latest.)

In restoring downtown Evansville, do you want trees or not?

Answers Votes Percent
1. Yes 32 78%
2. No. 9 22%

Total Votes: 41


The "pole" Poll---Should the poles in Franklin Park be removed or saved as historic heritage?

Answers Votes Percent
1. Remove 16 43%
2. Save 21 57%

Total Votes: 37


In Evansville the City Administrator and Mayor share administrative power. Now that the administrator has resigned, should he be replaced or should the unpaid Mayor assume all his duties?

Answers Votes Percent
1. Yes, Replace Admin 27 63%
2. No, Mayor do all 16 37%

Total Votes: 43


Would you pay $5 to attend an Evansville High School Varsity Basketball game?

Answers Votes Percent
1. Yes 13 52%
2. No 12 48%

Total Votes: 25


Would you support increasing athletic fees at Evansville Schools by $10 per sport as opposed to eliminating sports such as soccer, track or cross country or liimiting football participation?

Answers Votes Percent
1. Yes, Increase $10/sport 25 71%
2. No 10 29%

Total Votes: 35


Would you support raising taxes to support adding 4 Year Old Kindergarten in Evansville Schools?

Answers Votes Percent
1. Yes 1 6%
2. No 15 94%

Total Votes: 16


The "Block schedule" or the "Four Period Day" has been in Evansville High School for almost 10 years. Do you support changing back to the 7 one hour format because the block schedule has not achieved its objectives?

Answers Votes Percent
1. Yes, change back to 7 periods 7 88%
2. No, Keep the block 1 13%

Total Votes: 8


"Budwiser recently paid 40 million to be named the appropriate beer for the World Soccer Cup. For a lucrative fee of course, should Evansville name a historically appropriate beer to be sold in Evansville, and exclude the others?

Answers Votes Percent
1. Yes 3 50%
2. No 3 50%

Total Votes: 6

"Fred" has the Park Board Minutes for June 19, 2006

Click on the post for the minutes from the Park Board Meeting. Thanks Fred.

School Beat: Plunkett Raysich Architects--Background---for Monday

The Evansville School Board Special Meeting on Monday will include a presentation by Plunkett Raysich Architects.

As preparation for the meeting----- click on the post to review some of the photos of elementary schools they have designed. And middle and high schools.

It is unclear what the presentation on Monday will be about. However, a short review of the design of school and corporate buildings done by Plunkett Raysich makes one conclude that their buildings have a heavy design element---they are beautiful structures.

Plan on being at the meeting on Monday.

Remember: If you live in Evansville. If it's not in The Evansville Observer---It probably did not happen.

Friday, June 23, 2006

The Classic Porch Swing: Compliments of Jim Cunningham

 
 
 

This classic oak porch swing was delivered today to The Evansville Observer at 255 East Main by Jim Cunningham, custom carpenter of Evansville.

Click on the audioblogger icon below this post to listen to Jim talk about the features of this swing. A sample of the swing will be at the art fair during the 4th of July in Evansville. You can call Jim and order your own custom porch swing---call 1-608-882-0679. Tell him The Observer sent you. Posted by Picasa
this is an audio post - click to play

"Getting Out and Staying Out of Debt"---the last book of Don Sheehan

I have written in the past of Don Sheehan, the Dale Carnegie salesman---a world champion award winner. His first two books were "Shut Up and Sell," and "The Price Book." Few know of the last book.

In two short years, I had participated in most all the seminars that Don offered. For the record, my wife, Sue, even attended sales training. Don told me he was working on his third book, "Getting and Staying out of Debt." It was a "tell all" book, and I looked forwarded to seeing it in print.

Then the call. He had a heart attack on a flight from New York. In a day he was gone.

I called his widow a month later and asked whether I could see the manuscript of his book, "Getting and Staying Out of Debt." She said I was welcome to review it.

In the book, Don told the nitty gritty of his days in the sales business, and the world wide travel, the huge audiences booked at large well known hotels. The fame.

Then he told the truth. About the debt. About the overspending that almost ended his career in sales. One day came the light----He and his wife talked it over and changed the way they did---well everything.

The truth as he told it in the book was that "overspending" was the death of salesmen. The death of marriages. The death of families and dreams. At the very pinnacle of success the biggest salesmen were losing everything.

He told the story about the "mortgage burning party" that he invited all the relatives and friends to, where he burned the mortage to their home in Richfield, Mn. And, he encouraged everyone to celebrate paying the individual debt off. And making it a family tradition. He also asked us to invite him to our own party.

So. The last book was the one I had wished I had read sooner. The one book most never read. And the best.

Historic Preservation: Back to the 40's; Plan approved for restoration of roller rink-- aka China Wok; Caution on any illegal use of sand blasting

At the Evansville Historic Preservation meeting on Wednesday night, the Commission approved the plan to restore the front of the roller rink, aka The New China Wok, to the original 40's look and remove all non-historic additions--namely the brick blocks that had filled in where windows had been originally.

The Commission did warn on the use of any sand blasting on the brick however. It could ruin the brick. Plus, it might even be illegal. Not that the structure is a labeled historic structure, but it is in the neighborhood near historic stuff. So.... Click on the post to hear the whole discussion.

Let all be warned on the sand blaster thing. Wayward use of a sandblaster might be a bookable offense---not clear to The Observer whether this would be a felony, but still.....be careful.

this is an audio post - click to play

this is an audio post - click to play

Treatment as Jail Alternative Studied

Click on the post for an article in the Beloit Daily News that tells some of the background of the current discussion in Rock County about ways to lower the proposed cost of the new Jail.

One of the paragraphs in this article is pretty startling. About 50% of the total jail population currently is either in for probation violations or for drug related offenses. About 25% each.

One of the arguments I have heard is: "Who is going to supervise? With the current rate of probation violation, and the current environment of understaffing of the follow up--is a community release proposal responsible or is it a threat to public safety?

One of the ironic things about this discussion is that our own city and school officials have been resistent to even allowing non-violent first time offenders to use some form of community service in lieu of jail time---yet now we see a far more ambitious proposal. I am neutral on the issue so far. I need more input.

The question remains for me. Why cannot a first time non-violent offender cut grass? Community service is utilized around the world in various countries. Why not here?

You make the call.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Justice Council Applies for Grant; Jail alternatives looked for; Supr. Carvin named for 1 Yr. Term

Click on the post for the article in the Janesville Gazette for Thursday which indicates that Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee has applied for a grant for alternatives to jail. This has caused a delay in the determination of how large a jail should be built in Janesville.

In separate news, in the minutes of the Rock Co. Board, Supr. Carvin of Evansville was named to the CJCC Board for a one year term beginning 5-31-2006.

Superintendent of Corrections and Schools; or, Herman's Sonar Rig--the tale.

Well, fishing season is here and there is excitement on the crowded highways on the road up to the frozen tundra of Northern Minnesota. I was expecially interested in making this trip last week because my old friend Herman, the country boy lawyer in "Sofia, a small town near the famous Lake Woebegon, south of Brainerd, Mn, had been named in a special board meeting, to be the Superintendent of Corrections and Schools. I was eager to get all the details.

I arranged to meet Herman at the fishing spot, about two miles from the bait shop with the colored stones on the wall. I was pleased to see that he had brought some travel coffee mugs, Minnesota Viking style, with fresh black, no sugar, lots of whipped cream ready for the launch of a fish outing.

It was just a simple alumacraft boat but Herman had a fast Merc motor and in no time we were in our favorite spot.

As we settled in, I noticed that Herman had a new sonar rig. He moved it from a spiffy carrying case to the boat, and attached it to a mount. Immediately it began blinking yellow and orange.

Excited, I yelled, "Wow, this is the spot. The fish are really loaded here."

"Wrong, Wolfman!" Those aren't fish. Those are prisoners and students."

"Huh?", I exclaimed.

He went on, "It's real simple up here in God's country. Up here everyone has one of them gosh darn bracelets. The students and the prisoners. When they are in their proper "zones", everything is quiet. But when they stray, the prisoners flash orange on the screen and the students flash yellow. When I touch the flashing dot, it displays their ID number.

Just then, a yellow dot started flashing. "That's just Fred." He then touched the screen to display the ID number. "Sometimes Fred leaves school to sneak to the Subway to get one of them deli sandwiches. Now he's gunna pay with a $25 fine." Herman quickly got on the radio to the local squad to catch Fred.

"This system sure seems efficient," I pondered aloud. "Yes," Herman said. "And the best part is that if a youngster "goes bad" and needs to be locked up, we just make a code change from "student" to "felon." It's real simple."

Thank goodness I am back in good old Wisconsin --God's Country---where we don't have all that fancy sonar and such. And where corrections and schools are separate.

I was a little nervous this morn, though, eating my deli sandwich at the Subway. But then I checked my wrist. And relaxed. Bloggers don't have to wear bracelets. Alleluia.


this is an audio post - click to play

Late Life Job Loss Lethal

In a late life job loss, the financial impact is harsh---and the health impact is even worse. Click on the post for the full story in Yahoo News.

I remember well some many years ago, a person who was a management trainee. One of the tests of whether this person had the "right stuff" was whether this person could fire a person in their 50'w for no good reason. Just to show that total loyalty to the company spirit.

One of the interesting aspects of that same "killer" mentality of management is that it has now extended to all ages and levels of mangement. Now everyone is temporary. Now even top mangement is temporary, part time with no benefits. What goes around truly has come around.

"Grumps" has the saga of Spulwasser, or "dishwater.", or: On historic beer

Soccer fans loyal to their "historic" beer, have gone to extreme lengths, such as removing their pants, in order to comply with soccer apparel rules. Click on the post for the full story from "Grumps."

Sometimes "design standards" can go too far. Sometimes when we establish total architectual historic uniformity, there might be some unintended consequences. I wonder if we established standards for quality dark German beer here in Evansville and ruled, after serious consultation with a cobweb of committees, that under historic guidelines, the "dishwater" beer was not appropriate, whether we might have riots also.

Ah the mystery.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Gazette Corner: Use of Impact Fees Restricted

Click on the post for an interesting article in the Janesville Gazette on new rules on how impact fees can be used. New law seems to eliminate money in lieu of land in new developments and also may restrict other amenities besides land. Stay tuned.

Gazette Corner: Further Details on the Biodiesel Project

Click on the post for additonal details provided by Gina Duwe of the Gazette on the possible biodiesel plant for Evansville.

"Never Underestimate the power of a Broom"

One morning when I was five yr. old, I went to my grandmothers apartment for toast---she had one of those toasters with the sides that manually flipped down----and I just loved raisen bread---it did require a special touch or you burned it. It was soo good.

While I was there, the oil burner man, from Holmen Oil in White Bear Lake came to fill the tank. When he was through, I heard a commotion in the front hall----it seems he had not told Nana that the price of oil had risen and had told her after the fact. She was just a little upset. She grabbed the broom and chased him out of the apartment.

Yes----with the distraction and all, the toast burned. I quickly unplugged the toaster.

I never have forgotten the scene that morn. When someone cheats you, have the self respect to fight for your rights---if you don't----nobody will.

Nana was so mild mannered. She did handle the broom pretty well though.

In these modern times, it is tough to get a broad sword like Zena Warrior Princess, or a laser or a samauri sword. Still....the broom is still available.

School Beat: Students Line up at Dawn for Schedule Changes

For the last three days, The Observer has gone to EHS for schedule help---all junior and seniors, some 200 students, had been sent letters asking for them to consult with guidance on possible changes to their 2006-7 schedule. My daughter is away at school for three weeks, so I thought I would substitute.

As you may remember, a late change in math staffing had caused changes in several areas, and many students were affected. The master schedule, the key thing in scheduling, was set in June, rather than in April--which would have been ideal.

For the record, Monday I arrived at 10Am, Tuesday at 7:07Am and today at 6:02AM. Today I was successful. Appointments are filled for the day--10 of them--by 7:01am to the first in line. Yes, the threatened hail storm may have helped me.

Mr. Keister explained that he visits for some days in June and some days in August as counseling days.

As I see it---The late budget process this year and the late setting of the master schedule has added stress to students, parents, and staff of the high school. I would like to see some additional counseling hours allowed by the school board to resolve as many of these schedule conflicts as soon as possible.

 

For next year, I would hope we could add the ZERO HOUR, and use it for TV instruction and even consider adding an additional hour between 3-3:45PM. This might be a partial solution. We need to go to the 7 period day or make an adjustment. It is a matter of math and combinations, not personalities.

The problem of course is that to make change, one would have to begin NOW. The class offerings are sent out in December. The teachers would have to be involved in negotiations on contracts. The master schedule needs to be firmed sooner. And yes the budget battles need to be fought and resolved sooner.

So---we need to move to the up-tempo game. Need to learn from last year. I believe we are ready to make the changes necessary to make things better for all. Posted by Picasa

Library Corner: Briget Rolek Resigns; Search Committee Formed; Discussion of facilties planning

EAGER FREE PUBLIC LIBRARY

BOARD OF TRUSTEES MEETING

30 May 2006

1. Call to Order.

Eloise Eager called the meeting to order at 5:30pm. Board Members present: Eloise Eager, Heidi Carvin, Diana Eager, Gwen Clendenning, Wally Shannon, Rich Banton, Bridget Rolek. Kim Miller arrived at 5:40pm.

2. Approval 25 April 2006 Minutes.

H. Carvin moved to approve the minutes from the 25 April 2006 Board meeting. W. Shannon seconded. All in favor, none opposed.

3. May Bills.

H. Carvin moved to pay the March bills. W. Shannon seconded. No discussion. Roll call vote: Aye: E. Eager, H. Carvin, D. Eager, W. Shannon, R. Banton, G. Clendenning, K. Miller. None opposed. Motion carried.

4. Librarian report.

Summer library reading program theme is Paws, Claws, Scales and Tales.

5. Acceptance of resignation of Bridget Rolek, Library Director, as of 23 June 06.

R. Banton moved to accepted B. Rolek’s resignation (with regret). D. Eager seconded. All in favor, none opposed. Motion carried.

6. Discussion of hiring process for new director.

It is a requirement that communities with a population of 5,000 or greater have a library director with a master’s degree. Salary discussion ensued. Currently, the director’s salary is 10% below that for Wisconsin communities of comparable size. Discussed wording of job announcement. Will be posted on a private library list serve (WI wide), MI, IL and WI Library colleges, WI education career access site and Janesville or WI State Journal newspaper. Deadline for responses is 26 June 06.

Interview panel will be E. Eager, K. Miller, B. Rolek, and replacement person for H. Carvin (term up in July). In addition, Doug Zweizig, Ruth Ann Montgomery and someone from the Primetimers group may be invited to participate. E. Eager will head the interview committee and will talk with D. Zweizig, B. Rolek will talk to R. Montgomery and H. Carvin will contact the Primetimers.

W. Shannon moved to approve the revised posting for the library director position including a $40-43K salary range, Master’s degree requirement and 26 June 06 deadline. H. Carvin seconded. All in favor, none opposed.

7. Appointment and Compensation of Interim Director.

Summer is the busiest time of year at the library. Discussed coverage of various activities. 200 hours are currently budgeted for Summer Library person. They may be able to add some hours. Ruth Ann Montgomery has offered assistance. H. Carvin made a motion to appoint Tina Kakuske as the interim Director at $16.50/hr with 40 hours of overlap with B. Rolek as determined between them. T. Kakuske will have the authority to adjust staff hours as needed to meet library needs until a new director is hired. K. Miller seconded. Roll call vote: Aye: E. Eager, H. Carvin, D. Eager, W. Shannon, R. Banton, G. Clendenning, K. Miller. None opposed. Motion carried.

8. Approval of 2007-2011 Capital Plan for the library.

Some changes needed. Move $25k for architechs and plans from 2006 to 2007. Building purchase would likely be in 2009 (lease is up then) with construction starting in 2010. Will need to revise sq. ft. costs at a later date. The process is that the City negotiates with the owner re building purchase and land. City informs Director and Board at some point. There may be meetings that the Director or Board member may need to sit in on but City handles all negotiations. H. Carvin moved to approve the 2006 Capital budget. W. Shannon seconded. Roll call vote: Aye: E. Eager, H. Carvin, D. Eager, W. Shannon, R. Banton, G. Clendenning, K. Miller. None opposed. Motion carried

9. Discussion of 2007 Operating Budget.

Income from County funds has decreased (amount is based on circulation, not population). Cross over borrowing has increased. Will have to pay 4% increase for all union employees. Currently budgeting for a library employee to take health and dental coverage but currently none are. May be able to reduce amount budgeted for reference books. 100% increase in postage. Will have to mail overdue notices after a few phone/email notices. Won’t be able to just send notices twice a year after we are in the new system.

10. Draft agreement for participation in the Integrated Library Automation System. Will get actual numbers and then make some decisions. Group is awaiting vendor bids. Will wait to make a final decision.

11. Update on selection of ILS software vendor.

Innovative and Dynix are the 2 vendor choices. One has a more user-friendly customer interface, the other is harder to use but allows for more complex reporting. Both are good companies.

12. Adjourn.

K. Miller moved to adjourn. G. Clendenning seconded. All in favor, none opposed. Motion passed, 7:15pm.

Next meeting will be 27 June 2006 at 5:30pm.

Minutes submitted by Secretary K. Miller with assistance from R. Banton.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Agenda: Public Works, June 26, 6PM

Public Works Committee

Regular Meeting

Monday, June 26, 2006, 6:00 p.m.

City Hall, 31 S. Madison St., Evansville, WI

AGENDA (Revised 6-7-06)

1. Call the meeting to order.

Roll Call
Approve minutes of May Meeting
Citizen appearances
Lake Leota Restoration
Downtown Streetscape Plan Public Hearing
Discussion and possible motion to approve of Main St. & Sidewalk design in front of Evansville bowl.
Review Allen creek bridge design
Discussion and possible motion to approve Main Street amenities.
Discussion on Intra City Bike Path locations
West Side Storage Water Drainage
2006 Public Works Smart Growth Plan Action Items
Transportation #1.2 – Review Transportation Network Map
Communications from City Engineer
Discussion and possible motion to approve Madison Street & Main Street storm water sewer & sanitary sewer design & contractor bids.
2007 Public Works Capital Budget
Communications of Public Works Director
Motion to approve CMAR Report and WWTP upgrades
Unfinished Business
Ordinance #2006-___, amending Municipal Code relative to speed limits
New Business
Discussion and possible motion to approve 3-way stop sign at Fair St. & 2nd St. intersection
Adjourn
Bill Hammann Chair, Public Works Committee

Please turn off all cell phones while the meeting is in session. Thank you!

Monday, June 19, 2006

The case of the "donor TIF district"

The Monroe Times has an interesting story on how Ehlers and Associates is aiding them refinance their TIF bonds so that their well performing TIF districts, one of which has an ethanol plant in it, can aid a poorly performing TIF, TIF number 4.

There is an analogy here in that it may be that the same thing that occurs in Evansville. TIF 5 may need TIF 6 and soon to be created TIF 7 to be donor TIF's to help make the numbers work out. The question I have is why the refinancing is necessary. Why can't the flow just be moved from one to another. By refinancing, the interest rate these days would probably be higher and not as good a deal. Maybe Bill Connors can weigh in on this one.

Stay tuned.

Judge Tom Writes: Why the "Knock and announce" matters.

Just a few years ago, in a case from Wisconsin, the U.S. Supreme Court concluded that one of the reasons for upholding the constitutional significance of the “knock and announce” rule was so, among other things, a citizen could consent passively to the search, without violence, OR, be able to advise the police that they have the wrong place (something that happens with more regularity than you might think). Amazing how two Court appointees later, constitutional philosophy—and history--all changes.

Regarding “anonymous’” comments, they are somewhat misplaced. If the police can articulate to a judge sufficient facts to convince the judge that there are likely to be weapons at a place to be searched, or that the destruction of evidence is likely, the judge ALWAYS has the option of signing what’s called a “no-knock warrant”, allowing the police the element of surprise, when necessary. And, the law permits the police to make an instantaneous decision to turn a regular warrant into a no-knock warrant on the spot if the facts change, so long as they can show the judge later that changing to a no-knock was reasonable.

What is most troubling to me about this opinion is Scalia’s tinkering with the ‘Exclusionary Rule’. That rule was developed in 1914 in a case called U.S. v. Weeks. There, a unanimous Supreme Court held that the police should not be able to benefit by being able to collect evidence in a way that violated an individual’s constitutional rights. In his opinion, Justice Day wrote: “If [items] can thus be seized and held and used in evidence against a citizen accused of an offense, the protection of the 4th Amendment, declaring his right to be secure against such searches and seizures, is of no value, and, … might as well be stricken from the Constitution.” Thus, the exclusionary rule is a deterrent against police misconduct. In other words, there is no benefit to the police in obtaining evidence that violates a person’s constitutional rights; such evidence is ‘excluded’ from being considered.

Scalia’s suggestion that the bad guy can sue the police is an idea that has been so often repudiated as ineffective, he should know better. No one likes it when a bad guy goes free over something like this. But, contrary to what the politicians may suggest, getting ‘off on a technicality’ happens less than 4 times out of a 100. I can live with that, if it means there maintains an effective ‘check’ on improper police behavior.

Like it or not, we have fewer 4th amendment rights now than we have for some time. For example, it used to be an individual NEVER had to talk to the police or answer any of their questions. Not even give their name. That changed a year ago in April when the Court ruled that if the police ‘stop’ an individual (non-traffic setting), the individual must now, on demand of the police, identify themselves. Trust me on this, I’ve been doing it a long time; soon, this will mutate into having to give not only your name, but your name and date of birth (the latter being necessary to ‘run’ your name through NCIC, the FBI computer. And, of course, your current address.) That’s just one case. I could go on.

What people need to understand is that it is the nibbling of the 4th amendment ‘apple’ (the analogy I use with my students at the college) that is invidious. When the apple is gone, you can’t get it back. That’s why it is so important to have the RIGHT people appointed to the Supremes.

Finally, for those who say, “well, if you have nothing to hide, why not let the police search?” Every semester in my “Criminal Procedure and Civil Rights” course, about half of my students give me that line. I have since created a release form, that allows the police to search an individual and their homes and cars, day or night, whenever the police want. I offer it to those students, with the promise that once they sign it 1) it is legal, and 2) I will forward it to all the local, county, state and federal law enforcement authorities for them to keep on file. Since they have nothing to hide….So far, I’ve been at the college 14 years, and I’ve had no takers.

In short, remember: The Court makes final decisions on the rules regarding police-citizen encounters. They really have nothing at stake (how likely is it that any of them will have a police encounter?) If this current case portends the philosophy of the newest appointees to the Court (Roberts and Alito), then for the rest of us, a chill wind blows.

Gazette Corner: Homeland Security Grants Detailed or: What the war on Terror looks like in Wisconsin.

Click on the post for a breakdown by county, including Rock county, of the funds granted for Homeland Security. After reading this you will get a clearer picture of where all the billions of dollars for homeland security is going.

School Beat: New Health Plan for Teachers Key element in Budget

At last weeks Monthly Evansville School Board Meeting, Mr. Michael Pierick, chair of the School Board, noted that the agreement of the Evansville Teachers to a new health provider was a key element in the upcoming budget.

The new coverage is through DEAN. Deb Olsen noted that the concerns of retired teachers had been met and this was a extensive process to make sure everyone's needs could be met.

As folks will remember, the savings had been penciled in at about $60,000. Of all the budget savings this was the one that was most substantial, since the oparational cuts that had previously been 10% were in fact restored at the June meeting. Someone might want to clarify that if this is not correct, but I believe that this is so.

Thanks were expressed for Mr. Hartje for his efforts in working with the teachers to get everyone participating in the approval process.