Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely young daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.
It comes as no surprise and is not a
Wednesday night, the board according to FranklinNOW voted 5-2 to place a building referendum on the November ballot. Board President Janet Evans and newly-elected board member Aimee Schlueter correctly voted NO. The others incorrectly voted YES.
Having covered and attended countless governmental meetings, this item should never have been before the school board requesting an up or down vote. The members had no idea what they were voting for.
According to the school district website, and please read carefully:
“The Board voted to move forward with the three highest project priorities, as indicated by the community wide survey: (View full survey results here)
1. To increase academic capacity at Franklin High School by expanding general classrooms and science areas, creating a secure main entry, and addressing parking.
2. Expanding and renovating art and music classroom areas and adding an auditorium for both school and community use at FHS.
3. Addressing immediate space needs at Forest Park Middle School, which includes renovating the existing gym into new classroom space and Special Education areas, expanding the cafeteria, replacing the gym, improving the traffic flow, parking and site safety. (This approach would not move the sixth grade out of the elementary buildings at this time, but is the first step toward accomplishing that move at a later phase.)
Work will now begin to finalize the details and costs of these three projects, put a communications plan into action, and prepare the three questions that will appear on the November general election ballot.”
Did you catch that? Five out of seven board members voted YES to place a referendum on the November ballot WITHOUT KNOWING ANY SPECIFICS.
Now that they’ve voted yes, now they'll go out and sort out the details, cost, and actual wording of the referendum.
I’m sorry, but before I vote YES, I need to know a lot more about what I’m voting YES for!
I’m not a mind reader, but my guess is that a few members may have voted YES just to pass the tough question onto the electorate to decide. If true, and I don’t know that it is, it’s still a foolish vote prompted by foolish motivation.
It appears we’re headed to a loaded referendum. FranklinNOW.com reports the facilities plan would do the following:
“Increase academic capacity at the high school by expanding general classrooms and science areas, and also creating a secure main entry and addressing the parking situation. This project is estimated to cost $21.4 million.
Expand the art and music classroom areas and add an auditorium for school and community use, which would cost about $11.6 million.
Address space needs at the middle school, which includes renovating the gym into new classroom and special education areas, expanding the cafeteria, replacing the gym and improving traffic flow, parking and site safety. This work would cost about $15 million.”
On the surface this appears to be too expensive and unnecessary. I seriously doubt $48 million spent in these ways will do anything to improve academic achievement in our schools. Given what I know now, I would not be able to support this referendum and would fight it vigorously as I did the previous two referenda that went down in flames.
Congrats to Evans and Schlueter for voting properly and prudently. The other board members voted recklessly including the inconsistent Linda Witkowski and Tim Nielson who cannot be trusted to always side with fiscal conservatives.