Policies will have larger impact than budget

by Dave Cary Review Correspondent

PLYMOUTH – The part of the state budget bill that will affect schools looks like it will be something that can be lived with, outgoing Superintendent Clark Reinke told the School Board on Tuesday. At the same time, he implied, there are several items that will bear watching in the future as they are “…very significant policies that will change the landscape of public education for years to come.”

Drawing upon his attendance at the monthly Legislative Breakfasts in Sheboygan – where school and other public officials get together with state-level legislators from the area – Reinke said that, in his opinion, it was unfortunate that these policies will be implemented because they were included in a budget bill, so there was no community involvement that centered around these policies.

One of these policies is the expansion of the state private school voucher program, which funds education in private schools. This will start with 500 students statewide for 2013, then will grow to 1,000 next year.

Reinke said it will be a real challenge to analyze the educational and financial impacts of these programs, and felt that they contain a “…huge potential to create a dual system in the state rather than uniting people around strengthening public education.”

He said he was also troubled because there are no accountability requirements accompanying them, although he added that Rep. Steve Kestell said he was introducing a bill that would remedy this.

Also significant, Reinke said, was the introduction of a state income tax deduction of up to $4,000 for tuition paid by parents of a K-8 private school pupil, which would go up to $10,000 for a student in grades 9-12.

As far as state aids go, Reinke said the public schools had lobbied for an increase of $150 per pupil and got $75. Between the vouchers and the tax breaks, he said, this increase was surpassed by far by those going to private schools.

Reinke said those attending the breakfast were told there would probably be no changes to the budget bill as a deal had been cut behind closed doors in Madison.

Board President Mark Rhyan, who had also attended the breakfast, felt it was clear from what was said that there had been a lot of giveand take in the wrangling that preceded Madison action on this bill. And that there had been a “fair amount of consternation in the room” at the breakfast. “I feel it’s fair to say that no one in the room was pleased with the whole package.”

• • •

Inpersonnelmatters,theboardapproveda2percentsalaryincrease for nonunion non-teaching employees working in the district offices, interpreters and technicians.

The board also approved staff contracts for:

• Travis McDonough to teach tech ed at Riverview. McDonough holds a bachelor’s degree from University of Wisconsin-Stout and has four years’ teaching experience in the Milton district.

• Sarah Paff to teach special ed at Riverview. Paff has a bachelor’s degree from University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh; this is her first teaching position.

• Keeley Mey to teach fifth grade at Riverview. Mey has a bachelor’s degree from Iowa University and three years’ experience in the Davenport, Iowa schools.

• Tyler Gruett to teach sixth grade at Riverview. Gruett has a bachelor’s degree from University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and a master’s degree from Marian University. He has six years’ experience with the Mayville schools.

• Tracy Heinbuch to teach agriculture at Plymouth High School. Heinbuch has a bachelor’s degree from University of Wisconsin-River Falls and three years’ experience in the Denmark schools.

• Rachel Tempe to teach choral music at Riverview. Tempe has a bachelor’s degree from University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and one year’s experience with the Port Edwards schools.

• Amanda Gaura to teach choral music at PHS. Gaura has a bachelor’s degree from UW-Green Bay and one year of experience with the Green Bay schools.

• Kari Langenhahn to teach special ed at Horizon. Langenhahn has a bachelor’s degree from Silver Lake College and 12 years’ experience in the Two Rivers schools.

• Kristie Heitman to teach first grade at Fairview. Heitman has a bachelor’s degree from University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and master’s from University of Wisconsin-Madison and has eight years’ experience, the most recent with the Baraboo schools.

• Megan Delray to teach special ed at Fairview. Delray has a bachelor’s degree from UW-Oshkosh, and this will be her second year of teaching.

• Heather Thompson to teach second grade at Parkview. Thompson has a bachelor’s degree from Lakeland College and two and one-half years’ experience in the Cedarburg and North Fond du Lac schools.

• • •

The board also accepted a number of gifts, which included:

• $826.53 from the Fairview PTO for student transportation and classroom supplies.

• $363 from the Horizon PATH for student transportation.

• $215 from Bill and Diane Mikolyzk for a memorial plaque memorializing former PHS English teacher Jim McKnight.

• $3,530 from Kohl’s Department Store for three elementary teachers to use for class trips.

• $2,000 from Bill and Lynn Graening for library furniture at Riverview.

• two guitar cases valued at $179 from Bill and Lynn Graening.

• $99.62 from the Parkview PTK for student transportation.

• • •

As the July date of his formal retirement approaches, Dr. Clark Reinke has heard a lot of wellwishing. So, he said, he would keep his valedictory to the School Board short.

When he had come here 13 years ago, he understood the essence of the School Board’s message to be “we’re a good district – but we could be better. Take us there.”

“I believe we are better.”

Rhyan said he had learned a lot from Reinke and praised him for being a consistent advocate of public education, and especially for helping establish a collaborative environment among the School Board and faculty through reaching out to both as well as emphasizing professional development among faculty members.

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