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 baby daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.
Here’s a portion of a blog I wrote two years ago this month that bears repeating given that Franklin school officials are hell-bent on putting a referendum to voters on school facilities:
The Sheboygan Press reported last week that fliers in support of a referendum produced by Parent Teacher Organizations (PTO’s) in the Stevens Point Area Public School District “were distributed to teachers at school, who then placed them in folders students use to take messages home.”
The same newspaper’s editorial board wrote this:
"We do not object to the PTO's drafting and sending a pro-referendum letter. But the method of delivery -- stuffed into homework folders and shuttled home by students -- led the group into an ethical gray area.. It also is unclear whether teachers put these notes into the folders. If they did, was it part of the workday or was it on their own time? District employees are free to campaign on their own time but not when they are being paid by taxpayers. The incident also begs the question of what is and isn't acceptable material to be sent in homework folders that go directly into the hands of parents.”
Yep. There are all kinds of red flags on this one.
School officials should never use school time to lobby and campaign for or against an increase in your school taxes. Period.
Franklin went through the same problem during debate surrounding the massive $78-million referendum in April of 2007.
In an issue of Wisconsin School News put out by the Wisconsin Association of School Boards around the time of the election, Tom Joynt of the Administrative Leadership Department at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee wrote about successful referendum strategies. The basis of his article is a 20-question survey that was mailed to the superintendents in all 70 school districts that had a successful referendum in 2005 or 2006. Forty-four completed surveys were returned, a response rate of 63 percent.
The survey was split into two sections: “Deciding to Hold a Referendum,” and “Strategies Used after a Decision Was Made to Hold a Referendum.”
In the “Deciding” section, the lowest-rated item was asking for student input on needs that were finally included in the final referendum. More weight was given to community input and opinions from staff.
After the decision was made to hold a referendum, there was a strong consensus to provide special information to parents and the media. I’m sure the
The Wisconsin School News survey also generated strong support for providing district residents with estimates of the tax impact of a referendum. Here, I believe the
Another survey idea that received a high endorsement if you wanted to have a successful referendum was to send a brochure to all community residents explaining all accurate details. Maybe
The survey respondents also highly recommended holding public forums. Now this, the
The personal comments on the survey are very, very interesting.
The superintendent in Oakfield, Joe Heinzelman warned, “Make sure you follow through on what you say will happen if a referendum fails.” The author of the article Tom Joynt writes, “Empty hyperbole and overstated claims before a referendum will haunt public officials for many years.” In
According to Joynt’s article, Sue Alexander, superintendent of Markesan “felt unity of the school board in supporting a referendum is significant.” Interesting. In Franklin, right before the election campaign, two incumbent school board members chose not to run. Three school board seats were filled on April 3 with all three candidates running unopposed, two of them opposed to the referenda.
Jamie Benson, superintendent in
Superintendent David Wessel of Spencer offered this advice: “make sure you ask for enough,” but he also added, “don’t go overboard.”
And finally, Joynt writes, and this is where
And so we have in
Not very ingenious,
Forget stuffing the kids’ backpacks with your tax and spend propaganda. That’s old hat. Try what
The Friday before Election Day, April 2007, during school time, hundreds of
Doors to the Assembly reportedly were locked so no one could leave and no one could enter to see and hear what was going on.
I wrote the following at the time:
“The impropriety of this action by
Later on April 2, 2007, just prior to the final vote, I blogged an e-mail I received from a Franklin parent:
“Now that the school district has given the senior class a civics lesson and is encouraging them to exercise their right and privilege to vote(many for the first time):
1. Will they be excused from school to vote?
2. Will the students get a lesson in how to register to vote; how to determine what district they live in; and where their polling place is located?
3. Will they provide transportation to the polls?
4. Will they earn a grade for voting---how are the students going to be assessed following this civics lesson? Will they have to wear the I Voted sticker as proof of voting?
5. Will they tack on an additional 2 hours to the make up school days since the students missed first/second hour to attend this civic lesson?
I have more questions to add but the most important one is:
When will the investigation into the legality of this action begin? Who will be held accountable?”
Back to January 2012: Just a reminder to Franklin school officials that a lot of us haven’t forgotten what happened in 2007.