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To the Citizens of our Communities:

02/05/2015 1:52 pm

To the Citizens of our Communities:
Recent headlines from Madison indicate our legislature is focused on the topic of school accountability. As District
Administrators of educational institutions in western Wisconsin, we understand the importance of accountability for
our public schools. We accept the responsibility to closely examine our policies, procedures, and practices to ensure
that we are being as efficient and as productive as possible. We find the recently developed School Report Cards to
be an effective way to measure our progress and report our results. We are thankful for the effort and resources
expended to create the current system. We remain unconvinced of the need for a replacement after only three
years. We remain committed to finding ways to help every student achieve and be successful so that hope exists
within every child for a better future and cycles of poverty and violence are eliminated.

In addition to school accountability, there are lots of ideas coming out of Madison these days. Ideas that are not
research-based, which are not supported by professional educators, and which have not been proven to “move the
needle” on student achievement. But, there are practices and evidence-based policies which have been shown to
change and improve schools across our nation. We encourage you to engage others in our community around
discussions on:

1) Early Childhood Education. In Wisconsin, the funding base for childcare programs (Wisconsin
Shares/YoungStar program) is inadequate and unstable. These programs can have a significant impact on
children and increase their likelihood of high school graduation, holding a job, and decreasing the need to
receive public assistance or be incarcerated.

2) Children’s Mental Health. In Wisconsin, we have systematic shortcomings in how mental health services are
provided. Many children do not receive the services they need which has serious consequences for the child,
their families, and our schools and community. Mental health issues can be a significant barrier to a child
being successful in school.

3) Supporting Excellence in Teaching and Leading. Research shows that teacher quality and principal
leadership are the two most important factors leading to student success. Continued funding for Educator
Effectiveness implementation, ongoing training and support for educators, and the promotion of policies
designed to encourage the “best and brightest” to enter the teaching profession will improve school/district
outcomes.

4) Innovation. Incentives should be provided to encourage districts to pilot new practices that evidence
suggests will improve student learning. While our society has dramatically changed in the last 100 years, our
schools have been slower to respond due to a sense of “tradition” and a lack of funding for innovation.

5) School Finance. The state share of school funding has decreased over the last ten years and large funding
cuts were made in 2011. How do we ensure equitable funding for education across the state of Wisconsin
when there are unique challenges in each district? Some districts have a larger share of English Language
Learners, others are dealing with significant rates of poverty, and additional districts struggle with declining
enrollment, substantial transportation costs, or a lack of technology. We need a school finance system that is
fair and equitable for all children and is sustainable so that access to high quality instructional programming
is maintained regardless of one’s zip code.

As a community, we want our children to succeed and be best prepared as future leaders to move our state and
nation toward increased prosperity. All of us-whether we are parents, educators, business members, legislators or
senior citizens- have a vested interest in our children. Let’s start talking about the real issues which will benefit our
children, add value for our taxpayers, and improve the quality of life in our state. Your involvement and support is
crucial. Public education is public work – we need your help! Please feel free to contact us if you would like to host a
conversation. Thank you!

Area School District Administrators,
Alma – Steven Sedlmayr
Alma Center-Humbird-Merrillan – Paul Fischer
Arcadia – Louie Ferguson
Bangor – David Laehn
Black River Falls – Shelly Severson
Blair-Taylor – Jeff Eide
Cochrane-Fountain City – Thomas Hiebert
De Soto – Jim Kuchta
Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau – Roger Foegen
Hillsboro – Curt Bisarek
Holmen – Dale Carlson
Independence – Paul Vine
La Crosse – Randy Nelson
La Farge – Shawn Donovan
Melrose-Mindoro – Delroy DeBerg
Onalaska – Francis Finco
Royall – Mark Gruen
Sparta – John Hendricks
Tomah – Cindy Zahrte
Viroqua – Robert Knadle
West Salem – Troy Gunderson
Westby – Charles Norton
Whitehall – Michael Beighley
Wonewoc-Union Center – Steve Lozeau

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