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What the Port Washington-Saukville School Board Does Not Want You to Know

Why has the School Board waited so long before changing the insurance carrier?

Election day is almost upon us. 

This is going to be one of the most important School Board races in many years.  I think that all of the candidates basically agree that their number one priority will be the students.  If this is true, and I think it is, then the difference between the candidates must be on the financial issues. The number one issue here is the development of the Teacher’s Manual, and within the manual the Health Insurance. 

In April 2011, the Board held an open meeting in order to protect the district’s employees from the changes that Gov. Scott Walker was proposing.  Most of the approximate 300 people in attendance made it very clear that they were against the extension. After a short discussion the Board changed the extension to one year and it passed with a 9 to 0 vote.

Candidate Carey Gremminger voted for the extension and Candidates Brenda Fritsch and Michelle Mueller have both voiced their support of the decision.  I spoke against the extension at the meeting and have been very critical of the extension ever since.

A couple of weeks ago the board asked several companies to bid on the District’s Health Insurance.  Last Monday, we found out that the lowest bid came in with a savings of $1,157,367.  We could have probably saved about the same amount of money, with the same plan, if the board had rejected the contract extension. 

Think of what the district could have done with an extra one million dollars this year.  The main reason that I heard expressed for the extension was that they did not have time to develop the teacher’s manual in time for the start of the next school year.  During this campaign, I have been saying that the board could use a conservative member to give it a new point of view on pending issues.  Had I been on the board at this time I would have suggested how they could have developed the teacher’s manual in a day, and could then reject the extension, change insurance carrier and save the one million dollars. 

To develop the manual in a day all they had to do was take the Teacher’s Union Contract, go through it and remove any reference to wages, because they are still negotiable, and call it the teacher’s manual. You have to remember that the board can change the manual at any time and as many times that they deem necessary.  This would have given them the million dollars and the time needed to produce the final version of the manual. I would suspect that they would have found another excuse to extend the contract and I am just as sure that with a little created thinking those excuses could have been dismissed.

It should be pointed out that the board could have sent the insurance out for bid at anytime in the past.  The union contract provided that “The board and the association agree that when the board solicits insurance bids, bids shall be solicited from at least all of the following carriers." It then listed 7 carriers "and any other carriers the board deems appropriate."  All the board had to do was give the Association 30 day’s prior written notice of its intent to send insurance specifications out for bid.  The contract stated "Any change in insurance carriers shall take effect immediately following the expiration of any notice period contained in current insurance contracts between the Board and its insurance carriers."  I would think that you could go back and look at prior union contracts and find the same language. Two questions need to be asked of the School Board and the administrators.  How far back could the board have sent the insurance out for bid, and why didn’t they do so.  Think of the amount of money that this district has wasted by bowing to the union’s demand to go with the WEA Trust as its insurance carrier.

I cannot promise you that there will be major changes in the Board’s action if I am elected. But I can promise you that there will be a conservative point of view expressed in the discussion on the issues that come before the Board.  I hope that you will agree with me that it is time for a change in the Board’s membership and that you will support my candidacy on April 2.

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Ruth Duffrin April 04, 2012 at 02:15 PM
First of all this is old news. Anyone who has lived in the area, has heard and read of what happened in regarding to the contract extension. But I believe that your information is not correct. I too was at that school board meeting in April and although I can't say how many people were in attendance as I did not count them, I would not agree that most of those in attendance were against the extension. I think about half of those that spoke to the board were against it and half agreed with the extension.
Earl April 04, 2012 at 03:12 PM
Apparently the good people of the Port Washington Saukville school district continue to support quality education. Mr. Kelly came in last in yesterday's election.
Jaime Sommers April 04, 2012 at 05:47 PM
Earl, I appreciate that you have been completely visible and available during this election process. It gave me a sense of confidence that you are comfortable with who you are and what you stand for. It may be possible you gave too much away too soon, but, I am grateful you have been willing to be forthcoming in detail with your opinions and your agenda. Kudos to transparency and we can be confident you have gotten people to think and seek and examine the facts as it applies to them and their needs and interests. Fare thee well, Mr Kelly.

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